Friday, May 8, 2015

Alfama Tour

After breaking for an amazing lunch of cod with some of the morning walking tour, I decided to take in the Sandeman's Alfama tour. The tour takes place Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and costs €12. It starts at 2:30 pm in Praça do Comércio. Look for the lovely guides wearing red shirts or holding a red umbrella.  As we walked from Praça do Comércio towards Alfama, the sky was turning grey and threatening to rain on our parade.

Taking the public elevator to lift us up towards the castle, we headed towards it. We walked the outskirts of the castle, not paying to enter and enjoyed the most amazing gelato outside of it. If you are ever in Lisbon, you must go to Gelataria Portuguesa. I enjoyed the banana and lemon and both flavours were so fresh and delicious. It is also very inexpensive as much of Lisbon is.

We wound our way through the twist and turns of Alfama, a magical place to find yourself in. I had fallen in love with it that very morning and taking the tour, I enjoyed it even more. It is Lisbon's oldest district. It slopes down towards the Tejo River. The earthquake of 1755 did not destroy the beautiful area and the area remains much the same unlike other parts of Lisbon that were destroyed and replanned to make straight streets and buildings. We enjoyed many views over the city and the Tejo River.

I highly recommend going to Alfama and getting lost amongst its alleyways and streets. Some so narrow that it is said you would kiss the person as you walked past them. We got a few sprinkles of rain as we walked but nothing big and I was very glad as I was only clad in a shirt. The warm weather having kept me from bringing a single coat out for the day.

One of the unique parts of the tour was finding ourselves in a small street where a little old lady sells homemade liqueur out of her window. The liqueur is ginjinha, a portuguese drink made from sour cherries or ginja. Sampling this local favourite for only a €1 I was charmed by the lovely woman pouring out the drinks. I thought she must make a fair bit from the guides bringing their tours through her neighbourhood for as we were leaving another tour slid past us.

Again, grafitti drew me in around every bend and I found myself drawn to different ones. I really enjoy the one below. The goldfish swimming amongst her hair and the closed eyes.

The sun was once more back in the sky as we made our way the Thieve's Market where I had ventured that morning. I stopped by one stand that I had eyed earlier and managed to purchase a small ceramic swallow.  Stopping in front of the Monastery of St Vincent, one of the most important monasteries in Portugal. It was completed in 1629, though the original monastery was founded in 1147 by the first Portuguese king, Afonso.

The last stop on our tour was the beautiful Lisbon Cathedral or the Sé de Lisboa. It is the oldest church in the city having been built in 1147. It has gone through many different architectural styles over the years as many earthquakes have caused it to be rebuilt in certain sections.  The blue sky against the beautiful church was a perfect end to the tour.  

I highly recommend the Alfama tour by Sandeman's. It is a paid tour but for €12 and nearly 3 hours of walking I feel it is worth it for the history and guided tour.  Of course you can always seek out these sights yourself and get lost in the magical Alfama. Do both!

No comments:

Post a Comment