A short, but steep walk takes you to the older part of the city near the cathedral. A favourite thing for tourists to do is take the no. 28 tram from here which gives you a roller coaster ride through the old city. An alternative is a 'tuk-tuk', We took neither and opted to walk to the old Arabic quarter - the Alfama.
The Alfama's tangle of narrow streets of whitewashed houses decorated with tiles has the 'lost in time' atmosphere of a souk. Our Lonely Planet guidebook takes a particularly romantic view of the area, asserting it was somewhere that you might encounter women about to burst unprompted into a soulful fado, while their fisherfolk husbands sit by gutting mackerel. In truth you are more likely to encounter gaggles of Americans from cruise ships in search of the archetypal image, than the tableau itself.
"Time Out is your social companion. With a world-class digital platform and top-quality curated content, Time Out connects brands and local businesses to the city. Now Time Out Market is taking that to the next stage, bringing the best of the city together under one roof enabling people to discover, book, live and share their experiences."
The food was good, in the main local and cooked to order, served with style, and the vibe was young and energetic. Nevertheless, the sense that the entire place was 'curated', an invention of marketing gobbledygook, felt like Disneyfication updated for the Facebook generation. Do we really need a multinational brand to "enable people to discover, book, live and share their experiences". Collectively have we really become so media dependant, so infantile and useless?
If all this sounds tedious, it wasn't, it was fun, like a maze for grown-ups. We spent at least quarter of an hour trying to snap the gulls that wheeled from time to time across the open roof spaces. It was trickier than you might think.