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Best European country to visit

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Best European country to visit

Portugal won first place at the USA Today “10Best Readers’ Choice” contest for ‘Best European Country” to travel.

According to the editors, “Portugal is less iconic than other well-known countries, but it offers a wealth of opportunities to travelers: charming villages, great food, fascinating regional music, cultural opportunities, a beautiful coastline and even world-class surfing.”

They also wrote, “Much underrated Portugal has all the trappings of a pretty European country: cobbled villages beneath the shadows of medieval castles, sun-kissed beaches, a delectable culinary tradition and plenty of history to explore. Whether swimming in the turquoise waters of the Algarve, sipping a glass of port at a Porto cafe or listening to the melancholy lament of a fadista in Lisbon, Portugal’s understated beauty becomes obvious.”

The other countries that made the top 10 list include Italy, Austria, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, France, Iceland and Switzerland. All nominees were chosen by experts in the Travel Industry.

The USA Today “10Best” provides its users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content on top attractions, things to do, and restaurants for top destinations in the US and around the world.

Source: Portuguese American Journal

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The most picturesque towns in the world

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The most picturesque towns in the world

There is a Portuguese town among the most picturesque towns in the world.

Ericeira, located about 35 kilometers away from Lisbon, is on the list and is therefore a place for you to visit. The portuguese Meca of Surf stands out, for example, for the houses perched over the sea. 

This list prepared by the San Francisco Globe, elected the most beautiful local photos. See, below, which towns are part of this same list.

Annecy: France

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Colmar: France

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Sidi Bou Said: Tunisia

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Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Germany

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Dinan: France

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Himalayas: Tibet

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Reine: Norway

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Gasadalur: Faroe Islands

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Camden: EUA

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Tenby: Wales

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Tasiilaq: Greenland

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Shirakawa: Japan

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Hallstatt: Austria

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Estrunfes (Smurfs): Spain

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Albarracin: Spain

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Chefchaouen: Marroco

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Ericeira: Portugal

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You want to visit this beautiful town? We have a holiday rental in Ericeira.

Ha Long Bay: Vietnam

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Leavenworth: EUA

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Burano: Italy

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Bled: Slovenia

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Putre: Chile

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Bibury: England

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Source: Idealista

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Portugal voted top destination once again

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Portugal voted top destination once again

For the second consecutive year Portugal has been chosen as the best country in the world to visit by one of the world’s most prestigious travel magazines, Condé Nast Traveller. 

Online voters of the luxury travel publication chose Portugal for its winning combination of culture, gastronomy, excellent wines, beaches, history, golf courses, and for its friendly, open and very sincere people. Readers also described Portugal as having an impressive variety of landscapes.

This distinction comes a month after Portugal’s capital city scooped another accolade when the Post Office City Costs Barometer 2014 revealed a trip to Lisbon is the best for value in the Eurozone, being half the price of a visit to Paris, Amsterdam or Rome.

While a three-course evening meal for two with a bottle of wine in Lisbon would set visitors back £34.48, a similar meal would cost twice the price in Paris, at £68.97, £89.35 in Stockholm (Sweden), or £99.06 in Copenhagen, Denmark, it said.

Thirsty travellers can expect to pay an average of £1.12 for a bottle of beer in Lisbon, with the same costing £3.80 in Belfast, £4.31 in Dublin, and £6.73 in Moscow, Russia.

These latest reports and awards serve to substantiate Portugal’s excellent showing at the most recent World Travel Awards. The Algarve was chosen as Europe’s best beach destination and also scooped the top prize for best boutique resort (Vila Joya, Albufeira), best luxury resort (Conrad Hotel), best golf resort (Hotel Quinta do Lago), and best villa resort (Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel, Sagres).

On a national level, a further six awards were given to the Algarve. The Ria Park Hotel & Spa took the title of Portugal’s best business hotel and best hotel for conferences; the Martinhal was voted Portugal’s best family resort, while the best golf resort in the country went to the Hilton Vilamoura.

Hotel Quinta do Lago emerged as Portugal’s best overall resort, while the Blue&Green Vilalara Thalassa Resort took best spa resort.

The rest of the country also made a good impression, with Lisbon taking the title of Europe’s Leading City Break Destination and Madeira taking the title of Europe’s Leading Island Destination.

The Vine Hotel, also in Madeira, was voted Europe’s Leading Design Hotel, while the country as a whole was chosen as Europe’s leading golf destination.

Source: The Portugal News

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Tourism technology: How to enjoy a roaming holiday

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Tourism technology: How to enjoy a roaming holiday

This summer, data charges get cheaper for travellers within the the EU – and that means a chance to discover just how far tourism technology has come. Simon Usborne explores Lisbon with a smartphone as his guide

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You are probably familiar with the sense of foreboding that arrives with a post-holiday phone bill. If, like me, you have the pleasure of forwarding a significant portion of your salary to O2, you may also be able to picture the string of texts you fire from your smartphone while emailing or sharing not very good photos abroad, repeatedly shouting the request for "MOREDATA".

No more! Or at least, not so much. Our friends in Brussels have responded to growing disquiet about the prohibitive cost of data while travelling – or "roaming", as it's known in telecoms circles – by demanding a change to the law. In July, just in time for the summer holiday rush, charges for being online in the EU will drop by more than half. From December next year, mobile data use should cost you no more than it does at home.

Great news for tourists. According to a European Commission survey, a quarter of us go so far as to switch off our phones entirely when leaving Britain, such is our fear of being done for data. The rest of us tend to dive straight into our settings to disable roaming, effectively taking the smart out of our smartphones. Those who dare can expect to be told, as I have been, that our "daily" data allowance has run out after half an hour. "MOREDATA," you text – again.

Europe's mobile-phone companies seem to do pretty well, financially, but warn that they might increase all our bills to cover the cost of obeying the new law. Competition may keep any such hikes to a minimum. In the meantime, cheap data is a boon for the tech companies, who would like us to keep our phones on, so that they can carry on with the lucrative business of organising our lives.

Step forward Google, which earlier this month invited 50 journalists from across Europe to experience a digital life without fear, where connected tourists roam free. Each would be equipped with a Google Nexus 5 smartphone stocked with Google apps and (because the law hasn't changed yet) a bottomless SIM card. We would be joined in almost equal number by an army of chipper Googlers, as the company's 50,000 employees are known.

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The laboratory for this experiment: Lisbon, a city I had never visited. I had no idea what to do, how to get around, or how to speak a word of Portuguese; I would need all the assistance I could get. Google gives me a head start by booking flights and a hotel (the sleek and central Figueira, on the square of the same name). Emails confirming both reservations arrive in my Gmail inbox. This is where things got clever.

Google Now is the company's newish digital personal assistant. It draws on your inbox, your use of maps and your search habits to tell you what it thinks you need to know, when you need to know it. It can be a bit alarming at first. So, for example, on the day of my flight to Lisbon, an alert pops up telling me to go to the airport and how to get there, with regular updates of the flight's status. I never told Google I was going to Lisbon, but it found those relevant emails and extracted the relevant details.

When I land two hours later, my phone knows I'm in Lisbon. But it also knows where I'm staying (from the email, again) and tells me how to get there. I click on the Now "card" that has flashed up with the journey information, and switch from driving directions to public transport. And on I go down to the Metro. Nine stops on the red line to Alameda, then nine stops on the green line to Rossio for a three-minute, guided walk to my hotel. Transfers were never this easy.

If you don't mind looking and sounding a bit silly in public, you use your voice to search for anything you might otherwise type, but Google is also multilingual. At the Cervejaria Trindade restaurant, which I find very easily using Maps, I use my phone to take a picture of the menu via its translate app. I then stroke my finger over the screen, across the words I don't understand – torta de cenoura – and immediately get a translation – "carrot pie" (I guess it means cake).

I skip the carrot course and go it alone, in search of an ice-cream shop, where I test a different translate function. Still using the translate app, I employ my phone as translator and tell it, "I would like a cone, please, with chocolate and coffee ice cream." Immediately my phone speaks to the man behind the counter in his language: "Eu gostaria que o cone satisfeito com chocolate e sorvete de cafe." I still have no idea whether this is good Portuguese, although Google, translated the other way later, suggests I have said: "I would like the cone satisfied with chocolate and ice-cream café." Close enough? He could reply in Portuguese, but instead, having heard my initial, English request, he fixes my ice cream with a third scoop of bemusement and packs me on my way.

What's striking about all this is the refreshing absence of paper. No telltale Lonely Planet, no tatty hotel city map – just me and a phone, like at home. To take this approach further, Google is trying to digitise and educate the guidebook. Its Field Trip app draws on material from publishers to tell me where to go and what I'm looking at. As I walk through the delightful Carmo Square to the top of the lift, I feel a buzz in my pocket. My phone wants to tell me about Carmo Convent, a ruined church on the corner. A note pops up from a very enthusiastic man called Claudio, who contributes to a website called Spotted by Locals, telling me, among other things, that, "Once you enter, you will be enchanted by the view of the nave of the church. I always am!"

I also don't hold back in using my phone to capture Lisbon on a beautiful day. With the device set to back up my photos to my Google+ account, each image goes straight to my own little cloud as I snap, which means I could lose the phone without losing my photos. I later discover that the "auto awesome" function has stitched pictures I took of the city's skyline into a panorama. Clever (don't tell the Googlers, but I'm still working out how to share the images on Facebook, as I don't know anyone who uses Google+).

I could go on, such is the daunting breadth of Google's offerings. I'm ultimately impressed, but there are things to consider, even for technophiles who welcome the new freedom to roam. Smartphones should make it easier for us to look up on holiday rather than at a screen, which I certainly do enough of at home. Also, battery life only seems to get worse (I had to rely on charging packs to keep things going). My advice: embrace the new laws, but don't ditch your guidebook just yet.

Source: The Independent by Simon Usborne

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Do you surf? Portuguese app has all the info on the best spots!

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Do you surf? Portuguese app has all the info on the best spots!

The app SurfinPortugal has detailed information on more than 180 surf spots around the country.

Established in late 2012, the startup that organizes surf trips aboard minibuses now launched a new application: the location of the best places to surf every day and detailed characterization of over 180 spots around the country are available in the app of SurfinPortugal, who pretend thus providing a comprehensive guide to surfing.

"This app is the result of 20 years of travel between Peniche and Sagres. We wanted to leverage our expertise in an application that could be useful, especially for foreigners, who do not know the country. The app tells them where they are and how they can get where they want, with information on the conditions in each of the locations. Instead of graphics, we chose several times a plain text precisely to clearly explain to people how to get to the sites, rather than having an arrow pointing the way, "explains managing partner of SurfinPortugal, Manuel Moura.

The application is free and, for now, is limited between Peniche and Sagres, reporting on the conditions of the sea and the wind in places like Ericeira, Sintra, Cascais, Lisbon, Porto Covo, Vila Nova de Milfontes and Lagos, among others. It also has an automatic link to Google Maps, so users can get directions from the location where they are up to more than 90 beaches identified there or services, from restaurants to gas stations. The SurfinPortugal will soon include information about Nazareth, extending a little guide. "But I loved that in two years we had information for the whole country," confesses Manuel Moura.

Download

IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/pt/app/surfinportugal/id788747997?l=en&mt=8

Droid: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.surfinportugal

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Lisbon Deserves Its Title As European City Of The Year

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Lisbon Deserves Its Title As European City Of The Year

By Barbara Barton Sloane

Climbing down a dark,narrow staircase, I entered a tiny room lit by countless candles. Flickering shadows danced languidly across the walls and, as my eyes adjusted to the murky atmosphere, I saw two men playing guitars and a heavy-set, 50-ish woman swaying to the rhythm. Her eyes were tightly closed as she swayed to the music. When she began her song, the sound was low, guttural almost, mournful and seductive. This was Fado, the traditional music of Portugal and high on my bucket list of things to experience.

I recently visited Lisbon, Portugal and this year a prestigious award has been conferred on the city. The Academy of Urbanism bestowed on Lisbon the award of The European City of the Year, 2012. The Academy is an autonomous, politically independent organization whose goals are the recognition, learning and promoting of the best practices in urbanism; its award is presented yearly following careful and detailed inspection of nominee cities.

The fabulous capital of Portugal has always enjoyed the superb combination of a vibrant downtown, historic quarters with parks and gardens and cool, contemporary development. It has successfully managed to sustain its classical and modern architecture and has carefully invested in worthy urban projects. This, in combination with Lisbon's recent project to develop the River Tagus waterfront in a sensitive and responsive manner, has garnered this singular award for Lisbon.

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The city has still another reason to kvell. A few years ago, the Portuguese Parliament started an initiative to promote Fado as UNESCO's World's Heritage Cultural Patrimony and former Lisbon mayor Pedro Santana Lopes came up with the idea that Fado should be considered as a cultural heritage. The result: this year the UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity award has been conferred on Lisbon for its Portuguese Fado music. According to UNESCO, intangible heritage includes traditions and skills passed on within cultures. The UNESCO's committee of experts unanimously praised Fado as an example of good practices that should be followed by other countries.

This traditional art form, Fado, is music and poetry representing a multicultural synthesis of Afro-Brazilian song from rural areas of the country. It is performed professionally on the concert circuit and in small 'Fado houses in numerous grass-root associations located throughout older neighborhoods of Lisbon.

After my scintillating Fado experience in that tiny neighborhood boite, the next day I visited the

Museu e Casa do Fado located on Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, directly opposite the entrance to the Alfama. It's a small museum with a packed collection that includes many interactive exhibits. The permanent collection is a wondrous journey through the history of Fado -- the music, the singers, the musicians and instruments. I loved the room displaying hundreds of photos of famous singers as well as old posters and advertisements, each wall crammed with information on how Fado developed as a musical genre. My favorite room had an installation that recreated a Fado bar. I found myself alone in this room, dark and loaded with atmosphere. Lining the walls, original costumes worn by some of the great Fadistas like Lidia Riberiro, Maria da Fe and Amalia. As music played softly, I had the overpowering sensation of being an integral part of this scene. Leaving the museum and entering the bright, relentless sunlight of Lisbon was jarring, disconcerting. The cure: another visit to a Fado club that evening.

Mariza, a leading contemporary performer, multiple award winner and the ambassador for Fado's UNESCO candidacy said that, because Fado has been so honored, "perhaps we Portuguese will now take greater pride in who we are, especially in the so very grey times we currently live in."

2012 European City of the Year coupled with the luscious music of Fado - persuasive, inviting reasons to visit. But do one really need a reason? Lisbon, Portugal: reason enough!

Source: The Huffington Post

*Barbara Barton Sloane is the Travel Writer for The Westchester Guardian, The Westchester Herald and The Yonkers Tribune; a contributing Travel Writer for Bay Area Family Travel, Travel Savvy News, CEO Traveler, Travel World International Magazine, GlobalWrites and many other publications. She is a former Assistant Beauty & Fashion Editor for Ladies’ Home Journal, Associate Editor for McCall’s, and is presently the Beauty and Fashion Editor of Elegant Accents Magazine. In addition to travel writing, Barbara’s interests include running marathons, hiking and cycling. She is a volunteer for The Westchester Bereavement Center, The Lighthouse for the Blind and a member of North American Travel Journalists Association, International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association, Pacific Asia Travel Association, Cosmetic Executive Women and Fashion Group International. Favorite destinations are those that include family travel, light adventure, luxury/spas/resorts, incentive/business travel, wedding/honeymoon destinations and sites of historic and cultural importance both here and abroad. Barbara has a BA in Journalism from Ohio State University.

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Bullfighting, a rooted tradition

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Bullfighting, a rooted tradition

Bullfighting or tauromachy (Spanish toreo, corrida de toros or tauromaquia; Portuguese tourada, corrida de touros or tauromaquia) is a sport that involves, most of the time, professional performers (generally called in Spanish toreros or matadores and in Portuguese toureiros) who execute various formal moves with the goal of appearing graceful and confident, while masterful over the bull itself; these maneuvers are performed at close range, concluding (in Spanish-style bullfighting) with the death of the bull by a well-placed sword thrust as the finale.

It is a ritual spectacle that is usually designated in Spain as an art, for others as a sport, as tallies are kept for the purpose of ranking the bullfighters. The art of bullfighting requires a significant degree of skill and athleticism, resulting in the widely held view of matadors as national celebrities.

The practice generates heated controversy in many areas of the world, including Spain where the "classic" bullfighting was born.

Origins of Bulllfighting

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Bullfighting goes back at least to Minoan Crete, where the bull-leaping ritual practiced by youths of both sexes is memorialized in the famous wall-frescos at Knossos. The frescos offer no hint of struggle or violence, and the Lunar Bull was a sacred animal commemorated in ritual and legends such as that of the Minotaur. Modern archaeologists tend to emphasize the danger involved in this athletic skill and may underestimate the extent to which the bull cooperated. The killing of the sacred bull (tauromachy) is the essential central iconic act of Mithras, which was commemorated in the mithraeum wherever Roman soldiers were stationed. French ethnologist Dominique Aubier considers that there is no relationship between the Greek sacrifice which is an agricultural ritualistic celebration and the bullfight which is in Spain of pure paleontological hunting origins.

It is often linked to ancient Rome, when many people-versus-animal events were held as a warm-up for gladiatorial sports. The event's earliest roots are probably religious, as many bulls played an important part in the belief systems of many ancient Mediterranean cultures; compare, for instance, the Minoan reverence of the bull and the Greek and Roman practice of sacrificing bulls. It may have been introduced into Spain by the Moors in the 11th century, although there are other theories that it was introduced into Spain a millennium earlier by the Emperor Claudius when he instituted a short-lived ban on gladiatorial games as a substitute for those combats. The latter theory was supported by Robert Graves. In its original Moorish and early Spanish form, the bull was fought from horseback using a javelin. (Picadors are the remnants of this tradition, but their role in the contest is now a relatively minor one limited to "preparing" the bull for the matador.) Bullfighting spread from Spain to its Central and South American colonies, and also in the 19th century to France, where it developed into a distinctive form in its own right.

In the 18th century, the Spanish introduced the practice of fighting on foot, Francisco Romero generally being regarded as having been the first to do this, about 1726. The modern style of Spanish bullfighting is credited to Juan Belmonte, generally considered the greatest matador of all time, who introduced a daring and revolutionary style which kept him almost constantly within a few inches of the bull. Although extremely dangerous (Belmonte himself was gored on many occasions), his style is still seen by most matadors as the ideal to be emulated.

Portuguese Style

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The Portuguese now practice a type of bloodless bullfighting which is in many respects different from its original form. A Portuguese corrida de touros has three main events:

  • Cavaleiro - A horseman (rider), dressed in traditional 18th century costumes fights the bull from horseback. The horses are Portuguese Lusitanians, specially trained for the fights. These horses are usually skilled in dressage and may exhibit their art in the arena. The purpose of this fight is to stab three or four bandarilhas (small javelins) in the back of the bull. Horseback bullfighters are usually members of old aristocratic families.
  • Bandarilheiros - Akin to the Spanish matadores (see above), but without the sword. These men simply play the bull with a red coat.
  • Forcados - The forcados are a group of eight men who challenge the bull directly, without any protection or weapon of defense. The front man provokes the bull into a charge to perform a pega de touros (bull catch). The front man secures the animal's head (usually it is a violent choke) and is quickly aided by his fellows who surround and secure the animal until he is subdued. Forcados were usually people from lower classes who practice their art through amateur associations.

The bull is not killed in the ring and the fight is accordingly referred to as a "bloodless bullfight". After these three sets, the bull is removed from the arena alive and is sometimes killed, away from the audience's sight, by a professional butcher. More often than not, many bulls are entered into other events, such as rodeos in California, or released to pasture until their end days. Nevertheless, tradition was so strong at the small town of Barrancos, where the bull was illegally put to death in the arena, that the government was forced to relent and permit the town to follow its ancient matador tradition and kill the bull in the arena. There are many forms of traditional, popular bullfighting in Portugal, differing from the "official" version, some of which involve groups of people doing a tug-of-war with young bulls, by holding large wooden structures into which the animals charge. In the Azores, bullfighting is often remniscent of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, in which those most at risk are human beings, not the bulls themselves.

In Portugal, some bulls have their horns severed in a way that they do not present sharp points. This practice is believed to have been introduced by King Joseph I of Portugal after a tragic event in a bullfight he was presiding. The son and heir of the Marquis of Marialva was fighting a bull on horseback when the animal wounded his horse. The young man fell, was kicked by the bull and killed. The Marquis himself, then around 70 years of age, jumped from the royal cabin that he shared with the king, drew his sword and killed the animal.

Also in Portugal, the main stars of bullfighting are the cavaleiros, as opposed to Spain, where the matadores are the most prominent bullfighters.

Bullfights are not accepted in some parts of Portuguese society, as it is in some parts of Spanish society, and to that extent, has seen a decline in the number of spectators in those sectors. However, southern regions such as Ribatejo and Alentejo, and the Azores are traditionally more interested in the corrida de touros, than Portugal's central and northern regions, where it has little presence. Part of this decline is traceable, for good or bad, to the homogenization and uniform moral subjectivity of European culture and ethical standards.

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Portugal’s got talent

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Portugal’s got talent

No, there isn’t any series of the latest success show “Britain’s got talent” planned for Portugal. We do have some entertainment shows that are in line with Idols and this one in particular, but what we bring to you today is a different kind of talent. Not better just different and as well, a reflection of what Portugal is about by the hands of some of our dearest citizens that leverage this nation thorough their actions and success.

Portugal, with a privileged geographical position on Europe’s West Coast, has an Atlantic vocation that has always left its mark on the country’s history and culture.

The country’s proximity to the sea had a key influence on the maritime discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries in which Portugal played a pioneering role in connecting together the world’s continents - thus triggering the first wave of economic and social globalisation. Today, Portugal is proud of the many influences that it has assimilated – visible in much of the country’s material and immaterial heritage - and also the influence it has left on other countries and continents, including the fact that the Portuguese language is spoken by over 200 million people.

In a territory of only 92 000 Km², there is such a tremendous diversity of landscapes and cultural and historical riches that visitors are sure to find of a wide array of experiences close at hand - whether in the mountains or the sea, in cities or historic villages in the hinterland.

Enjoying a particularly dynamic moment in its history, Portugal is the homeland of many people renowned throughout the world for their talents. Allow us to present six among many others and some of their thoughts towards their country.

 José Mourinho – Football Coach

José Mourinho – Football Coach

My country has 220 days of sunshine a year. Sunshine and a gentle climate are bound to be waiting for me, whenever I return to Portugal.

Portugal has the highest number of sunshine hours per year in Europe. In the Algarve, where I like to spend my holidays, there are over 3,000 sunshine hours a year… and whether travelling north or south, in any season, Portugal always offers perfect conditions for enjoying nature, travelling or breathing in some fresh air.”

 “21% of my country is constituted by Nature Reserves and Parks. I can find charming, natural landscapes throughout the country, either along the coast or in the interior.

I was born in Gaia, next to Oporto. The River Douro flows into the Atlantic in this spot. Port wine and the river forge a special union between Gaia and the city of Oporto - located on the opposite bank. Oporto and the Douro’s winegrowing cultural landscape are two World Heritage jewels.

It’s possible to have a pleasant seaside walk along the 12 km eco-track starting in Gaia, or in the nature trails in Cabo da Roca, integrated within the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.There are also many BTT and pedestrian trails in the interior, for example the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park, in the Alentejo, that includes Marvão - a walled hilltop village. The Alentejo is better known for the beauty of its vast rolling plains, that is particularly popular in springtime when the fields are filled with scented flowers.”

 Vanessa Fernandes, triathlon world champignon

Vanessa Fernandes, triathlon world champignon

 Mariza, Fado singer

Mariza, Fado singer

 “The capital of my country is the only one in Europe where the sun sets over the sea. Lisbon is a city of contrasts where history and modernity are to be found standing hand in hand on the banks of the River Tagus.

 One of the most memorable concerts of my career took place in Belém. This is an area full of monuments, where modern buildings have successfully joined together with the uniquely Portuguese Manueline architecture classified as World Heritage.

Walking through Alfama – or Mouraria, where I grew up and learned to sing fado – you will eventually arrive at the Castle with its fabulous view over the river and sea. Stay there for a while to watch the sunset and then enjoy dinner in the typical atmosphere of a fado house.”

“In my country, I can appreciate over 20,000 years of History, from the early rock paintings to more recent contemporary art.

At the present time, Portugal is marked by harmonious contrasts between an age-old culture and all the excitement of innovative projects, geared towards the future.

Portugal is the country with the oldest borders in Europe, the homeland of the discoverers who, in the 15th and 16th centuries, set sail to conquer the seas and ended up connecting continents. Throughout its history, Portugal has brought together different and remote cultures, all of which have left their marks on the national heritage and on the personality and lifestyle of its free-spirited and hospitable people.”

 Joana Vasconcelos, fine artist

Joana Vasconcelos, fine artist

 Nelson Évora – triple jump world champignon

Nelson Évora – triple jump world champignon

My country has Europe’s longest white sand beach. 30 km of fine, golden sand awaits you next to Lisbon. Along Europe’s West Coast it’s possible to find open beaches and invigorating waves together with small coves and bays where one feels like an explorer. To the south, the waters are calmer and warmer, ideal for those who enjoy warmth and sun bathing.

My country is the world’s finest golf destination. With a gentle climate and lush, green landscapes overlooking the sea, holidays spent in Portugal offer an oasis in my annual schedule, whether in the island of Madeira or in the rest of the country.

The green turfs that I know best are those of football pitches but I also know that Portugal is famous for its first-class golf courses – with over 70 located throughout the country. The Algarve, in addition to being the country’s leading tourism zone is also famous for its golf courses and has been classified as the world’s finest golf destination. The Lisbon region - previously elected Europe’s best golf destination - has over 20 golf courses along the Estoril and Cascais Coast. I’m familiar with some of the resorts, located in wonderful settings, offering views over the sea or the Sintra Mountains - an exquisitely beautiful region included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

But for me, holidays are above all an opportunity to enjoy the sea and Portuguese gastronomy. The island of Madeira, where I was born, has a subtropical climate and bountiful flower-filled vegetation. For me, the local fish and shellfish taste better than in any other part of the world. And I also think the fruit has a more intense flavour!

 Cristiano Ronaldo, football player

Cristiano Ronaldo, football player

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There many other talents behind this great country, great communities of mix cultures that thrive this nation and as a all make also outstanding achievements. Portugal, Europe’s West Coast is also known by having the biggest solar plant in the world and being the fastest growing European country in wind energy.

Source:Condensed information www.visitportugal.com, Portugal Tourism Board

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Fado, the soul of Portuguese culture

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Fado, the soul of Portuguese culture

It is  unlikely that you are able to undertand Fado just by reading about it. Fado is a song that touches the deepest corners of Portuguese souls, so to really apreciate and learn about the ways of Portuguese souls you need to find a confortable chair, relax with a glass of red wine and with your eyes close, listen with your heart this anciant melody.

Carminho belongs to the new generation of Fado singers, her style and tone is in my opinion very similar to the Queen of Fado, Amália, but brings a new enchantment to this world intangible heritage

It is impossible not to have a view on Fado.  People either love it or hate it. The subject raises as much passion as the genre itself. 

The possible origins of fado include: Arabic from the population remaining in the Mourarias after the Christian reconquest in 1147; Afro-Brazilian from the mixture of the modinhas (soft romantic music of the Portuguese elite in Brazil) and the lundum (Angolan) which came to Portugal with the returning Royal family in the 1820s; maritime from the sailors returning to Lisbon after their voyages of discovery who may have sung sea-songs of nostalgia for Lisbon; medieval from the troubadours with their romantic poetry; 16th century from the narrative singing of the C16 romanceros.  

Other theories suggest a connexion with the Afro-American blues; or a gypsy element from Andalucia; or because the Jewish community was present in Lisbon for years after their forced conversion of 1497, it could be that their secret suffering contributed to the saudade of Fado.  

Fado comes from the Latin fatum meaning fate.  Fate describes the individual’s future and fado bemoans the unchangeable nature of the individual’s destiny and the unforgiving and unchanging nature of the lottery of life.   

The songs are urban folk songs from four of the poorest districts of Lisbon: Alfama, Bairro Alto, Madragoa and Mouraria. 

Saudade, which has a multiplicity of meanings such as longing, yearning, regrets, homesickness, memories, is the essence of Fado.  

Fado is sung by male or female fadistas with a traditional accompaniment of a melody line from the guitarra portuguesa and the rhythm is provided by the acoustic guitar, which the Portuguese call viola. Sometimes a double bass adds extra bass to the rhythm.  

First recognised in Lisbon in the 1820s, Fado o riginated in the taverns and brothels and the first famous exponent was Maria Severa. Her fame rests on a play of 1901 by Júlio Dantas (later made into the first Portuguese talkie A Severa in 1931).  From about 1870, the Teatro de Revista began to incorporate Fado songs and soon no production was complete without fado.  

Many Fados are about the city of Lisbon and the city is likened to a girl who is always beautiful and elegant.  It is likely that of all the cities in the world, Paris and Buenos Aires included, Lisbon is the city which is the subject of most songs.  

In the 1890s, Fado de Coimbra appeared. Sometimes this form is referred to as canção de Coimbra because it does not belong to the Lisbon tradition of Fado. It is usually sung by male students or graduates in the street (preferably on the steps of the Old Cathedral) and is firmly identified with the University of Coimbra, and the performers are always in the black capes which the students wear. 

Lisbon Fado is usually sung by only one person.  A woman fadista normally wears a black shawl over her dress signifying mourning for the first fadista, Maria Severa.  Men used to dress in suits but now a black polo sweater or an open necked shirt is accepted.  

There are different types of Fado:  menor is sad, slow and melancholic and is sung in a minor key; Mouraria is nostalgic but in a major key and faster; corrido has cheerful and upbeat music but the words do not necessarily reflect that mood; bailado is danceable.  

Fado canção or fado musicado is more commercial and appeared in the 1930s with Amália Rodrigues, its greatest exponent.  Fado castiço is the original type of fado and considered the best by the aficionados.  It is accompanied by the guitarra portuguesa and viola only.  

Fado à desgarrada and Fado vadio are different from the professional Fado found in Casas de Fado.  In these formats, amateurs take turns to sing their emotions.  A Portuguese friend tells me that the only proper form is Fado vadio; the rest is just for show.

Because fado was tightly controlled by the Salazar regime, some Portuguese have an ambivalent attitude towards it and its most famous exponent Amália Rodrigues.  It was announced by Salazar that he would give the Portuguese three ‘Fs’ to be proud of - fado, Fátima and football.  And so, perhaps in spite of themselves, both Eusébio and Amália Rodrigues became apologists for the regime. 

After the 1974 revolution, Fado became less popular and it was not until the late 1980s that younger artists have realised that fado is greater than the history of the dictatorship. 

Traditionally, most fadistas came from Lisbon but over the last 100 years, Lisbon Fado has lost its connexions with Lisbon, bullfighting, the nobility, saudade and Fado menor.  It is becoming an international genre scarcely distinguishable from other song types.  

Perhaps the recent recognition by UNESCO of fado as part of Portugal’s intangible cultural heritage will encourage a return to its roo ts. 

Text source: Algarve Resident

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Surfing in Portugal, hot spots

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Surfing in Portugal, hot spots

Silver Coast has one of the latest unspoiled beaches in Europe, some say its Portugal Best Kept Secret, I would say its just Portugal at is finest. Nazaré is one of most pituresque fishing villages in the Silver Coast, and holds one of the biggest waves in the world, and small big detail that is puting Nazaré and all Silver Coast on the world map of the international surfing community. On this video Garrett McNamara breaks the world record for the largest wave ever surfed in Nazaré.

The story about the North Canyon Wave and how it became a project

After one month, four big swells and some successful sessions riding Nazaré’s waves, the extreme waterman Garrett McNamara, 43 years old, returned home, to North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, with a sense of achievement.

The main goal of Garrett in Nazaré was to explore its waves – with special attention to Praia do Norte’s waves, which receive the effect of the geomorphologic phenomenon known as “Nazaré Canyon”. The canyon is so unique because it is one of the only one in the whole world that ends on the shore allowing the power of the water and swell to make it to the beach without losing any energy or size. Garrett was invited to explore the wave to see if it had potential for a big wave event!

During November, Garrett McNamara saw four big swells and two times the conditions were perfect for tow-in. He was able to see all the potential of those waves, which “are probably the biggest waves of the world for a beach break”, he said.

The Hawaiian surfer, one of the more respected waterman of the world, with several international awards and championships, worked with José Gregório (a former triple Portuguese surf champion, one of the most respected big waves surfers in Portugal and one of the athletes that better knows the waves of Nazaré, where he was born).

Garrett McNamara also had the chance to surf with Tiago “Saca” Pires (the most international Portuguese surfer and the only Portuguese who make part of the world surf elite), Ruben Gonzalez (a former four times Portuguese surf champion) and even with the Irish Alistair Mennie and the English Andrew Cotton, who came to Nazaré to experience the power of the waves of Praia do Norte.

Garrett caught other waves in the region of Nazaré, mostly with his Stand Up Paddle board, showing all the necessary technique to enjoy this kind of surf and sharing good waves with the locals bodyboarders. He showed big respect to them and recognized their pioneering role in the strong waves of Nazaré.

Garrett McNamara returned to Hawaii very impressed and with some well defined goals to a close cooperation with the Nazaré City Hall for the next years.

Jorge Barroso, the City Hall mayor, and Garrett McNamara signed an intent statement for the implementation of projects that can internationally promote Nazaré as a reference spot to the big waves sports and to the realization of a big wave event in 2012.

They both agreed to cooperate actively to achieve the following projects: Environmental Education to the Sea Center, a Rescue Center, a Big Wave Museum and a Tow-in Academy.

Jorge Barroso said that “Praia do Norte’s waves are unique” and that’s why Nazaré should “take the uniqueness of its sea”, that creates giant waves due the “North Canyon”. “In 2012 we’re going to make an innovative event in all of Europe. We count with Garrett McNamara and with this intent statement”, said Jorge Barroso, showing “the will of affirmation of Nazaré as a prime destination of big waves sports”.

To the extreme waterman, the big waves of Praia do Norte are some of the biggest that he ever saw. “After being here this month, learning the culture and working with this great team, I am 100 per cent sure that in 2012 we will hold a world class big event, promoting Nazaré all around the world”, said McNamara, referring that “the idea is to attract not only surfers or water sports lovers, but everybody.”

José Gregório was also present in the ceremony and congratulated the initiative. “This was one of the times when the surf was mostly spoken on the media”, commented.

To end his stay in Portugal, Garrett went to the second edition of the Portugal Surf Awards, the National Surf Ceremony, which counted this year with the awards of the Surf Portugal magazine, last weekend, also in Nazaré.

After the delivery of some awards and several conversations with some of the best Portuguese surfers, curious to know his views about the national waves, McNamara was surprised with an “International Personality of the Year” award by the oldest surf magazine in Portugal. They honored the commitment of the Hawaiian surfer in the exploration of Nazaré’s waves.

“This award was a huge surprise, but I’m much honored to receive it”, said Garrett with emotion. “The recognition of our work is always good, but the way that I was received by the Portuguese surf community was amazing. I’ll take you in my heart and I’m going to make everything to promote internationally the Nazaré’s waves and your hospitality. I’ll come back as soon as possible”, he concluded.

McNamara returned to Hawaii, to participate in the open ceremony of the most respected big waves championship of the world, Quicksilver in memory of Eddie Aikau, in Waimea Bay, Oahu, where he lives. He was one of the 28 invited surfers. Good luck G-Mac!

This project was organized by Câmara Municipal da Nazaré, Clube de Desportos Alternativos da Nazaré and Nazaré Qualifica E.E.M., with the support of QREN, MaisCentro, Feder, Turismo de Portugal – Oeste, Liberty Seguros, Lightning Bolt, GoPro – D’Maker, Filipemotoshow, Isuzu, Lena Automóveis, Peter Grimm, Noll, Instituto Hidrográfico Português, Spal, Tonic Gym, Surftotal, Surf Portugal, Antena 3, Surfer Rule and Surfspots-gps.com.

Photos by POLVO/Jorge Leal e Wilson Ribeiro

Source: http://nazarenorthcanyon.blogspot.com/

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Tom Cannavan’s wine selection

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Tom Cannavan’s wine selection

After much hype and anticipation, Tom Cannavan’s 50 Great Portuguese wines selection was finally unveiled in London at the Portuguese Ambassador’s Residence in Belgrave Square.

 

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