Lisbon - Where Fado is sung

“The rooftops stretch down to the Tagus”. By Catarina Tagaio.

Time slips by. Smiles, laughter, melodies and songs fill Lisbon where they sing Fado with feeling and laughter…

Five in the afternoon at Lisbon's Senhora do Monte view point.

The blue sky blends into the blue river. The sun shines a bit timidly. People smile as they pose for their snapshots at one of the city's view points. Bells ring out the hours in the distance. A man kneels before the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Saúde. A group gathers beside the chapel, they smile at each other and the journey begins.

Up the Mouraria step we go. I look, see and notice all the nooks and crannies of this flight of steps. The group gets its breath back at the top. Fátima and Henrique tell us: “over there or over there…” Fátima and Henrique talk about life, home, their child, the window where they never are but today… today at the top they chat and smile at the group. The group leaves. A 'see you soon', hangs in the air. 

Sheets flap in the air like clouds. I look from clothes line to clothes line and see towels, aprons, trouser, shirts, dresses… small and large. The wind catches each piece ever so gently and pushes me step by step to the Graça view point.

I come down. The group chats with Liberdade and Ilda. The two women have been friends for ages and talk about life, the Graça district and their common friends. I move on. There's a radio playing jazz and the blues. It keeps José Carlos company until two in the morning. Shy José in his dark trousers, beige shirt and round, dark glasses talks to me of his daughters, Graça and the future. In José's world, saxophones and trumpets play music from better days; days of hope and the will to win! 

A flowery white roof top, a door framed in metal a small corridor paved with history and a tiny, empty patio at he bottom… Vila Sousa is resting and a street lamp stands alone in the middle of the patio. I shiver. The scene gets darker and the street light starts shining on. I travel through time. I hear someone whistling. A gentler drunk moves onto the stage and chats with the street lamp. “Good evening your excellence. Would you be so kind as to give me some of your light?” The proud, illusionist street lamp disappear. The man moves away. I awake. The sun shines once again on Vila Sousa and I rejoin my group with the songs flowing through my head.

We laugh as we walk along and then suddenly from one moment to another we find ourselves in the real Pátio das Cantigas.

Hanging balloons, ribbons and confetti, sweet basil, stalls and empty chairs fill the Vila Berta. Cidalina welcomes te group from her high window and moves us with her kindness, joy and liveliness. 

Five in the afternoon at Lisbon's Senhora do Monte view point.

Benches filled with life stretch in front of one of the great views of the capital. Families and friends take snapshots of each other so they can remember later. On the left, the 25 de Abril bridge and St George's castle wait for the sun to go down. On the right, Praça de Londres and Penha de França wait for the lights of the Fonte Luminosa to be switched on. Opposite us Martim Moniz waits for the melodies, song and symphonies for another Lisbon evening of song, laughter and emotion. 

Beatriz sings with her heart and soul. She brings silence. A group of tourists clap. Beatriz sings her last fado song of the night and leaves the stage. The tourist go on their way. Laura welcomes us at the door and invites us in. We feel intimidated by the full room. Laura pays attention to everyone and touches us with her sympathy, so we decide to say.

We listen to the fado. In silence. Here, fado is sung and felt with laughter, smiling. Time slips by. the Tasca do Jaime is a place you need nothing. It is here that dreams, illusions, thoughts and lives are born from uncontrollable fado.

We leave here with dreams, feelings and a sense of pining. The journey ends and the group breaks up. The clock rings out the hours… it is time to go!

See the photographs of this trip here.