This week on Culture with Travel, we’re interviewing travel preneur Pats of Lisbon with Pats. Learn what drove her to launch a tour company.
What inspired the creation of Lisbon with Pats?
Pure serendipity, I believe. I always loved to travel and through my journeys I made a lot of friends. Over the years, those friends, national and international, and friends of friends have asked me about what to do, where to go or dine in Lisbon for a truly authentic experience.
I discovered not only did they appreciate my tours and recommendations; I really enjoyed the experience of guiding people through the city, sharing my abiding love, knowledge and appreciation for a place so rich in culture and history.
Regarding Lisbon, it was love at first sight. I’m not a “Lisboner” originally (I’m from Coimbra, Portugal’s University city located in the centre, between Lisbon and Porto). I came to Lisbon to work in the advertising and branding industry. Whenever I had some time on my hands, I wandered through the city to discover its many beautiful locations and, mainly, its hidden gems.
So, creating Lisbon with Pats was a natural and organic process, as I wanted to generate an opportunity to share with more people the richness and authenticity of the city, that I so much love. More, I thought, why don’t I do this adding the visitors’ personal interests enabling them to really make the most their time? That’s how the concept for Lisbon with Pats “appeared.” Pats is the nickname given by my British and American friends.
What do you think uniquely sets Lisbon with Pats tours apart?
Lisbon with Pats creates personalized tours in Lisbon according to the visitor’s interests, preferences and tastes. Combine that with my local knowledge and a will to research further, it’s a great formula for a unique and memorable experience.
Being a long time resident, I will introduce visitors to some of its many secrets and stories that are not seen, told or available to the casual visitor/tour, through itineraries that are bespoke, depending on which cultural ingredients are available.
I provide contextualization in terms of history, society and culture. It’s an eye-opening tour, let’s say. Or quoting a Japanese client, “a tour that joins the dots.” They had a couple of days on their own and chose the last day to have a guided tour with me. After the tour, they referred “Aha, now it all makes sense! We were wandering around seeing this and that, bits and pieces, and now we have a sensation of full-circle. Now, we’re really grasping what Lisbon is!”
Highlight some of your favorite parts of the Lisbon with Pats tours. Which local spots do you often take travelers to see?
In reality, I don’t have pre-created packs or tours, as I design a bespoke itinerary for the visitor. So, depending on the visitors request, either history, monuments, art, photography, food and wine or shopping, just to name a few, I create an itinerary that is unique for that person or for that small group of people’s interests. Therefore, there’s no pre-defined parts or locations. It really depends!
Nevertheless, I always try to share a few essential spots for the visitors to have a grasp of Portuguese and Lisbon culture. Belém district, as it is connected with the maritime tradition and has hallmarks of Portuguese architecture of the Age of Discoveries, is a must.
Downtown (called Baixa in Portuguese) is recurrent, as it symbolizes the Lisbon of the Modern Ages. After the big earthquake of 1755, the district was reconstructed in a more logical and illuminist way, according to earthquake proof rules like stakes foundations and cage structures. At the time, it was groundbreaking architecture and engineering! (no pun intended)
The various viewpoints of the city – Lisbon is a city built on hills – that allow panoramic views over the main city areas are also a must. Of the many available, I would highlight Santa Catarina (view to the river Tejo), S. Pedro de Alcântara (view over the Castle, Downtown and Graça), Augusta Street Arch (view over the river, the Castle and Downtown) and Santa Luzia (view over Alfama and the river Tejo). It’s a bit demanding in terms of walking (going up and down), but it’s definitely worth the effort!
Why is exploring local culture important to you? How do you think it tells the story of a place?
Pardon for my lack of impartiality, but there’s no sense in visiting a place without being in contact with its local culture. Why one bothers to fly far-fetching distances (or even short ones) to be closed in a resort or hotel without any contact whatsoever with the destination or the local culture?For me, the point of traveling is to have an inner journey, learning with others, acquiring… Click To Tweet
Local culture stories and history are of uttermost importance, otherwise one risks missing out on a fantastic opportunity of understanding what is to be human and keeps on repeating the same mistakes, just to mention a few.
Where was the most unique destination you’ve personally ever explored (share a bit about the culture)?
I would highlight India, mainly Goa and Kerala, two destinations I totally adore and stayed for a few months.
I visited with a special purpose, to learn Ayurveda treatments and massage techniques. I met locals and made amazing friends.
India would never have been so unique if I hadn’t connected with its people and with such a millenary practice and tradition like Ayurveda. I learnt how to use essential oils, I gained new perspectives about health, well-being and life in general and, mainly, I connected with the essence of Indian culture and made life-lasting friends!
What advice would you share with a budding travel entrepreneur?Be passionate about what you do and, most of all, share that passion. Click To Tweet