Today we’re sharing the story of someone in love with Lisbon who believes that this feeling, ultimately, can be justified by the possibility of having been “Portuguese in her past life”. In Lisbon in Us by Monika Wtulich, this tour guide reveals her perspective of the Portuguese capital and her concern for promoting a “respectful and ethical” tourism.
Love at the first sight
My relationship with Lisbon started a long time ago when I arrived here for the first time as a student in 2004. Since then we have never really parted ways. Whenever I came back for holidays, or for work, I would leave here a little piece of myself. On the other hand, my affection for this city grew bigger and bigger, like a seed planted inside me. The city’s exceptional atmosphere attracted me so much that one day I realised I cannot live without it anymore. I decided to leave my life in Warsaw and settle down in Lisbon.
My own mission as a Lisbon city guide is to run respectful and ethical tourism. At the same time I aim to spread my love for Lisbon among Polish guests.
Lisbon seems to be hanging somewhere between the past and the present. Time seems to be slowing down, compared to other places. With my job model I wish to contribute to the preservation of Lisbon’s soul, especially within its historical districts, whose authentic flavors, sounds and smells make Lisbon a unique place.
The last decade has seen Lisbon flooded with travellers from around the world. The Portuguese capital has become “fashionable”. It has been recognized as one of the most desired weekend destinations by many foreigners. Unfortunately, overtourism is not good for anyone in the long run. It harms both the local cultures and the travellers’ own experiences. Travelling is a privilege and no one should be discouraged from exploring the world but one may always be a better tourist.
My idea is to encourage my guests to treat Lisbon as their own home and its citizens like their own neighbours, that is, with full respect. Lisbon owes its charm largely to its people, traditions and local customs. This kind of beauty is unique but very fragile at the same time, so it should be handled with care. This is why we offer only two types of walks: one-on-one and small-group ones, which allows us to be almost invisible for locals and creates space for discussions within a group.
Storytelling and ‘off the beaten track’ routes are the main ingredients of my walks. Interesting historical facts, myths and legends, anecdotes are the main spices. I love walking with kids, as their perception of the world, their curiosity and their vivid imagination are just incredible. At work I always try to support small local businesses, where one can taste typical Portuguese flavors or listen to fado.
Through camera lens
Whenever I do not walk around Lisbon with my guests, I observe the city through my camera lens. Taking photographs has always been my passion. The colors, the details, azulejos, street art of any kind, people and their daily routine…. I could list endlessly. Every little thing inspires me here in Lisbon. I find beauty in every chaotic patio or wall patchwork. Lisbon has never been boring. Every single day I rediscover the city. I may walk the same street for the hundredth time, yet it seems like the first time; I always find something new and exciting to capture.
|Lisbon in Us by Monika Wtulich|
|Mini introduction||Originally from Poland. Based in Lisbon for 6 years. Since she has no reasonable explanation for her passion for Portugal, she says that she must have been Portuguese in her past life. The owner of Sekrety Lizbony company that offers one-on-one and small group walks for tourists in Polish language, with full respect for local people and their traditions. Major in International Relations, Latin American Culture, and Marketing Communication. A photographer.|
Follow her on:
Photos and personal blog
|An inspiring place||The oldest Lisbon district – Alfama, with its labyrinth of streets, alleys, sidewalks, stairs, patios and more, and with its authentic atmosphere|
|An unmissable visit||Tapada das Necessidades|
|His mouth waters with…||A “pastel de Alfama” and in fact every pastry made by Federico at his pastelaria in Alfama – “Alfama Doce”|
|A song…||Reserva pra dois by Branko & Mayra Andrade|
The Polish version can be read here. 🙂
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