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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

My friend Greg Berry at nuance intelligence asked that I comment on his recent post:  Ethical Travel I’m not sure I offered anything towards the solution of our massive travel footprint but it allowed me a venue to post some thoughts. Thanks Greg.

Meeting new friends in Jordan

Meeting new friends in Jordan

Across the globe there are countless initiatives being discussed to address travel, air travel specifically, and climate change. Recent numbers I have read are that tourism trade accounts for 5% of the World’s CO2 Emissions.  If you allow for a second lens, tourism employees 10% of the worlds economy. Tourism infuses money into poor economies. Travel encourages protection of natural environments and finally, travel leads to understanding.

The reality is most travelers fall into two distinct categories. Those traveling for “vacation”-pleasure, education, adventure, experiences etc (we will include travelers taking part in National Geographic Tours private Jet Tours (!?) and those traveling for work.  Both groups are less likely to be focused on this discussion that we “conscious” readers are.

Challenges:
Consumers traveling for vacation purposes are not interested in feeling guilty about their travels. They’re on holiday! They want to enjoy their experience which includes using plush towels and wonderful bath products. It is a luxury they often don’t have at home.  Many argue correctly that the “towel” issues is much more about how the the hotels wash their linens than about how guests use them.  That’s followed by airline and hotel recycling programs etc etc. Good overview of what is all really means here.

Business Travelers are far more interested in convenience. For all of us who travel for a living I think it is safe to say that airline travel has lost any mystery and excitement it may once have had. The very thought of an airport is now worse than the fear of visiting the dentist.  Anything that makes this journey to our destination easier and less unpleasant will be used. Business travelers are focused on getting in and out with as little personal headaches as possible. Public transportation to/from airports is neither convenient nor well communicated.  Trying to negotiate rail and bus options is complicated enough for the budget traveler and even cities such as NY and Chicago have done a poor job.

Positive Steps:
Vacations: Tour Providers/Companies who have taken the initiatives (offsetting the carbon footprint of the ground portion of the tour) take the first step in educating and encouraging travelers to offset their flights.  Many “tour providers” carefully choose locally owned properties and restaurants and hire regional guides, all of which encourage an overall understanding and connection with the destination. I believe that future political and ethical decisions a traveler makes when NOT traveling will be based on these experiences.  Post travel we tend to read, shop, listen to and engage in topics that touch on a destination we have been to very differently than when we merely read about an issue in a far off destination. The Middle East and Africa are good examples.

(more…)

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Hiking & Culinary Italy Adventure

Tuscany Hiking and Culinary Adventure

Today the word “Adventure” is synonymous with the term “Experiential” and the Adventure Travel Industry has expanded to include everything from golf, fly fishing, safari, yoga and other “soft”/”active” trips to culinary, wine, small ship expeditions, cultural heritage, language immersion, villa rentals, photography and volunteer tours. Even brands like Disney (“Adventures by Disney”) and Royal Caribbean are choosing the word “Adventure” while clearly targeting a boomer market group. But this isn’t new. It’s always been boomers who connected to the world through experience and it is only fitting that today the 50-70 year old “Prime Time Traveler” is driving unheard of growth in all categories of experiential travel.

Let’s face it, if you are a boomer under the age of 50 it’s likely you’re still working, raising a family, dealing with or planning for college, and in debt. I don’t know anyone in my age bracket (late stage boomers) who isn’t incredibly busy.  We’re more likely to be spending our precious “vacation” time visiting family spread across the country; escaping on a quick girl-friends get-away with our friends, mother or sister; splurging on a pampered spa weekend alone or with a partner; or, rarely, taking an all inclusive no-brainer Caribbean or Mexico vacation. It isn’t that we don’t love or dream of travel but our time and finances is extremely limited.

Looking at the other end of the market, around the age of 70 (sometimes sooner) our health starts to deteriorate and we often become more fearful of what might happen in an unfamiliar environment.  Cruises and resorts still fit the bill, however, in general this population likely is vacationing closer to home and spending more time with family.

Why the explosion?
Time to Start Living: Kids are out of the house, early retirement, part-time work options, second careers, are being considered.  Life is their oyster and Prime Timers are ready to start living for themselves and enjoying the fruits of their labor. There is a sense of urgency to live and travel NOW as they see friends and parents dealing with chronic illness.

Two years ago I worked  with Eons.com to develop a travel area of this destination site the 50+.   Assessing Eons members “LifeDreams” it’s clear that Travel occupied the top place and the 50+ are ready to start living their dreams.  Experiential Travel offers the opportunity to combine Travel with other LifeDreams (volunteer, spend time with friends and family, learn to cook etc). Creating a site that allows users to easily search by desired experiences, rather than just destination, was a natural implementation to fit this need.

Investing in Experiences: this age bracket is in the simplifying stage. They generally have enough or too much “stuff” (although investing in a 2nd or 3rd property is still enticing).  Today they’re taking regional cooking classes at the culinary institute and learning Italian.  They enjoy visiting the farmers markets as much to meet the farmers and small producers as to purchase fresh vegetables.  Rather than just writing a check, they are volunteering in their local community both for non-profits and offering their time and skills to entrepreneurs. They are taking control of their heath by learning about and purchasing natural and organic foods and have developed an increased interest in the culture of food worldwide.  They are more active; joining walking groups & targeted health clubs, training for fundraising rides and walks. Along the way they’re meeting new, like minded, friends, reconnecting with themselves and their partner.  Prime Timer’s are optimistic, interested, intersting and engaged.

Trips of a lifetime: Traveling to China, Africa, Argentina or even Italy takes on new meaning as we mature. We may return again, but it is more likely this will be our only or last visit. Prime Time Travelers are willing to invest time and money in seeing and experiencing as much as they can while they are there and they crave the best and most authentic experiences. They are likely to sign up for additional extensions or excursions, upgrade to rooms with views and fly business or first class and spend extra nights before or after the tour enjoying the departure city.  Time is short.  The “Cheapest” package is of no more interest than finding the cheapest cardiac surgeon to most and frankly a discount is of less interest than a value add (axe the fruit basket and add a guided city tour or locally made souvenir).  You can also bet that a “Trip-of-a-lifetime” might be researched online, but will be booked over the phone after speaking with a knowledgeable staff member or, better yet, a past guest.

Treading Softly: Global Connection & Concern:
Geotourism is a term recently defined by National Geographic as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents”. You might remember Eco Tourism was a buzz in the 90’s. The new term aligns EcoTourism, Green Tourism, Travelers Philanthropy, and Sustainable Travel. Basically,  how we go, where we go, why we go, what we do while we are there, and what we do when we return, all matter.  From offsetting a trips carbon footprint to choosing tour operators who stay at local lodges, hire local guides, recycle and purchase local foods to creating or investing in non-profits in the areas they travel these features all are becoming a priority for well traveled PrimeTimers who were alive and active in the 60’s. They are also willing to pay a bit more to companies who have made these commitments.

What’s Experiences are Hot and Why

VolunTourism:
Volunteer Vacations are no longer made up of teenagers sleeping on the floor of a local school at night and working during the day. Today 50+ year olds swarm to projects around the world including teaching English in Xian China, conserving frescos in Italy, counting sea turtle eggs in the Great Barrier Reef.   What is different? Prime Time Travelers require a higher level of comfort (simple hotels or homestays are often appropriate) & consideration for health and medical needs.  They also often want a shorter program (1-2 weeks) and frequently add language immersion program prior to the volunteer project and cultural/natural tour the area after the project.

Intergenerational Travel
As they clean out the homes of their elderly parents they swear not to put their own children through this.  They tire of buying presents for kids and grandkids who have everything or don’t hesitate to buy it for themselves. With busy lives the solution to get together has now become the family reunions…it just looks quite a bit different than it did 40 years ago.  Today family vacations are intergenerational and often take place not at Grandma’s house but at a Dude Ranch in Colorado, a villa in Tuscany, a ship in Alaska, or under the Serengeti Stars on Safari.

Learning
Prime Timer’s are interested in taking their passions on the road.  Why not learn to cook IN Italy, Photograph Polar Bears IN the Artic, Speak Spanish IN Guatemala, or Paint IN Santa Fe.

Active & Adventure: walking, cycling, golfing, yoga vacations are filled with active 50+ folks. Daily options addressing a variety of fitness levels,  guiltless enjoyment of local food and wine, bragging rights of completing the Inca trail or cycling through Ireland still top cocktail stories.

Culture & Nature:
connecting with traditional cultures and the natural environment, especially those most vulnerable to extinction, continue to drive unheard of travel to destinations like Bhutan, Myanmar, Antarctica & Kilimanjaro. Vietnam, Japan and Germany are attractive to this age group for historical reasons.”

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Within the travel industry the importance of “Women’s Travel” is often confused.  Women hold a, agruably THE,  leading position in the viability of travel and tourism products.

Slovenia Women's Adventure

Slovenia Women's Adventure

Women as Decision Makers

Depending on whose research you review, women influence between 88 and 92% of all travel decisions.  period (should I write that again?)

She is behind the final decision for all family vacations, romantic get-aways, adventure weeks.  She controls the purse-string though she might not be making the final booking.  She makes decisions based on different variables that men.  She wants to know about the experience; how it will make her feel, how it will make her life easier (you’ve done all the planning and picked the perfect hotels, there are options for her kids, you can accommodate her husbands food allergies etc), who she will meet along the trail…she wants the picture rather than the minute by minute details.

She has a high bullshit meter and purchases from companies she has established trust with.  She wants to be asked questions about her needs and she likes to work with people who listen.  She researches travel online but then looks to her friends to tell her who they have traveled with and where they have been.  She’s looking for the perfect solution…and they want to be surprised and delighted that you have thought of something they haven’t.

To providers this may seem like a fairly straightforward introduction…but it is amazing how many brochures, websites,  tour itineraries, confirmation packets, photos, trade-show booths etc are NOT targeting women.  Having been in the industry for over 20 years I would bet that most companies in-house staff is made up predominately of women.   Has every piece you send out to potential clients been honestly reviewed by them?  Who is training your ground staff beyond “guiding” to address how to integrate these needs and desires into the itinerary.

Last but certainly not least, we should address Word Of Mouth Marketing.  In general, women are part of a much larger social community than men are.  We surround ourselves with diverse groups…other couples, women’s book groups, moms play groups, walking/running friends, professional networks. We are part of a huge web are always sharing tidbits of insider knowledge to help others.  Yes, if we like (or don’t like) the trip or company we have just traveled with we will tell EVERYONE.

Women as “Travelers”:
In the late 80’s and early 90’s women’s tours were put in a corner which most adventure travel companies as well as guests were uncomfortable with.  Were “Women Only”  really just another word for Lesbian Trips?  If we had group of women traveling together on our trips, what was their relationship? If two women booked a trip together, were they a couple?

The fact was that during this time, a fair portion of companies targeting “women only” were targeting the lesbian community, while an emerging group of entrepreneurs were simply realizing the growing market of women interested in traveling with other women.

As the industry came of age in the late 90’s and had “softened” a bit (offering more options to suite a wider range of physical abilities, staying at properties with private baths, focusing on local culture interaction and environmental education…renaming trips from “Hiking” to “walking”, focusing on food) we saw astounding growth in the industry.  The demographics had changed from trips being made up predominately of men in their 30’s to couples in their 40’s and 50’s and singles, mostly women, of all ages, eager to take part in an adventure without the concern of security or the need for a traveling companion.

In the beginning of the century “women’s only” tour companies were popping up in every niche (yoga, culinary, skiing, Sailing etc) and major tour operators began testing out “women’s only” departures.  Similar to the “family tour” bandwagon, there was little thought of why, where and when women choose women-only departures.

What we have found through the fallout of canceled departures is what we, as adventure seeking women, have always known, we are constantly changing.  We  gravitate towards “women’s only” trips to learn a new skill, especially one which involves a new sport or physical challenge, as we enjoying being in a supportive women’s only learning environment.  We are likely to take Goal Trips, like trekking the inca trail or climbing Kilimanjaro with other women.  We LOVE to get away with our girlfriends and this section of the market is only beginning to tap into this annual event.  We are also wives, mothers, girlfriends,  individuals who enjoy the company of the other sex.  We like traveling with our husband or partner, with couples, and, if we are single, in groups that have other solo travelers as well as couples.  Most of us are not “women-only” travelers, we are “sometimes women-only travelers”…it is or prerogative 🙂

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Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria

October 6 2008
Ted Turner Announces First-Ever Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria
at World Conservation Congress

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Voluntary standards help travel suppliers around the world meet increasing consumer demand for products and services that will have positive effects on communities and the environment
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October 6, 2008 (Barcelona, Spain) – United Nations Foundation Founder and Chairman Ted Turner joined the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) today to announce the first-ever globally relevant sustainable tourism criteria at the IUCN World Conservation Congress. The new criteria – based on thousands of best practices culled from the existing standards currently in use around the world – were developed to offer a common framework to guide the emerging practice of sustainable tourism and to help businesses, consumers, governments, non-governmental organizations and education institutions to ensure that tourism helps, rather than harms, local communities and the environment.

“Sustainability is just like the old business adage: ‘you don’t encroach on the principal, you live off the interest’,” said Turner. “Unfortunately, up to this point, the travel industry and tourists haven’t had a common framework to let them know if they’re really living up to that maxim. But the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) will change that. This is a win-win initiative – good for the environment and good for the world’s tourism industry.”

“Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries and a strong contributor to sustainable development and poverty alleviation,” said Francesco Frangialli, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. “Over 900 million international tourists travelled last year and UNWTO forecasts 1.6 billion tourists by the year 2020. In order to minimize the negative impacts of this growth, sustainability should translate from words to facts, and be an imperative for all tourism stakeholders. The GSTC initiative will undoubtedly constitute a major reference point for the entire tourism sector and an important step in making sustainability an inherent part of tourism development.”

The criteria were developed by the Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC Partnership), a new coalition of 27 organizations that includes tourism leaders from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Over the past 15 months, the partnership consulted with sustainability experts and the tourism industry and reviewed more than 60 existing certification and voluntary sets of criteria already being implemented around the globe. In all, more than 4,500 criteria have been analyzed and more than 80,000 people, including conservationists, industry leaders, governmental authorities and UN bodies, have been invited to comment on the resulting criteria.

“Consumers deserve widely accepted standards to distinguish green from greenwashed. These criteria will allow true certification of sustainable practices in hotels and resorts as well as other travel suppliers,” said Jeff Glueck, chief marketing officer of Travelocity/Sabre, a member of the GSTC Partnership. “They will give travelers confidence that they can make choices to help the sustainability cause. They also will help the forward-thinking suppliers who deserve credit for doing things right.”

Available at http://www.SustainableTourismCriteria.org, the criteria focus on four areas experts recommend as the most critical aspects of sustainable tourism: maximizing tourism’s social and economic benefits to local communities; reducing negative impacts on cultural heritage; reducing harm to local environments; and planning for sustainability. The GSTC Partnership is developing educational materials and technical tools to guide hotels and tour operators in implementing the criteria.

“The American Society of Travel Agents feels it especially important to be a part of this global partnership that is leading the way in defining once and for all what it means to be a sustainable travel company,” said William Maloney, Chief Operating Officer for ASTA. “As an organization with its own Green Member program, it’s incumbent upon us to ensure that our steps toward a travel retailers’ green initiative were in sync with responsible global developments. The criteria will provide our members with much-needed guidelines for assessing future business partners’ commitment to sustainable tourism while offering consumers clear and reliable information about the travel choices they make.”

“The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria initiative is about steering the industry onto a truly sustainable path — one that echoes to the challenge of our time: namely the fostering and federating of a global Green Economy that thrives on the interest rather than the capital of our economically-important nature-based assets,” said Achim Steiner, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme.

“The Rainforest Alliance celebrates the outcomes of the GSTC Partnership, which we believe will help the tourism industry put itself on a sustainable path,” said Tensie Whelan, Executive Director of the Rainforest Alliance. “The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria that have been developed will shape the minimum requirements that the Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council will demand from accredited certification programs and help travelers have the assurance that they are helping, not harming, the environment.”

“The GSTC Partnership is a collaborative effort to provide a much needed common framework and understanding of sustainable tourism practices,” said Janna Morrison, Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Choice Hotels International. “Tourism is an important and growing industry that supports sustainability and will clearly benefit from this common framework. Ultimately this effort will result in a positive impact on communities and the environment.”

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Istria, Croatia

Croatia: Istria, the next Tuscany?…let’s hope not! | The Dragon’s Path | Kathy Dragon

Exploring Istria this fall was a perfect end
to my two weeks in Croatia. Yes, I’d heard Istria might be the new
Tuscany but needed to see it to believe it.  (Photos!)



Much of the peninsula is caught between mass
tourism, holiday homes and horrid communist era buildings.  That might
be enough to keep you away…it shouldn’t be.

Move into the interior of the region and
you’ll find the walled hill villages, Romanesque churches, family-run
oil, cheese and wine producers, eclectic galleries, affordable
“konoba’s” (small restaurants serving local dishes), clean/comfortable
family run hotels or “sobe” (rooms) and apartments for rent.

Along the coast there remain a sampling of
wonderful towns, like Rovinj, which reminds me of the towns along the
Ligurian Coast including those of the Cinque Terre.


Typical of Croatia, local are friendly,
engaging and interested in sharing their country with you.  They are
likely to invite you into their home, wine cellar or shop with a
smile….something difficult to find these days in Tuscany or Provence.


Motovun and Rovinj are great basis for 2-3
nights, one on the coast and one in the interior. You’ll find good
biking and walking routes, a variety of “wellness” centers, and all
sorts of events involving local food such as the wild asparagus
(spring), grape, olive and truffle (fall) as well as culture festivals
throughout the year.

Here’s a sample:

“Throughout the whole month of October, in the
Mirna valley – in Opatija, the Istrian thermal springs, Gradinje and
Motovun – the festivities of the “Days of truffles” are held. During
these days it is a special experience tasting dishes made from freshly
picked truffles, these noble, tasty aphrodisiac mushrooms, including
many other programs. Along with the month long “Days of truffles”
festivities, Motovun, in the first weekend in November, plays host to
the “Festival of balloons, wine and truffles”, a manifestation whose
gastronomic pleasures are enriched with an air of adventure.”

Access is easy from Pula or Zagreb (Croatia),
Lubiana (Slovenia)  and Triest or Venice (Italy). You’ll want a car if
you aren’t with a tour group. Most folks speak some english and many of
the menus are in English.

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http://blog.delaranja.com/a-small-guide-to-lisbon/

I came across this blog this morning as I was preparing for my journey to Portugal tomorrow for my final session of the International Organizations Systems Development course.

This is written by Andre Ribeirinho , an entrepreneur who lives in Lisbon.

“For visitors of the SHIFT conference I”ve written A small guide to Lisbon to help them on this visit. It’s small so don’t expect everything to be written here and it’s supposed to be a guide written by me so expect my personal opinion every now and then.

Tram Lisbon
(the Electrico is beautiful and still used in Lisbon – photo by Monguinhas)

Arriving in Lisbon

by air: airport is close to the city (too close in fact). There’s no underground so the best way to get to the center it to get a taxi. It will cost you around 10 euros (extra fee for luggage). You can also get the bus (#44 or #45). It’s cheaper but less convenient.
by train: you’ll probably arrive at Santa Apolónia train station. Get a taxi or a bus to the center.
by car: avoid rush hours (8-10 am and 6-8pm). Find a public park and use the underground or the bus.

rua augusta
(Lisbon is a beautiful city, full of nice people – photo by ivogomes)

Traveling in Lisbon

The best way to get to know Lisbon is to walk.
Lisbon has a few hills but nothing is more beautiful than walking the
old streets. Sometimes you may need to catch an elevador but that’s
just part of the fun.

If you need to, use the underground which is cheap, fast and clean. A journey ticket will cost you 0,70 euros for zone 1 which covers most of the city center. There also a bus network that might be more useful if you’re visiting something not in the underground’s way.

For transport directions get the underground and bus map or access the Google Maps Lisbon Underground mashup.

What to visit in Lisbon
Bairro Alto

Bairro (as it is shortly called by the Portuguese) is one of
Lisbon’s trendiest neighborhoods. During the day its narrow streets
have a very friendly athmosphere and you can shop around the design
shops. But when night comes, the neighborhood gets full of life.
Restaurants (some with Fado), bars and discos make this area of the liveliest in town.

Chiado / Baixa

Chiado is where some of the most fashionable shops are located. It
also has some very beautiful old cafes where once Lisbon’s intelectual
people use to go. Take a look at Brasileira where Eça de Queiroz and Fernando Pessoa
were frequent clients. I usually go in and just grab a croissant and
drink an expresso, standing in the middle of the crowd can be a bit
daunty.

Convento do Carmo was once the largest church in the city but it was almost completely destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. It’s now a beautiful, open-air, set of ruins. Once there, walk down to the Baixa from Chiado or take the Elevador de Santa Justa (or do both!).

View of The Elevador de Santa Justa
(view of the Elevador de Santa Justa – by Batixa)

Baixa is the city’s lower town. It has lots of small shops and cafes around the area. You shouldn’t miss the Praça do Comércio and Rossio which are the main plazas.

Alfama

Alfama is the
oldest of Lisbon’s neighborhoods. It has so many narrow streets and
small squares that you can spend a whole day just wandering around and
admiring the view over the Tagus river.

Just on the top of Alfama, Castelo de São Jorge (the castle) is one of Lisbon’s highest points and the view is accordingly amazing. Nearby, is Lisbon’s cathedral and is worth the visit.

Feira da Ladra is Lisbon’s most famous flee market.
It happens on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It’s not that special compared to
some of Europe’s flee markets but if you go soon in the morning you can
get the feeling of the market which is something, I think, all markets
have different. Get there by taking bus #28 or #12.

The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora and the Pantheon of the Bragança dynasty are landmarks of Lisbon and should not be missed. I specially like the amazing 360º view from the Pantheon’s dome.

Panteao Nacional
(the Panteão Nacional dome – photo by Batixa)

Not far away, if you’re into azulejos (tiles) visit the
Museu Nacional do Azulejo for a complete tour on this ancient art. I haven’t been there but I hear it’s very good.

Azulejos
(Azulejos history at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo – photo by Isolano)

If it’s lunch or dinner time and you’re still in the area try one of my favourite resturants: Casanova locate at Cais da Pedra à Bica do Sapato. It’s a more than delicious pizzeria just in front of the Tagus river.

Tagus from casanova pizzeria
(view of the Tagus from the Pizzeria Casanova – photo by batixa)

Parque das Nações

The 3 km riverside park used to be home to an oil refinery but it
has been completely transformed into what it is today because of the
Expo98 world fair. Besides de riverside walk there’s also are a few
other attractions. I live nearby so I can highly recommend the visit.
To get there take the underground to Estação do Oriente.

Parque das Nacoes
(The Parque das Nações calm – photo by batixa)

Once there, don’t miss the Ocenarium which has an impressive collection of marine life and makes a very relaxing visit.

From all over the park you can see the Vasco da Gama bridge as it crosses the Tagus river to the south.

Vasco da Game bridge
(Vasco da Game bridge – photo by batixa)

Avenidade da Liberdade / Parque Eduardo VII

Avenidade da Liberdade is considered to be Lisbon’s
most important avenue. It takes around 20 minutes to walk. It’s now
home to high-end shops like Louis Vuiton and the likes but it is worth
it the visit if you want to walk for a while. At the top of this avenue
lies the Parque Eduardo VII which has two very interesting plant houses: the hot and cool houses. Both have a nice athmosphere.

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian

It’s one of my favourite places in Lisbon. The building and the gardens of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian are impressives. The Gulbenkian Museum and the Centro de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Center) are very important in terms of cultural Lisbon and should be visited with that in mind. There’s also a small cafe that serves very good (and cheap) food.

Calouste Gulbenkian
(sculpture from the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian gardens – by Sophie)

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga is Portugal’s national gallery. It holds an impressive set of works that date back to the fifteenth and sixteenth century.

Belem

The best way to reach Belem is to take the tram (#15) or bus from
Gulbenkian Museum (#51). Belem has lots of intersting things to visit
and you can easily spend a day there.

The Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is a magnificent manueline monastery that dates back to 1500. A few metres closer to the river lies the Torre the Belem (which once controlled the entrance to the port). Both are represent the great discovery of a sea route to the Orient by Vasco da Gama.

Located between the two previous monuments, Centro Cultural de Belem is an important cultural center. Besides the Design Museum it also presents some cultural exhibitions and concerts.

Every time I go to Belem I can’t return without going through the Pasteis de Belem factory where anyone can try some of the most delicious cakes man has ever made. thankfully, boxes of 6 are available to buy!

Around Lisbon

There are a lot of good places to visit if you decide to leave Lisbon for a few hours. I highly recommend Sintra, Estoril, Cascais and Setubal are some of most interesting. If you dedide to visit only one, definitely try Sintra.

Sintra is one of
the most beautiful Portuguese villages. Lots of trees cover the old
villas that make up the character of Sintra. There are many thing to
visit there.

In the village centre try the Palacio Nacional and admire the giant chimneys that grow from the kithcens. On the way to the fantastic Palacio da Pena don’t miss the ruined Castelo dos Mouros.

Palacio Nacional - Sintra
(Palacio Nacional and its impressive chimneys – photo by Batixa)

Sill in Sintra, visit the Quinta da Regaleira where a set of tunnels lead the visitors from a spiral well to a distant lake. Really, really nice.

More information
VisitPortugal covers Lisboa
Turistic Association of Lisbon
A very complete source of information over at GoLisbon.com

There are a also few books about Lisbon. I own The Rough Guide to Portugal (also online) and it’s really good, so I can highly recommend it. There’s also A Hedonist’s Guide to Lisbon and Lonely Planet Portugal or if you’re into french, Guide du Routard Portugal.

Enjoy your visit to Lisbon!

Note: those of you who read this and think you can add something. Please do so in the comments below. Thank you.”

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