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 -
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.