A brief query about Lisbon or Prague on the General Europe forum stirred my long-ago memories of visiting Portugal in about 1970. I had the good fortune to travel with someone who spoke a fair amount of Portuguese, having been a student there for a while. We drove there all the way from the UK across France and Spain and worked our way from the north down to Lisbon staying mainly at pousadas, and to then on somewhere on the coast south of Lisbon, maybe Sintra?
Despite having fallen in love with France and spending nearly all my holidays in France since then, I feel I would like to revisit Portugal. This time I'd would be alone and not with a car, but I have found an InnTravel tour that would take me by train from Porto, up the Douro valley, and on to Coimbra, Lisbon and Sintra, with accommodation pre-booked at places with character, but not pousadas (which would probably be beyond my budget these days, anyway).
My concerns are two-fold: how would I manage speaking no Portuguese (except "sardinas assadas"), and will I now feel crowded out by other tourists, especially those in buses and large groups? Is it still possible to find quiet places in those cities and walk and dine alone without being overly concerned about safety, as I do in France.