Lisbon is divided into districts and each one of them is special on its own way. Some of them are more traditional, others are more modern. Some of them are fancier, others are more adventurous. And together they transform Lisbon into what it is. In this guest article, Lisbon expert Julia Vilaça recommends five different neighbourhoods which will give you a complete overview of Lisbon and its special character.
Alfama is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Lisbon because of its traditions and it’s considered the “Fado’s Birthplace”. It’s an area with narrow labyrinth streets, that transform the neighborhood into one of the most fascinating. For a genuine visit to Lisbon with a pretty cool lookout at the end, visit Alfama, listen to some fado and enjoy the viewpoints. “Portas do Sol” is one of the most fantastic viewpoints and if you want a place to stay, you can choose Hotel Memmo Alfama. In Alfama you can also visit the National Pantheon and Casa dos Bicos – the José Saramago foundation house.
The Discoveries Monument, Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, National Coach Museum, Electricity Museum and many other monuments are located in Alcântara/Belém – it’s great for walking around (especially when the sun comes out) and to discover Portuguese history, since most of the monuments related to the discoveries are located here. In Belém, you’ll find something for everyone. And you should definitely try the Portuguese pastries – Pastéis de Belém. Enjoy the sunset at Espelho D’Água and stay at Altis Belém Hotel.
If you like to shop, this is the perfect place. Chiado brings together lots of stores, restaurants, cafés and little shops – you should definitely try the chocolate cake from Landeau and have a cup of coffee with the famous Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa in A Brasileira. Are you looking for traditional souvenirs? Or maybe a cool trendy piece for your closet? You’re going to find it in Chiado because modern brands cohabit with centenary premises (here you can find, for example, A Vida Portuguesa and Luvaria Ulisses). Lisboa Carmo Hotel is a great option if you want to stay in the heart of the city. And if you want to go to the theatre or see some street artists, Chiado is also the place!
4. Bairro Alto
Some people just call it “Bairro” and it’s one of Lisbon’s alternative areas. In Bairro Alto you’ll find art galleries, bars like PARK (for a great sunset), local stores… It’s a very traditional area during the day and, at night, it transforms itself into a trendy neighborhood –there’s music, drinks and fashion all over the place. It’s one of Lisbon’s most diverse districts and although it’s not super quiet at night, it’s also great if you want to go out and enjoy the hours after the sun goes down. During the day, travel up the 7th hill by hopping on one of Lisbon’s famous elevators: Bica or Glória.
5. Parque das Nações
The most modern part of the city, with a business side. Thanks to Expo ’98, it was fully renovated (some people call it “the Expo area”) but in Parque das Nações you can enjoy a different perspective of the city. MEO Arena, the Pavilion of Knowledge and the Lisbon Oceanarium are located here, so it’s a great area to take the kids. For an even cooler experience, take a ride on the cable cars!
Author Bio: Thanks for this article to Julia Vilaça who writes at Lisboa Cool and is an avid collector of happy moments. Her dream is to help people discover the coolest places when they travel.
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We visited the Burgundy region of France as part of our Uniworld river cruise and despite the rain, I was excited to see row upon row of vines, as we were driven through some of the most famous wine villages in the Saone-et-Loire region of France.
First stop was the ancient fortified chateau in the village of Rully dating back to the 12th century with 32 hectares of vineyards, one third of which are Premiers Crus. Not only were we going to taste these fabulous wines but also to have lunch and a guided tour of the château with the owner.
The château and the vineyards are owned by the Comte de Ternay, whose family has lived here continuously for 22 generations. That period of time means that this family has been in this château and most probably producing great wine since the 12th century.
The Château is located on the side of a hill, facing the plain leading to the River Saône. The square keep was built during the 12th century with a dry ditch around the château to reinforce the defence. Later the fortress became a manor house and in the 18th century the outbuildings, the great and lower courtyards were created.
We learned that this ditch was later filled in because the Count’s grandfather fell in it one night and decided that it’s time had come. History does not record why he fell in it but I’d like to think it had something to do with (too much) wine! There is now a very tasteful dining room and a wine tasting cellar full of ancient barrels some of which have been converted to tables.
The Comte de Ternay, met us from our Uniworld luxury coach, an affable chap looking slightly frazzled. He explained that this was due to the obvious presence of three small boys who he refered to affectionately as his monsters. It was lovely to see that the same family has more children and that they do not see their château as a museum but a family home with a business attached. We felt lucky to be here knowing that this was a special place with no pretension whatsoever.
The Count started his introduction with a quote from Benjamin Franklin.
“Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
However I prefer the Galileo’s words that my father often quotes before he enjoys a glass.
“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”
The region of Burgundy produces some of the most regal Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines in the world, with 100 different appelations and more than 3,000 individual producers. The Château de Rully vineyards are one of only 120 in the entire region of Burgundy which are owned by an individual. Around 80% of the wines made here are from the Chardonnay grape vines which enjoy the limestone terroir and south-east exposure.
We were invited to a dimly lit cellar underneath the 12th century keep. It was full of ancient barrels some of which had been turned into tables and with the wine we were served some delicious cheese puffs called gougères. We tried the Premier cru 1er Cru Clos de la Bressande Monopol, the Clos being a low wall surrounding the vineyard which helps the grapes ripen by protecting them from the wind. The Count told us that the Chardonnay grapes are picked by hand and not by machine and then they are sorted again on tables, so that only the finest grapes are used in making the wines.
The wine had a floral nose with aromas of honey and orange blossom and an elegant oakiness. The Count told us that he loves drinking it with cold cuts of meat, fish or white meats and sauces and that it was particularly good with goat’s cheese. It really tastes like sunshine in a glass.
We then tasted the Appellation Village Rully Les Saint-Jacques Ouest which was a lower classification called a regional appellation. It was good too but there really was a difference and the Premier Cru was the one for me. It was delightful to be drinking such beautifully made wine while chatting to a man whose whole life is dedicated to the estate outside his sitting room window.
After the tasting we moved back to the former stable block where a delicious lunch awaited us. Unsurprisingly we were served the local speciality, a classic Boeuf Bourguignon made with the château’s own red wine. This was accompanied by a potato gratin with a crispy topping of local cheese. For pudding there was an equally classic and simple apple tart. It really doesn’t get much better than this.
After lunch the Compte gave us a personal tour of the Chateau. There were some beautiful objects within the part of the house, but most interesting was that the Compte’s family have lived there since the 12th century and throughout that long time they have been producing and clearly enjoying the delicious wines. It was a remarkable day out that allowed us to connect with what it means to be part of the Burgundy wine region.
The visit to Chateau Rully was offered as an optional excursion as part of our Uniworld Cruise. The Chateau is also open for visits by appointment in July and August. For more information visit the Chateau Rully website.
This guest article is by Guy Cowper, who enjoys accompanying Heather on her blogging trips, especially where wine tasting is involved!
Travelling with Titan Travel and Uniworld Cruises
You can book your Uniworld Cruise through Titan Travel who specialise in escorted holidays and cruises. When you book through Titan Travel you enjoy their VIP Home Departure Service which is included in your holiday, to transfer from your home to your departure airport in one of Titan’s own vehicles.
Uniworld offer boutique river cruising on the rivers of Europe as well as other worldwide destinations. Like their sister company, Red Carnation Hotel Collection, the Uniworld ships feature luxurious furnishings and artworks with outstanding, personalised service.
Heather and Guy travelled on Uniworld’s Burgundy and Provence River Cruise through Titan Travel, on an 8 day cruise from Lyon to Avignon, from £2049 per person. As with all Uniworld cruises, the holiday is all-inclusive and covers meals and drinks on board, daily excursions, gratuities and airport transfers.
Thanks to Titan Travel and Uniworld for hosting our cruise.
It was a perfect day for walking in Menorca, one of those late May days when the sun is warm, the sea sparkling but the temperature in the comfortable early 20s. Although we’d had showers the day before, the skies had cleared with puffs of cloud and the sea seemed to be lit up an intense turquoise. Spring and autumn is the perfect time for walking on Menorca, when the weather is generally warm, before the heat of summer descends and everyone just heads for the beach.
Our walk for the day would take us along the Cami de Cavalls, an ancient walking path and bridle way that encircles the whole island of Menorca. The importance of this path was recognised by the island’s rulers in the Middle Ages so that horses could move around for defence and goods could be easily transported. The trail gets its name from the Catalan word Cavall which means horse – it’s literally a path for horses.
Our walk for the day started at Cala Galdana, one of Menorca’s most popular resorts where we were staying at Hotel Artiem Audax, a lovely, stylish 4* hotel overlooking the marina. The resort on Menorca’s south coast is an excellent place to base yourself for a walking holiday, with immediate access to the coastal path as well as a number of bars and restaurants to enjoy in the evenings.
We climbed up from the little marina onto the coastal path, almost immediately giving us the kind of views that you expect to see on postcards. Our path took us up onto the rocky cliffs, where wind-twisted pines framed the view of the the turquoise sea glittering below and the cliffs of the headland beyond.
Before long the route veered off away from the sea on a broad, flat stony path with scrub and trees of pine, olive and oak dotted around us. On one side, the path was bordered by a dry stone wall. Scattered in the grass were miniature pink gladioli and wild orchids, which would have been in full bloom in March and April but were just starting to dry out as summer approached.
The whole of the southern coast of the island is now owned by the Menorca government, to ensure that it is preserved from development. However, the land on either side of the path is owned by individual farmers who graze animals there to ensure that the trees and shrubs do not become too dense.
As I walked, I breathed in the scent of pine needles crushed underfoot and noticed the splash of pink flowers on the cistus and the vibrant green clumps of pine seedlings, pushing up beside the rocks covered with yellow lichen.
From the broad path, there were other paths that took us to viewpoints on the cliff where only the twisted olive wood fences protected us from a sheer drop down to the sea below. A white speedboat passed below us and I imagined myself to be the girl at the wheel, wind in my hair, speeding to one of the secluded coves along this coast.
We reached a boardwalk which took us down to Macarella beach, with broad wooden steps leading down through the pine trees. The beach is a very popular one, although due to all the ravines that run down to the coast, it can’t be easily reached by car, which is one of its charms for walkers. The normal bridle path continued alongside although it was so steep that I wouldn’t have fancied riding a horse down it.
Although the Cami de Cavalls encircles the whole island, there are some sections that are better for walkers, others that are more flat and open for horse-riding. Many farms have stables near the trail and offer horse-riding which my friend Zoe tried while we were doing the walk – read her article about horse-riding on the Cami de Cavalls.
Macarella beach is broad and sandy, with some shady pine trees offering shade at the back and sides of the beach. This would be a lovely place to spend an afternoon with the family and despite having no public road access, there was a large cafe at the back of the beach serving drinks and meals.
While some of our group stopped to relax at the cafe, I decided to walk a little further round the headland to the smaller Macarelletta beach (the name means little Macarella). Set into the cliff face beside the steep path were some caves, probably used in the past as an ancient burial site by Menorca’s Talayotic culture.
The walk around to Macarelleta was idyllic, the sea coloured intense turquoise with patches of deep blue. The path led down through the dunes and over the rocks with a few sunbathing spots on the rocky ledges. As I came down, I realised that this is a nudist beach although in May most people seemed to be keeping their swimsuits on, still I had to be a bit careful where to point my camera.
At the back of the beach were sand dunes and a covering of pine trees, with a rattan fence to protect the dunes. Once again this idyllic spot is only accessible by walking, with the nearest car park being at Cala en Turqueta, which is the next beach if you continue along the coastal path.
As for us, it was time to return by the same route, clambering up the path through the dunes and around the headland to Macarella, then along the broad path back to Cala Galdana. It’s an easy and popular walk, and all the nicer because the lack of car access means the beaches are natural and unspoiled. In the spring and summer I’d walk on to Cala en Turqueta and perhaps some of the pretty beaches and coves beyond, while in the heat of summer it would be perfect to stop at Cala Macarella under the shade of a pine and laze the afternoon away.
Where to stay in Menorca
I stayed in Hotel Artiem Audax in Cala Galdana overlooking the marina, which was right opposite the start of the coastal walk I’ve described. The hotel is Adults Only with bright, modern decor and delicious food with breakfast and dinner served buffet style. The hotel is part of the Artiem Hotel group which has many excellent hotels around the island including the Hotel Artiem Capri in Mahon where I also enjoyed staying.
Hotel Artiem Audax, Urbanización Serpentona, 07750 Cala Galdana, Menorca
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Have you done any walking in Menorca? What was your favourite part of the Cami de Cavalls?
More articles about Menorca
Visitor Information for Menorca
If you need a guide to show you the sites of Mahon and Menorca, I can highly recommend Luis Amella of Menorca Guides
Thanks to Menorca Tourism for hosting my stay in Menorca, in a project in partnership with Spain Tourism, Menorca Tourism and Travelator Media