A Travellerspoint blog

Roller coaster fun!

in Legoland Germany

rain 9 °C

OK, I'm not really a big fan of roller coasters. But kids insisted and so I had to give it a try.
I though that if I was going to do this challenging task I should at least record the moment for the rest of my life...
In the end it was not so bad and we all enjoyed so much that we took another ride.
Enjoy, from the safety of your laptop!

Posted by ACoelho 13:05 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

I Love Iceland - memories come alive!

Amazing video...

I'm sure that many of you have already seen this amazing video, but just in case...

[http://vimeo.com/groups/naturetimelapse/videos/30581015]

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Posted by ACoelho 11:57 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Lyon, France

Walking tour in the Old Town

overcast 12 °C

Some days ago I stayed two days in the city of Lyon.
Lyon claims to be the second largest city of France and I think that they may be right.
This is a vibrant city, with a lot of people in the streets, a very good transportation system and a very succeded combination between the old arquitecture and the new buildings.
Two of the largest rivers of France, Rône and Saône meet in the south of the city creating a peninsula or "almost an island" ("Presqu'ile"). The peninsula is probably only 150 m wide in some points and is crowded with old buildings.

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Views over the peninsula, river Rône
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Lafayette Bridge
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It's so full that they have to store chairs outside :)

The Old Town is located in the western bank of the Saône at the bottom of a hill. The density of buildings in this old part of Lyon is so high that the city inhabitants realised that they had to find a way to walk quickly across the buildings instead of going around the perimeter. The solution: narrow passageways (named traboules) pass through buildings and link streets. The first examples of traboules are thought to have been built in Lyon in the 4th century. Over fourty of such passageways are open to the public from the early hours in the morning until 8PM, but you really have to know here they are or else you will never find the entrance doors. You will spend easily half day walking around the marrow streets, stoping for a cafe late or to have dinner (restaurants in the Old Town are very good but also very expensive!)

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In search of the traboules
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Courtyard of a traboule and open air corridors
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Inside the traboule

Other places not to miss:

  • Cathedral of St. John with its old clock/calendar inside the church
  • The Place des Terraux, the City Hall and the Fountain of Bartholdi
  • The university of Lyon, a huge Campus in the northeast of Lyon

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Great city, perfect choice for a weekend break or a 2-3 days stop in your trip to France.

Posted by ACoelho 11:14 Archived in France Comments (0)

Cape Canaveral, USA

Between the sea, nature and... rockets!

sunny 15 °C

Last February I was travelling in the USA and I had to stay in the area of Orlando - Cape Canaveral over the weekend. I've chosen Cocoa Beach for my base. I've been in the region before, but it was the first time that I really had some free time to drive around. I've been following the space program all my life and I've always dreamed about seeing the places were everything happens for real and to have the chance to admire those wonderfull flying machines.
And this time the dream came true. Ok, the Kennedy Space Center is more like a theme park, sometimes it feels like you are in the Disneyland, but hey, this is probably the closest the ordinary man can be from the real thing and with a little bit of imagination you can really imagine yourself living the astronauts routine.
The east coast is beautiful and the beach stretches south from Cocoa Beach for more than 50 km. Merrit Island is also a nice place to discover although you can't really reach most of the island because of the Space Center.

Satellite Beach

Satellite Beach

Bird playing in the sand

Bird playing in the sand

Driving to Orlando

Driving to Orlando

Atlantis resting in the VAB

Atlantis resting in the VAB

Under the bird's wings

Under the bird's wings

Merrit Island

Merrit Island

Launch Pad 39-A

Launch Pad 39-A


Apollo Mission logbook - how cool can this be?

Apollo Mission logbook - how cool can this be?

Posted by ACoelho 14:15 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Weekend break in Alentejo, Portugal

Monte do Giestal, Santiago do Cacem and the southwest coast

sunny 20 °C

This weekend we took off again to the south of Portugal.
Despite it's not raining for at least three months, the Alentejo region still remains greenish and it feels that spring time is definetly here.
This time we stayed in a brand new lodging called Monte do Giestal.
The place was built accordingly with the local tradicional design but all individual houses in the property have a high comfort level, complemented by a large well equiped spa area which will make you relax.
The area near Monte do Giestal is also lovely. Santiago do Cacem is only half hour drive away and it's a nice small town with an interesting medieval castle from where you can see the beautiful surrounding landscape. The sea and the southwest beaches can be reached within another half hour. Sines, Ilha do Pessegueiro and many others are all in a 25 km radius.
If you have the time, do not hesitate: loose yourself in the Alentejo/Southwest coast of Portugal!

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Monte do Gestial lodging
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Cork oak tree in Alentejo
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How much more perfect could this be?
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Santiago do Cacém from the distance
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Through the castle walls

Posted by ACoelho 13:09 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

The southwest coast of Portugal

sunny 16 °C

Happy New Year!
The New Year started with some nice sunny days and very decent temperature during the day, especially if you think that it's the end of December, beginning of January. This nice weather was perfect for some days off and some sightseeing in the rugged atlantic coast of the country: this is the Costa Vicentina and it's only 2,5 hours drive south of Lisbon. Although nights have been very cold the crisp crystal clear skies of the southwest region of Portugal are also perfect to spend some time admiring the stars and constellations, a sight that most people living in large cities never really had the chance to appreciate like people did 30 or 40 years ago.
The Atlantic coast in this part of the country is full of small beautiful beaches hidden in coves and dramatic sea cliffs where the rock was carved through the centuries by the wind and the sea and it’s layers have been bent in strange ways by the force of the continental plates.
The food is nice, cheap and people is friendly as always. Small villages like Aljezur, Zambujeira do Mar, Azenhas do Mar and many others are small gemstones to know and enjoy. I hope some of you get inspired by my pictures below and that you will spend some days discovering this region of in Portugal next time you visit us.
Have a great 2012!

Zambujeira

Zambujeira

Praia do Carvalhal

Praia do Carvalhal

Carvalhal

Carvalhal

Azenha do Mar

Azenha do Mar

Zambujeira

Zambujeira

Zambujeira

Zambujeira

Zambujeira

Zambujeira

Posted by ACoelho 11:21 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Lisbon, a wonderful city!

Views from different perspectives

sunny 15 °C

OK, in times of crisis it's good to save some money.Therefore I've decided to spend some of my free time touring around the country.
And this time I went to Lisbon, our capital city. The idea was to enjoy this beautiful city once more but this time by viewing it from different perspectives. First I took a sail boat that took me for a nice ride in the Tejo River. The old buildings of the city stand out in a much different way that the usual one because like this you can have a global perspective of the old arquitecture.
Right next to the bridge - which looks like the S.Francisco bridge - and in the south bank there's a fantastic view point. Looking over Lisbon with it's open arms, the Cristo Rei statue seems to give it's blessing to everyone that lives and visit the city. The statue is a smaller replica of the Rio de Janeiro statue but still very impressive in size and location and allows you to view a complete panorama of Lisbon, from the ocean line on the left side to the laguna region on the right side, where flamingos stop for food and nesting.
What a great city!

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Posted by ACoelho 13:42 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

A little bit of Andalucia, Spain

Adventures in El Camino del Rey

sunny 35 °C

Well, I'm back...
Today I want to share with you all some wonderfull days we've had in August 2009 in Andalucía, Spain.
Spain is like Portugal in the sense that it has so many hidden gems. El Chorro is a strange place in the Alora region, halfway between Malaga and Ronda.
The region has some fairly large lakes originated by dams and there is a train line that cuts across the mountain using tunnels made by man. Along the way, but down below, a small river jumps and mountains seems to form a deep chimney. Theoretically you cannot enter and walk in the train track section but… ! The atmosphere of the place is a little bit surreal, and if you look back to the narrow entrance of the chimney you will understand what I mean: a very narrow platform runs along the straight walls of the mountain finally ending at a very old wood bridge. This is El Camino del Rey.
It’s amazing how this trail was done, back in 1905, and even more amazing how did someone had the courage to actually walk through it.
We've stayed in a very nice hotel rural, La Garganta, which is located in the small village of El Chorro. It's a good place to stop for a couple of days and explore not only the Camino del Rey but also the surrounding area, including El Torcal - rock formation - near Antequera.
And while you are in the region, go to Ronda. This old city is very beautiful and loaded with that very special glamour of Andalucia.
On the way back to Portugal, I've stayed one day in Tajo del Aquila, review the charming city of Sevilla and finally Faro.
Try it, you will not be disappointed!

El Chorro, Spain

El Chorro, Spain

The train line disapears in the mountain

The train line disapears in the mountain

El camino del Rey - El Chorro

El camino del Rey - El Chorro

Are you joking? - El Chorro

Are you joking? - El Chorro

Embalse del Conde - Alora

Embalse del Conde - Alora

Incredible bridge in Ronda

Incredible bridge in Ronda

Purple sunset in Tajo del Aquila

Purple sunset in Tajo del Aquila

Posted by ACoelho 13:03 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Athens & Santorini, Greece

The deep colors of the Aegean Sea

sunny 35 °C

Every year we alternate a hot sunny destination with a colder, more scenic place.
In the summer of 2010 we’ve decided to visit Athens and the island of Santorini.
Athens is a very, very hot city in August making it almost impossible to be outside under the mid day sun. It’s the right moment to make a “siesta” or to visit one of the excellent museums of the city. The underground transportation is very convenient and will take you to some of the places you don’t want to miss. I personally liked the national museum and the new acropolis museum.
Piraeus is the gateway to the islands and it’s very impressive the number of ships that come and go out of the harbor during the day. We took the high speed ferry to Santorini, only 4 hours in a comfortable interior. Like this you have the chance to see some of the other Greek islands from the sea; also the cooler sea breeze feels very good. Caution with sun burnings is necessary, or you will arrive to your destination looking like a lobster…
Santorini is a lovely small island that can be visited from tip to tip in 3 to 4 days with a rented car. The colors of the villages built in the top of the cliffs are a distinctive feature of the island and it’s true that you will see some of the best sunsets of your life. I guess the fact that we look to the setting sun over the horizon from a different perspective than the usual one – from the top of the 300 m high cliffs – and over the caldera makes the colors more vivid.
The small island in the middle of the caldera is an interesting day trip and you may even swim in the underwater hot springs. In the main island, Fira and Oía are the places where everybody goes for some fun and shopping. Don’t miss the climbing to the Old Thira arqueological site; besides of the cultural aspect you will get some of the best views over the beaches down below and the infinite, striking, blue line of the horizon.

The Acropolis

The Acropolis

A temple inside the Acropolis site

A temple inside the Acropolis site

View to the city from the Acropolis

View to the city from the Acropolis

The cliché: view over Oía

The cliché: view over Oía

Iconic buildings and colors of Santorini

Iconic buildings and colors of Santorini

Yes...588 steps down (and up); are you ready??

Yes...588 steps down (and up); are you ready??

Low cost transportation (or maybe not)

Low cost transportation (or maybe not)

The harbour in the Nea Kameni island

The harbour in the Nea Kameni island

In Nea Kameni

In Nea Kameni

Swimming in the hot spring

Swimming in the hot spring

Beach in Therassia (the other side of the caldera)

Beach in Therassia (the other side of the caldera)

Here is goes: the typical Santorini sunset!

Here is goes: the typical Santorini sunset!

Posted by ACoelho 09:14 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Highlands, Scotland

Where the secret world meets the real world and fairy tales make sense

overcast 15 °C

Scotland is for sure one of my favorite countries.
So far I rank Skye as the most impressive landscape I ever seen. The Quiraing located in the north of this isle is a magical place, with colors changing all the time as clouds pass by in front of the sun. All the trails in the plateau and surrounding peaks lead to dramatic view points over the sea and lakes nearby.
I'm a big fan of Peter Gabriel and I always connect the Secret World song with Skye and the Quiraing.
Some other pearls in the region: the isles of Mull, Iona - with its magnificent monastery - and the small island of Staffa, a unique place with its basalt columns. Other places to see are the Glenelg region, the road from Mallaig to Fort Wiliams and from there to Oban (with multiple stops along the way). If you have the time, drive from Oban to Edinburg passing by Inveraray and Sterling. Edinburg as capital city of Scotland deserves a couple of days to fully enjoy it. There is a tartan factory near the castle were you can learn all about the clans, the colors and patterns. Another alternative to this extension is to drive north from Fort Williams up to Inverness, always with Loch Ness on your side. Inverness is a beautiful city and I had my first live experience with Scottish dance in a soft afternoon of August.

Broadford bay, isle of Skye

Broadford bay, isle of Skye


Near the village of Sconser

Near the village of Sconser


Duntlum bay, Skye

Duntlum bay, Skye

The old Storr and the Quiraing

The old Storr and the Quiraing

Portree and it's port

Portree and it's port

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan


Castle in the Isle of Mull

Castle in the Isle of Mull

Basalt columns in the Isle of Staffa

Basalt columns in the Isle of Staffa

Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey

Posted by ACoelho 05:14 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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