Category Archives: Travel Experience

Why You Should Visit Lisbon – Part Two

  1. Cultural Heritage & History

Lisbon’s History and Heritage will be eternally connected to the Ocean, and that’s why Lisbon boasts many fantastic landmarks and sights by the sea. Lisbon is the second Europe’s oldest capital, just after Athens, one of the world’s greatest natural harbors, as well as one of the world’s great historic cities. This charming capital of Portugal stands out for its sense of history that can perfectly be found in its old historical center where many tourism attractions are found. If you are a history enthusiast you will appreciate Lisbon for the way it fuels that interest. Some of my favorite monuments, which I believe you will like too, are Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jeronimos Monastery), Torre de Belém (Belem Tower), Castelo de São Jorge (St. George’s Castle) and Convento do Carmo (Carmo Convent). There’s still the village of Sintra, a magical place with a fairytale palace and a natural park, which is worth a visit too. You can read more about his UNESCO Heritage site and how to get there here.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos Jeronimos Monastery

It is a 15th-century masterpiece, a monastery built to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s discovery of India sea route. It was the starting point from where the Portuguese navigators departed to explore the world. It includes the buildings of the Jeronimos monastery and Santa Maria church. It’s a beautiful monastery and I recommend to admire the carved detail on the cloisters, the brilliant tiled walls in the refectory and the great view of the church from the second-floor choir loft. It’s only a 20-minute pleasing tram ride from Lisbon’s city center.

Torre de Belém Belem Tower

A Manueline-style tower that stands out over the mouth of the Tejo river, guarding the entrance to the city’s harbor. Torre de Belem was a defensive tower from the 16th-century and it is today an icon of the city with its Moorish spires and medieval staircase. It is one of Europe’s most picturesque UNESCO world heritage sites and taking a tour on the tower is mandatory to any visitor. It’s a magical place that will take you back in time.

Castelo de São Jorge St. George’s Castle

An impressive castle from the 11th-century with its surrounding fortress dominating the cityscape. It was originally built during the Moorish occupation of Lisbon but through the times served as a royal palace and as one of Lisbon’s military stations. You can get stunning views over the city and the Tejo river from the top. For many visitors coming to Lisbon it is considered their favorite monument of the city. It’s my favorite too.

Convento do Carmo Carmo Convent

This mediaeval convent was ruined in the great 1755 earthquake that devastated Lisbon. The ruins of its Gothic church that are still visible today are a powerful reminder of that moment. The walls of the church remained standing but its roof and arches crumbled, and today it remains open to the sky. It is a great place to contemplate the history of Lisbon.

Why You Should Visit Lisbon – Part One

1. People and simplicity

Lisbon’s people were chosen as the best hosts in Europe. Portugal people in general are lovely. They are warm, gracious and they have a kind of modesty and unpretentiousness which I hope they will always demonstrate. The gracious manners of these people are unparalleled.

On several typical neighborhoods of Lisbon such as Alfama, Bica or Castelo, you can still find ladies drying their laundry in front of their kitchen windows and old men peeling oranges and watching people passing by. It’s a refreshing experience to be exposed to people captured in such a simplistic way of living. If you wander lost through this same narrows streets with your eyes wide open, you will truly see and experience Lisbon friendliness and authenticity. And you will feel anything but lost, and immensely grateful for the diversion.

2. Surf and beaches

Lisbon is the capital of Europe with more daily hours of sunshine. Not surprisingly, its inhabitants usually go to the beach after work to catch the last hours of sun and fun.

Beaches of Carcavelos and Estoril are only 15-minute train ride away from Lisbon’s city center, and the train ride is a highlight itself because of the beautiful views over the coastline. Both beaches are usually quite packed in summer time, so if you want to go to a more distant beach you must go by car or by bus. If you are a surfer, kite-surfer, body boarder or windsurfer you will like to know that the southern beaches of Costa da Caparica and Praia do Guincho in the village of Cascais are only about 30min drive from Lisbon. The two of them are renowned water sports beaches, and even if you don’t know how to surf there are some schools where you can get lessons.

3. Weather

The city is cooled off by the Atlantic and warmed by the winds of the Sahara desert, making it a year-round destination. It is also the sunniest capital in Europe, and many tourists come during summer time to enjoy the beach. Compared with average temperatures from other European cities, especially from Central Europe, it’s is an attractive destination and one of the reasons why so many Nordic travelers visit Lisbon in months outside the summer season.

One of the things I really enjoy doing when I am visiting Lisbon is to grab a drink in one of the many panoramic belvederes or rooftop bars. It’s almost always possible to take advantage of this opportunity because there’s always sun. I recommend to enjoy the views from the top of one of Lisbon seven hills – my favorite is Miradouro da Graça, a beautiful viewpoint where there’s a nice bar to spend the sunset, overlooking the city and the Tejo River below.

You may need a back-up plan in case it rains, but don’t worry as there’s always something to do in Lisbon. In that case I recommend a visit to Oceanário or to visit some world-class temporary exhibitions in one of Lisbon many museums such as the Gulbenkian, CCB or Museu de Arte Antiga. Oceanário is a giant tank that features sunfish and sharks, and offers up-close encounters with penguin’s, otters, puffins and other unusual animals. It is really a fantastic attraction and well worth a trip.

 

Canberra, Australia

Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of 381,488, it is Australia’s largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), 280 km (170 mi) south-west of Sydney, and 660 km (410) north-east of Melbourne. A resident of Canberra is known as a “Canberran.”

The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation’s capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities. It is unusual among Australia cities, being an entirely planned city outside of any state, similar to Washington D.C. in the United States or Brasilia in Brazil.

Following an international contest for the city’s design, a blueprint by Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin was selected and construction commenced in 1913. The Griffins’ plan featured geometric motifs such as circles, hexagons and triangles, and was centered on axes aligned with significant topographical landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory.

Paris, France

Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is situated on the Seine River in the north of France. More than 12 million people live in Paris Region, and more than 32 million tourists has visited Paris in 2013, bringing him the title of most popular tourist destination in the world.

One of the most popular museums in Paris is definitely Louvre. It had more than 9.2 million visitors in 2013, making it the most visited museum in the world. Another top cultural attractions in Paris are the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, the Eiffel Tower, the Centre Pompidou and Musée d’Orsay. 32km east of the centre of Paris, in Marne-la-Vallée, you can find Disneyland, another very popular attraction.

Some of the most visited monuments like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre, are located in the center of the city, just as Sainte-Chapelle are Les Invalides are. Les Invalides is a place where Napoleon’s tomb is located. Other much-visited landmarks are located across the city and include the Basilica of St Denis, the Palace of Fontainebleau, the Arc de Triomphe etc.

Singapore

Singapore has become one of the most popular destinations among tourists in a very short period of time. Located in Southeast Asia, it represents the leading global city-state and island country in the world. Not only tourism, but also money and commercial business are being “attracted” by Singapore. With the title of one of the world’s major commercial hubs, the fourth-largest financial center and of the top two busiest container ports in the world, Singapore has definitely a lot of things to offer.

National museum of Singapore

One of the best history museums in Asia, the National museum of Singapore, is located in Palladian mansion. Four permanent Living Galleries detailing the history of food, fashion, film and photography are waiting for you. Also, cutting-edge art, fine-dining restaurants, cafes and shops can be found there. Currently, the museum is being renovated, so some galleries are closed until September.

Night safari

Where do you have a chance to see nocturnal animals in their natural habitat (except in Africa)? In Singapore, of course. Spread over 40 hectares (or 100 acres) of lush forest, over 2,500 animals live in seven zones recreating regions such as the Himalayan Foothills. The attraction also has walking trails, tram rides and special experiences.