Accessible Lisbon

Do you ever get a feeling that everything happens for a reason? I spoke 3 years ago in Madrid about accessible tourism. There a very happy and friendly woman came up to me afterwards, and wanted to speak about accessible tourism in Lisbon.

After a catch up at Naidex, a few Skypes, and a lot of hard work by Rita and her sister Daniela, we finally worked together in Portugal last month! 🙂

The Basics

Upon meeting the Duarte sister’s from Portugal for all Senses in Lisbon, it felt like Kasia and I had known them forever. After the airport welcome, we headed to the wheelchair accessible taxi. The driver was really helpful, and somehow got us all in the vehicle with the suitcases and my shower chair.

We stayed at the Pestana CR7 hotel. For those not so in to football, it’s part owned by Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo. Who always wears the number 7 on his shirt – hence CR7 🙂

The room was great. They had arranged a mobile hoist for me. They could have also got a shower chair, but I prefer my own. There was room for the equipment. Plus the shower chair went over the loo and in the shower fine.

A great start!

Inside and Nearby the Hotel

Knowing that the basic but vital aspects were in hand, it was time for food and exploration. The food in the hotel restaurant was delicious. Particularly the breakfast omelettes, and the steak and pasta meals.

In the bar area I tried the Portuguese beer, which went down a treat. We made a plan for that evening. Whilst there was a big screen with Ronaldo doing kick ups, alongside live footage of people walking past. Very amusing.

The hotel is really well placed. There’s the river Tagus only 5 minutes away. This then flows to the Atlantic sea. Although we’d eaten that night, we spotted lots of cafes, bars and restaurants. That all looked pretty accessible too.

After a bit of warm sun, fresh air, and a wander; we grabbed some bits from the nearby shop. It was time to head for some well deserved sleep!

UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sintra

The next morning our driver arrived to take us to Sintra. Somewhere I hadn’t heard of one year ago. But somewhere I’d been told about multiple times since. I now understand why 🙂

Despite a hold up on the 30 minute journey due to an accident, we arrived excited to explore this magical place. There were lots of narrow lanes and stunning views on the final part of the ride there. Before we’d even started!

Our specific destination was the Monserrat palace. When you search for Sintra, you’ll see it was only the tip of the iceberg.

Built as a summer house by a rich British family, it struck me as the Downton Abbey of Portugal. Our guide Sara explained how the climate enabled so many different trees and other wildlife to grow there. Plus she explained how life was inside this stunning palace.

Western most tip of continental Europe

After a long walk around the gardens and the palace, we grabbed lunch. Before heading to Cabo da Roca.

We were unlucky with the weather here. Known for its mist from the sea, the beautiful view was restricted. But it’s certainly a good thing to tick on the list of explorations.

Lisbon Itself

After quite a heavy night of mojitos and philosophical chats, we were all set for a better look at Lisbon itself.

We started by visiting the Belem tower, learning all about the naval discoveries from Lisbon and famous Portuguese people.

After lunch we saw the historical monastery of Jeronimos. Which had a ramp made especially for wheelchair users like me 🙂

Official Portugal for all Senses tour

That evening we were treated to a really special experience. Rita and Daniela now offer guided tours for accessible tourism. Which is also available for Airbnb customers too.

I’m a real history geek. So I lapped up all the information of Lisbon and Portuguese history. The politics. The wars. The natural disasters. The religion. The architecture. The heroes. The villains.

Wow. I was in my element!

We also got taken to a local shop for local food and local port. An amazing gastronomy experience. Plus we were taken to the regular cafe of their famous writer and poet.

There was an old lift that took us up to an amazing vantage point over the city. We even got to skip the queues to use it. The view of the old town, new town and the river was majestic.

Overall the city was good for dropped curbs, access to buildings, and all without needing public transport. People often talk about Lisbon being hilly. Which parts of it are. But where we stayed and ventured to was just fine.

Beach Weather

The climate in the city is fantastic. I wore shorts and t-shirts everyday and evening. In mid September. It was around late 20 degrees with a nice sea air.

So on the last full day, Kasia and I got a taxi to the beach at Cascais. There was a ramp down onto the sand, and a mat towards the sea.

I loved it. Just reclining back in my chair and listening to my music for a while.

Last Supper

On our last evening, we recorded the interview you can see above, and we ate together. It was nothing like the last supper Da Vinci painted from the bible. But it was really special for us.

We’d done so much together in these days. Having never been to Lisbon or Portugal before, I’m so pleased I have now. I definitely want to return there again soon.

Its climate, terrain, history and food were magnificent. Most importantly we made new friends too.

Portugal for all Senses

If you have always wanted to visit Portugal, or really fancy Lisbon now, please have a look at Rita and Danielas website here and ask them any questions. They will really do all they can to make your stay a good one.

Martyn Sibley

– World Changer @ martynsibley.com.
– Author @ ‘Everything is Possible’ (on Amazon).
– Inclusion Captain @ disabilityhorizons.com.
– Presenter and Speaker @ visablepeople.com.
– Adviser @ Governments/Businesses/Charities.

Also @ Twitter | Facebook | Linked In | Skype.
Mobile @ +44 (0) 7798 746551.

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