I am just back from 4 beautiful days in Lisbon, Portugal.
I already visited Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais 7 years ago, and I noticed some relevant improvement in the “tourism machine”.
First of all: Security.
Lisbon (and some other major city in Portugal) had some terrible review along 2010-2011 from people who visited it (example). Problems were almost related to pickpockets (on trams and during street performances) and armed robbery (on the street, as in Barrio Alto narrow lanes).
I did not have any issue at that time, but I clearly remember more drug dealers on the street offering drugs (probably fake ones, still active on 2017) and a number of people begging for money in a quite pushy way on subway and such (almost disappeared on 2017, including Gipsies).
What can I say? Something changed. Police presence is fare more consistent, and you can now see a police officer (the operative ones, with spray, gun and tonfa) every 25-40 metres, everywhere. They are sober, polite but vigilant.
According to some short “interview” I made to people working in the shops and restaurants I visited, Portuguese Government made investments on Tourism as everyone is aware the hospitality Business is a treasure for the Nation…. Something that Italian “Government” and most of Italians did not catch yet.
And let me also mention the quality of tourists also improved. I noticed fa more mid-class people, with nice dresses/accessories/shoes and even nice photo and video cameras (and not just cheap foreigners in shorts and havaianas looking for a toilette and a bottle of water…). “People who really want to have a good time won’t come to a slaughterhouse. And we’ve got entirely too many troublemakers here. Too many 40-year-old adolescents, felons, power drinkers and trustees of modern chemistry”. Dalton, Road House.
Transports services increased, also offering short and long tours on electrical rickshaws, and this positively impacted on viability and security. Why? Simple. Less people packed in public transports stops and/or on-board offered less opportunities to pickpockets or other fraudsters.
Improved viability also offers a nicer perception of the Country itself to tourists, more easy to visit, moving around.
Unfortunately pickpockets business still very active/dangerous because it’s facilitated by lack of care of tourists on minor details that can make the difference. I used the word “dangerous” because a pickpocket often is not interested to Passports or other Identification Documents, but stealing your pocket they may take them away together with money and debit cards.
Here some simple advice:
- Make a photocopy of your ID card/passport and bring this copy with you, leave the document in the safety box in the hotel ;
- Split your money and bring what you need for the day, leave the rest in your safety box in the hotel ;
- If you like jewels, purchase come nice and cheap one and wear them going around. You will enjoy your style without being targeted by burglars. Come on! You don’t really need your Gran Pa golden necklace to walk around as tourist …
- If you need a small bag, use the slim/flat ones you can keep under your jacket. Otherwise bring the essential in your front pockets, and forget about your trousers back ones.
- If you have a casual backpack, put on its bottom the more valuable things, and pack the top of it with cheap and voluminous ones.
- When you are in a public transport ensure your backpack is sealed and put it down, don’t keep it on your shoulders. You don’t have visibility of what is happening backward.
These are very obvious advices but they always protected me from pickpockets (I have been targeted more than one time, as in Praha, and they always missed their goal). So give it a go.
“I love Lisbon… it’s just a feast for the eyes”. John Malkovich.