I want a cool rider: A sidecar tour of Lisbon

"It's been years since I've had this much fun with my clothes on," I shouted and threw my head back into Lisbon's warm evening sun.

Oh soggy stewed tea bags! Did I actually say that out loud?

But it was true. I was giggling like a (naughty) little girl, thrilled by the speed at which I travelled, elated by the looks that landed and stayed on us. I felt like while wrapping her arms and legs around the new kid in town Michael. 

And yet I looked nothing like Michelle Pfeiffer. I looked ridiculous. 

I was wearing clear plastic goggles, a too big helmet and was holding onto a sixty something year old man, the pair of us straddling a replica 1940s motorcycle. But you should have seen my grin... Not many men have made me smile like that. Beside me Heather sat surprisingly elegantly in her side car. We'd met only moments before being invited to join Hannibal - yes, that really was his name. As soon as we started spluttering and puttering up the side streets of Lisbon, I convulsed into giggles. Heather looked at me, slightly apprehensively and so I tried to rein in the chuckling, but I couldn't. I was having too much fun.

We climbed our way up steep hills, tucked ourselves around impossibly tight corners and bumped and bopped along cobbled alleyways. We covered more ground than we ever could have on foot and all the while, the sun slowly sat down on to us, changing the light and the mood - but not my gigglingly high spirits. From the historic narrow streets of Alfama - an area wrongly overlooked by visitors - and the long straight roads of Bairo Alto, a suburb that was only just waking up from the night before, to the tourist and commuter full streets of Baixo and Chiado we saw Lisbon change from a city at work to a city at rest or ready to play. 

Our tour included more view points than the average city can offer - Santa Justa Elevator (where some Filipino sailors added to our view),  Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara and my favourite, and the peaceful  Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte where we mixed with only a few locals. We then raced down to the water's edge, speeding along a dual carriageway towards  Belém , where I ate no fewer than three  Pastéis de Belém - traditional Portuguese egg custard and pastry tarts. What can I say? A girl builds up a serious appetite when she's having this much fun ...with all her clothes fully on.

Disclosure: HouseTrip had the genius idea to do this tour and they paid for me to giggle my head off for two hours one evening while we were staying in this apartment in Lisbon. The tour was excellently run by Sidecar Touring Company and Hannibal did not even hint at wanting to eat us - he was the perfect smiley gentleman. All the giggles and opinions are my own.

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
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