Lisbon, Portugal. Lisbon is the most underrated capital in Europe. Maybe it's because Portugal is a bit out of the way (travel directions: go to Spain and turn left) - but no matter what, this city is a gem. It's charming with old trams that remind you of Eastern Europe, except for the kinky Coca Cola ads.
When you walk around Baixa, the street vendors offer you sun glasses and cocaine - that's kinky, too.
Lisbon is the cheapest capital in Western Europe, but that's not what makes it special. It has gorgeous castles, corny cathedrals, and wonderful atmosphere in picturesque Alfama. Take a stroll and look through people's windows, kick a kid's soccer ball, fall in love with the wrinkled old timers. You can't go wrong in Lisbon, unless you visit one of the fado restaurants in Barrio Alto. These places are tourist traps - they're like Portuguese bierstuben with washed up fado singers, obnoxious waiters, and overpriced espetada.
The first and only time I went, the waiter started off by putting a huge book on our table: This is a complaints book, it said in poor English. An hour later we started writing ...
But don't let this fool you. Lisbon should be on any one's itinerary. It has the same atmosphere Rome used to have when I was a kid. But the Portuguese are more subdued than the Italians. And Lisbon still seems as if it has no intention of entering the 21st century.
That was meant as a compliment, by the way ...
O meu amigo PETER FOGTDAL, autor destas linhas, é um magnífico escritor dinamarquês com dois belos romances. Vale mesmo a pena lê-los.