We've fallen into the habit on recent trips of not doing enough research on what to do when we reach our destination. This was also the case when we reached the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
We've been lucky enough that plans have fallen into place and in Lisbon it came in the form of a young Italian woman named Simone. On our first morning she appeared in our hostel dressed brightly in an orange vest handing out flyers for a free walking tour of Lisbon.
So the following morning we met Simone at 11am at Rossio Square to see a little more of the city on foot.
The tour doesn't cover the entire city but does combine three main areas of Chiado, Bairro Alto and Baixa.
We had spent the previous evening in Chiado as we went to investigate the Vogue Fashion night we had seen advertised.
Music blasted from every shop and the street was full of thousands of shoppers out for a bargain. As we walked up the same street this morning it was hard to imagine it was the same street as we had room to move and admire our surroundings.
Simone pointed out the coffee shop, a Brasileira at the junction where Chiado meets Bairro Alto and it was somewhere we had spotted the night before due to its stunning wooden decor.
A Brasileira began life as a coffee retailer in 1904 and was converted into a cafe in the 1920s due it's popularity. The price of your coffee depends on where you sit with outdoor seating a premium I think we'd opt for the cheaper bar stools.
Bairro Alto is where Lisbon comes alive at night as bars and restaurants are crammed with tourists and locals.
Simone took us to a square at the end of Rua Marechal Saldanha near to the National Pharmacy Museum, a great lookout point where we were able to see over the Tagus River. Our eyes were instantly drawn to the 25th April Bridge, a replica of the San Fransisco Golden Gate Bridge which is hardly surprising given it was built by the same company.
As our gaze reached the far side of the bridge another replica appeared in the statue of Christ which tops the hillside opposite, smaller and less famous than its Rio counterpart.
As we circled back towards Rossio Square we stopped at a small opening underneath some steps alongside Rossio train station.
The cause was an alcoholic tipple by the name of Ginginha, a cherry liqueur, which for a few more cents can be served in a mini chocolate cup that can be devoured after your two shots of the drink. We loved it and if we had the time we would have gone back for more.
The region of Baixa is notable for its grid like street system unlike any other area if Lisbon.
Following an earthquake at 9 am on 1st November 1755 that registered as a nine on the Richter scale and lasted nine minutes (spooky) much of the city was destroyed.
The area of Baixa was rebuilt following the American model and today the area is home to the city's main retail area and it seems to lack the same atmosphere as other regions of Lisbon.
We walked along the Main Street, Rua Augusta where lunch goers sipped lattes in several of the cafes that run through the middle of the pedestrianised road.
The street concludes in one of Europe's largest squares, Praco do Comercia , where it meets the river. The square was largely empty except for a statue of King Jose I and with that our three hour tour was over.
Wine Tasting - More Freebies in Lisbon
As we said goodbye to Simone, our excellent guide, she pointed out a free wine tasting session in a building off the square. Needless to say we weren't going to pass up the opportunity to try some Portuguese wine and continue our theme of free things to do in Lisbon.
Free Lisbon Walking Tour is operated by Pancho Tours every day from 11am at Rossio Square next to the fountain on the side of the theatre. Tours also run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6pm.