Monday, 20 June 2016

Lisbon Chronicles | Belém Tower

The Belém Tower is probably the most famous landmark of Lisbon and a must go place for every one visiting the city. Built in the early 16th century on a small island near the shore, this  beautiful fortress is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style. It´s historical significance,  as a starting point for the Portuguese discoveries, and unique architecture has granted it the declaration of World Heritage site by the UNESCO.

The visit to the interior spaces is very worthwhile, but the architectural and decorative details of the exterior and the views from its terraces, loggias and windows are absolutely unmissable. The stonework characteristic of Manueline style is rich in ornaments depicting both zoomorphic and vegetable elements. Common to this style is the use of navy elements like ropes and symbolic elements like the cross of the Order of Christ and the Sphere. 

On the terrace is an image of the Virgin and Child. The statue of the Virgin of Belém, also referred to as  Virgin of Safe Homecoming is depicted holding a child in her right hand and a bunch of grapes in her left.

It is certainly a place to visit and you must reserve around 1 and a half hours to be able to visit the the tower calmly.

Opening Hours and Ticket Prices:
10am to 5:30pm from October to April (except Monday)
10am to 6:30pm from Mai to September (except Monday)
(Closed also 1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st of May, 13th June and 25th December)

Adults € 6 / Children up to 12 years  free

There are family tickets and join tickets for those visiting more monuments in the area.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Lisbon Chronicles | Fundação Champalimaud

In the far-west side of Belém one can find the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, that hosts the Champalimaud Foundation’s activities in the fields of neuroscience and oncology by means of research programmes and the provision of clinical care of excellence. The stunning architecture of the   building complex is a never ending source of sceneries for those passioned for architectural photography.

In the words of its architect, Charles Correa, "This project uses the highest levels of contemporary science and medicine to help people grappling with real problems. And to house these cutting-edge activities, we tried to create a piece of architecture. Architecture as Sculpture. Architecture as Beauty. Beauty as therapy.”

Pure beauty of forms, shade and light is what one can experience as walking around the buildings and following them along the riverbank. Perfectly integrated into the local area, the paths and green spaces, open for public enjoyment, the spectacular view of the sea, the openair amphitheatre, and the infinity pool surely make a visit worthwhile. Complementing this with a drink or meal at the Darwin's Café will turn this moment the best start (or finish) for your visit to Belém.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Food Chronicles | Darwin's Café (Belém - Lisbon)

Lisbon is a beautiful city, all leaning over the Tagus who generously reflects the light. To take advantage of this unique light of a sunny day in Lisbon, go to Belém district and enjoy the Tagus landscape with the Belem Tower in the background and the sailing boats that pass and also have a good meal, I suggest a visit to Darwin’s Café.

Lisboa é uma cidade linda, toda debruçada sobre o Tejo que, generosamente, reflecte a luz  que a ilumina. Para aproveitar esta luz única de um dia de sol em Lisboa, apreciar a paisagem do Tejo com a Torre de Belém ao fundo e os barcos à vela que passam e degustar uma boa refeição, sugiro uma visita ao Darwin’s Café.

Darwin’s is the restaurant of the Champalimaud Foundation and is worth knowing the building either by the architecture of the entire complex and its relationship with the river, either by the interior decoration of the Café all of it dedicated to the naturalist Charles Darwin.

O Darwin’s é o restaurante da Fundação Champalimaud e vale a pena conhecer o edifício quer pela arquitectura de todo o complexo e pela relação desta com o rio, quer pela decoração interior do Café toda ela dedicada ao naturalista Charles Darwin.

Whether you choose a place in the room, or in the terrace (in winter only serve drinks), you will certainly enjoy the experience, because Chef’s Antonio Runa menu has dishes to satisfy the most discerning palates. Starting at the entrances, through the pasta and risottos (perfect), to the meat and fish dishes, you will be delighted. On this last visit we opted for black risotto with tuna, roasted mango and lemongrass and  duck magrets on orange risotto, both delicious and beautifully made.

The room ambience is very nice with plenty of space between tables which favors the sense of privacy of all guests. The service is attentive and courteous, showing total availability to answer questions and make suggestions. Our visits to Darwin’s have always been such a pleasant experience that I will definitely return.

Quer escolha um lugar na sala, quer opte pela esplanada (no Inverno apenas servem bebidas), vai certamente apreciar a experiência, até porque o Menu do Chef António Runa tem pratos para satisfazer os paladares mais exigentes. Começando nas entradas, passando pelas massas e risottos (perfeitos), até aos pratos de carne e peixe, vai ficar deliciado. Nesta última visita optámos por risotto preto com atum, citronela e manga assada e pelos lombinhos de pato sobre risotto de laranja, ambos deliciosos e belissimamente confeccionados.

O ambiente da sala é agradável, com bastante espaço entre as mesas o que favorece o sentido de privacidade de todos os comensais. O serviço é atento e cortês, mostrando toda a disponibilidade para esclarecer dúvidas e fazer sugestões.As visitas ao Darwin’s tem sido sempre uma experiência tão agradável que irei certamente voltar.

Darwin's Café
+351 21 048 02 22
Champalimaud Centre For The Unknown
Av. Brasília, Ala B. 1400-038 Lisboa, Portugal.

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 12.30-15.30 and 19.30-23.00
Monday: 12.30-16.00

Darwin's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 13 June 2016

Lisbon Chronicles | Belém

Belém is an historic district on the West part of Lisbon closely related to to the Portuguese discoveries and  many of the great Portuguese adventurers set sail from this location to discover the world and find new maritime comercial routes.

The emblematic buildings of Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) and Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery), both UNESCO World Heritage sites, were built in Manueline style with exotic,  navy and maritime elements inspired by the voyages the Portuguese made around the world.

Between the two monuments one can find the refreshing gardens of Praça do Império, with its fountains and vegetation. Facing the river Tagus you'll have on your right the Centro Cultural de Belém (Belém Cultural Centre), with exhibitions and cultural events and a little further the Champalimaud Foundation, both with a contemporary architecture that is worth to admire.

In walking distance to your left, you'll find the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) and the Museu dos Coches (Coach Museum) where you can find a unique collection of coaches.

While in Belém the choice of restaurants is enormous (you can find our review on Darwin's Café here) and even if you don't decide to have lunch or dinner, a visit to the Pastéis de Belém patisserie to taste one (or more) of the worldly famous Portuguese custard pastries is mandatory.

How to Get There:
Train (station - Belém)
Tram - 15
Bus - 714 / 727 / 728

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Athens Tour | 3 Days Guide

Athens is such a wonderful place that surely deserves a thorough visit and at least a week to go to all the interesting places in the city. Nevertheless, many people go to Athens as a starting point in their voyage to the islands or to Greece's main land, having few days to enjoy it. This 3 Days Guide gives you some suggestions on the places you can't miss even if you don't have that much time. In the links you can find further information and tips on the specific place or attraction. Hope you'll find it useful!

On Day One, you will probably arrive around noon, and after check in your hotel you can go to Syntagma Square, watch the Evzoni guards and have a light meal on the square. From there to Monastiraki is a short walk and if you like antiques you can find really interesting stores. Just across the street you'll find the Ancient Agora and take your time to visit the temple and Museum. You can stay for dinner at Monastiraki where you can find lots of lovely restaurants with nice terraces and great atmosphere.

On Day 2 you start early and go to the Acropolis in the morning. Then you descend to Plaka and visit the neighborhood were you can make some shopping and have lunch. From there you cross the Arch of Hadrian and visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Just a short walk away you can find the National Gardens with all its beautiful trees and plants.

On Day 3, reserve the morning to visit the New Acropolis Museum with all its interesting exhibits  just before checking out and continue your voyage.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Athens Chronicles | Vintage Photos

The Swiss photographer Fred Boissonnas (1858 -1946) traveled all across Greece for about thirty years, extensively photographing the country and its people.

The vast collection left by the artist portrays a reality that is partially missing and constitutes an interesting document at various levels.

The admiration and affection he felt for this country are apparent on his compositions, especially those in which the human element is central.

All images in this post were found in this site where you can still find pictures of several other locations in Greece captured by Boissonnas lenses.

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