I'm one of those people who doesn't like to live on a schedule. This also applies to the moments when I am on the road - I want to have freedom of choice, both in terms of time and in terms of places to visit. That's why I never travel organized (especially with a large group). For some it is a great convenience, true, you do not have to study routes to different sites, read additional literature on monuments, museums, cathedrals, etc. But an organized trip takes away your freedom and prevents you from feeling the place with all your senses.


However, the guide is something else. Especially for Lisbon - a city with so much history and art that will always remain unexplored, no matter how many times you visit it. To learn as much as possible about the city and its surroundings, about the history and traditions, I recommend you to travel with a small group of friends (family) and hire a guide. Here's why:

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The guide will prepare an individual program for you


When you personally hire a tour guide, he will offer you a program tailored to your personal interests and will take into account all the specific needs, if you have them - age, illness, etc. If you have physical difficulties, he will not take you on long and steep paths that even a healthy person would not be able to handle. If you are a student and traveling for educational purposes, he will focus on topics that interest you. You can take part in the preparation of the program yourself and always leave a door to change something in place if you feel that your tour is coming more or your time is surprising and you prefer to spend a rainy day in museums than outside.

If you are wondering how to find a guide, I will directly recommend you. We traveled four girls, and our personal guide was Ivan Peltekov. I found out about him from the Facebook group "Everything you want to know about Portugal". Even before leaving, I was fascinated by the vast ocean of knowledge he has in his mind and the passion with which he tells about the country of oranges. He offered us an individual program that included as many sites as possible, including in the vicinity of Lisbon - Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Cascais - and told us so poetically so many things I had never read and would never have learned if it were not for he.


It will save you time, nerves and money


Whatever we talk about, traveling abroad requires a detailed study of urban and rural transport, the location of the sites you want to visit, and in the last two years, information about measures and requirements against the coronavirus. All this takes a lot of time and nerves invested before you left. The guide can do all this for you. He is absolutely aware of the whole city and intercity transport network, he knows how to get to the chosen location in the easiest way so that you don't waste time, he will draw the perfect schedule to see as many sights as possible, without unnecessary hassle and wondering which subway line to take and where exactly to get off. It can also save you money on public transport, choosing the right route and vehicle will tell you what card to take and how much it costs.


Our guide was extremely kind and even lined up for us to load our public transport tickets, which saved us time and researching ticket machines, etc. And when you don't know the language, as in our case, it made our trip a lot easier.


He knows the small streets and secrets of this city


We can get to the most famous landmarks on our own, but they are not always the most interesting and most importantly - they do not exhaust the opportunities offered by a city like Lisbon. There, history and art are everywhere, and often the most curious stories are in a small side street or small detail that you would surely miss if you were walking alone, and often with organized group travel there is no time for them. Of course, without a guide there is no one to tell you these captivating stories, which little by little reveal the history and secrets of this wonderful city. We have learned about so many people born or connected in some way with Portugal that I did not even suspect existed. Not everything can be found on the Internet, and it is completely different when you are told it on the spot while stepping on the ground on which the people in question have set foot.


You understand how little you know


The more one learns, the more one realizes that one knows nothing. Or "I know I know nothing," as Socrates said thousands of years ago. So the more you learn about Lisbon and Portugal, the more you realize that this city and this country are vast in history and culture. It is not possible to study them completely. Ivan Peltekov told us a lot, which brought us closer to the heart and rhythm of life in Portugal. He showed us how much we have to learn about it and how wonderful it really is to have more and more to study, explore, watch and inspire. As he told us, "Always leave something for the next time to come back!" We will certainly do it.


Portugal is beautiful poetry - both sweet and slightly bitter - like the music, the intoxicating fado (traditional Portuguese music) late at night, the fresh air early in the morning, the smell of fish in the streets and the picturesque restaurants where the waiters sing while serving because life is wonderful here and now.


And something very special


Lisbon offers plenty of food and especially traditional and extremely tasty "Pastel de nata". Everyone who travels to Portugal must try them! The original desserts are called "pastéis de belem" and have been produced since 1837. Today they are only available in one place - in the factory dating from the same year, which is currently just outside Lisbon. In order not to make everything perfect, as it should be, I have an intolerance to lactose, and the famous "paste" contains milk. You can imagine what a punishment it is to be in the mecca of "Pastel de nata" and you can't try. However, our guide, Ivan Peltekov, is an absolutist and did everything possible to find me a vegan version of the dessert. On the last day, just before we boarded the plane, he handed me a box of them. "You can't leave Portugal without trying them!" That was the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for me. If it weren't for him, I would never have tasted them. Believe me, there is nothing tastier than that!


For Paris you may not need a guide, but for Lisbon it is a must. Thanks also on behalf of the other girls to Ivan Peltekov, who made our stay in Portugal a real fairy tale! To feel the atmosphere of Lisbon, let someone who knows it in detail guide you and tell you what no one else knows.


Places we visited: The Monument of Discovery; Belem Tower; the oldest bookstore not only in Portugal but also in the world; Jesuit Church; The Park of Nations; Tivoli, the hotel where Byron stayed; the Palacio de Seteais in Sintra; Quinta de Regaleira; Pena Castle; Cabo da Roca; Cascais, the oldest pastéis de belem factory; Jeronomous Monastery. We watched the long course of the waters of Tagus, toured the picturesque neighborhoods of Alfama and Muraria, as well as Baixa, Bayrou Alto and Shiadu, saw Santa Justa, the Montserrat mansion and much more.


We drank ginjia (cherry liqueur in a miniature chocolate cup), we ate a lot of fish, I fell in love with the so-called "Cod pastel" (something like mashed potatoes and fish croquettes), we enjoyed the music and singing of street musicians (there are many in Lisbon), we heard the story of the James Bond casino, we got inspired and broke away from the bad news that accompanies our daily lives.

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