Vasco da Gama Tower Lisbon

Vasco da Gama Tower Lisbon

The Vasco da Gama Tower is the centerpiece of the Parque das Nações (Nations Park) district of Lisbon.

Vasco da Gama Tower Lisbon
Vasco da Gama Tower Lisbon

The 145 meter-tall, steel Vasco da Gama Tower (Torre Vasco da Gama) symbolizes the sail of a caravel and references the history of Portuguese exploration and the Age of Discoveries.

The structure was built for Expo 98 and is one of the tallest structures in Portugal. In 2012 the five-star Myriad Hotel opened next to the tower.

The structure is illuminated at night
The structure is illuminated at night

The structure is illuminated at night and makes for a beautiful sight. The viewing platform at the top is no longer open but there are plans to reopen it.

Nearby is the 17 km long Vasco da Gama Bridge, the longest bridge in western Europe.

Access - Getting There

Take the Linha Oriente Line (color-coded red) to Gare do Oriente Station.

There are also suburban line trains to Oriente and several bus routes including the #208, #210, #708, #725, #728, #744, #750, #759, #782, and #794.

A cable car connects the Oceanarium to Vasco da Gama Tower.

The total height of the structure is 145 meters
The total height of the structure is 145 meters

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Os Caretos de Podence

Os Caretos de Podence, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Trás-os-Montes

Os Caretos de Podence
Os Caretos de Podence

One of Portugal's most traditional and bizarre carnival celebrations takes place in the village of Podence in the Trás-os-Montes region of northeastern Portugal.

Men of the area dress in colorful, home-made, woolen, hooded costumes predominately red, green, and yellow with red masks made from wood or leather. Around their waists on leather belts, they wear an assortment of metal rattles and bells. A tail protrudes from the hood and also carries a sexual connotation. The caretos usually carry a wooden staff as well.

The caretos circulate around the village in search of women to shake their rattles and bells at. The act symbolizes spring, fertilization, and regrowth after the barren months of winter.

The festival in the villages of Podence and nearby Macedo de Cavaleiros has been designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Historians believe the festival has its roots in ancient Celtic fertility cults.

Access - Getting There

Podence and Macedo de Cavaleiros are around 40 km south of Bragança and 80 km northeast of Vila Real.

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Via Algarviana

Via Algarviana

The Via Algarviana is a long-distance walking route in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. It connects Cabo de São Vicente (Cape of Saint Vincent) in the southwest with Alcoutim in the northeast of the region. The Via Algarviana is suitable for both walking or cycling.

There are also trails branching off the main route such as the one shown on the map below from Aljezur to Marmelete.

Via Algarviana
Via Algarviana Map

Route

The Via Algarviana passes through Vila do Bispo, Bensafrim, Marmelete, Monchique, Silves, Messines, Alte, Salir, Barranco do Velho, Parises, Cachopo, Vaqueiros, Furnazinhos, Balurcos before arriving in Alcoutim. There are spurs to Lagos, Loule and São Bras do Alportel.

Altogether the entire route is around 300 km in length. The route became fully accredited in 2006.

All the main towns and villages on the route have adequate accommodation and restaurants for tired and hungry hikers. August, due to the heat, is probably best avoided but not impossible.

Route Map
Detailed route maps are available along the way


Rota Vicentina

The trail also connects with the roughly north-south Rota Vicentina at Cabo de São Vicente and Aljezur.

Further Information

Further information can be found at viaalgarviana.org

If you are thinking of a walking holiday in southern Portugal Walking in the Algarve by Cicerone is an invaluable resource.

Detailed information is available on signboards along the route
Detailed information in both Portuguese and English is available on signboards along the route

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Bridges in Lisbon

Bridges in Lisbon

Two famous bridges span the River Tagus in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. These are the Ponte 25 de Abril and the Vasco da Gama Bridge. Both are major landmarks of the city and record setters in their own way.

Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge), with the statue of Cristo Rei
Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge)

25th of April Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril)

The Ponte 25 de Abril was built during the Salazar era and opened in 1966. It connects Alcântara on the north bank of the Tejo with Almada and the statue of Cristo Rei on the south bank at the narrowest part of the river.

2,277 meters in length the bridge carries both trains and motor vehicles.

The bridge was originally named Salazar Bridge after the dictator António Salazar (1889-1970) but the name was changed to Ponte 25 de Abril after the Carnation Revolution in 1974. The bloodless revolution took place on April 25, 1974.

When the bridge was completed four months ahead of schedule, it had the longest suspended span and the longest main span in Europe. In addition the structure had the world's longest continuous truss and the world's deepest foundations for a bridge at 80 meters.

Vasco da Gama Bridge (Ponte Vasco da Gama)
Ponte Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama Bridge (Ponte Vasco da Gama)

The Vasco da Gama Bridge opened in 1998 and connects Parque das Nações to Alcochete and Montijo on the south bank of the River Tagus. It is 17 km long making it the longest bridge in western Europe.

The bridge rises 47 meters above the Tagus and is a wonderful sight from either shore or if passing by boat.

Vasco da Gama Bridge
Vasco da Gama Bridge

Lisbon Hotels

HF Fenix Garden

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Levadas in Madeira

Levadas in Madeira

Levadas are irrigation channels to funnel and transport water in Madeira. They are usually no more than a meter wide and 50-60 cm deep.

Levada in Madeira, Portugal.
Levadas in Madeira

The channels bring water mainly from the wetter west and northwest to the more populated but drier southwest of the island. The idea is believed to stem from the Moorish occupation of Iberia.

There is now a network of more than 2,170 km of levadas on Madeira. As well as irrigation for crops they also provide hydro-electric power. They sometimes pass through tunnels cut through the mountains.

Levadas are often now walking trails.
In days gone by the channels were also used for washing laundry

History & Hikes

Building began in the 16th century and continued until the 1940s. At first, they were built in wood and later stone, though many are just dug from the soil. Convicts and African slaves were often pressed into their construction.

Paths often run alongside them and provide a system of pleasant walking trails in the countryside.

The 37-km long Levada do Caldeirão Verde which becomes the Levada Caldeirão do Inferno, the 5 km Levada do Rei and the 7 km-long Levada do Caniçal are popular hikes. The Levada do Alecrim has great views of the Paul da Serra plateau at around 1,200 meters. The Levada do Furado is a popular walk and descends to the village of Portelo. There are views of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed laurel forest (laurissilva) on this hike. The Levada do Risco is a path to the Risco waterfall and another walk from Rabaçal on the Levada das 25 Fontes leads to 25 Fontes ("25 Springs") a serene pool fed by several falls.

The walks often pass close to some of Madeira's spectacular waterfalls.

Walking the dog on a levada in Madeira
Walking the dog on a levada in Madeira

More on Madeira

Capela de Santa Catarina

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Ponte Romana Tavira

Ponte Romana, Tavira, Algarve

The Ponte Romana in Tavira on the Algarve is so called as it was built over the remains of an earlier 3rd-century Roman bridge on the old Roman road from Faro to Castro Marim.

Ponte Romana, Tavira, Algarve
Ponte Romana, Tavira, Algarve

The present bridge over the River Gilão dates from 1663. The bridge has seven arches and green, iron railings. It is now for use only for pedestrians and cyclists after flood damage in 1989.

Several cafes and bars line the river with fine views of the bridge.

Tavira Ponte Romana
Tavira Ponte Romana

Other Bridges in Tavira

Another nearby bridge in Tavira is the Ponte das Forças Armadas. This is in the process of being replaced. It was constructed for traffic by the military (hence the name) in 1993 after the Ponte Romana was damaged.

This new bridge will be 88 meters long with the option to open for vehicles but primarily for foot traffic and cyclists.

View of the Ponte das Forças Armadas
View of the Ponte das Forças Armadas in the background and beyond that the Ponte dos Descobrimentos

Cars can cross the river at another bridge to the west, the Ponte de Santiago. The N125 highway also crosses the river even further west of town. To the east is Ponte dos Descobrimentos also with vehicular access.

Bridge in Tavira
The bridge is now for pedestrian use only after flood damage


Access - Getting There

The bridge is in the centre of town off Praça da República and Rua dos Pelames to the south. The road on the north bank is Rua Borda d`Água da Asseca.




Churches in Tavira

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Castelo de Vide Synagogue & Garcia de Orta

Castelo de Vide Synagogue

The synagogue in Castelo de Vide in the Alentejo region is the oldest surviving synagogue in Portugal. It is one of only two preserved medieval synagogues in Portugal. The other one is the synagogue of Tomar.

Castelo de Vide Synagogue
Castelo de Vide Synagogue is the oldest still standing in Portugal

Jews settled here from the 12th century with more arriving from Spain in the 15th century after the Alhambra Decree of 1492 ordered their expulsion from Castile and Aragon.

The building is divided into two rooms for men and women and contains a wooden tabernacle. The interior is now a museum dedicated to the history of the Jewish community on the Iberian Peninsula.

Historically, the Jewish population of both Spain and Portugal (known as Sephardi Jews) suffered great hardships and prejudice, particularly after the Reconquest.

The Inquisition in Portugal was particularly oppressive against "New Christians" (aka conversos or the pejorative marranos)- Jews who had been forced to convert and were suspected of carrying on their old faith in secret. There was also a massacre of Jews in Lisbon during the reign of Manuel I when an estimated 2,000 people were killed by the mob.

Many Portuguese Jews were expelled or fled overseas to London, Amsterdam, Morocco, or even South America. Their departure was a great loss for the country.

One prominent Jew of this period is Garcia de Orta (1501-1568). A physician, naturalist, and herbalist he was mostly active in Goa and considered a father of Western tropical medicine. He was born in Castelo de Vide where he practiced medicine before moving to Lisbon and becoming royal physician to King John III.

Garcia de Orta
Garcia de Orta

He left for India in 1534, probably sensing how the wind was blowing at home. Settling in Goa, he again set up a medical practice and served as a physician for both Portuguese and Indians. He was also a friend of the poet Luís de Camões while in India.

After his death in 1568, his sister Catarina was burned at the stake for her Jewish beliefs and in 1580 his remains were also dug up and burned by the vengeful Inquisition in Goa.

He is most remembered for his classic work Colóquios dos simples e drogas he cousas medicinais da Índia, a treatise on medicinal herbs and plants in India.

The Jardim Garcia de Orta in the Parque das Nações district of Lisbon is named after him.

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Cies Islands Galicia Spain

Cíes Islands, Galicia, Spain

The Cíes consist of three islands, Monteagudo, do Faro (Isla do Medio) and San Martiño. They are located off the coast of Galicia in Spain.

The islands make for a lovely excursion from Viana do Castelo in Portugal to Vigo in Spain by direct train or bus.

Cíes Islands, Galicia, Spain
Cíes Islands, Galicia, Spain

Natural Environment

There are no cars or hotels on the islands to preserve the pristine natural environment. However, there are cafes and restaurants for both refreshments and food.

Now a National Park, the Cíes Islands are home to over 22,000 pairs of seagulls. In addition, there are petrels, pelicans, as well as birds of prey on the islands. There are, however, now only a few surviving Iberian guillemots.

The waters around the islands attract dolphins, sharks, and even whales.

Cíes Islands, Galicia, Spain
Beautiful sandy beach, but the water is cold!

Beaches

Visitors numbers are limited. Would-be tourists have to obtain an online permit which is checked on your phone or on a print out before you get on the ferry to the islands. See below for further information.

The main beach is Praia das Rodas which links the two main islands. In addition, there are the pretty coves of Praia de Nosa Señora and Praia das Figueres.

Activities include walking up to the Montefaro lighthouse (one of three on the islands) and enjoying relaxing on the beaches or in the (cool) water.

There are four trails altogether including the recommended Monte Faro trail and Alto del Príncipe trail.

The views from Alto do Principe are indeed superb.

Cíes Islands, Galicia, Spain
The islands are part of a nature reserve - the National Land-Marine Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia

Accommodation

There is only a single place to stay on the islands which is Camping Islas Cíes - a rather basic and not cheap accommodation. If you prefer to stay in Vigo there is a wide selection of hotels.


Lighthouse
Lighthouse on Montefaro

Cíes Islands, Galicia, Spain
Boats

The waters around the islands are super clean
The waters around the islands are crystal clear

Pristine beach on the Cies Islands
The local flora includes both scrub and woodland seen here on Praia das Rodas

The local flora includes both scrub and woodland
The islands are known as the Illas Cíes in Galician

The islands are reached by boat from Vigo
Find peace and tranquility


Access - Getting There

The uninhabited islands are reached by boat from Vigo. There are also boats to the islands from the ports of Baiona and Cangas on the Galician coast. The boat from Vigo takes about 40 minutes. Journey time from Viana do Castelo Station to Vigo is about 1 hour, 20 minutes.

For boat times from Vigo check crucerosriasbaixas.com on your phone. It doesn't seem to work very well on PC. 

The mardeons.es/en/cies-islands website also has good information on the islands.

There are strict rules in force to protect the environment: no littering (visitors must take their litter home), no fishing, and no campfires.

The permit is available from this website: autorizacionillasatlanticas.xunta.gal


The Cíes consist of three islands, Monteagudo, do Faro (Isla do Medio) and San Martiño
The Cíes consist of three islands, Monteagudo, do Faro (Isla do Medio) and San Martiño

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Sandeman Cellars Vila Nova de Gaia

Sandeman Cellars Vila Nova de Gaia

The Sandeman Port Wine Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia across the River Douro from Porto is a distinctive sight.

The House of Sandeman was founded way back in 1790 by the Scottish businessman George Sandeman. He dealt in Spanish sherry through Cadiz and port wine from Portugal. He purchased his cellars and wine lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia in 1811. Nowadays, the company also trades in wine from Madeira.

Sandeman Cellars Vila Nova de Gaia
Sandeman's wine cellars

The traditional logo of "the Don" - a figure wearing a long Portuguese student's cape and a Spanish Cabellero hat is one of the world's first commercial logos. It was painted by the Scottish artist George Massiot Brown.

Nowadays visitors to Sandeman's cellars and museum on the history of the company and brand can enjoy a variety of tours. They are conducted by a guide dressed as "the Don" aka the Sandeman Man. The tours end with a Port wine tasting and an opportunity to buy the company's celebrated port wines and vintage ports.

The museum exhibits vintage bottles going back as far as the 17th century, paintings and pottery. 

Distinctive rooftops of the building
Distinctive rooftops of the building


Access - Getting There

Largo Miguel Bombarda, 47
4400-222 Vila Nova de Gaia

Hours

March to October; daily from 10 am to 8pm; November to February; daily from 10 am to 12:30 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm.

Porto buses 900, 901 904, and 906 all stop outside the cellars.

The Sandeman logo is one of the world's first
The Sandeman logo is one of the world's first commercial logos

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Rua das Flores Porto

Rua das Flores, Porto

The Rua das Flores in Porto was laid out in the early 16th century on land owned by the Bishop of Porto. By the 19th century, the street had some of the city's most expensive shops including goldsmiths.

Rua das Flores, Porto
Rua das Flores, Porto

Nowadays the street is lined with chic cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and hip boutiques running down to the Igreja da Misericórdia, the Museu da Misericórdia do Porto, and the Largo São Domingos from just across the road from São Bento Station.

The street is pedestrianized and is usually thronged with tourists in the summer season. This is turn attracts musicians and street artists to entertain the crowds.

Some of the elegant buildings on the street once belonged to the aristocracy and wealthy merchants and date from the 17th-19th centuries.

Shop on the pedestrianized Rua das Flores
Rua das Flores

Note the fine wrought-iron balconies and tile work on some of the buildings. If you wish to stay on or near to this trendy thoroughfare try the recommended Casa dos Lóios Boutique Guesthouse or Myo Design House. Both are within renovated, historic houses with modern facilities.

Flores Boutique Hotel & Spa is a four-star hotel on the street complete with a wellness center, roof terrace and indoor pool.

Shop on the pedestrianized Rua das Flores
Shop on the pedestrianized Rua das Flores

Museu da Misericórdia do Porto
Museu da Misericórdia do Porto


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