We've just returned from our trip to Porto-Coimbra-Sintra-Lisbon trip!
I know that if I start writing a very detailed report, I'd probably give up somewhere on day 3 ;)) So instead, I am going to try and write in sort of bullet points and tell what I thought worked great for us, what we could have done differently. Also, whenever I plan our trips, I am kind of obsessed about food, so restaurant choices to me are as important as the sites we visit (if not more so!).
First of all thank you to everyone who has found the time to answer my questions, give comments and advice, write reports and ask questions which I've pursued in the preparation for the trip. You have made it possible for me to create a trip that we will never forget!
Some basic info: A group of 17Japanese ladies (65-83) and me!
sept 10th flew into Porto
Sept 19th flew out of Lisbon
Hotels (2 in total)
4 nights at the magnificent Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental Palace with the best location (my first ever truly 5-star hotel experience). Very walkable and close to Rua Catarina for shopping.
5 nights at H10 Duque de Loulé (worried that after Porto's hotel it would be a bit of a letdown, but it was charming, clean, and the staff at the reception just amazing. the only thing I wish would be different is the location slightly away from everything which was not a problem (we had charter buses) really except for the day when I wanted to let everyone enjoy free time in Barrio Alto. They would not be able to return on their own, so hence the location is not best for elderly Japanese ladies.
taxis (restaurant transfer)
charter tram (totally worth it for the experience if you are traveling with a group of people)
Walking: I worried too much about not being able to walk. Should have gone with my gut when looking at the distances instead of following the advice of our agent (the one who booked buses and guides). In the end, the bus could not drive us between some areas, so we ended up walking anyway! Especially that was the case in Porto. I think us being from Tokyo (lots of walking here), Porto's and Lisbon's historical areas are very small by comparison. So if you are thinking of walking, do! The only thing is as everyone says "shoes shoes shoes SHOES!!!" must have good shoes for walking, And keep your eyes open at all times!
Problems: Back to the above, walking didn't cause as much problem as I feared, but... We did have a couple of problems though.
Day 1, one of the ladies tripped on one of those car prevention barrier thingys. She just really was not paying attention to where she was going. So, the poor lady ended up at the hospital getting MRT scan and stitches on her forehead. BUT! to my complete bewilderment... all of it was free! It was a public hospital and so we did'T have to use our insurance at all. Wow... THat is amazing. Don't recommend anyone falling on purpose ;)) but if you do, then Portugal is a good place to do it! The lady was a trooper, cause getting back from the hospital, right away she joined our "welcome to Portugal" dinner.
Another lady who uses a walking stick and has mobility issues weathered pretty well till our last two days. Then, unfortunately, her leg started to hurt a lot, so she had to miss a trip to Belem. Feel sad about it, but she did better than I expected.