At the end of September I embarked on a trip to Europe! I was super excited to return to Europe after 3 years. My past few trips were to Asia and the last time I was in Europe was to visit Greece. I was looking forward to seeing 4 new countries which included a 24-hour stopover in Lisbon, Portugal! It was steadily raining when I boarded my TAP Air Portugal flight out of Newark. Off to Lisbon!
After waking up at 5am for work, a 6-hour overnight flight, and hardly any sleep, I arrived in Lisbon early the next morning. I was too excited to be tired! After going through customs and grabbing my luggage, I walked out the exit and took a few moments to spot my local guide, Cesar. I booked a Vespa tour with him via Withlocals, a site offering private personalized tours and activities with local hosts. They even offer airport pick-up. Perfect! He strapped my luggage to the front of the Vespa and off we went!
The great thing about Withlocals is that everything is tailored just for you. I wanted to drop off my luggage off at my Airbnb in Chiado and couldn’t get in touch with the host right away. After waiting a bit over some coffee, I was able to check in. Cesar was patient, nice, and helped me with my luggage.
For our first stop, I had to try a pastel de nata – Portuguese egg tart pastry. The most popular place to enjoy the iconic treats is Pastéis de Belém. The bakery continues to use a secret recipe that hasn’t changed since opening in 1837.
It was still early and the usual crowds of people haven’t arrived yet. We sat at a table in the back room and ordered a pastel de nata, espresso, and a couple alfacinha – puff pastry sandwich with ham, cheese, and lettuce.
The pastel de nata with a sprinkle of cinnamon was warm, sweet, and delicious. I easily could have eaten a couple more, but paired with the sandwich it was a satisfying breakfast. It was time to get back on the Vespa and see some sights. Cesar only had to help me with my helmet five times until I finally got the hang of it. 😉
We stopped by the Belém Tower, also known as the “Tower of Vincent”. Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor, it was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery.
We walked by the Monument to the Overseas Combatants, a memorial dedicated to the soldiers of the Portuguese army who died during the Overseas War of 1961 to 1974.
We took time to admire great lovely views and unique buildings.
We took a stroll through the hip industrial LX Factory complex filled with unique restaurants, bars, trendy shops, and art.
Cesar brought me to a couple nice spots overlooking Lisbon like the Santa Justa Lift and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Hill) for incredible panoramic views of the city.
It was a gorgeous day and I was already falling in love with Lisbon! After admiring the lovely views, we stopped by a small tapas bar tucked away in an alley for ginjinha, a sweet cherry liqueur that originated in Lisbon. It was served in a little cups made of chocolate. Saúde!
Riding around on a Vespa was so much fun! It was quite a thrill maneuvering in and out of traffic and narrow alleyways and going up and down the steep hills. We were due for a short break and relaxed near the waterfront for a bit. Cesar even took me to a cool store, The Fantastic World Of Portuguese Sardines, for a little souvenir shopping.
For our final stop, we briefly walked around the Time Out Market. It all looked so good that I came back later to try a few things.
My Vespa journey around Lisbon with Cesar was absolutely amazing! I didn’t want it to end. I got to see quite a bit in those few hours. My first experience with Withlocals was fun and personable. I had such a good time! Lisbon was beautiful and I look forward to going back. Oh, I will be back! Thank you, Cesar!
I still had the rest of the afternoon to explore Lisbon on my own, so Cesar dropped me off at a top-rated spot for a seafood lunch.