We randomnly found out about Emoovio, a French travel agency with a very original concept: you give them a budget and tell them what you like and they will set up for you a mystery trip in an unknown location. They’ll send you several envelopes, you’re gonna have to open throughout your stay at specific times, in which there are clues of your next activity. Not bad right? We had never heard about such a concept so we were pretty curious about it and we madly wanted to try it out to then tell you all about it. Spoiler alert: we loved it ! Here’s the story of our beautiful mystery day in the streets of Lisbon …
So we got in touch with Marine who became our official mystery agent and, after having asked some questions about our tastes and expectations, together we opted for a mystery day in Lisbon. It would be a great opportunity to discover the city in an unusual and original way. It’s also possible to travel with them without knowing your destination but it was quite incompatible with our carefully planned Europe trip, maybe we’ll try this option one day! Being a queen of organization, Marine sent our pretty envelope to our hostel so we were able to get it when arriving. Being very curious, it was really hard for us to resist the urge to
rip it open carefully open it to find out what was in it. We had to wait until 9am sharp the next morning to open it. There was a nice black mystery book in it which summarized the content of our day (without much precision of course!), a map with some marked places then our first clue.
Unusual guided tour of Lisbon
Ready for your mystery day? You’ll start with an unusual tour of Lisbon by its inhabitants and in French to explore the old Alfama & Graça neighborhoods. You have an appointment at 10am!
It couldn’t have been more perfect since we had read repeatedly on the web that the Alfama district was a must in Lisbon! Already excited by the prospect of this unusual visit, we took the subway and went to the beautiful Praça do Comércio as indicated in our clue. After walking aroung for a few minutes and staring at some strangers, we finally found our guide and our tour companions for the morning, a dozen of French people. The first explanations of our guide began at the center of the vast Praça do Comércio and he provided us with a mini history lesson about the construction of the square and the different symbols that are found on the huge door there. We aren’t very keen on history so we preferred to admire the beauty of the buildings and feel a bit the atmosphere of the place at that moment. We are therefore not able to give you precise information on important dates in the history of this place (Wikipedia is your friend!) but we can tell you that it’s a beautiful place which faces the Tagus river.
We then went through the Rua da Alfândega to get to the heart of the Alfama district, our favorite part of the visit! It really felt like being thrown into another time when we entered into this quaint and typical neighborhood in the heart of Lisbon. It is the oldest neighborhood in the capital and it is quite unusual to see that it feels like being in a small village. Our guide lives there and he told us that there are many small businesses as a fishmonger, a butcher or a baker, it is possible to do all of your grocery shopping without leaving the walls of this little corner of paradise. The cars are banned from circulating there, the children were playing ball the simplest way on the pretty little squares, closely watched by happy and friendly grannies leaning on their balcony discussing with each other from one building to another. Another time we’re telling you! You will need a good deal of stamina to climb the many steep steps, hoping to discover the beautiful spots of the area but it will be worth the effort. We admiratively looked at women, more or less aged, who were goiing up, their arms full of groceries, they commanded respect! Seems they have the habit of making several short breaks to chat with their neighbors before going up again.
Some houses were still bearing the pretty garlands usually installed around the city for the St. Anthony feast in June. The area must be splendid, decorated with a thousand colors, we will have to come back one day at this time of the year! We were really charmed by this peaceful Alfama neighborhood where it gives off a delicious joie de vivre despite the old not always well constructed buildings; most of the time, the ceilings are very low to gain maximum space and thus add an extra floor and stairs of the buildings are ultra steep and narrow! With a bit of sadness, our guide told us that the neighborhood is rapidly changing and that people often find themselves forced to leave their homes which became too expensive due to the arrival of Airbnb and its many tourists. “Within some years,” he said, “all this will no longer exist as we know it today.” Enough to make us not want to rnet an Airbnb in the district during a future stay! We ended the tour of the neighborhood with a short stop to a charming little bakery, located at the Rua da Regueira, Pastelaria Alfama Doce, the best of Lisbon. We tasted the alfama, a delicious pastry made with almonds, and the travesseiro also made of almond paste. Really delicious! We continued our tour in the Graça neighborhood, which appeared to be a little less charming to us, but none the less interesting. We had the chance to meet Anabella, one of the best azulejos painters in Lisbon. It was very interesting to learn more about the craft behind these beautiful colorful azulejos scattered around Lisbon, and even in Portugal, that Nath kept looking for and frantically took photos of during our visit. Here are our favorites:
Lunch in a typial portuguese restaurant
12:30pm, it was already time to separate us from our group and our guide and open the second envelope because we were getting pretty hungry!
Hungry now right? Let’s go to the local A Penalva da Graça restaurant for a typical and delicious full lunch! Be there at 2pm! You can ask for directions to your guide!
After walking for few minutes, we got to this lovely typical Portuguese restaurant that is A Penalva da Graça. Pretty little tables were set up on our left and our server quickly seated us on the one that said “Reservado” after we told him we were coming on the behalf of Emoovio. In addition to the clue, we also received a text message from Marine telling us that we were entitled to a budget of €15 ($17) per person including dish, dessert and drink, enough to get us a kings feast based on the more than reasonable prices on the menu. Most of the dished were under €10 ($11)! We were just thrilled and decided to splurge on the delicious appetizers that were served. We ate some delicious goat cheese with bread and very good spreads made of fish, a real treat that went very well with the house’s red wine. Having sought advice from our friendly waiter, we decided to try out the arroz de marisco (rice with seafood), one of the house specialties. The dish was simply served to us in some kind of small pot from where we served our own plates. Well, this means no picture because we are unable to serve us pretty photogenic plates but you’ll get a little insight of our dish a little lower in the video. It was a simple, very hearty and very tasty dish, which wass even more tasty after adding some spice drops, yum! We were unable to finish with a sweet touch as the dish was pretty generous, it was already time to go to new adventure. It felt weird to just stand up after eating at a restaurant, say goodbye and go. We made sure there was no misunderstanding with the staff and went off to the last experience of the day.
Escape game in Lisbon
Did you eat well? You are now going to live the ESCAPE HUNT EXPERIENCE. An hour of game and puzzles to solve … About 25 min walk from your restaurant. Be there at 5pm!
Great, an escape game! It was an activity that we had been wanting to test since it had arrived in France, so we were over-excited at the idea of finally having the opportunity. It was only 3pm so we had an hour and a half to kill before the start of our Escape Hunt Experience, perfect for briskly strolling through the streets of Lisbon and really take the time to appreciate it. As agreed, we got to the Escape Hunt Experience at 5pm and we are warmly greeted by Beatriz, a friendly young and smiling staff member. She nicely got us some tea and biscuits in order to wait while our room was getting ready, enough to easily put us in the shoes of Sherlock Holmes. She then took us to our room, explained the rules to us and we were off for 1 hour of puzzles and riddles of all kinds. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures of the room for obvious confidentiality reasons but we can tell you that it was a really neat experience. Usually, this type of activity is practiced in teams of 4-5 people so we had a little trouble being effective with our two brains. On an escape game, it is very important to combine multiple brains and therefore several ways of thinking to move forward together and solve puzzles one after the other. The script was really well put together and the accessories were well designed so we quickly got caught up in the game. Despite a little help from Beatriz, we did pretty well and have only exceeded the chrono of a few minutes, frustrating and satisfying at the same time! The only downside is that an escape game experience is generally quite expensive, it takes about €30 ($34) per person. It’s really not cheap but if one day you have the opportunity to try it out, we advise you to go there with closed eyes, we loved it!
This mystery day was a real success for us and we recommend this concept without any hesitation. We enjoyed the organizational skills of Marine both before and during the day. She was very helpful and attentive to our desires and managed to understand us and set up a fairly flexible schedule. For us it is a very good point from Emoovio! The risk with this kind of day planned in advance, is ending up having to run right to left to fit the timing but here we were not stressed at all. The day was really spent in the most zen way possible and it is much appreciated. We’ll keep a very good memory of it!
A little video?
To end this article in style we offer you a little recap of our day on video! Unfortunately, our experience at the Escape Hunt is very little present as it is forbidden to shoot there not to spoil the surprise. We still hope that this little video will inspire you to try the adventure of a mystery trip, we loved it!
We were invited by Emoovio to try out their services but all the opinions expressed here are our own and haven’t in any case been subjected to the influence of a third party. A big thank you to Marine who set up this perfect day for us!
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