Sunday, 30 April 2017
First quarter of the year is done and the balance is positive. A steady growth on our presence on social media and on the engagement of our readers is always good news, and trying to create new contents that interest and inspire those of you that read our work is a challenge that keep me motivated.
A sunny April was perfect to visit some places around Lisbon and check some nice day trips to present you. With the Wine Tourism series on my mind, visited some outstanding locations that I'll be writing about on the coming weeks. You will be amazed!
This month, I also walked along memory lane, and recalled some sweet moments spend in Algarve (South Portugal) years ago, bringing it to you on an article about my Favorite Hotels to Stay with Kids. Your feedback warmed my heart and I promise you that, this year, I'll come back to Algarve to bring you some of the very best things that are going on there.
This month, the blog started a new series called Tea for Two and (you guessed!) is on some great spots for having a delicious afternoon tea. I'll try to bring you a new one every month and please send me some tips on the great places you know.
Articles on Instagram are always a success and April's post on the Top 10 Instagram Spots in Lisbon was no exception. Now, I'm looking for great Lisbon pics from other Instagramers to write an article for May. If you think you can help, please leave a message on the comments section bellow.
I'm looking forward for what May can bring and until the next monthly wrap-up, leave you with the nine photos that are the Top 9 for April on our Instagram account. You can follow us there for daily photos and tips.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Not only there is no museum in Portugal that gathers all the works of Almada Negreiros (1893-1970), as many of his pieces are in private hands, but also part of his work is scattered trough Lisbon. The artist has frequently collaborated in wider architectonic projects like the Cruise Terminal Buildings of Alcântara and Rocha do Conde de Óbidos, the Church of Our Lady of Fátima, the Lisbon's University Campus, among others, contributing for a real, and very rich, artistic itinerary in the city that I will bring to you on a series of articles. The Hotel Ritz (currently Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon) is one of the stops on our Almada Negreiros Lisbon Itinerary.
In 1959, the architect Porfirio Pardal Monteiro is commissioned with the project for a 5 star hotel in the city that will bring Lisbon to the highest international standards of hospitality. Once again, Pardal Monteiro invites his friend Almada Negreiros to make the drawings for three tapestries, and an engraved marble wall, which you can find on the ground floor of the hotel.
Almada Negreiros, inspired by Greek mythology draws a set of 3 tapestries. In the first you can see the encounter of a couple of centaurs. The male, confident and exhibitionist and the female looking over the shoulder with coquetry.
In front of the first tapestry you can find the second one where passion succeeds seduction in brighter and warmer colors, and with a clear sense of movement in the traits of the artist. There, the two centaurs, lying down and intertwined, hold each other heads with the promise of a kiss.
On the opposite side of Almada Negreiros Lounge, you can find the third and last tapestry, where a lonely centaur looks down in a composition resembling the shape of the Centaurus constellation. This notable work of Almada Negreiros was weaved with the traditional technic and mastery of Portalegre tapestries and conveys all the energy of modernist art and of his passion for geometry.
I love tapestries in general and this ones from Almada Negreiros fascinate me for years, but my favorite work of the master at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is the mural Harvest. Carved in a black marble wall and column, with the carvings accentuated with gold leaf, its a stunning vision as we walk the corridor that leads to it.
Under the shadow of a large tree, a harvester rests, as a man looks at her, hidden behind another tree (carved on the column). The reflection of light from both the dark marble and the golden decorations creates a dazzling effect that is absolutely captivating.
These are outstanding works of art, but you must know that are not the only ones you can find at the Ritz. The hotel presents an exceptional collection of contemporary Portuguese art, including dozens of works from some of Portugal's most renowned artists. Alongside with Almada Negreiros you can find works of Pedro Leitão, Estrela Faria and Querubim Lapa, and I promise to bring you more on this impressive collection on a future article.
The hotel's art collection is so valuable and the investment on this area is so serious that the Ritz has its own App on it. You can download it free on iTunes and check all there is to see at this amazing hotel.
There are all the reasons in the world to visit this works of art as a Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon guest, but if you live in Lisbon or have another arrangements for your stay in the city, you can still have the opportunity to enjoy this great works of art. As a single visitor you can enter the hotel a have a look around (large groups are not allowed) or you can check Almada Negreiros works while having a tea at the Hotel's Lounge. There are several afternoon tea menus available but for the occasion I would suggest the Almada Negreiros option, inspired in the work of the master.
I'll be writing a review on the Almada Negreiros afternoon tea at the Ritz in the next few weeks, but if you take my suggestion for a top "culture addict meets foodie" program at Lisbon, visit the Almada Negreiros exhibition at Fundação Caloust Gulbenkian, enjoy the city, walking to the hotel (just a few minutes away) and have a delicious afternoon tea. Sounds great, doesn't it?
Monday, 24 April 2017
Lisbon is a It City these days. Every big travel magazine and site talks about it. Every must visit list includes it. There are countless articles about it and about what to do and where to go in the white city and if you go to Instagram you will find so many an such amazing photos of Lisbon that you'll be wanting to book a flight immediately.
Today I'll bring to you my top 10 Instagrammable spots in city. These are not the only and surely my photos may not be the best you can find, but this will give you some ideas of the places you can't miss on you Instagram folie once you arrive Lisbon.
1. ANYPLACE WITH A YELLOW TRAM
A visit to Lisbon is not complete without a ride in one of our yellow trams or, at least, with a good photo of one. Tram 28 is probably one of the most famous and getting inside can mean a long wait. If you don't mind not having a seat, entering on the second stop (after Praça da Figueira) can save you time. Either case, beware of pickpockets, keeping a close eye on your belongings.
2. TERREIRO DO PAÇO
Terreiro do Paço is a monumental square, facing the river. The light is amazing, and whatever angle you choose you're are going to get a great photo. You can also go to the Triumphal Arch terrace and take some panoramic photos of the square. Go before sunset, and see the city and the river as the light and colors change.
Alfama is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lisbon (and in Europe, for that matter) and presents a set of colors and shapes that look just like it was made for photos. That and the fact that there are a number of viewpoints perfect for the right picture makes this one of the most Instagrammed spots of the city.
4. PARQUE EDUARDO VII
The view from the top of Parque Eduardo VII is one of the prettiest of the city. The park lawn continues trough the avenue (Liberdade Avenue) as Lisbon descends to the river. Across the water, the left bank and, in the background, the mountains of Serra da Arrábida.
The Rossio Square is one of Lisbon's landmarks, and either you photograph it from one of the viewpoints around it or from the square it self will won't be short of interesting subjects to include in your pictures.
6. TILED WALLS
Lisbon has no shortage of tiled walls and all through the city you can find from 17th century "azulejos" to contemporary tiled murals. Either antique or new, the Portuguese tiles are always a great photo subject and you should plan some time to check them out and have an itinerary of the ones that you don't want to miss.
7. STREET ART
Lisbon is one of the European cities with more Street Art installations. From both national and international artists you can find amazing urban art pieces all through the city. There are organize tours to check the best spots or you can plan your street art itinerary to get the best pics.
8. CALÇADA PORTUGUESA
The cobblestone pavements are a Portuguese trademark and Lisbon does not go shy with its black and white paved streets. With geometrical or naturalist designs the pavements are another artistic element of the city and surely a photographic subject itself.
9. LISBON VIEWPOINTS
Lisbon as 7 hills, and countless amazing viewpoints to look at and photograph the city from. Maybe you don't have the time to visit them all, but be prepared to have some great Instagram pics from the ones you can't miss.
Belém district has so many monuments and historical sites, amazing gardens and architectural features that you won't be able to stop taking one shot after the other. From the more panoramic photos to the incredible details, you have it all.
You can find more on #Lisbon on my Instagram and I would love to take a look at your best Instagram pics of my beloved city. So, if you have some, please share them with me on the comments (links please) and I'll be glad to write a future article with the best Lisbon pictures on Instagram. Let's bring as much people onboard as we can, sharing this post with your friends. I'll be looking forward to know you and your Instagram profiles.
Friday, 21 April 2017
When traveling with my son, specially when he was a little boy, always make time to visit museums and exhibitions on the subjects he was most interested at the time or on areas that I really wanted to captivate him for. Does it surprise you that once in London I've visited the Natural History Museum three days in a row? He was 8 at the time and dinosaurs were right in the top of its list!
This week I've told you about some nice places to stay with your kids in Algarve. Today, bring you 2 exhibitions, currently in Lisbon, that I'm sure your family will appreciate. Ancient Egypt and Space are pretty tough competitors to dinosaurs, don't you think?
TUTANKHAMUN | TREASURES OF EGIPT
PAVILHÃO DE PORTUGAL - PARQUE DAS NAÇÕES
Until May, 1st
This exhibition is a spectacular recreation of the famous Pharaoh's tomb and treasures, as they were discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter. Tutankhamun - Treasures of Egypt, is a fantastic trip to the time of the Pharaohs, where it is possible to appreciate more than 100 fantastic reproductions of the pieces found by Howard Carter, all produced in Egypt, following the same technique used thousands of years ago by craftsmen in the manufacture of the treasures of King Tutankhamun.
The highlight of the exhibition is a visit to the reproduction of the Tutankhamun's Tomb, on a real scale. A documentary film and a set of original, black and white photos on a large scale document the whole process of Howard Carter's discovery, the greatest ever of not only Egyptology, but archeology in general.
Since April, 14th
As the organization claims, Cosmos Discovery is the world’s largest touring Exhibition about space exploration. This exhibition occupies an area of 2500 m2 and will feature hundreds of items that map the development of manned spaceflights from the early days to current missions and those planned for the near future. There is a lot to see and interact and a visit can constitute a unique learning experience for the whole family.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
At Corinthia Hotel Lisbon Wellness is a key word. Not only the hotel has one of the most spectacular SPA's in Lisbon and a great fitness team, but it has also developed a healthy and sustainable food program, whose aim is to create menus according to seasonality and sustainability, giving priority to local products grown in organic gardens.
The launch of the Go Healthy program is made with a series of six lunches, to which were invited the integrated nutrition coach Camila Balbi, co-author of the recipe book "Chegar novo a velho", and Valentina Crocco, a specialist in healthy cooking. Together with the Chef of the hotel, Camila and Valentina will prepare a buffet lunch based on their recipes, that encompass different options within the theme of healthy eating.
These lunches are open to the public and are held once a month in the Corinthia Hotel's Sete Colinas restaurant. Each month will be dedicated to a different theme, from super foods to Paleolithic diet. At each occasion will be held workshops to inspire the participants to different and more healthy lifestyles and to bring new ways of thinking and preparing food into their own kitchens.
The program, that started in January, will have its next edition next week and you can savor all these proposals and enjoy the different workshops that will take place with each theme. The Corinthia Facebook page provides detailed information on each event.
I've been present to both February and March lunches and must say that not only have found the workshops quite interesting but was also delighted with the creativity of the menus. Camila and Valentina combine healthy food with captivating flavors and really delicious alternatives to the usual comfort food we all love. So, if you happen to be in Lisbon you may be interested in taking note of the next lunches on your notebook:
April 28: No sugar with love
May 19: Alkaline foods
June 9: Body fit-proteins
The lunch includes a salad buffet (simply delicious!), fish and meat options, desserts (0% guilt attached), water, wine, coffee and tea. The event is starting at noon (local time) and you can make your reservations through the Hotel's Facebook page.
This post is featured in the Food Friday Link Up Party. If you are a foodie, you may want to pay them a visit!
Thursday, 13 April 2017
I've not visited Algarve for such a long time! Almost can't believe that this is true, but while living abroad for years, each visit to Portugal had to be carefully time managed. With time being such a scarce resource, the beloved place of my childhood vacations and where we spend about a month a year when my son was a little boy, rested on our memories and within permanently delayed plans.
One of my travel goals for 2017 is to return to Algarve and discover its treasures once again. Don't think that I will wait until Summer as the region is great all year around. The good weather allows you to go to the beach as soon as April, the nature reserves have something different to see every season, castles and historical sites, picturesque villages, artistic events and an amazing gastronomic scene give you a pretext to visit Algarve whenever you choose.
All of this will be addressed in future posts, I promise, but today's article is specially dedicated to those of you who are planning to visit Algarve with your kids. Bring you some suggestions of hotels, in different parts of Algarve, that used to be my home away from home when my son was a little boy. That was a few years ago, so I asked for some updated photos for you to see how they look now. Hope this information on this child tested locations, will help you to decide on Algarve for your upcoming Summer vacations.
VILA MONTE FARM HOUSE
The Algarve is not only sun and beach. It's also sun and mountain, and on the hills of Moncarapacho you can find the Vila Monte Farm House. Simple but elegant and comfortable, Vila Monte presents unique rooms scattered trough a large property. The beautiful gardens, several pools and diverse food options can provide the most demanding guest with a pleasant stay. The kids will quickly find new friends and will have lots of adventures to talk about when they return home.
The rooms are lovely, with a boho-chic inspired design that pervades all trough the hotel. You and your children will have plenty to do at Vila Monte (there is an outdoor Cinema, tennis, yoga, hiking, horseback riding, fitness or biking, among other activities) but not far you can find amazing beaches like the ones at Fuzeta island (the hotel can also provide a boat transportation to a more private part of the island) and great places to visit like Olhão, with its characteristic architecture, or the salt ponds of Castro Marim.
We have been there in 2007, had a great time and brought home many happy memories. Hope your future visit to Algarve will include an equally pleasant experience.
Vila Monte Farm House
Sitio dos Caliços, Moncarapacho
Phone: +351 289 790 790
HOTEL QUINTA DO LAGO
Ria Formosa and the famous Algarve's Golden Triangle (the area between Quinta do Lago, Vale de Lobo and Almancil) are some of my favorite locations in Algarve. The natural features of the region, the great hotels and restaurants, the outstanding service and infrastructures had no mach for many years and set the standards for what tourism became in Algarve.
Hotel Quinta do Lago has the most spectacular location, facing the Ria and the ocean. The hotel grounds, impeccable and yet looking perfectly natural, are the perfect scenery for interacting with nature. More than enjoying the playground available, my son used to explore the garden and lakes, looking for small animals and different plants. At walking distance there is a walkway over the ria's water that leads you to the beach and that is the perfect viewpoint to watch out for fishes and marine birds.
Although there are many wonderful restaurants around Quinta do Lago, the hotel houses two amazing restaurants - Ca'd'Oro and Brisa do Mar. Children are welcome to both and the staff is most attentive and nice with the kids. My son loves Italian food so Ca'd'Oro was totally approved but as fish is his favorite dish, nothing could beat a fresh fish lunch on Brisa do Mar terrace.
The hotel has a really nice interior pool where my son used to stay for hours and a Kids Club with lots of activities, giving mommy a break and some time to enjoy the SPA. The beach is amazing and you may find there the remains of the hundreds of sand castles I've helped to built (joking!). This is to say that in a place like that you and your kids just need imagination and a pair of hands to have a great time.
You can stay for days between the resort and the beach needing nothing else, but you can also visit the nearby cities of Faro, Loulé and Olhão, that have very interesting historical centres and cultural programs all year around. We have been at Quinta do Lago Hotel twice, in 2004 and 2005, and only have the most pleasant memories.
Hotel Quinta do Lago
Quinta do Lago
Phone: +351 289 350 350
RIA PARK HOTEL & SPA
Located between Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo, also in Ria Formosa Natural Park, you can find the Ria Park Hotel & SPA in a prime location, surrounded by luxurious pinewoods and at a close proximity to the most gorgeous sandy beaches.
The tranquility and fine service of the hotel, make its guests come again and again. We've been there for four years in a row, from 2005 to 2008 and always find familiar faces. Once you arrive, you don't have to worry about anything. The rooms are large and comfortable, with nice balconies and spectacular views. The restaurant is great and the pool bar can provide light meals if you prefer. You just have to choose between the pool or the beach (the hotel shuttle will take you to their private beach, just a few minutes away).
Children can also join the Kids Club or you may want to request a Baby Sitter service and have a treatment at the SPA or a romantic dinner, while the kids are being well taken care of by an experienced person. There will be other kids around and soon yours will be making new friends from all over the world.
While you are at Ria Park you can take some time off and visit some of the cities close by. The Concierge will recommend you an organized tour or a nice itinerary to do on your own. Either relaxing by the sea or traveling around Algarve, you will surely have a good time with your children that will be remembered forever.
Ria Park Hotel & SPA
Urbanização Vale do Garrão, Vale do Lobo,
Phone: +351 289 359 800
We have stayed at Tivoli Carvoeiro several times through the years of 2004, 2005 and 2006, and every year we enjoyed with the same pleasure the amazing view over the ocean and the cliffs, the friendly and professional service of everybody in the hotel staff and the facilities and activities that the hotel provided us and all its guests.
If nothing else was true, just the location would justify a visit. But to the view you can enjoy from your own room terrace (always stayed in sea view rooms) you'll have to add the tranquility of having a kids pool just under your radar while you stretch under the sun. Maybe you rather opt for a secluded private beach for the guests, where your kids can look for small fishes in the pools of water on the rocks. A huge lawn and a play ground will also be on their choice list.
Nevertheless, you probably will be having long periods of time for yourself as the Kids Club has so many interesting and varied activities all through the day and such great professionals, that most of the children never want to lose a single one. The hotel has also lots of available activities for adult guests (I find out that I'm a great shot) and events at night.
Although there are lots of nice restaurants at walking distance, the hotel's restaurant has great food and I must confess that I miss having dinner on the terrace as the sun set on the sea. They have always been very accommodating with my sons meals and the freshness and quality of everything in the menu makes it very easy to be there with small children.
Apartado 1299 - Vale do Covo
Praia do Carvoeiro
Phone: +351 282 351 100
Writing this article and recalling so many sweet memories, make me want to revisit Algarve, return to known places and discover all the new spots that this incredible region has to offer. If you have been to Algarve recently, please share your tips on the comments bellow and if you are planning to go there this year please give me a shout.