quinta-feira, 5 de setembro de 2013

Eurovel, Zazzle and lack of text

Recently I have decided to dedicate some time to Zazzle and to the creativity you can get in images in products, not so much e texts and relating.

If you want to take a look

sábado, 24 de agosto de 2013

The Fetes de Geneve - A weekend in Geneve

We had heard about the great fireworks display and the ambiance of party that the city of Geneve has during the city party/celebrations, so we decided to spend a weekend in the city.

The city itself is very small, the most visited cartier/neighborhood is the old city with the beautiful, but simple, Cathedral of Saint Pierre with a magnificent panoramic view to the city, mountains and lake.

View from the Tower of the Cathedral St. Pierre

Why it is recommended to visit during the "Fetes de Geneve"?

There is a small village in Jardin des Anglaise with a host country, with typical food and beverages, and outside the village we found food and beverages from other countries, some of them were Chinese, Russian, German, Brazilian...

There are two clubs near the lake with parties during the night, you can find food like cotton candy and popcorn, and many fairground amusements. Everything around the lake, giving a beautiful night view over the city and lake.

The fireworks are great, but be prepared since it was estimated a total of 600.000 people watching the fireworks, crowding the streets and every possible spot near the lake where you can view the fireworks.
If you want to have a good spot and you are available to pay, a seat can cost from 60CHF/64USD/48EUR.

sexta-feira, 3 de maio de 2013

The beaches are getting warmer and soon, crowded

Today I wil leave the Lisbon Friday with just an image

Costa da Caparica, a beach that is fifteen minutes away from the Lisbon city center

sexta-feira, 26 de abril de 2013

The Lisbon Half Marathons - The EDP half marathon aka The 25th April Bridge Half Marathon

It was on the 24th of March that the 23rd half marathon in Lisbon was held and counted with over 10.000 participants, some of them were professional, others were just amateur athletes, but most of them were participants that just wanted to do it for the fun.

It is the only day in the year that the 25th April bridge is closed so the people can walk on it, even if you do not want to pay to participate, the bridge stays closed for three hours after the departure of the first half marathonists. More than 45.000 people cross the bridge on that day on their on foot.
The half marathonists start their race at 10:30, ten minutes later the mini-marathonists (7,2 km) can go, and after all the participants that paid are already in the race, there is place for people who did not pay but still want to cross the bridge and walk to the famous neighbourhood of Belém.

I have been in three mini-marathons and it is a day full of joy, I woke up early to accompany my friends that were running the 22km, then we took the train and went to the "Pragal" station, arriving there at 09:30.
The train station and the train are crowded since it is the preferred transportation to get to the start point.

You still have to walk 1km from the train station to the race start

This is the view looking back when entering the restricted area for who paid to participate 

These are the tolls before the bridge, closed for the day, you have to pass by then to reach where you will start the race

The Bridge gets crowded as you can see, with lots of people but always space to move around. If you are easily scared, be prepared to face the heights, the crowd is peaceful.

View from the 25th April Bridge
The end of the race is near the Jeronimos monastery in Belem.

More about the Lisbon Half Marathon:

It is usually on the penultimate sunday of March

terça-feira, 23 de abril de 2013

The golden week in Japan

If you are planning a trip to Japan and you don't want to go there when the cities are most crowded, you should definitely avoid the "Golden Week".

The Golden Week happens in the end of April, beginning of May and it is called that way due to the concentration of four holidays in seven days. The first holiday happens in the 29th/April and then from 3rd/May to the 5th/May there are three holidays.

During this week there is a spike in prices in Hotels in Japan, as well as flights the leave Japan in the beginning of the week, and even with the high prices most of the hotels and flights can get fully booked. The Hospitality and Tourism industry has one of its main spikes during this week, the other two big spikes are the New Years Eve and the Bon Festival.

Some companies even close during these week, leaving their employees free for the week to spend the time as they want.

Shibuya District during the Golden Week (by: Unclekage)
If you really want to go to Japan and experience the Golden Week, the flights are not very expensive, since it is a Japanese peak, the flights to and from Japan, when contrary to the inflow and outflow of Japanese tourists, are "normal" priced flights.

We decided to plan to go there in June since it is the month when days are longer and there aren't many tourists as there is in July and August.

sexta-feira, 19 de abril de 2013

The Lisbon Coat of Arms

Every city has a coat of arms, a symbol that identifies the city, representing a small part of the history of 
the city and sometimes, of its founding.

The simple version of the Lisbon coat of arms shows two ravens on a boat, the legend says that there were two ravens on the boat that transported St. Vincent from Sagres to Lisbon. The legend also says that after being martyred, St Vincent was protected by the ravens from other animals so he would not be eaten.

Simple coat of arms of Lisbon
St. Vincent was a Spanish deacon of Zaragoza in the third century that died in Valencia, brought to Sagres by  the Moors. In 1173 he was brought to Lisbon by decision of the king, at that time, the King also decided that ravens would became a symbol of Lisbon.

For a long time, the city council had in the St Jorge Castle a cage with several ravens, but that ended more than fifteen years ago, and now the ravens are more a symbol and hardly found in Lisbon.

A more detailed coat of arms shows the  motto of the city "The very noble and always loyal city of Lisbon"
The Lisbon coat of arms

The collar that surround the symbol of Lisbon belongs to the Order of the Tower and the Sword, created in 1459 and nowadays it is only awarded to the most important people, since 1963 it has been awarded only for Presidents.

Although there is the legend about the boat that transported the remain of St. Vincent, Lisbon had already a coat of arms before that, and it was probably a boat, representing the city of Lisbon, as a coastal and a port city.

This most recent symbol is dated from 1940 with its details, even the lines representing the water.

Even being almost impossible to find a raven in the city, when visiting Lisbon you will have several opportunities to see its coat of arms.

In the floor

Street Lamps
On walls

quarta-feira, 17 de abril de 2013

Which Airport to choose in Tokyo? Narita or Haneda?

The big metropolitan area of Tokyo, Japan's Capital, is served by two main airports, the Haneda and the Narita Airport. When traveling to Tokyo, it is highly recommended to know which airport you are traveling to, they have very different characteristics.

My recommendation is the Haneda Airport, the main reason is location.

The Haneda is nearer the city of Tokyo and it will cost you less if you want to go from the airport to the Tokyo centre. When it comes to distance, the Haneda airport is located on the Tokyo Bay, twenty kilometres away from the main districts of Tokyo, and it is located on the great metropolitan area of Tokyo, also it is a hundred and twenty kilometres away from the famous Mt Fuji.

The Haneda Airport is a mark in engineering, using the advantages of the new artificial islands that it is possible to create.
Air view of the Haneda Airport in the Tokyo Bay

The Narita Airport is seventy kilometres away from the Tokyo city centre and it isn't even in the metropolis of Tokyo, the trip between Narita and Tokyo includes a passage by the countryside, and if you are using the public transit system you can expect a trip lasting two hours, that can also be quite expensive.

I would recommend the Narita Airport if you want to rent a car and visit the countryside in Japan, and the East coast.

This is my opinion if I could choose one airport or the other, at the same cost, but since the airline industry has a complex pricing strategy, you will notice that tickets to the Haneda Airport can be more expensive than to the Narita Airport, and some airlines do not have flights to Haneda, due to the busy schedule and lack of slots, that is why my trip to Tokyo will probably pass by the Narita Airport.

sexta-feira, 12 de abril de 2013

Images from the Youth Hostel in Almada/Lisbon

In the south bank of the Tagus/Tejo river, less than fifteen minutes away by car from the centre of Lisbon you can find a simple Youth Hostel with a magnificent view.

I have never stayed there so I cannot tell my personal experiences about the rooms, but as a normal Youth Hostel it seems a simple place, well furnished and clean.
When I was there I could only see the extraordinary view and the entrance.

The reservations can be made in their website - https://www.movijovem.pt/reservas/
The reservation process can only be made with Internet Explorer.
The prices vary from €13 (Dorm during Low Season) to €70 (Apartment with kitchenette during High Season)

These are some of the photos I had the opportunity to take. I did not edit any of them, but it is not a great camera, so do not expect magnificent images.

Sunset with the Trafaria port below

View of the north bank of the Tagus river and the Trafaria port

The main bridge of Lisbon, 25 de Abril (25 of April, the revolution date)

View in front of the Youth Hostel

The 25 Abril bridge

Zoomed view of the 25 Abril bridge

View of Lisbon with the castle in the center

Bridge with the city of Lisbon behind the bridge

View of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
And these are some images of the Sunset you can get in the balcony of the Youth Hostel.

sexta-feira, 5 de abril de 2013

The Coach Museum in Lisbon

The national coach museum in Lisbon is more than a hundred years old, and the building is worth of taking photos, a magnificent painted ceiling and paintings on the second floor make this museum not only a place with the old royal vehicles, but also a place for art.

The museum was inaugurated on the 23rd May of 1905, and the original collection included 29 vehicles, which were owned by the Royal House.
It is located in one of the most touristic areas of Lisbon, Belém, where you cannot miss the "Pastéis de Belém" and you can also visit beautiful gardens and the "Mosteiro dos Jerónimos".
Near the museum there is a construction site where the a new coach museum is being built(almost finished by now). It is a modern building and it will have more space for the coaches. It is not as magnificent as the old one but it will have more space for the visitors to enjoy the view.

Until the coaches are moved, you can still enjoy and see the centenary coach museum. Here are some of the photos I took there. 

View of the main building from the second floor. The entrance is just under where I was
The tour through the museum starts with the oldest coaches, that are located near the entrance, and as you walk you will see more modern coaches with the new painting techniques applied and more detailed sculptures done in the coach wood.

These are some of the details that you can see in the doors

Paintings of angels in the doors

Paintings of the crown and the flags of Portugal and Spain that were under the same crown

Two angels lifting the crown

Two angels holding the crown and the coat of arms of Portugal

One of the examples where painting was not applied, the difference in colour is due the  museum lights.

As you can see there is a lack of space behind the coach

Some of the coaches have glass protecting the interior

This coach was used during the papal visit to Portugal

More modern coaches did not have big wheels as before and had more detailed in the carving of the coach

After the main exhibition you will enter in another wing of the building where the coach in which the penultimate king of Portugal died, after he was shot. The coach still has some of the holes the bullets made in the Regicide.

Two of the bullet holes in the coach

Image of the rear of the coach, where the king was standing, and the door with the two holes.

An ad from more than hundred years ago.
In the ad you can see written some of the marketing of that time:

  • "Carruagens com rodas de borracha" - Coaches with wheels of rubber
  • "Carruagens para Casamentos e Baptisados" - Coaches to Weddings and Baptized
  • "O que ha de mais luxo e bom gosto" - What exists with more luxury and good taste
Hope you like it, depending on your visit to Lisbon you may want to visit the museum. I recommend it if you are going to stay in Lisbon more than three days. It is good, but you will also find other beautiful places to go.

terça-feira, 26 de março de 2013

Edinburgh Easyhotel

I have to say my expectations were a bit high, I had stayed in the London Victoria Easyhotel and the experience was quite good, so for my stay in Edinburgh I decided to give it a shot on an Easyhotel.

The Edinburgh Easyhotel was not so good as the one in London, our first impression was negative, since the room was a little cold and the sheets did not seem so clean, nothing really bad but on our other experience everything was very good.

When choosing an Easyhotel, you should know the main reasons for its low price, the main reason is the room space, which is very small with only the essential furniture(basically the bed). Since we only wanted a place to sleep, this was enough, but we decided to pay a little more, and in the morning we would wake up with this great view, the Edinburgh Castle.

View from the Window - Special Room

Why the Easyhotel in Edinburgh?
I must say the location was the main advantage of this hotel, when you consider the price we were willing to pay. As I told before we had a car, so we also wanted a hotel near a public park, and we did not care so much about public transportation.

The Easyhotel Edinburgh has its address on Princes Street with direct access to the West Princes Street Gardens and very near to the castle.

The Rooms
The door of our room, window is on the right, bathroom in the left and the bed in the center
There are three choices, Small room with window, without window and a standard room with window.
Our choice was the Standard room to get the view, and it was worth it, specially in the morning. The bathrooms are really small but enough for what we wanted.
The quality of our sleeping was good, we did not hear other guests neither street noise.

This photo is from the entrance, there is not much room for luggage 

The Hotel
When you get to the door you should ring the bell, so do not try to open the door, it is not worth to push it hard. The reception is open 24h, since we arrived there at 02 AM, we can confirm that they were efficient even in the dawn.
There are no lifts, so you have to take the stairs to the reception, which is on the first floor. If you are carrying anything heavy, be prepared to use your strength.
If you need there is a computer on the reception with free Internet for the clients.

Where to eat near the Hotel
We chose to dinner one day at the Amber Rose (Tripadvisor ranking), it was a champions league night and the restaurant was quite crowded, still we got a table and had the opportunity to eat. If you have the opportunity to go there, it has a good atmosphere but the food was nothing special.
There are two Starbucks near the hotel, one of them is almost side by side with the hotel, a good option for a hot drink and get free WiFi.
Even thought not being the most commercial place in Edinburgh, there are plenty of option near the hotel.

If you are feeling hungry in the room, the hotel has some drink & food machines, which can be a good option since the price is not exorbitant and the options are god.


For the price we paid it was quite good, a simple room for some quiet nights.

sábado, 23 de março de 2013

River Cruises around Europe

Europe is a small continent, according to Mistupid it is the seventh continent representing 6,95% of the earth when measuring the square kilometres.
When you look at the biggest rivers in the world, if you look at the length Europe has none in the top 10, it is only on the 18th position that you can find the Volga, that only flows in Russia, and in the 26th position you can find the famous Danube, which according to Touropia is the forth most important river in the world.

These are some of the river cruises you can make in Europe.

River Cruise in the Danube
The Iron Gate

Inter-country Cruise
The Danube is the second biggest river in Europe and due to its route, it passes by ten countries! Including some of the countries capitals. Due to the "Rhine-Main-Danube Canal" completed in 1992, some of the Danube cruises include a cruise by the Rhine river and the Main river.

The Danube Only Cruises can last for more than ten days. During these days you can see cities as Regensburg, Passau, Melk, Vienna (Austria's Capital), Budapest (Hungary's Capital), Kalocsa, Osijek, Belgrade (Serbia's Capital), Iron Gate (Wikipedia Link), Vidin, Veliko Tarnovo, Bucharest (Romania's Capital)
The Danube + Rhine Cruises can last twenty three days, and can also include the cities of Amsterdam, Kinderdijk, Cologne, Koblenz, Rhine Valley (My Trip to the Rhine Valley), Miltenberg (Main River), Würzurg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, and then you continue to the Danube.

River Cruise in the Seine
City Cruise
The main focus of the Seine river cruises is the French Capital, known as the city of love and lights, Paris.
The river has importance to the French economy, but regarding tourism, it is Paris that concentrates the tourist cruises, most of them are not famous for sleeping, but for dinners and sightseeing. 
If you are going to Paris, do not miss a cruise by the Seine, it is an enjoyable part of visiting Paris. You probably don't need to book your cruise early, you can do it one the place.
If you are thinking on cruising the Seine to the north, you will pass by the city of Rouen, where the Seine goes as an "S", and end in the industrial and port city of Le Havre, which is 150 km far from the Disembarkment beaches.

River Cruise in the Rhône

If you want a river cruise in the south of France, this is it, a cruise in the Rhône include a passage by the famous vineyards in the south of France and the Lavender Fields.
The most important cities that you can see are Lyon, Vienne, famous for the Roman ruins, Arles, with some World Heritage Sites and Avignon, the city of the Popes

River Cruise in the Saône

The Saône is the most important tributary of the Rhône river, it is in Lyon where they meet. One of the famous cities near the Saône is Dijon, famous for its mustard. Chalon sur Saône was once a busy port and it is nowadays a port for some cruises, it is a small city with a nice city square with cafés and a busy market on Fridays and Sundays. Sundays are a great day to visit a market in a southern France village.

River Cruise in the Elbe

Intercity + UNESCO
The Elbe is one of the most important rivers for the north German economy, specially in Hamburg, but it is lower on the Elbe that you can find some of the nice cruises that can pass by Prague, if they include the Vltava river. The other cities that you can visit during a cruise in the Elbe are, Magdeburg, Dessau, Torgau, Dresden (Dresden Elbe Valley - UNESCO Heritage) and Melnik, where the Vltava river finds the Elbe.

River Cruise in the Douro

Gourmet + UNESCO
The Douro river is located in the west edge of continental Europe and the main city for its cruises is Porto in Portugal, which is also known for its wines. That is why part of the cruise is focused on the UNESCO Alto Douro Wine Region.
The Douro cruises are focused on the nature and on the valleys where you pass, you will not see many important cities since the visit goes through the Portuguese countryside.

River Cruise in the Rhine

Castles + UNESCO
The Rhine river starts in Switzerland, divides France from Germany, and then it is inside German that assumes a great importance in the German economy and in the Rhine Valley, after that it ends in the Netherlands where it has also its economic important, being a vital way to ship many of the freight.
The Rhine river has its glamour specially on the valley that starts in Bingen and ends in Koblenz, which is part of the UNESCO Heritage Upper Middle Rhine. In Koblenz you can find many companies that from April to September make cruises for the Rhine Valley that last more than an hour.
The big cruises that pass in the Rhine can last more than twenty days, if you include the Danube. If you want to do a Rhine only cruise you can take a trip between Amsterdam and Basel which last for a week due to the cultural richness you will find on the trip.

River Cruise in the Moselle
The Moselle river is a tributary of the Rhine river, so some of the crises can include part of the Rhine, others may include the Main river. It is in the Moselle where you can find two beautiful German cities, Trier and Cochem. Trier is considered the oldest city in Germany with vine-covered Hills and Cochem has its beautiful castle in the top of a hill.

River Cruise in the Main
The Main is another tributary of the Rhine, with a special importance since it also connects to the Danube. The cruises in the Main are mainly cruises that also pass by the Rhine or the Danube, in the Main you will see the city of Würzburg, a wine town, other important cities are Bamberg, Mainz in the connection between the Main and the Rhine, and Frankfurt.

Many of the river cruises in the Moselle or the Main rivers include a passage by the Rhine, and some cruises pass by the three rivers.

River Cruise in the Volga

City + Scenic
The Volga river is the biggest river in Europe, but to connect the two most important cities in Russia, Moscow, the country's capital and St. Petersburg, it is needed to pass by other rivers. Many of the cruises of the Volga include the two cities, since they are an important part and a must see if you go to Russia.
In the Volga river you can see the Russian cities and villages including Kizhi, Kuzino, Goritsy, Yaroslav and Uglich.
A trip in the Volga including the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg lasts for thirteen days.
If you want a more Volga cruise, you can make it from Moscow to Astrakhan, near the Volga delta, this trips include more history and a taste of an Asian trip.

Later I will talk about some of the cruises with detailed information, some nice images and my personal experience.

Companies & Websites
Grand Circle Cruise Line
Avalon Waterways
Euroriver cruises
Douro Azul
Express to Russia

I have seen some of the river cruises options and although the pass through unique places, as the Iron Gate and other valleys, they still seem an activity for older people, probably starting at the age of fifty. The reason is the relation between the age, length of the trip and the amount of activities during the day. This may be a biased opinion, but it is based on what I have seen so far.
I would not like to be in such a long cruise for now due to the trip length and to not be limited by staying near the river, and sleeping on the cruise. I have already done a twenty four hour "special" cruise between Turku and Stockholm and return and I did not feel comfortable passing so much time in the water, even having a lot of activities, but that can depend on what you like and even your fears.