When I discovered We Hate Tourism Tours, the name alone was enough to get me interested. What sort of tours would such an ironic company offer? And then I saw they offered dinner with a local. Sold.
Fortunately they keep their “tour groups” small so the experience is intimate and you can really enjoy the evening. Unfortunately, all the slots were filled up during our time in Lisbon. In a desperate attempt, I sent them an email and was pleasantly surprised when Rodrigo was able to shift around their bookings and make three spaces for us. I am so glad he did.
Like the rest of Europe, the Portuguese eat dinner late. So when we assembled in Camoes Square around 7 pm, none of us were hungry yet. Instead we set off for Alfama for a view of the sunset over golden Lisbon. And Rodrigo being an amazing host had snacks and local beer stashed away for us to try as we relaxed and enjoyed the view.
Just as the sun slipped away we piled back into the van and drove towards the aqueduct, Lisbon’s last structure built before the earthquake that is still intact today.
Beneath the aqueduct, an equally impressive mural runs along the road. Lisbon’s signature tiles create a modern work of art that appears to be digital from afar. And to the left, you can spot a face emerging from the wall. Vhils, the artist who created it is gaining prominence around the world since his work has been featured in exhibits.
For dinner Rodrigo selected Lucimar in Entrecampos, the neighborhood where his family lives. We started out with a variety of appetizers including olives, sheep’s milk cheese and honey, blood sausage with pineapple and snails. In the spirit of trying just about everything (that is sort of vegetarian friendly) once, I ate a snail. Not exactly a pleasant experience but it certainly didn’t taste bad. The little guys are drenched in olive oil and garlic. Who wouldn’t like that?
After that, the server brought out a variety of dishes from all over Portugal. The first dish, Francesinha, was a meat-filled sandwich covered in melted cheese, an egg and smothered in a tomato, beer sauce hailing from the Northern city Porto. We also got a few plates of the famous bacalhou (salted cod) with loads of potatoes to share around the table, and a kale, bean and breadcrumb salad called Migas from Alentejo.
The next dish arrived in a hollowed out bread bowl filled with stuffing, scallops, shrimp and an egg. Rodrigo quickly mixed everything up and passed it around the table. I gave it a try, avoided the shrimp and thought it was all right. Instead I focused my energies on demolishing the veggie platter with Summer.
After dinner, we had an almond liqueur mixed with coffee beans and a squeeze of lemon before setting off on a surprise adventure.
On the way to dinner Rodrigo had stopped to point out a statue standing in the middle of a square and made us guess which famous Portuguese explorer it depicted. When no one guessed correctly Summer jokingly threw out “Christopher Columbus,” (an easy way to get on the nerves of any proud Portuguese) and I followed up with “Magellan.” Between giggles in the back of the van, we discovered I was somehow correct. History is not my strong suit so it was entirely a lucky guess.
Well we headed back to Magellan, parked and climbed out of the van and down a set of shady stairs until we reached a door with a barred window for an opening. Our only hint to our destination was a sign above the door.
The underground bakery is famous among locals and doesn’t get busy until well into the night. While they aren’t technically allowed to operate overnight, rumor has it that more than a few police officers turn a blind eye as they wait in line for their famous pasteis de nata or delicious pao de deus.
They bundled up our pile of sweets and we climbed back upstairs and into the van before heading back up to Alfama for a nighttime view of the city. As we passed around the pasteis de nata, Rodrigo pulled out yet another surprise, explaining port was the perfect companion for our sweet pastries. I’m not the biggest fan of port wine but he was right.
At this point our night should have ended and we should have crawled into bed just after midnight. But what fun is that in a foreign country? Instead we wandered deeper into Alfama to listen to Fado until the wee hour of morning.