Posted by: canthold | November 24, 2007

Lisbon Part II – Twists of Green

View of Ponte 25 de Abril (bridge) and Cristo Rei (Christ statue)

My husband and I had a four-hour layover in Newark, New Jersey on our way over to Europe. While we were there, we were struck by the lack of recycling in the airport. Coming from the very earth-conscience Bay Area, we are conditioned to pay attention to this stuff. Throwing plastic bottles in the garbage can feels the same to us as throwing a paper wrapper on the ground in a park.

At one point, my husband took a bottle and placed it on top of a trash can to separate it out. Soon after, a maintenance worker walked by and removed it and threw it away in the can. Surely there is room for improvement here.

I immediately noticed that Lisbon was a green city. There were recycling bins everywhere, even on the city streets. It was very impressive. We saw huge green dome collector, which, humorously contained hundreds of wine bottles. The city itself was very clean. There didn’t appear to be much litter in the gutters or sidewalks and the air felt clean, as well. You could just breathe.

Compared to other cities we’ve visited, most notably in Greece, there was a welcome lack of noisy scooters and mopeds. The whine of those little motors was gone. And in contrast to our Land of Conspicuous Consumption, all the cars were pretty tiny. There were no SUVs or vans or even large trucks. Most all the cars were no bigger than a BMW Mini Cooper, of which we saw quite a few.

We went to Buenos Aires, Argentina last February and the city was very stinky. The pollution differences made me very aware of the regulations we put on our cars for emissions and the effort we make to control pollution. Lisbon had none of those repugnant fumes and stale air that makes you imagine that your lungs are turning black while you’re waiting for the light to change.

It’s possible that part of Lisbon’s cleanliness is due to the fact that it’s located on the water. Ocean breezes do a lot for moving the air about. That could be part of it, but it can’t be all. The city has extensive transportation options for its inhabitants. The bus system, trains, trolleys and cable cars must make a difference in the amount of cars on the road. While we were there we rode each of these, though we did skip the elevator that takes you from the lower level of the city to the top of the hill, which seemed to be about six to eight stories up (I forgot to count.)

Going up?      Easy way up hills.

At one point, my husband and I hopped onto a cable car to ride to the next section of town. After making our way to the top of the next hill through several twists and turns, the operator stops the car and tells us to get off. What? Another tourist, ready with her transit day pass told us that we were at the end of the line and that another car would be coming up. We, on the other-hand, were out of small change and not entirely certain which of the buildings were the post office, where we needed to buy another ticket, and why the line outside the logical choice was curled around the block. Forget it. We walked. At least until we realized that it was going to be pretty far. We then figured out the train, which was like our BART system here.

The great thing about traveling in Europe right now is the euro. I would have preferred a better exchange rate than what we got heading into the country, but it was great only having one currency throughout the trip. Americans have long resisted giving up the one-dollar-bill, but I found that having a one-euro coin and even the two-euro coin was great. Making a similar switch would save our country a lot of money in printing and destruction costs. Having the “dollar” denomination in coin form made it easy to work with small transactions without flashing the larger bills that we were carrying around. I’m all for it.

Next up: Cobbled sidewalks and tiny rooms.

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Responses

  1. […] NoisyRoom.net: Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace. Amelia Earhart wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerpt [IMG View of Ponte 25 de Abril (bridge) and Cristo Rei (Christ statue)] My husband and I had a four-hour layover in Newark, New Jersey on our way over to Europe. While we were there, we were struck by the lack of recycling in the airport. Coming from the very earth-conscience Bay Area, we are conditioned to pay attention to this stuff. Throwing plastic bottles in the garbage can feels the same to us as throwing a paper wrapper on the ground in a park. At one point, my husband took a bottle an […]

  2. That was interesting. Hmmmm…

  3. […] at Can’t Holder Tongue chronicled her recent trip to Lisbon, Portugal and compares Lisbon’s cleanliness and eco-consciousness to that of the United […]

  4. We’ve recently started sorting and being more diligent about recycling. I hope we manage to keep our air clean too! It’s interesting that they have these containers in public places. Hmmm… something to share with City Hall I think. Not a bad idea! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  5. Thanks for writing in! I think that most people want to do their part and it helps when the infrastructure is in place. San Francisco has garbage cans with basket things on top for recycleables so people can do both in the same place.


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