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Portugal’s regent residences – Ajuda and Belem Palace

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Whilst visiting Queluz Palace, I was sure to have found the most opulent residence in Portugal. Today, I was proved wrong. Ajuda National Palace, just a stone’s throw away from our quarters in Belem, was the visualized definition of royal residence.  All heavy drapes and an abundance of aristocratic imagery. If you have little time in Lisbon, I would recommend to focus on the historic centre in Lisbon’s western district. Most of all, on Ajuda Palace. Palácio Nacional da Ajuda Location:  Largo Ajuda, Belem, Lisbon. Admission: The entrance is 5 Euros, plus 1 Euro for an info brochure (optional and the English version is a rather poor summary of the Spanish brochure). Construction of the Palácio started after royalty had lost their palace in the big earthquake and tsunami in 1755. A large piece of land stretching from Belem to...

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Mystic craze at Quinta da Regaleira

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Up next on our Sintra Hills tour was probably the most elaborate and funkiest fantasy-come-true. Quinta da Regaleira. Built between 1898 and 1912 by capitalist and philanthropist Carvalho Monteiro, also known as “Monteiro the Millionaire“. Money met a visionary. Italian architect Luigi Manini, who has also constructed the La Scala of Milan in Italy (where I cried to the dying swan from the Bolshoi), turned the vision of Monteiro into a private residence. It took 14 years of work. Close(r) up. Manueline features, Gothic style and Romanticism in architectural harmony. Once the property of a wealthy family of merchants from Porto, the Regaleira clan, Carvalho Monteiro bought the estate in 1892 and created a residence out of this world, magical and full of surprises. Baroness da Regaleira. She sold the house to Carvalho Monteiro.  Interestingly, in 1987 the property...

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Fairy tale Palace of Pena

Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Just as you probably thought we were palaced out by Portugal’s fancy pancy palácios, we took on another round. On day two of our weekend tour, we drove down from Lisbon to the wonders of Sintra Hills, to see Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. PENA PALACE A sight nothing short of a Disney castle and a rival to the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, it is  sitting more hidden than prominent, on top of Sintra mountain. The Park and Palace of Pena are fine examples of 19th century Portuguese romanticism, constituting the most prominent part of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra’s World Heritage Status. You can easily see how. From mum’s perspective. Like her picture better. Pena Palace is a crowd pleaser. And a little princess’s dream. And her mum’s, too. If you are lucky you can spot little fairies...

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Monserrate – Portugal’s fancy-pancy palaces III

Posted by on May 26, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

MONSERRATE Location: Monserrate, 2710-405 Sintra. Admission: Our combined ticket for four palaces (Monserrate, Sintra, Queluz and Pena) was 32,50 Euros per person. Monserrate Palace was number three on the list, which was the final one on the day, and in my opinion the most original of the Sintra palace lot. The Monserrate estate once belonged to the Royal All Saints Hospital and got its name from the Chapel to Our Lady Of Monserrate in 1540 , however, the most exciting architectural touches came a lot later, when it was purchased by millionaire Brit Francis Cook in 1841, a textile tycoon and antiques collector. This sophisticated individual transformed it into his personal Arabic-Indian fairy tale. I love passionate people. Especially, shall need arise, they do carry my scarf. Eclectic spirit of the 19th century. Monserrate is an example of Portuguese...

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Sintra – Portugal’s fancy-pancy palaces II

Posted by on May 24, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

The picturesque landscape of Sintra is rightfully classified UNESCO Heritage and located in the Sintra Mountains, just a day trip away from Lisbon (30 km) and only about 15 km to the east of the Atlantic Ocean. The beauty of Sintra lies in its royal buildings and estates from early medieval times to the romanticism of the 19th century. The city of Sintra is an exquisite mountain village and if it wasn’t for us tourists, it would have been ghostly empty. SINTRA NATIONAL PALACE Location: Largo Rainha Dona Amélia, 2710-616 Sintra. Admission: Our combined ticket for four palaces (Monserrate, Sintra, Queluz and Pena) was 32,50 Euros per person. The National Palace in Sintra dates back to Arab rule in the 10th century but the building, as it stands now, was constructed mainly in the 15th century by King João...

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Queluz – Portugal’s fancy-pancy palaces I

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

A wonderful delight, the ultimate palacemania can be found in Portugal. For the most unusual noble residences I urge you to visit Sintra and its whereabouts. We started our one-day palaces tour from Belem, our home in Portugal’s capital, with a rented car, to see the National Palace in Sintra, the Palace of Monserrate and to make a stop over for the Palace in Queluz, on the way to Sintra. The distances are pleasantly manageable. Before we disembark for the residences of people who had way too much money on their hands, I must note that for those financially less blessed, renting a car cheaply in Lisbon does not come easy. To pick up our car, we ‘traveled’ for two hours and three buses. Sixt, located at the airport, by my research the most competitive car rental, charged us 140...

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The Secret Garden and School Food

Posted by on Jun 28, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

18th June 2013. Can you keep a secret?  After I tell you why Seoul’s Secret Garden has had a profound impact on my flower preference? The idea of taking something to the grave is beyond my powers, which is why I tell you that the best place to hide from Seoul’s hubbub is either at the Secret Garden or in one of the 600 year old palaces. Despite the temptation of the world’s biggest indoor theme park in the city, we chose the outdoors. Right here, at the Secret Garden of Changdeokgung. Location: 99 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul. Admission: 5,000 won. Tip: Buy the combination ticket for 10,000 won which includes all palaces, the shrine and garden. Important. You can only access the Secret Garden with a guide! The tours are in Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese. You can take any...

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Changgyeonggung Palace, Korean Sushi and Gimbap at Hyehwa

Posted by on Jun 25, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 3 comments

16th June 2013. I will remember Seoul as the city of palaces. Just in case you have not had enough of Korean palace impressions, I will be telling you about about our fourth palace trip. And it is a trip for the mind. The architecture and vastness of royal sites is something to marvel at. If you are not a fan of existing monarchy, nor royal family soap opera you might still like to appreciate their homes. Anyhow. The day started with breakfast! Not a surprise but morning tofu in yellow and purple was quite a change – a find at Lotte’s Department Store food basement. And off we go! Changgyeonggung Palace (how do Koreans remember those long names?). Build by the 9thMonrach of the Joseon Dynasty, King Seongjong in 1483, the site was simply an extension to Changdeokgung...

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Jongmyo Shrine – where Seoul’s noble spirits live

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

15th June 2013. We gained more impressions of Seoul as a city and enjoyed Jongmyo Shrine, where we visited the ghostly spirits of Korean nobles. Korea has achieved major economic growth since the sixties which is mirrored by sparkling new skyscrapers and very modern urban design. In 1957 South Korea had a lower per capita GDP than Ghana, by 2008 it was superseding Ghana 17 times. It is now a fast growing developed country and one of the Asian Tigers. A major effort nowadays is to introduce green areas into Seoul, like ‘Seun Greenway Park’ (close to Jongmyo Shrine), completed in 2009, symbolizing the coexistence of nature and people. Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon oasis is another excellent example of how dense shopping, business and residential areas can be linked. I really enjoy the green in this mega-city.   Off, we go...

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Our discoveries and Seoul’s UNESCO World Heritage Palace

Posted by on Jun 14, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

9th June, 2013. After weekdays of hugging laptops at our new home/office in Seoul, our sacrosanct weekends are packed with couple quality time. We have discovered many new things in Seoul. I am going to show you these today.   At Chungjung-Ro or Chungjeon-No Station. Depending on what sign, brochure or site we read, station/road/building names are spelled with surprising variation. First discovery. Smokers’ glass cubicles at the metro. To make them feel more like the most exotic (dying) human breed.   Second discovery. Book shops at the metro. The metro is a world of shops and underground life. You get almost anything down under.   Even record shops with the latest K-pop tunes.   Third discovery. Cool workout stations at public recreational green areas.   Fourth discovery. Places of interest can be very tiring. Lucky you, sitting comfortably....

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Seoul’s Metro, Palaces, Anti North Korea Demo and Korean Calligraphy

Posted by on Jun 12, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

8th June 2013. This post is going to be fun because I am going to take you for some serious Seoul sightseeing. Proper cultural and traditional places (palaces!). I have put in two videos on Korean calligraphy and an anti North Korean Demo we saw in the centre of Seoul, as well! It is still our first week. We are having tofu with kimchi for breakfast as usual. South Korea is famous for its kimchi variety but that inevitable carries the increased risk of picking the awful kind. That is exactly what happened. Hard and long cords of strange tasting kimchi. Breakfast scenes comparable to Charlie Chaplin eating his shoelaces in The Gold Rush.   Korea is not veggie land. It is still fairly difficult for us to find food without killed animals in it, so it is mainly...

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