PDV went to check out Lisbon’s most recent tour company. What at first looks like an ordinary school bus soon reveals an adventurous twist, as it plunges into the waters of the Tagus, offering sightseers the opportunity to see the city both from land and water.
Video by Magda Wallmont
HIPPOtrip’s vehicle is like a cross between The Beatle’s Yellow Submarine and Jeff Nichols’ Yellow Little Bus. It looks just like your ordinary school bus, except it’s yellow, has a giant hippopotamus print on the front – and it floats.
It’s Lisbon’s first amphibious vehicle,” says Frank Alvarez, owner of HIPPOtrip, “offering visitors the opportunity to see the city both on land and water which up until this moment wasn’t possible.”
Alvarez starts off at Doca de Santo Amaro - a dock area under the 25th April Bridge - where he takes passengers aboard the bus for a tour of some of Lisbon’s main landmarks: Praça do Comércio, Marquês de Pombal, Jardim da Estrela, Museu da Electricidade and Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.
There’s no difference to an ordinary bus tour – but the real adventure comes when it gets to the Doca do Bom Sucesso in Belém where it falls steeply into the river Tagus.
When the bus enters the water, that’s the high point,” Alvarez explains. “The front begins to float but the rear is still obviously in contact with the land, and you sense it – there’s a real aldrenalin rush.”
Excited kids cheer and grannies hold on for their dear lives before they are taken for a ride far out in the river and get to see the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Torre de Belém and Centro Naútico de Algés, before heading back to the starting point.
Adults aged 17 to 65 pay €25 and the trip lasts approximately 90 minutes and takes place Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
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