Bruges, Belgium – take a note

Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flandersin, the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country.

bruge belgium

The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO since 2000. Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact. It is a oval-shaped  city which is sometimes referred to as The Venice of the North for its many canals. Bruges has a significant economic importance thanks to its port and was once the chief commercial city in the world. Bruges is well known as the seat of the College of Europe, an elite university institute for European studies.

Something curious about Bruges is that its most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry, housing a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells. The city still employs a full-time carillonneur, and you may want to take a note of this – he gives free concerts on a regular basis.

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Joana and Rodrigo, a couple of engineers who enjoy traveling, went to Bruges on a weekend escape and they have best suggestions and plans to do in Bruges. Don’t miss out tomorrow’s post where they will share it all with us!

“The city has countless beautiful corners, gardens and plazas and if you like chocolate, Brugge has a LOT to offer, there are chocolateries everywhere.”

Joana & Rodrigo

Country: Belgium

Country’s capital: Brussels

Official language: Dutch, French and German

Currency: Euro (£1 = 1.29€; §1 = 0.90€ )

Population:  117,170 inhabitants

Total area: 138.40 km2

Lisbon: where the sun, food and history come perfectly together

Lisbon is a place I have been going to ever since I was a little. It is only about 20 minutes from where I live so I think you are pretty safe following my tips if you want to visit it someday (which I truly and strongly recommend you!)

TRAVEL TO LISBON  – PORTUGAL

  1. AIRPLANE to Portela Airport (airlines such as Ryanair, Tap or Easy Jet flight there)

From the airport to the centre

  1. TAXI – if you feel like you have just arrived and you are a bit tired so you want the easiest and quickest option you can take a taxi just outside the airport
  2. TUBE – the Portuguese tube is cheap and it has only four different lines so it easy to travel with (ticket price: £1/40€/$1.50); the price is the same no matter how far you travel on the tube

Lisbon has an airport very close to the centre – Portela Airport. Once you arrive you can either take a taxi or take the tube.

The tube is the easier and cheapest way to travel around the capital. You can use it to reach all the main touristic attractions.

Whether you are on a long or short vacation Lisbon is a good place to go! When in short vacation I can tell you right away the points you must stop at and the food you should try!

Places to go:

Praça do Comércio, Elevador de Santa Justa, Castelo de São Jorge  (all on Baixa-Chiado tube stop)

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Elevador de Santa Justa
Praça do Comércio
Praça do Comércio
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São José Statue (Praça do Comércio)

Torre de Belém, Padrão dos Descobrimentos and Ponte 25 de Abril (Take the tube until Cais do Sodré and from there the train or bus)

Ponte 25 de Abril
Ponte 25 de Abril
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Padrão dos Descobrimentos
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Torre de Belém

Finding a good place to eat in Lisbon is not a hard task. I can guarantee you that you will enjoy your meal in most restaurants in the capital if you roughly know the areas to go.  Most typical restaurants are located in Baixa and Bairro Alto. For typical food I suggest Chão De Pedra or Chapitô. 

Chão De Pedra and Chapitô Restaurant

Prices of both in average: £16/20€/$23

If you want to have the full experience of eating while listening to traditional Portuguese music – fado – then I suggest you try A Severa or Parreirinha de Alfama. Docas and Parque das Nações are also nice areas to visit and to eat where pretty much any restaurant you pick is good!

A Severa and Parreirinha de Alfama Restaurant

Prices of both in average: £24/30€/$34

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Alfama is the Lisbon neighborhood known for Fado. This is where most of the houses of Fado are located at and where you will  get the true feeling of what is a Portuguese “bairro” (note: don’t be scare with some people you may find there, this is the place where you will see the “barristas” that may be a bit crazy at times but it’s safe). The closest subway stop is Santa Apolónia.

Pastel de Nata is the pastry I recommend you to try if you visit Torre de Belem since their factory and store is just nearby. The famous pastry house has always a queue of tourists who want to try this egg custard with a choice of cinnamon on top!

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If you are on a longer vacation then I suggest you visiting more than just the capital. I recommend Cascais, Ericeira and Sintra which are all close by bus or train.

Cascais and Ericeira are both beach towns. Ericeira is Europe’s first world surf reserve and it is a picturesque fisherman village where you will eat the best fish and seafood ever! Cascais is fancier but with very nice streets and views also. The beaches have a calmer ocean so many people enjoy it. If you go there make sure to try a Santini ice cream – very popular and delicious!

Ericeira
Ericeira

To go to Ericeira take the tube to Campo Grande and then a bus (Mafrense buses) and to Cascais take the tube to Cais do Sodré and then the train to the stop called Cascais.

Sintra is a mystic village full of history and myths. It has many palaces and wealthy houses from the Monarchy period. Palácio da Pena, Palácio de Monserrate and Peninha are my favourites! While in Sintra make sure to try one of their travesseiros and queijadas – two very delicious traditional pastries from there. To go to Sintra either take a tube to Restauradores and from there the train to Portela the Sintra; otherwise take the tube to Campo Grande and from there a bus to Sintra (Mafrense buses).

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View from Peninha
Sintra
Sintra

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My suggestion to stay if you’re not on a budget is Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, a 5 star hotel in the center of the capital. If you are on a budget Lisbon has many cosy hostels such as Nest House Lisbon Hostel or 5 Sins Chiado Hostel.

Corinthia Hotel Lisbon

Prices from: £92/115€/$129 per room per night

Nest House Lisbon Hostel

Prices from: £9.50/12€/$13.50 in a dorm and £24/30€/$34 in private rooms

5 Sins Chiado Hostel

Prices from: £7/9€/$10 in a dorm

Goa, the Indian paradise

Goa was one of the most special and different places I have visited! Being a European the culture shock can be felt when the moment you land yet it is an exciting cultural shock where you find new exciting things to explore!

TRAVEL TO GOA – INDIA      

  1. AIRPLANE to Dabolim Airport (airlines such as Air India or Jet Airways flight there) – depending on the country you are flying from you may be able to flight directly to an India airport and from there take a smaller flight to Goa or you may have to stop at another country first such as France or Germany.

From the airport to the center

  1. TAXI – it is the best way to travel to the center and also to travel around the center. Indian public transportation isn’t very developed so taxi is the safer and fastest option.

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Goa has many places to explore and one thing that is visible straight way, especially for me being Portuguese, is the influence of the Portuguese architecture and culture in the city!

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Some places I recommend visit are the Old Goa and Panaji, it used to be Goa’s capital and it is where all the monuments are at.

Mãe de Deus church is a must see. It is located in Saligao, Bardez. Its illuminated view in the evenings and the nights has a paradisical charm. That is the best time to view this exquisite piece of Gothic architecture in Goa. Originally situated at Daujim, in Old Goa in the 16th century, of which today only the tallest cross on a pedestal is seen. The church dedicated to the Mother of God came to be built at Bardez in the 19th century.

Mão de Deus Church
Mão de Deus Church

Basílica do Bom Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The church is located in Old Goa. It is India’s first minor basilica, and is considered to be one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India.

Fontainhas is an old Latin Quarter in Panaji. It maintains to this day its Portuguese influence, namely at the architectonic level, such as narrow and pretty winding streets as found in many European cities, old villas and buildings with projecting balconies painted in the traditional tones and roofs made of red coloured tiles. The Fontainhas’s heritage ambiance represents the traditional Portuguese influence in the area.

Along with their monuments make sure to stop at their clean water and peaceful beaches such as Varca beach.

sunset

During my staying I stood the the Vivanta by Taj – Fort Aguada hotel, it was a great choice that I really enjoyed! It is a luxury all inclusive hotel perfect for a relaxing and peaceful holiday!

Vivanta by Taj – Fort Aguada Hotel

Prices from: £200/264.72€/$290

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Another thing I felt in love with in Goa was their food. I loved all the food there! Best places to eat in my opinion are the small restaurants they have by Varca beach such as Jolinn Restaurant or Rina’s Corner Restaurant. They are all huts by the sand very welcoming and with such tasty food! I recommend you to try their Chicken pandulhe and matsala, their grilled fish and the natural fresh juices – everything is so good!

Jolinn Restaurant and Rina’s Corner Restaurantss

Prices in average: 3£/4€/$4.40

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bread

To me it was interesting that even though Goa is India’s richest state you can still see the poverty in the streets so he made me curious to see what it is like their poorest state (a trip I will make sometime!). Goa is also the only Indian state where drinking is allowed so you will find a lot of Indians who go to Goa as tourists and may see them drinking a bit more than usual.

Oh and one last thing, everyone speaks English so don’t worry about learning their dialect.

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Goa, India – take a note

Goa is a state located in the South western region of India. It is by area the smallest state of India and the fourth smallest by population. With beautiful beaches Goa is one of India’s richest states and it was ranked the best placed state by the Eleventh Finance Commission for its infrastructure. It was also ranked on top for the best quality of life in India by the National Commission on Population.

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Panaji is the state’s capital and Vasco da Gama, named after the Portuguese navigator who discovered India, is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the cultural influence of the Portuguese, who first landed in 1498 and conquered it after. Goa is a former Portuguese province and it was not until 1961 that it was annexed to India being no longer Portuguese overseas territory.

Mão de Deus Church
Mãe de Deus Church

Goa is visited by a large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year for its clear water beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture. It also a wide variety of flora and fauna making the landscape even prettier.

Tomorrow Manuel, a Portuguese student and traveler, shares his experience with us about a place he has truly enjoyed and even went back a second time! Don’t miss out!

“Goa was the place where I felt for the first time the real meaning of peace. It was the first time I was in a very different reality but felt comfortable with it.”

Manuel Ribeiro

Country: India

Country’s capital: Goa

Official language: Konkani

Currency: Rupee (1€= 73.5 INR ; £1 = 94.4 INR ; §1 =67.6 INR )

Population: 1,817 millions

Total area: 3.702 km²