One of the oldest capitals in Europe, Lisbon is a great city to begin an adventure.
We arrived early in the morning and found a quiet corner in the airport to unpack our bicycles and put them back together. With the bikes loaded, we rode into the heart of the old city: Alfama, where we found our accommodation.
For three days we wandered up and down the hills of this lovely city, meeting some of its people, tasting their food and learning a few Portuguese basics like Obrigada, a conta por favor, bom dia. Most people speak English and when not, the usual combination of body language and ‘Spanglish’ work really well to get what you want.
We walked nearly 50 kilometres all over the city centre, looking for miradouros (viewpoints), monuments and just interesting neighbourhoods away from where most of the tourist traffic is.
We took a walking tour with José, a local guide who does these tours by donation. We were part of a group of about 15 people and walked for three hours on a circuit of quiet streets and alleyways “like a local”. It was an education in the history of Lisbon and especially Alfama, the oldest part of the city that survived the 1755 earthquake and tsunami that decimated the city.
We only scratched the surface of what Lisbon has to offer but after three days it was time to hit the road and explore Portugal’s countryside.