If you are wondering “why now?”, well, the idea was in our heads for a while, but we never had the time! (classical excuse, right?). Unexpectedly this year brought us some changes that we could not imagine, not even in our weirdest dreams. Suddenly we had to stop, after 11 years of daily activity. Our lives totally changed. However, we strongly believe that crises can become opportunities. We know it sounds a little cliché but for us it is true. That is how Chill Out started. Back in 2009.
The silver lining is that now we had time to think about our blog project. We chose to write this post as we are restarting our tours, because, often, restarts sound a lot like new beginnings, and this situation is a perfect example. In these months we had the time to revisit our story, and we found a strange resemblance with the beginning of our free tours.
Back then, in 2009, José started the tours, in the middle of an economic crisis. He had lost his job and the tours became his life. At that time, Lisbon was just another city. Even though it was a European capital, somehow was outside of the radar when people were planning their vacation. In those days, walking around Lisbon would be pretty much as it is today, as people are starting to feel safe to come outside.
In fact, we were the first company doing free walking tours in Lisbon. The “free tour” concept was new at the time, but we thought about it as an honest and fair way to work, that would allow us to respect what is fundamental for us, while doing what we love: ethical and moral values, sustainable tourism and the utmost respect for our city and the people living in it.
In that context, we created the free tours in a very natural way. The few that would come would be welcomed as if they were friends from abroad, visiting Lisbon for the first time. We would show them our city in the way we live in it, present our history as the stories we were told by our families, explain the modern events with examples from our personal lives. In other words, we would give them our proud local perspective. In the same way we do today!
Over the years tourism grew, and we grew with it. We were spectators and participants in the evolution of Lisbon. And as the city evolved so did our tours. Each participant contributed to improve and make our tours more complete, because on each tour we can see our city with new eyes and learn new things every day.
We started when there was nothing, we fought to grow, and we never gave up when it became hard. Now we were forced to make some changes, but we never quit or abandon the values that made us who we are, and the reason why so many people keep coming to visit us and join our tours.
More than ever we believe these values are important and that is the time to support the small local companies who respect people, their cities and contribute as they can for a better society. Not only here in Lisbon but everywhere else.
Our mission is to show you Lisbon through our eyes, and make you love this city, the way we do!
Now and in the future, we will be here to welcome you!
Check more information about our tours here
The Lisbon Chill Out Team