Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Lisbon

Lisbon is a delightful city to visit. It has a historic centre that is unusually harmonious. After the earthquake of 1755 threw down everything except the eastern, Moorish quarter, the centre was rebuilt on a grid pattern. The wide avenues and large houses remain largely unchanged from that period, creating a peaceful, pleasant setting. There are many enormous squares, all paved [like the streets] in tiny black and white cobbles and with impressive fountains playing. The town then grew westwards with fine villas and state buildings added. However, it is still a comfortably small city.

You cannot go far in Lisbon without going steeply up or downhill. But if your legs get tired, the public transport is a dream - clean, frequent and cheap, whether it's buses, trams or the Underground.

At the back of the tram is a small notice : Passengers-20 seated, 38 standing. Even fully loaded, these trams cruise smoothly up and down the hills along tiny, winding alleys.

In early March the sun shines, even if the air is still chilly. The many trees and shrubs are putting out their first blossoms. The buildings rise in coloured tiers on the hills that make up the city. To the east, Alfama shows it's origin as the oldest, Moorish town in its narrow, winding alleys, tiny squares and flights of steps where  the hills are too steep for a road. Above it is the Castelo di Sao Jorge, originally Moorish but much enlarged by the Portuguese kings and now a focal point from every part of the city.



The River Tagus is incredibly wide and offers tremendous scope for commercial and tourist ports. A number of ferries operate for those people who live south of the river. My next story begins when my hero arrives in Lisbon in 1808, so of course I needed to approach the town as he would have done - from the water. Research like this is a very pleasant pastime especially when the Portuguese people are so friendly and helpful.


Friday, 19 March 2010

A big thrill

Today I'm feeling very pleased because of a trip to my local Waterstone's bookshop. Lo and behold my own stories were there - not just one but several copies of my books on the shelf. That has really made my day.


I write adventure romance tales set in Regency times. They are published by Robert Hale and Hale hardbacks are not often seen on the shelves in bookshops. You can find them in libraries or order them from Robert Hale, Amazon or The Book Depository.
So at the moment, I'm walking on air. The photo is to reassure myself I didn't dream it.