{Photo by Sarah Van Wyke}

I decided quickly that Lisbon is my new happy place. It might have just been the dash of sunny and 75 degree weather that lifted my mood, but I choose to think it was the city itself. It really reminded me of San Francisco, even with a perfect copy of the Golden Gate Bridge! Add some age, some Portuguese and a dash of European charm, and San Francisco turns into Lisbon.

Other San Francisco similarities are the steep hills and of course, the trams. In operation since 1873, they switched from horse-and-carriage to electric in 1901. The elétrico 28 is the most famous line, plying the best tourist route through town. Since we stayed in a room right on the line we rode it constantly, every day, from the Graça to Chiada to Bairro Alto and back.

We bought a 3-day pass that let us hop on and off when needed, allowing us to fully enjoy the city. The tram has an old veneer to it, with polished wood and faded seats. You have to hold on tight as it careens through the narrow streets, barely missing laundry hanging out to dry.

Inside is a mixture of tourists taking pictures out the windows (I did it proudly) and older ladies bringing home a bag of groceries. Lisbon is an old city, not young and modern like Paris or New York, but full of old men smoking pipes on street corners, and grandmothers sweeping their sidewalks in sensible shoes.

The buildings are covered in ivy, the ones that are still standing. Others have collapsed onto themselves, abandoned and musty. A devastating earthquake hit the city in 1755, and someone told me you can still see the cracks. Maybe, but I can’t tell which cracks are what, caused by earthquake or general decay.

We spent our days wandering around the neighborhoods–the narrow old streets and the sleek cafes and shops, riding the tram to and fro, soaking in the views every time we turned a corner and happened upon one.

{Photo by Sarah Van Wyke}

See? Happy place.

{You’ll notice a few photos taken by my friend and travel-partner extraordinaire, Sarah, who also blogs over at Flaneur. Check it out!}