Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Until next year May!




I have the feeling that this monthly post its happening faster and faster every month. Summer is almost here and we are about to have half of the year gone by. But let us focus on May. Have been to many interesting places, that I have (or will) shared with you. The blog is going fine with an increased number of readers, and for that I must thank you all. Although our follow on social media has not increased as much as I would love to (me and my ambitious goals!), the fidelity and engagement of our followers is always more positive than fast growing numbers.

Looking back on May its easy to find out my foodie side. With several brunch suggestions, an afternoon tea (on Tea for Two series) and a new restaurant  review on our Food Chronicles series, all in one month it's difficult to disguise. You can also argue that I'm partial on a good wine. Well, I am! Visits to some great wineries and a few more posts on the wine tourism series make that irrefutable.

But I also love the simple beauty of nature and the splendor of Spring. When you live in the city, the best place to find it is on the nearest garden, so this May I didn't forget to give you my suggestions on my favorite gardens in Lisbon.

Wellness is also an area that is dear to me and this month I've experienced and presented you an outstanding Spa in the city (Lisbon). Stay tuned on this series, for I'll be bringing more in the months to come.

I'm grateful for what May has brought and looking forward for what June can bring. Until the next monthly wrap-up, leave you with the nine photos that are the Top 9 for May on our Instagram account. You can follow us there for daily photos and tips.







Monday, 29 May 2017

Wellness Series | THE SPA at Night by Corinthia Hotel Lisbon




The Corinthia Hotel Lisbon presents one of the most complete and amazing Spas in the capital. This luxurious urban retreat features 13 treatment rooms, including two double suites, a gym, indoor heated pool and Aqua Therapy facilities. The Aqua area provides a panoply of sensory experiences, with sensorial showers, jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish bath, cold water bucket, cold water tank, ice fountain, foot bath and a hydrodynamic pool designed to relax and revitalize different parts of the body, offering a unique and rejuvenating experience.

The SPA by Corinthia Hotel Lisbon also has a modern gym with 200m² offering a suite of state-of-the-art equipment from the ARTIS line, the most advanced range of the Technogym brand. The qualified team of personal trainers offers a wide range of classes aimed at a wide range of purposes.









THE SPA by Corinthia Hotel Lisbon has just launched THE SPA at Night program, in order to provide all who like to enjoy an holistic and well-being Spa experience until late in the day. Don't  matter  if you're a local or a visitor to Lisbon, if you choose to relax after a long working day or after walking for hours around the city, at THE SPA you will find an environment of harmony and tranquility that will help you to restore your physical vitality and balance your emotions.

The Spa at Night experience includes different therapies offered by a specialized team of therapists, using the most recent and advanced techniques. Among other activities, you can enjoy stretch sessions, Mindfulness, Mind Postural and Alignment classes. Enjoying all the experiences available at the Aqua Therapy facilities and Spa treatments with the outstanding ESPA products will also be available until later than usual - the treatments will be held until 22:00 and the Spa will be open until 23:00.








Spa at Night is an a la carte program that will be designed to fit your specific needs and preferences, so is advisable to contact THE SPA beforehand and choose among all the available activities and treatments. You can also choose to have a meal served at the Spa or even to go straight from the Spa to bed, staying at the hotel for that night.

The most stressful part of this experience will be to choose among all of the activities and treatments that THE SPA team makes available to you, and even there you will have their full support and expertise to assist you on that tough decision. I had the opportunity to experience a program Premiere that was held for the press and must say that I was impressed both with the Spa facilities and equipment, the treatment products and the great professionals that I found at THE SPA. Finishing my day with this relaxing and pampering experience was at once tranquilizing and invigorating, and I can only recommend you to indulge yourself with  it if you have the opportunity.

Spa at Night is held once a month and the dates for the next three events are June 28th, July 19th and August 23rd. For more information visit the site and/or contact THE SPA.


THE SPA
Corinthia Hotel Lisbon
Av. Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, nº 105
Lisbon 1099-031
Portugal
Phone: +351 217 236 305
spa.lisbon@corinthia.com







Friday, 26 May 2017

Lisbon Chronicles | 5 Gardens You Can't Miss




Lisbon has many gardens scattered trough the city. Renaissance gardens embellishing palaces, botanical gardens, parks and landscaped modernist projects, you will find awesome places of every sort where you can relax in the shade, have a drink or a light meal, read a book or even take a nap. These are just a few and some of my favorite.



ESTRELA'S GARDEN






Situated in Estrela district this naturalistic garden follows the romantic design of the English parks. With over 11 acres, the garden was inaugurated in 1852 and was a popular site for the inhabitants of Lisbon in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Today is a lovely place to take the children on weekends, to rest, enjoying its tranquility,  to read or to jog. It presents a great diversity of vegetable species and still keeps most of the statuary from the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. It has a play ground, lakes (with ducks), a bandstand (that was originally on Passeio Público - today's Avenida da Liberdade) and also a kiosk and a restaurant with a terrace over the lake. Read more...






PALÁCIO FRONTEIRA'S GARDEN





The majestic garden of Palácio Fronteira, with about 13 acres,  is breathtaking for its amazing details and design. In a day full of the beautiful Lisbon light, this sumptuous Italian gardens will make you want to stay forever, so you better schedule your visit with enough time to enjoy so much beauty. Wondering through the garden you'll get lovely views of the statues, buildings and plants, finding a photo opportunity at every turn. Read more...





AJUDA'S BOTANICAL GARDEN




Although Lisbon has been place of many gardens that harbored collections of plants from Africa, Asia and America, the Ajuda's Botanical Garden was the first Portuguese Botanical Garden designed with  scientific  purposes  and in order to  collect as many species of the plants possible (it came to have 5000 species).

The garden has an area of ​​almost 4ha and an architecture that follows the Renaissance models, with carved terraces on the hillside. The light reflected from the river renders even more beautiful its decorative elements in carved stone, scattered among the plants, particularly on the stairs, and on the water fountains and ponds. Read more...






GULBENKIAN'S GARDEN





No other garden in the city is so dear to me like the garden of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.  Built in the 60s, according to the design of landscape architects António Viana Barreto and Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles, this garden is one of the most emblematic gardens of the modern movement in Portugal and a reference to the Portuguese landscape architecture.

Large spaces, different ambiences, light and shade, beautiful views of the lake and a perfect harmony make of this garden a place to rest, to read and study, to love and dream. Read more...





PRÍNCIPE REAL GARDEN





The neighborhood of Principe Real (it means Royal Prince and the name was given in honor of the prince D. Pedro, son of D. Maria II and who was to become Dom Pedro V) is one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city of Lisbon. The gardens and quiet squares lined with colorful palaces, the antique shops, restaurants and bars, tourists who walk and senior citizens playing deck in the shade of trees all contribute to its undeniable charm. Read more...












Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Wine Chronicles | Wineries Visit at Fernando Pó (Palmela, Portugal)




Fernão do Pó (or Fernando Pó) was a 15th century Portuguese navigator, allegedly one of the first European men to step on the Gulf of Guinea islands, one o which was named after him (currently Byoco).  But those weren't the only lands named after the Portuguese explorer. A wide plain, not far from Lisbon has long ago became known as Fernando Pó and, in more recent years, as the place of some serious winemaking, with wineries winning medals after medals in some of the most important international wine contests.

In this region, distinguished by a layer of soft sands, covering the soil of clay, the microclimate provided by the proximity of the Tagus and Sado rivers protects and facilitates the perfect ripening of the grapes. The resulting wines are known for their structure, body, color and, especially, aroma. With some of the wineries associating the judicious choice of grape varieties to a modernization of the processes, combining tradition with the most modern technology, it has been possible to produce wines of high quality that do not cease to amaze the connoisseurs.






During the months of April and May (every Thursdays and Saturdays, until May 27) you can make a visit to 3 major wineries in the region, hear and talk to their winemakers, and taste some wine and regional products. The visit starts at Oriente train station in Lisbon, and after less than 30 minutes you arrive at Fernando Pó. A car with a guide will take the group of visitors on a tour to 3 wineries and then back to the train station at the end of the visit. The complete visit takes about 9 hours. I've done this visit a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed every minute of it. Let me tell you more about it!

On arrival to Fernando Pó the group were welcomed by our guide from Rota dos Vinhos da Península de Setúbal (Wine Route) and by the winemaker of Filipe Palhoça Wines, a family-owned company dedicated for more than 50 years to viticulture and wine production in the sand plain of Palmela. Marta, the winemaker, took us in a visit trough the vine gardens and shared her knowledge on vine growing and wine making. From the vineyards we get to Quinta da Invejosa, the headquarters of the estate, to know some more about the wine making process and for a tasting of Moscatel wine (both Setúbal and Roxo varieties), that we paired with a traditional cake of the region (Fogaças).







Next stop at Fernão Pó Winery, a company that seeks to combine the best of tradition with modern technology, while strongly committed to social and environmental principles, such as adherence to the Wine in Moderation and the Business and Biodiversity programs, in addition to producing grapes with environmental certification.

At Fernão Pó, after a guided visit to the winery, held by their  winemaker João, we were invited to a tasting of 3 of their wines that were paired with Tibornas (a Portuguese traditional recipe resembling Bruschettas) and with crackers with the winery's special wine jams.

Fernão Pó Winery takes very seriously the strong bond between wine and gastronomy, and João will give you sound advice on pairing their wines with specific foods. The passion and knowledge he expresses while talking to us about winemaking and the wines he presents is contagious and you will not notice the time passing by. Well, maybe the fact that you are on your fifth wine glass will help too!








After joyfully saying goodbye to our kind hosts at Fernão Pó, a merry group of wine lovers get on their way to Casa Ermelinda Freitas, where we have lunch on the terrace, before visiting the winery.
The view from the terrace is spectacular, with vines extending to the horizon and the food was absolutely delicious. We couldn't thank enough to Maria her outstanding cooking skills.

Once more, lunch was an opportunity to know (and taste) a traditional recipe called Sopa Caramela - a meat and vegetables soup  specific to the region, named after the seasonal works from the north part of Portugal that came to the region to work on the vines. The rich flavor, the tender meats (served on the side, the freshly baked bread and, of course, the wine made this lunch a memorable experience.

After a most interesting visit to the winery, conducted by Susana, we return to the terrace for one more wine tasting experience, where the pairing was made with some superb regional cheese (I've told you about Azeitão cheese before), bread and regional charcuteries. By that time we were having some hard time dealing with numbers, but 10 wine glasses were some of the numbers that I can remember to hear between smiles and laughs.







Was time then to finish the visit and return to the train station. Everybody in the group looked relaxed and happy after a great day. Although I've been a guest to Rota dos Vinhos, all the opinions presented here are my own and I would strongly recommend this program to anyone that loves wine, food and to know more about wine making in Portugal.

These 3 wineries have their own wine tourism programs and I'll be talking to you about them in the next few weeks. Until then, you can pay their sites a visit and know some more about them and the great wines they are making.

For more information on the visit contact:
Wine Route of the Setúbal Peninsula
Phone: + 351 212 334 398
E-mail: info@rotavinhospsetubal.com

Price per person:
Adults € 54 |  Children up to 16 years old: € 38

The price includes transportation by train, transfer between wineries, referred experiences (wine is only served to participants over 18 years old) and a bottle of water. Subject to the minimum number of 6 participants.











Friday, 19 May 2017

Best Things to Do in Lisbon | Summer Wine Tourism Experiences





Summer is on our door step, and the longer days and warm weather are propitious to outdoor activities. Today I bring to you two wine tourism experiences really close to Lisbon that you will enjoy and that you can bring your kids along. A picnic in the country and a cruise where you'll the opportunity to watch dolphins in their natural habitat will certainly be two experiences that your children will enjoy. These wine experiences and many others can be find at the site of Rota dos Vinhos da Região da Península de Setúbal (Wine Route).






SAINT ANTONY PICNIC
QUINTA DO PILOTO WINE ESTATE, PALMELA
June 15 at 16:00

The Saint Antony Picnic is an annual event held every June at Quinta do Piloto, that includes a visit to the winery, wine tasting and regional products tasting in the vineyards.

The Picnic Menu includes Cold Tomato Soup, Azeitão cheese, dry sheep cheese, sheep's butter, traditional Portuguese charcuterie, bread baked in a wood oven, local jams, Palmela fogaça (regional cake) and seasonal fruit.

This wine experience is organized by Quinta do Piloto. You can make your registration at the Wine Route site.

Adults: 18 € | Children between 4 and 12 years old: 9 €.






WINE SUNSET PARTY
SADO ARRÁBIDA, SETÚBAL
June to September, Saturday at 18:30


The weekly Wine Sunset Party cruises, with the duration of 2:30 hours, include wine tastings commented by the enologist from one winery of the Setúbal's Peninsula Wine Region (a different one is invited each week) and the tasting of regional products like cheese, charcuterie and regional pastries. The cruise goes through the river Sado Estuary, Setúbal's Bay, Arrábida and Tróia coast.  Dolphins watching is very common as there is an established population of dolphins in the region.

This wine experience is organized by Sado Arrábida and you can check the wineries present on each cruise date on their site.

Adults: 30 € | Children between 6 and 12 years old: 17,50 €.







Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Food Chronicles | Lunch at Audrey's Café (Lisbon)




I have already written about Audrey's Café on my Tea for Two series, but tea is not the only thing you can have in this charming Alfama's venue. Audrey's is open for breakfast and for tea, but also for lunch, presenting a selection of petiscos to share, and of meat and fish dishes. Salads and delicatessen boards, and some nice dessert options complete the menu.







You can find Audrey's Café at Santiago de Alfama Boutique Hotel, situated on the historical Alfama district. I've lunched there a couple of weeks ago, after a morning visit to Lisbon's Flea Market at Largo de Santa Clara (commonly known as Feira da Ladra).

This is a great place to visit with friends and to calmly have lunch while you catch up. The beautiful venue and the delicious food will invite you to stay for quite a while. Although the room is not very large, there is a good space between the tables so you can keep a good sense of privacy. The natural light and the breeze that entered trough the window, made this the perfect setting for a Spring lunch in the city.

The interior decoration successfully brings together a mix of styles and references, that contribute to a relaxed atmosphere and to create the feeling of being home. The color palete is a delightful combination of blues, browns and beiges, present in the amazing wall paper and dramatically lightened up by some red velvet curtains.







For our meal, we seat in a cozy corner, by the cupboard, with a view to the room and to the outside terrace, and talk for hours about food and travels while having a delightful lunch.  The couvert includes some good Portuguese bread with olives, olive oil and tuna patê. I've tried it all and it was delicious. Then we have some amuse bouche of Azores's tuna, marinated with spicy Asian sauce and chives. It was so good that I totally forgot to photograph it! I'll ask the restaurant for a pic just to show you how nice it is.






The restaurant presents an interesting selection of starters and I suggest you to do the Portuguese way, ordering different options and sharing with your friends. We had clams cooked by a traditional Portuguese recipe (Bulhão Pato), where the simplicity of the method (the clams are poached with olive oil, garlic and coriander) relies on the freshness and quality of the seafood. And this clams where outstandingly fresh, succulent and tasty! 







Next we had tenderloin steak with grilled vegetables and Port wine reduction. The combination of tender and juicy meat with the crispy vegetables is close to perfection. You can choose to have some home made chips instead of the vegetables or choose a different sauce, just have to ask. Audrey's menu also features some delicious fish and vegetarian  options if you're not in the mood for meat.






To finish this fantastic foodie experience we shared a Chocolate Brownie with Strawberries, that was to die for. With the right consistency and flavor, vanilla ice-cream and a red fruit coulis, I think the only fault of it is its huge size. Actually that it's only bad for me as  I'm trying to loose some weight but don't seem to have the willpower to resist a good chocolate dessert!







The restaurant presents a well trained staff team and all trough the meal, the service was attentive, friendly and helpful.  The menu is created every season by Chef Carlos Robalo, featuring locally sourced produce that presenting dishes with a true Portuguese inspiration. This was my first lunch at Audrey's Café but I'm sure it won't be the last.







Audrey's Café
Hotel Santiago de Alfama
R. Santiago 10
1100-538 Lisboa
+351 21 394 1616