Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for September 14th, 2009

Lisbon’s Number 28 Tram

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 14th September, 2009

Lisbon tram number 28Trams have long been one of the iconic symbols of the Portuguese capital, especially the little wood-lined carriages that beetle up and down the city’s cobbled, hilly streets. Perhaps the most celebrated of all is the one I’ve been taking every day to get home to a friend’s apartment in Graça. It makes its way down from the cafés and bookshops of smart Chiado, across the flat straight of Baixa before it begins its long climb past the cathedral and along the increasingly winding streets up to Graça. At one point, the way is so narrow that one can touch the walls of the buildings on either side, if you stretch your arm out of the window. As the route takes in a couple of magnificent panoramic views, as well as passing as close as one can get to the Castle by this means of transport, the Number 28 is popular with tourists — who have suddenly become much more numerous in Lisbon in recent years. For decades, the city was Western Europe’s last remaining secret capital.

Tennessee Williams wrote a celebrated play about a streetcar named Desire, and I can well imagine a novelist could write a memorable book about the Number 28 tram and those who use it, as well as the residents of the buildings it trundles past.

[photo: Stephen Rees]

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