We had one day to experience as much as possible of Lisbon on our Celebrity Cruises day in port, so after much research, I contacted Filipe of Different Portugal Tours, and we are so glad that we did! From our first warm email exchange which made me feel like I had always known him, as if we were old friends, I knew that we were going to experience a fabulous day. Filipe picked us up at the port and our adventure began. There were four of us in my family doing this private tour, our adult daughter having physical challenges. I had told Filipe about this of course in advance, and he told us that we could easily bring her walker and wheelchair with us in the tour van, and he even planned out in advance which walking aid would probably be best for her at each stop. He always got us very near the entrances, and was very helpful in general supporting her needs.
Throughout the day as we toured, Filipe kept up a running commentary about cultural and historical facts, as well as interesting friendly conversation. Not only did we visit national highlights but we also went to several cafes sampling local delights. One of our first stops was in Sintra at Cafe a Piriquita where we fell in love with the local pastry called travesseiros - a MUST if you visit, but most surely, Filipe will take you there! Warm "big pillows" of creamy, flaky deliciousness! We also went to a local cheese/wine shop where the shop keeper gave us several samples of cheeses, chorizo, port and liqueurs. We went to the Pena Palace in Sintra, spending nearly two hours there - so beautiful, remarkable, memorable. We also went to Roca Cape, the western most part of continental Europe - scenic, and on this day, extremely windy! There wasn't much time for lunch, with so much to see and so little time, so Filipe stopped at a food truck and got us chorizo calzones, though I don't think they were called calzones - delectable! Food trucks here in the USA are very popular, the new gourmet venues, but I have had nothing like this. The bread is baked fresh daily from scratch, on the truck, and the sausage, wow, so tasty, fresh, no gristle or nasty bits. The bread itself was dense, almost like sourdough but not exactly, crusty on the outside, baked perfectly - rustic, unaffected, just plain delicious! Once he determined that we had no food allergies or restrictions, Felipe always did all of the ordering - he knows his food!
We drove through Cascais, saw Guincho Beach. We visited Belem and spent time inside Jeronimos Monastery Cathedral. Our final food stop was Pasteis de Belem - oh, how can one describe these gastronomic jewels? The cafe is in the actual bakery built in the early 1800s by the monks - fascinating to see - you can watch the process of baking - there are labyrinthine rooms, all with beautiful old tile - a great visit, historic, amazing local pastries!
Our final stop was at the Discoveries Monument, which is truly breathtaking. It was on the cover of one of my textbooks in grammar school and I definitely never thought that I would ever get to see it in person. Filipe plans the day very well for cruise passengers, going to the furthest destinations first so that in case of traffic, there would never be any stress getting back to the ship on time. For instance, the Discoveries Monument is so close to the port that one could, if one had to, walk back to the ship!
Our day in Lisbon with Filipe of Different Portugal was fun, informative, delicious, memorable! We hope that someday he will visit us in Boston and we can return the favor!
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