Wednesday, 23 August 2017

From Lisbon to Brasília 2017


13 June 2017

We arrived back in Lisbon after a two-hour flight from Lyon, tired and looking forward to a rest. There were huge delays at Lyon airport with long queues at passport control. We were told some kind of security operation was taking place but in my opinion the airport is way too small to handle demand, considering Lyon is France's third biggest city. 

Lisbon was gloriously warm and cheerful, basking in the hot summer sun. And to add to the delight of being back, it was cherry season!  Street vendors could be seen all around town selling the luscious fruit.

Cherries are grown all over the country and demand is high, both as an excellent fruit and as the main ingredient for the famous cherry liquor 'Ginja'.

Lisbon - East View

Lisbon - West/Central  view


First stroll down to Praça Do Comercio for a look at the mighty river Tejo




1- Rua Augusta ends at the arch   2- Miss P and her fave snack
3- A view of the Mercado Da Ribeira market.
The scrumptious Portuguese Cherry
The monument at Marques De Pombal depicting scenes of the great earthquake and tsunami
of 1755, which destroyed half of Lisbon and killed tens of thousands of people
No comment required - a typical Lisbon sky
Outside Mercado Da Ribeira
The north bank of the river Tejo,  in the Parque Das Naçoes area
Parque das Naçoes is the modern part of  East Lisbon, by the Vasco Da Gama bridge
Vasco Da Gama bridge in the background


On 19th June  Miss P returned to Brasilia to spend time with her family and I to London for the self-same reason. Two weeks later I joined her.

3rd July, Brasilia

This is my third visit to Brasilia in two years and although I am getting used to it's concrete and modern people-unfriendly layout, it's still a visit of necessity rather than pleasure. It's safe to say Brasilia will never be on the regular tourist itinerary. It's not the kind of place to take strolls in the warm evenings and in some parts, not even in daytime. Public transport is scarce and only for those who have no other choice. Those who can afford drive everywhere and park in secure areas. Although the city has a much lower crime rate than most others in this vast nation, it's still not the place to drop your guard and be complacent. The shopping malls are always busy, indicating a population with little else to do but shop. A city built from scratch in the late 50s to become the country's capital, Brasilia is strictly for government purposes only.  I will report in full on a future post dedicated solely to Brazil.



Lake Paranoa - view from the Bierfass Restaurant - Pontão.
My favourite part of town






Mormai Surf Bar - Pontão. Another bar we frequently visit
For a good night's entertainment I suggest the Emporio Santo Antonio. This huge
bar/restaurant has a permanent stage for the nightly live bands


Boat trip on the lake with Miss P's mum and nieces




We had our engagement celebration dinner at Restaurante Dom Francisco, Asa Sul...



...and flew south next day to Porto Alegre. From there we had a
further two hour bus trip to the pretty alpine town of Gramado.















Gramado is a beautiful, clean, affluent, European-like town and rather chilly! 

Breathtaking natural beauty









A Steam Train on a tourist route linking three small towns

As I prepare to return to London, a few days ahead of Miss P, I know I'll take with me fond memories of a Brazil I didn't know existed, high up on the mountais of Rio Grande Do Sul.

If Miss P and I ever need to spend multiple weeks in Brazil again, we know exactly where to stay. Especially so if around Christmas time.



Ciao for now


Monday, 21 August 2017

More Summer Travels 2017 - France


7 June 2017

Our stay in Madeira came to an end as we boarded a morning connection flight to Lisbon and onward to Lyon. It was our first opportunity to visit the Bourgogne (Burgundy) area of east-central France, where Miss P did her Master's Degree and had her first experience of living in Europe. We had also bought tickets to see Coldplay live the following day at the Olympique Lyonnaise Stadium.

Lyon is a charming town whose city centre is on a strip of land between two major rivers; the Rhone and the Saone.  The photo below shows the River Rhone in the foreground, while the Saone is further back and only the rows of trees on its banks can be seen above the buildings.

As is typical of most French towns, Lyon is immaculately tidy and orderly, its streets and boulevards made centuries ago with pedestrians in mind. It is a people-friendly town. Cafés and restaurants spill onto the pavements, the outdoor tables the first to be taken by the people-watching French.  I was looking forward to getting stuck into the wine and fine cuisine associated with this area of France. To top it all the weather was a fabulous 26 degrees.

Lyon 

Our first meal in Lyon did not disappoint. The lamb was superb
and the wine..well...it took more than one bottle, just to be sure!
Palais de Justice



Lyon town centre







The new side of Lyon where the River Saone ends by joyning the mightier Rhone



Coldplay were on top form and not at all sombre,as they are often accused of being.



 The town of Chalon Sur Saone. The river was teeming with fish swimming around the lilies.



...for lunch
On June 10th we left Lyon just after breakfast and drove eastwards towards Dijon for a three night stay. On the way we stopped at Chalon Sur Saone, a small river-side market town, for a well deserved lunch and...refreshments. After a hearty meal we strolled to the town centre where we found some youngsters playing guitars and singing in an esplanade. I joined them,  made new friends and went on to have a great session of music, broken English  and beer. Nothing breaks the ice better than a singsong, wherever you may be!

My new music pals

Dijon, the home of mustard and Burgundy wines

Dijon Old Town full of pretty patterns


This town is both old and modern. Just like me!
From the 14th century, the Dukes of different European kingdoms would meet
in this square to iron out their differences and avoid inter-familial wars. It is the
Palais Des Ducs Et Des Etats De Bourgogne

After an enjoyable and satisfying 12 days in France we returned to Lisbon to rest and spend another week in the familiar surroundings.

Ciao for now




Sunday, 20 August 2017

Old Country, New Beginning - Part 3


16 May 2017

We arrived in Madeira around lunchtime. After checking into our hotel we decided to explore the beautiful city of Funchal on foot. I will never tire of admiring this small peace of paradise.

Bathed in sunshine all year...


...eye candy of a place.

The west side of town is where most hotels are situated

The town centre

The old part of town dates back to the 15th century. You wouldn't think it as it is pristine and charming.

Shall we go for a swim at the newly-refurbished Lido?



Yes. Brilliant access to the sea makes this giant sea-water pool the local's favourite.

Porto Santo Island

We took the ferry across to Porto Santo and stayed two nights in this tiny sandy island. Some 2000 people live here, but the summer tourists bolster that figure many times over. Quality hotels, a good golf course, great food and peace of mind makes this island a firm favourite with all who visit.

Christopher Columbus lived here after discovering America (see his house below, now a museum) He married the Porto Santo governor's daughter and turned his back on the chaotic and war-ridden continent of Europe.  There are many theories attached to his perceived nationality, but it seems most likely he was Portuguese, annoyed at Henry The Navigator's refusal to sponsor his trip to reach what he believed would be the East of India, and angrily opted to work for Spain. The Spanish court were more obliging and gave him the four ships and crew he needed. Had Columbus been Italian as is the general held belief, it would've been unlikely he'd want to settle and eventually die in Porto Santo.

Seven kilometres of beach provides more than enough room for all


Christopher Columbus' house



Hi Ho, Hi Ho, and off to the Desertas Islands we go.



Landed after 3 hours sail.


The three "uninhabited" islands know as the Desertas are a nature reserve and home to the last colony of the endangered European Monk Seal. There are approximately 40 specimens left. The government prohibits all fishing in the area and controls landing activity. Teams of biologists live on the islands on six- month shifts, in the only building there, for the sole purpose of studying and protecting the seals, the Desertas tarantulas and a sea bird species that only nests there.  A handful of tourists per day are allowed to land for a couple of hours, under strict supervision from the Park Rangers.  

We had the pleasure of seeing a young pup swimming by the caves but were not quick enough to photograph it. I'll just borrow someone else's pic.     









Dad Pereira
Back to Madeira and I persuaded my dad to come to my gig at the fancy Hole In One Pub. The resident singer/musician Louis Salvador, a friend of mine, allowed me to split the gig and play an hour and a half. I loved being back at the Hole after a four year absence.


Related image
One hell of a pub with a garden to die for.

Louis helping me set up. Thank you mate


Visiting my nephew Dieter resulted in an impromptu session, of course.

Being back in Madeira is both emotionally gratifying and painful, as it brings back memories of my dear mum who passed away six years ago. The drive to Monte, where she lived, is no longer a joyful experience.  Mum would have loved to meet Miss P and see me happy and settled. She always wanted the best for me.  

We'll be back very soon, that's for sure. The eyes and heart demands it.

Ciao Madeira x