Friday 6th May: Alfama day.
Today offered our first dud experience. We had a 4 hr walking tour of Alfama, the historic Moorish area of Lisbon that sits behind the prominent Castle of St George (Castelo de Sao Jorge) which, itself, is perched on a rocky outcrop above the city. Our guide though was quiet, reserved and so uninformed about Lisbon that we aborted the tour after about an hour. The worst part of this though was that we had two more tours booked with the same company. First World problems…I know but still annoying as it was a waste of time and money and you know my issues with waste.
We decided to try and redeem the trip to the area by visiting the Castle but, on arrival, found the queue was so long that we quickly gave up on that idea. We took some photos of the Harbour from one of the elevated vantage points on the way down from the Castle area and noted that two huge pleasure cruise boats were in dock. These, we figured, were the source of the enormous crowds in both the Alfama area and on the queue at the Castle. Thus, we decided to head home, charge Mark’s dead phone, book an alternative Sintra tour for tomorrow and then head back to Alfama in the afternoon on another tour with the group who took us around yesterday.
After completing these few home tasks we decided to head out and try and find a cafe that served soup for lunch and this, thankfully, was a successful venture, the first of the day. I also managed to pick up another pair of jeans to help me survive the unrelenting cold weather and, from there, we headed back over to Commerce Square to pick up our second Alfama tour for the day.
The afternoon tour took us back over similar ground that we had covered in the morning but with much more history on offer so as to inform our journey. There were about 17 other members in the group and this made for a much more entertaining and enjoyable outing. Our guide Francisco, set up friendly rivalry between the USA, Danes, Peruvians, Germans, Kiwis and us Aussies on the tour by awarding points for each question correctly answered. I think we came second last to the Kiwis!
The tour finished at 5 pm near the Se Cathedral so we decided to head back up the hill to pick up some pretty Lisbon-typicaal tiles that we had spied earlier in the morning. We were also keen to try a restaurant for dinner that had come highly recommended by Ali as this was in the same area. Collecting the tiles went smoothly but sadly, Bistro Gato Pardo whilst open was not ready to serve dinner at 6 pm and so we settled for a drink instead whilst we rested our weary bones.
I’m not usually a fan of Marks Apple Watch, nor its statistics, but today we had walked 17 km and made 23,000 steps so we were not surprised to feel a bit weary as we sat at Bistro Gato Pardo. This weariness meant we decided to just head home for an early night in before our day trip tomorrow to Sintra.