around the world
One of the former Portuguese colonies in Africa and the place I was born. I only remember Luanda, the city where I lived my childhood.
It was quite a while since I was planning to go visit Buenos Aires. I finally went there from September 26th to October 3rd, 2012 and yes, I have just spent some eight wonderful days visiting this city that is commonly known as the most European city in Latin America. And that is true! During my walks, sometimes I felt like being in Paris, sometimes it was as if I was in Spain or at other times, like being in other places I know in the world. Despite this not-so-short visit, I have missed a few things including the Tango. I know that this is unforgivable but I also know that I want to go there again and so, for sure, next time I am going to do those things that I have missed now! On the other hand, I am very happy that I did not miss Rossini's "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella) opera which was wonderfully performed at this beautiful opera house that is the Teatro Colón (Columbus Theatre). Other highlights of this superb week in Buenos Aires include, by order of visit: Puerto Madero, Casa Rosada (Pink House), La Boca and Caminito, Congreso, Cementerio de la Recoleta (Recoleta Cemetery) where we find graves of notable people such presidents of Argentina and even Eva Perón (Evita), Floralis Genérica at the Plaza Naciones Unidas, Obelisco (Obelisk) and Avenida 9 de Julio (one of the widest avenues in the world!), Parque Natural y Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur (Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve) and Palermo Viejo also known as Palermo Soho.
Buenos Aires was also the first city I have ever visited monitoring my walks with my Android cell phone using the Runkeeper application. Well, I am just wondering whether you ever thought about all the kilometres one usually walks when visiting a city! Just imagine! ;-)
That was in March 1992. Probably some of the best beaches in the World... but also, one of the most expensive islands!
Australia has always been a place that I wanted to visit but due to its long distance from Europe, I knew I couldn't go there just for a week or two. In October / November 2003, I finally got three weeks' holiday and therefore I could finally realize my old dream by combining Australia and New Zealand in just one big trip. The highlights of my Australian trip were, in Sydney, the climb of Harbour Bridge, "Madama Butterfly" opera at the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Tower, the Sydney Aquarium, Bondi Beach and the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney; in the Red Centre, the helicopter flight over Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas as well as a tour in 4WD in the Outback (Mt Connor); and finally, in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, the snorkelling at Hastings Reef (Outer Reef), a half-day visit of Fitzroy Island, and a full-day tour to the Rainforest (Daintree River and Cape Tribulation). Needless to say that it was just amazing to cuddle a koala, feed a kangaroo and learn how to throw a boomerang! :-)
My friend Stefan invited me to visit him in Innsbruck and I only have good memories of my stay there... I flew Tyrolean Airways from Zürich to Innsbruck on Friday night, have spent all Saturday and Sunday there and flew back to Geneva via Zürich on Monday very early in the morning to start working the same day. I'll never forget Stefan's hospitality that showed me around (I really enjoyed the lake and the visit to the Imperial Court Palace), introduced me to his friends, invited me to the very good restaurant "Landhof - Wilder Mann", etc. etc. etc. Ha... And of course, I won't forget the Verdi's "Otello" opera at the "Grosses Haus" because it was really nice and very well performed. In the Summer of 2001, I visited Vienna which I also liked a lot. Gosh, that visit to the Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) was really unforgettable!
I've just been one day to Brussels (October 1986) but had enough time to see the "Manneken Piss", the "Grand Place" and ate some "Moules avec frites"! In the Summer of 2001, I went to visit Brussels again and revisited the same places mentioned before plus the Atomium, the "Mini-Europe" and the Belgian Comic Strip Center.
I lived and worked in Brazil from 2012 to 2014. During those two years, I’ve tried to travel as much as I could. After living for 4 months in Campinas, I moved to São Paulo where I lived until my return to Portugal. Here are some of the places where I spent some vacation or where I went just for the weekend: Florianópolis and Mafra (Santa Catarina); Curitiba and Rio Negro (Paraná); Santos, São Vicente, Peruíbe, São Carlos and Franca (SP); Rio de Janeiro (RJ); Brasília (DF); Salvador (Bahia); and Fortaleza (Ceará).
Wow! I think Canada just became one of my favourite destinations and a place to visit again! Not only the country itself is just beautiful, but its inhabitants are probably some of the friendliest people I've ever met. Although Montréal was the place, I've visited better I also had the opportunity to visit Québec City and Cornwall in Ontario. Of course, Montréal is just my favourite. I won't ever forget the chance I had to visit the central balcony of the "Hôtel de Ville", where on July 24, 1967, President Charles de Gaulle of France made his famous "Vive le Québec libre" speech. Thank you Benoît, and thank you, Sammy! Well, as I said above, I just loved Canada and Québec so much that I didn't resist going there again! That was in May 1999 and this time I took my mother with me and, of course, she also fell in love with Québec's charm!
I went to Chile in January 2014 and I visited Santiago and Viña del Mar. My best friend Stefano was along with me and we did enjoy our trip there. We found the people very friendly and the food very good. One sad memory though… One day before leaving Santiago one guy riding his bike came behind me and robbed my cell phone.
I went for the first time to the People's Republic of China on December 7, 2001. I was visiting Hong Kong for the second time and because since my first stay there I was willing to visit China; I applied for my visa there and went to visit Shenzhen which is right after the border with Hong Kong. The "Splendid China Miniature Scenic Spot" was a really nice place to visit and to be able to see and be photographed to miniatures of such famous attractions such as the "Nine-Dragon Wall", the "Leshan Grand Buddha Statue", the "Temple of Confucius", the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang Mausoleum", the "Imperial Palace" and "The Great Wall" was really worth it.
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Well, I just came here to look for nice beaches and... without success, I had to fly to Aruba! Anyway, I would say Curacao is half the price of Aruba... Now, it's up to you and... your wallet!
Prague, "Mother of Cities"! I visited Prague on a short trip of four days with my friend Ian from New Zealand. We were both very impressed with the beauty of the city. I'll never forget Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Old Town Square as well as the good traditional cuisine.
I would say that Denmark is the country I've visited more after Portugal! I've been already 12 times there and why not go there again? I just have some of my best friends living there and Fernanda, Michael and Simon always welcomed me so well!
Tallinn in Estonia was a very good surprise and exceeded all my expectations. Some of the spots I liked were: St. Catherine’s Passage in the Old Town, Town Hall Square, Kadriorg Palace, Viru Gate, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Freedom Square and the Kumu Art Museum.
Good souvenirs and not-so-good ones too! The good ones, the first time I was there, a full month in Paris visiting every museum and monument. The not-so-good ones, when I lived there for three months to accomplish my second training for the hotel school... Unending stress!!! I just learned that visiting a big city is one thing but to live and work it is completely different!...
That was in Moorea that I enjoyed some of my best beach holidays and that was on the first week of November 2004! I wish I could have visited other islands such as Bora Bora or Huahine but life there is so expensive that one has to be very careful otherwise he will be quickly ruined. So besides Moorea where I was staying, I've only visited Papeete in Tahiti. I was very lucky to have met a very nice and friendly New Zealand couple with whom I spent most of the time as we visited many places together and also usually had our breakfasts and dinners together. So, thank you King and Stacey for having been my best traveller companions! Speaking now about a little of my experiences there, let me tell you that the Tahitians are very friendly, always smiling and not stressed at all. They just take their time and they're right! Why stress? Among a few local people I met there, the five guys playing beach volley were very friendly and we could spend a good time talking about each other’s country. Teiho, Tamatona, Steeve, Moana and Georges were their names and besides our exchange talks, we've also made a few pictures which are a good souvenir of this encounter. Other nice local people were the hotel employees, Laiana and Timona who made my stay at the hotel a very enjoyable one. It was also very nice to meet some French expatriates there. The girl from the surf shop was very friendly and made me a nice tableau of the life there. The swimsuit I bought from her was also a very nice one! So colourful flashing and so surf Polynesian stylish! The guy I met on the boat trip from Moorea to Papeete, Patrick Dancel, a world photographer that moved recently to Moorea with his wife and son was also very interesting. The excitement of meeting and discovering new people was not the only interesting experience in Tahiti. The food, although quite expensive, was also very nice. I will not forget one of their traditional dishes made with raw fish, lemon juice, coconut milk, tomato and cucumber, which was very tasty. And the tropical fruits were so sweet that I could eat plenty of pineapples and had no tongue sores for the first time in my life. Other exhilarating experiences there were: a meeting on a "motu" (small island) with friendly stingrays that came to the beach seeking food and sliding just over our feet, another meeting with whales and dolphins right next to our boat, a safari 4WD tour inside the island where we could enjoy the astonishing view from the belvedere of Cook's Bay and Opunohu's Bay, many walks and a few bicycles rides mostly in the Cook's Bay area, a typical Tahitian show at the Tiki Village and the visit of the market in Papeete.
I've been several times to Germany during my hotel school period. Many times, to Saarbrücken, and once to Münich! That was carnival and I've never seen so many disguised people at different parties in the same building of a high school! In the Summer of 2001, I visited Berlin for the first time and visited very nice places like the Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag, Tiergarten, the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche as well as Fernsehturm (Television Tower) at Alexanderplatz.
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"Kung Hei Fat Choi"!... Those were the first Chinese words I learned! And do you know what it means? "Happy Chinese New Year!"! Yes, that's it and the reason was that my very first time in Asia happened by chance during the celebrations of their Lunar New Year. That was January 24, 2001, the beginning of the Year of the Snake which symbolizes wisdom and prudence. Hong Kong was the chosen destination and Macao was just the complement to this exciting trip of 5 days only. Although I was on a sightseeing tour on the first day to familiarize myself with Hong Kong and visit tourist places like Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay, Aberdeen and Stanley Market, all the other days I was accompanied by local friends that I met before through the Internet. The fireworks on the 25th were very nice and regarding food, well, I'll never forget those tasty "Dim Sum" that are World famous! Meanwhile, I've returned there six times thanks to my very good friends there which welcomed me so well every time. Thanks again to Edco, Madgel, Gerry, May, Ho, Shita, Poly, Horace, Simon, Hoy, Andy, Terence, Marion and Priscilla. Wow! I hope that I didn't forget anybody! :-)
Back to Hong Kong for the 7th time in January 2007! Just a few days to buy some zooms for my camera and revisit old places and friends!
Budapest, or the "Charme of the Danube"! This was my second trip with my friend Ian from New Zealand. After being together in Prague, Czech Republic, we didn't resist visiting Budapest too. And we didn't regret it! Budapest, also known as the "Paris of the East" has so much to see and to do! Although we stayed at the Pest side of the city, Buda was our favourite place with its green hills and the old town. We really enjoyed Castle Mount (Várhegy) with the Church of Matthias (Mátyás templom), the Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya) and the Royal Palace (Várpalota or Királyi Vár). Otherwise, on the Pest side, we enjoyed the Millennium Monument at Heroes Square as well as the Parliament building (Országház) or the Opera House (Operaház) where we assisted the World Première "Anna Karenina" ballet in three acts on the basis of Lev Tolstoy's novel with Peter Ilyich Tschaikowsky's compositions! We also visited the Ferenc Liszt Memorial Museum which was a very interesting one. Oh well... finally, the night promenades at the riverside Korzó with the views in shimmering gold of Gellért Hill and Castle Hill directly across the Danube were also very exciting!...
I've already been to many places in the world and none of them has ever had such a big impact as my first trip to India! I've said "first" because I know there will be more trips to India to come soon. Well, 14 days holiday was rather short but long enough to find out that India is an incredible country and a place to revisit! Usually, the first thing you hear before you go visit India for the first time is "Either you will love or you will hate India!" Hum... You may guess my choice... I want to return so yes... I love India!
I've never planned a trip as well as this Indian trip. Long before the departure, I'd read about the country and its history, I'd seen plenty of pictures and I'd watched many movies (Bollywood and more). Besides the beautiful places I was going to visit, I also knew that it was going to be a shock because of the misery one we can find there and I thought that I was prepared for that… Well, it's only when you get there that one can really measure how basically a human being can live... And that hurts no matter how strong you are, or how strong you think you are!
This first time trip included Mumbai (or Bombay), Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Jaipur, Delhi and Agra and it was planned together with a friend from India, Lien, who accompanied me to all those places as a tour guide and friend. Well, to have someone with you who speaks the country's language and knows how to deal and bargain with the local people was much appreciated. So, thank you Lien for showing me around. I was also pleased to have been introduced to some friends and family, and very happy to have made new friends in that part of the world. Raakhee, Lalneo, Lal, Vahsi were all very kind to me so, thank you also to all of them for such a great time together!
About the places:
MUMBAI - The landing place after 8 hours flight from Zurich! Overcrowded, lack of space, chaotic, crazy, extremely humid for the less good things... As for the good ones, a superb feeling at "Gateway of India", the remarkable Victorian buildings constructed on the edge of Oval Maidan in the Fort Area (High Court, Bombay University and Rajabai Clock Tower) as well as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus). A nice walk along the Marine Drive to Chowpatty Beach (daytime) and a horse carriage (nighttime) were also very interesting and exciting. Another interesting visit was a day out to Elephanta Island where there are some rock-cut temples (caves). Leopold Café and Bar in Colaba was a lovely place to stop for a drink and dinner, suggested by another Mumbai friend (Anil).
AHMEDABAD - Capital of Gujarat and a stop for less than 24 hours because of connecting trains from Mumbai to Udaipur. Arrived in the morning and left at night but long enough to not miss Sabarmati Ashram (Mahatma Gandhi's headquarters during the long struggle for Indian independence).
UDAIPUR - Rajasthan's most romantic city! A fantastic and very pleasant stay at the Udai Kothi Hotel with its lovely swimming pool on the rooftop will remain an unforgettable experience. The hotel food (the fish tandoori was really yummy!) and the "banana lassis" and cocktails by the swimming pool were also excellent. Another very good restaurant was the Ambrai. Visits included the City Palace, a boat ride on Lake Pichola passing by Jagniwas Island and its Lake Palace Hotel (James Bond movie "Octopussy") and a quick stop in Jagmandir Island. Last but not least, breathtaking views from Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace) at sunset!
JAIPUR - Rajasthan's pink capital! Excellent stay at the Trident Hilton Jaipur with a deluxe Lakeview room (the lake was still dry!). Very friendly place with many staff from Manipur (Lien's origin), one of them, Lal, accompanied us on our second-day visit. There was also good food with plenty of choices and a nice swimming pool. The visits included the most distinctive Jaipur landmarks "Hawa Mahal" and the Old City (Pink City), the City Palace, "Jantar Mantar" (an old observatory from the 1700s) as well as Amber Fort, about 11km north of Jaipur. A very amazing experience was the thrilling elephant ride!
DELHI - The capital of India! Overcrowded like Mumbai but less chaotic and with more open and larger spaces. Scary arrival at the Delhi railway station with two rickshaw drivers fighting because of us but all okay at the end. Very pleased to meet up Raakhee and Lalneo, Vahsi and my ex-colleague and good friend Myriam with her husband Arjun! The visits included Qutb Minar, Bahai Temple, Red Fort, Raj Ghat, India Gate and Rajpath (Kingsway) heading to Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's House) and the Secretariat Buildings.
AGRA - A one-day tour from Delhi to Agra and where I was fascinated and speechless in front of the spectacular World Heritage white-marble mausoleum, the TAJ MAHAL, the most extravagant monument ever built for love! That was the summit of the whole trip to India and a place that I will never forget. The Palace of Jodh Bai in Fatehpur Sikri and the Agra Fort were also worth a visit.
Here's what a special friend on the Net has said after seeing some of my India trip photos: "I can plainly see you had the time of your life"... And that's so true! :-)
GOA - I've returned to India earlier than expected! After such a very good experience the first time (as per my description above), there I was again in India and that in less than four months for one extra week holiday! And this second time, it was to visit Goa! Goa like Damao and Diu was Portuguese until 1961! So, again, although it was a different kind of holiday, it was still very interesting as it was amazing to find out a little about Portugal in India (i.e. catholic churches, local people with Portuguese names, etc.) as well as to enjoy the beautiful beaches and the yummy Goan food (a mix of Indian and Portuguese food).
A very positive note to Kingfisher Airlines (my favourite airline in India with brand new Airbus A320 and individual TV screen, very good service on board as well as on ground with a Kingfisher valet like a bellboy in a hotel, in Goa airport, carrying my suitcase to the check-in counter!) and to the Dona Sylvia Beach Resort in Cavelossim Beach (a wonderful place where this week holiday couldn't have been better thanks to the very good infrastructures, its superb location and the very professional and friendly service!).
To visit Dublin and Ireland was a longtime dream. I finally took the plane and went to Dublin in 2021! And wow! It was very, very nice! I have not been able to visit the countryside, but when I will have the chance, I will definitely go back to Ireland so I can visit those beautiful places that I’ve missed. As for Dublin, I really liked: Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Ha'penny Bridge, The Spike, Samuel Beckett Bridge, the Little Museum of Dublin, the Temple Bar Pub and the Guinness Storehouse!
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Italy too, I've been several times... Milano, Venice, Bologna and Aosta. A special thank you to Pia and Rino for that dinner at "La Maison de Fillipo" (Entrèves-Courmayeur). That was really delicious! The last time I went to Italy was in the Summer of 2001 to visit Rome and the Vatican.
That was in April 1994. A full week tour. A golden tour I could say... Very expensive, but very rich too! Ah, Petra, the "rose-red city" of the ancient Nabataean civilization and the impressive "Khazné" (The Treasure). Also, I bathed in the "Dead Sea" and floated very strangely!
I didn't visit Latvia, but I just stayed overnight. This was because airBaltic did not grant the transfer due to a very short connection between flights and the next flight to Tallinn, Estonia, was the next morning only. The hotel near the airport was okay.
Have been twice... to take the plane only!
I've visited Macao in one day on my first trip to Hong Kong in January 2001. It was very interesting to discover the Portuguese influence there and among many places I've visited, the Casino Lisboa, the "Leal Senado", the ruins of S. Paul, the garden of Luis de Camões and the Guia lighthouse were those I liked more. More than one year later, on March 29, 2002, I just returned there to accompany my mother, sister and brother-in-law who were visiting Hong Kong with me and of course, they were very interested in visiting that old ex-Portuguese territory in China.
3rd visit to Macao in January 2007 after two previous visits one by myself and the second with my mother, older sister and brother-in-law a few years ago! I was just surprised with so many constructions of hotels and casinos! Macao, the new Vegas from the Orient!
I visited Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur and Malacca) in the summer of 2002 and liked it very much because I was surprised to find out the complexity of their ethnic mix (Malay, Chinese and Hindu), their different culture and their different religion, all in just one country. Kuala Lumpur is a very modern city with its famous "Petronas Towers" (twin towers) which are the tallest in the World, and Malacca was worth visiting because of the Portuguese mark left there in 1511.
Can I call it the paradise islands? Yes, that was the best island I've ever been... Very natural and had not too many amenities... Of course, that's the right place for scuba diving and snorkelling! I just felt like swimming in a giant aquarium with so varied and coloured fishes around me! Other activities included learning windsurfing and that was very amazing!
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My first time in Monaco was a memorable one and surely I won't forget that soon. Thank you Sergine for that wonderful weekend! You didn't stop and all the nice places you showed us (to my mother and myself) such as the old Antibes, Cannes, Saint-Paul de Vince, the old Nice and all the coast on the way to Monaco will remain in my memory, forever. Of course, I won't forget either the car ride in the Monte Carlo Formula 1 circuit! That was fabulous! Just like a formula one but in a slower run!... Our time in the casino was also a nice one. When I remember that we wanted to go away but still wanted to finish our last coins when suddenly there was that jackpot, I just can't stop smiling! That was really unexpected! Our lunch at the Café de Paris was a tasty one. However, the meal you gave us the night before at your place was indisputably much nicer! Thank you again, Sergine. You were really the best guide we could ever have!
I was 18 years old when I visited Morocco. That was maybe one of the best presents I got from my Grandmother... To go with her and my cousin on that 5 days excursion! And with us, there were also some of our best friends from Luanda. For sure, and by that time, that was my best vacation ever. Riding a camel was really funny and João and I just had really fun!
Amsterdam, een kort maar krachtig bezoek. Dank Je Ron! Oh... I'm sorry... Well, not even 24 hours there and such an enjoyable visit... One boat cruise through the canals, a very nice downtown walk, and such a superb afternoon at Le Monde cafe, at Rembrandt Square. I also won't forget that sudden storm and rain while we were at the cafe, as well as the beautiful and colourful sunset at the end of the day. Thank you again, Ron! You just made me live one unforgettable weekend... And for sure, you were the best guide in town!
Auckland was the city I visited because of my friend Ian's invitation. That was in November 2003, just after my two weeks holiday in Australia. Usually, visiting a place with local friends is very nice because they take you to places that probably you wouldn't visit if you were on your own. So, just to mention some of the places I really enjoyed during my single week in Auckland, here they go: The Sky Tower, the Victoria Park Market, the Viaduct Harbour, Mount Eden, One Tree Hill, Mission Bay and Muriwai Beach; and in Rotorua, the geysers and typical Maori performance. Other highlights of my trip there were drinking very good New Zealand red wine, and black beer, and enjoying very nice food with friends (yep, I did have some of their specialities such as hokey-pokey ice cream and pavlova dessert!). It was also very nice to have met some of Ian's friends and surely I won't forget some of the funniest dinners I had there: one at home with Ian, Craig, Roy and Robyn (we were so crazy and we laughed so much) and the very last dinner at the restaurant "Angus Steak House" (gosh, we had so much food and that was so good!).
I visited New Zealand for the second time by the end of October 2004. It was very nice to see my Auckland friends there again and I was also very happy to have made new "kiwi" friends. Well, definitely, I can tell you that "kiwis" are really very nice and probably some of the friendliest people I ever met. Can't stop thanking Ian, Craig, and Roy for everything they've made to make my holidays as enjoyable as they were. To meet your families and friends, to spend time with them and you, enjoying barbecues and dinners together, just made me feel more at home than just a simple visitor. On this New Zealand's second visit, I focused my trips on the South Island. After flying from Auckland to Queenstown in the south, I also flew from there to Christchurch. Then it was time to take a scenic train from Christchurch to the north of the South Island (about a 5-hour trip) and enjoy the stunning landscape views. After arriving in Picton, I took the ferry and crossed Cook's Strait to reach Wellington some three hours later. Then, I just flew again from Wellington to Auckland where I stopped for a day only because the next day, I flew again for a wonderful week's holiday in Tahiti. The highlights of this second visit to New Zealand were: in Queenstown, a tandem paragliding flight (thank you Gareth, that flight was just the most exciting experience in my life!), the Kawarau Jet boat adventure on the Shotover River in Lake Wakatipu, and the helicopter flight over the Southern Alps with landing on a glacier; in Christchurch, a hot air balloon over the Canterbury plains; and in Wellington, a "Lord of the Rings" sightseeing tour to some of the places where the trilogy movies were filmed and a very nice ballet called "Coppelia" from Leo Delibes and performed by the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
I went to Norway to reach Spitsbergen, an archipelago very close to the North Pole. That was my adventure trip. It was in June 1994, and there was no night! 24 hours Sun! And the icebergs were around us! We missed the polar bears only...
I was planning to visit Muscat, Oman a long time ago. It finally happened in March 2000 and I have enjoyed it so much that I can't resist going there again when I can. This wouldn't be possible if I wasn't so well welcomed by my friend Dino who lives there with his wife Tiny and their cute baby LizaMier.
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Peru is the first country that I've visited in South America and what a wonderful experience! That was from 2 to 17 November 2007 and the places that I visited were Lima, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno, Lake Titicaca, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Ballestas Islands, Huacachina Oasis and Nazca. Many thanks to all involved especially my travel friend Dusan; Luis Lopez (Universal Tourisme in Geneva); Karin and Pierre Rohner (Lufthansa and Iberia in Geneva); my Peruvian friends in Switzerland: Carmen, Fernando and Felix; the best tour guides in Peru: Diana (Arequipa), Maria Eugenia (Colca), Juan José (Titicaca), Ernesto (Machu Picchu) and Ronald (Cuzco); the best hosts: Hilaria and Adolfo in Amantaní Island (Titicaca), J. Edwin (La Quinta Eco Hotel in Urubamba, Sacred Valley) and Edmundo at Wasipunko (Nazca). And last but not least, a very special thank you to Pedro Ale from Lima! Pedro was not just a simple taxi driver but he was definitely the best guide in town!
Because Geneva's weather forecast for the weekend wasn't very nice and I wasn't feeling like staying at home I've just decided to take the plane and go visit Warsaw for a day. And that's what I've done! I took the aeroplane Saturday morning and got back home the same day. Although I've been there just for a few hours, I still could enjoy and visited places like the monument of the "Umschlagplatz" (Warsaw Ghetto during World War II), the Royal Castle, the Presidential Palace, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Palace of Culture and Science where I took the lift up to the 30th floor for a breathtaking view of the city.
Well, that's the place where I go often to visit my family. Do you know how many times I've been to Portugal since I came to Switzerland in 1990? Guess? Well, 80 by the time I'm writing this note (December 2000)! A few for vacation but a lot for the weekend only! My Mother lives in Cascais, a town by the sea close to Estoril and some half an hour's drive from Lisbon. That's the place I usually go to now all the time. Otherwise, I just know the country from the North to the South. That's a very beautiful country! If you're interested to have some information about it, please don't hesitate to ask me. I'll try to give you my advice.
I went to visit São Miguel Island in the Azores from May 27 to June 1st, 2007 and I can tell you that I enjoyed a lot my holiday there. Saying so, I know that I'll have to go to the Azores again and visit some of the other islands too. Ponta Delgada is a small pleasant city with many churches but the highlights of my trip were the visits to the Sete Cidades with its two lakes (the blue and the green lake), the Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lake) and Furnas.
The weather was not so good the day I went to the Sete Cidades so I couldn't enjoy the breathtaking view from the top.
Lagoa do Fogo was my favourite one though. And amazingly, it was the place where I went from high joy to full despair! Well, I've just learned that we shouldn't ever go hiking in nature alone, that we always should carry water, that we should have a map and that we should inform people where we go because our mobile phone may not work if there is no network! So yes, I've lost track and my only way to survive was to cry out for HELP! HELP! HELP! Fortunately, some people that were in the belvedere could see me and two of them came to rescue me! Thank you, Birgit, and thank you to the Finnish tourist too. They both saved my life!
Furnas was also worth to go and it was very interesting to visit the Gorreana tea factory (1883), the Terra Nostra Garden (1780) and, of course, to enjoy the delicious "Cozido das Furnas" that is a stew cooked inside the craters.
I've visited Moscow and Saint-Petersburg with my mother by the end of May and the beginning of June 2004. We purchased a package in Switzerland whereas the accommodation, the visits and excursions as well as the private tour guides and drivers for each city were included. Our local guides, Elena in Moscow and Olga in Saint-Petersburg, toured us in Portuguese and that was a very good surprise because we were expecting a French-speaking tour guide! In Moscow, we've particularly enjoyed the Red Square, the Cathedral of St-Basil the Blessed, the Lenin Mausoleum, the GUM, the Kremlin, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the excellent performance of "Boris Godunov" opera (Modest Musorgsky) at the Bolshoi Theatre (the concert hall, the sceneries, the costumes, the music, the voices, the chorus, everything was just perfect!). Elena also showed us some underground famous stations and that was quite exciting to take the Moscow metro. We have also visited Kouskovo a few kilometres outside of Moscow. There we've discovered the Cheremetiev Palace, the park, a Swiss chalet, a Dutch house and the "Orangerie" with a big collection of Russian and foreign ceramics. In Saint-Petersburg, besides the "white nights" (daylight all day long), we liked very much the state Hermitage and Winter Palace, the Palace Square and the Alexandre column, the Admiralty, the monument of Peter the Great (the bronze horseman), the Isaak Cathedral, the Peter and Paul Fortress, the cruiser "Aurora", the rostral columns, the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, the Cathedral Smolny, the Nevsky Prospect, the Russian Museum as well as Pavlovsk which is located outside of Saint-Petersburg. We know that there was much more to visit but unfortunately our week in Russia was quickly gone and therefore we had to go home. In conclusion, we really enjoyed this trip and encourage any of you that might be interested in such a visit.
Have you ever heard about paradise on earth? Well, the Seychelles islands could be the place! After a first visit in June 2003, I'm almost certain that I'll go there again sometime in the future. And that's because it is a wonderful place! Nature and its magic islands together with the warm hospitality and friendly mood of the Seychellois people, make one just feel great! As my hotel was at the Beau Vallon beach in Mahé, I've swum a lot and enjoyed the beach from early morning until the end of the day. Because there are not only beaches, I've also spent a day in Victoria, the World's smallest capital. And during the last two days, I've visited the St. Anne Marine National Park (Round Island) where I could do some snorkelling and I've also visited La Digue and Praslin. Vallée de Mai National Park in Praslin was a very nice place to go as we can enjoy the forest and Seychelles' greatest concentration of coco de Mer palms.
I have visited Singapore in May 2005 and have enjoyed my stay there very much. The room at the Swissôtel The Stamford (ex-Westin) on the 62nd floor with such a spectacular view, as well as its location in the heart of Singapore, just next to the Raffles City Shopping Complex and the Esplanade Concert Hall and Theatre, couldn't be better. Places I've visited and I liked were Chinatown, Little India, the Singapore River, Merlion Park, Boat Quay as well as the famous Orchard Road with its shopping malls. A day at Sentosa (Siloso Beach) was also very nice not only to enjoy the beach but also to take some photographs of the nice local people there that were just swimming or playing boogie board. The Underwater World at Sentosa was interesting but unfortunately kind of crowded even at the end of the day. I also had the same feeling regarding the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoological Gardens but despite this inconvenience they were still worth visiting. Otherwise, nightlife speaking, I did enjoy the "All Evening Beethoven" concert at the Esplanade as well as the few bars and discotheques I went to. Well, I just can tell you that the nights were not long enough! Hahaha...
Another country that surprised me! After visiting Budapest for the second time and before going to Vienna for the second time too, being Bratislava between the capitals of Hungary and Austria, stopping there for a few days was just an excellent idea to discover a new capital of a country that I still did not know. My top visits were the Bratislava Castle, the Primate’s Palace, Michael’s Gate, the Blue Church, Slavín (War Memorial) and a sunset visit to the UFO (Observation Deck).
Ha! Another country that pleases me so much! I've been there 5 times and Cape Town is probably the most beautiful town I've ever visited! Can you imagine how proud I was to listen to my tour guide telling to all the tourists that the Portuguese were the first European people to cross the Cape? Ah, good times! Otherwise, thanks to my sister and brother-in-law that have lived in South Africa for 9 years, I've visited so varied places like Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Transkei, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Sun City and Lost City... I think the only thing I missed was Kruger Park! Also, I cannot forget that I've been there twice just to visit the dentist!!! Yes, they were very good and... very cheap too!
Christmas in the swimming pool! Just flew from Switzerland on the night from 24 to 25 December 2005. Arrived in Johannesburg on the morning of the 25th of December. Went to the hotel and spent the day in the swimming pool! Back in the evening to the airport and flew back to Switzerland the same night! ;-)
I've been several times to Spain and that's not strange... Portugal is surrounded by Spain so every Portuguese the first time he travels abroad is to Spain! I've visited places such as Vigo and Santiago de Compostella in the North, or Sevilla and Ayamonte in the South... Those were the times we used to go shopping there when the Escudo was stronger than the Peseta! Since then, things have changed and now it seems the Spanish go to Portugal to do their shopping as we did in the old times! In Summer 2001, I went to Spain again this time to visit Barcelona and I've liked it very much. I won't forget "La Sagrada Família", "La Pedrera" and the "Parc Güell" all by Gaudí as well as the "Fundació Joan Miró", the "Port Vell" and many other nice places!
The one week holiday in Sri Lanka in March 2007 was too short to discover such a beautiful country but long enough to know that I want to go there again and visit more extensively the next time! It was not only the country but also the kindliness of the people that I've never seen anywhere in the world that makes me want to return to Sri Lanka once again! They all smile at you and in a very friendly way! Not in excess but just naturally. And you can feel it since it comes from the bottom of their hearts!
A very good friend of mine accompanied me on this trip and he was a fantastic travel partner! So, thank you very much Nicolas for all the good moments and laughs! "Check it out"! (*)
The charter flight Edelweiss Air was an amazing experience. The service reminded me of the old Swissair times and the cabin atmosphere was much different from a regular airline. As everybody was going on a beach holiday (there were passengers to Sri Lanka as well as to the Maldives), you can imagine how happy everybody was!
The Ranweli Holiday Village in Waikkal (west coast) was the best place to stay! This "eco-friendly" hotel provides nice bungalows with beach views, very good and tasty Sri Lankan and international food, two bars (one by the swimming pool) and it has an excellent Ayurvedic centre. A very special thank you to Shanthi Ranasinghe for our long chat and for convincing me to do the foot therapy as well as to Dr H. M. L. Menike Herath, the Ayurvedic Physician! Well, next time I'll definitely have a complete therapy: head, body and foot! The hotel also organizes beautiful traditional Sri Lankan weddings (for westerners) and sightseeing tours. We went on an early morning bird watching tour (special thanks to Mahinda Ekanayake, Senaka Pathmakumara and Chandrasiri Nimal), 4 hours bicycle tour (special thanks to Bandusiri) and a full-day tour to Yapahuwa and Panduwasnuwara (special thanks to Anuruddha Jayasinghe and Upali). Even the shop with their traditional handicraft souvenirs was good enough to find out all you need and the shopkeeper Nihal Thamel was also very friendly. One last thanks to the bar steward Thilina S. Kulathunge that was very cheerful and that kept serving us the best mocktails and cocktails by the pool! "Ayubowan" to all of you! (In Sinhalese, it means "May you have a long life", for those that don't know, and that's their traditional way of greeting at any time of the day!).
As proof that this holiday was an unforgettable one, mind that I've made 2525 photos in one single week! ;-)
Already back to Switzerland, and because I've brought a few Sinhalese songs that I liked so much and wanted to have the original CDs, being in trouble to find their names (the ones I got were misspelt), I've just connected to a Sri Lankan music forum and asked for help! And guess what? The next day I've got the answer so a big thank you to Chrisanthie that also recommended me other names and songs! "Ayubowan" to Chrisanthie as well!
As a conclusion and before I'll add the next comments regarding my second visit to Sri Lanka (oh yes... it's already in the air!), I would just say... Are you in trouble finding a holiday destination whereas you can combine beach and visits? Well, Sri Lanka is definitely the place to go! And you won't regret, I can tell you! :-)
(*) "Check it out"! When we were in our bungalow listening to the radio, there was a spot on the radio station saying "Check it out"! And we listened to it so many times that it remained stuck in our memories until today! Oh well... It's just too bad that you can't hear it by simply reading my words! ;-)
The first time I went to Sweden, I've just been there for a few hours only! Not even a full day!!! But I can say that I put my feet there for the first time as after taking the boat from Helsingør (Denmark), Fernanda, Michael, Simon and myself, we just reached the other coast at Helsingborg (Sweden)! We ate at McDonald's there!!! Some few years later (September 2000), well, I've just had to go to Sweden again and this time to visit Stockholm that I really liked it. As they say: "Beauty on Water"! Oh well... I better go back there again soon!...
Well, I think I've been everywhere in Switzerland... No, I'm lying... I still don't know the Ticino! Otherwise, during my hotel school period (1986-1988), I've visited the major important places so varied as the cities of Zürich, Basle, Bern or Neuchâtel, Montreux, Gstaad, Verbier or the Jüngfraujoch!
I've visited Taipei with my Hong Kong friends just three days after the March 31st, 2002 earthquake in Taiwan. We didn't find out any damage and Taiwanese did seem to enjoy their normal lives. However, the huge tower (World Financial Center) under construction which was just in front of our bedroom (18th floor) at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, reminded us the images we saw on television of one of the hoist machines falling down from the top of that same building when the earthquake happened! During those four visiting days there, we've enjoyed the nightlife in the streets (many night markets and lots of nice food in the streets) and we went to two different spas to enjoy nice warm baths. We also went up to the Taipei's landmark "Shinkong Observatory" (46 floors) where we could enjoy breathtaking night views of the city and we were also amazed to visit the "Living Mall" at 2 o'clock in the morning which is a mall that is open 24 hours a day!
Second visit to Taiwan in November 2005... Up to Taipei 101 tower, the World's tallest building (508 meters) and a wonderful stay at the Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi spa!
I've visited Thailand for the first time in November 2002. That was a quick and short visit of 4 days that included two days in Pattaya and two days in Bangkok. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok was very impressive. And the traffic and the pollution too! Thai people are very friendly (for those who don't know) and the food was delicious as well. A country to return, imperatively!
One of my favorite places that I used to go for CD shopping! Yes, I've been four times to London and twice of them just for the day... to buy CDs only!
Visiting a friend living in Bournemouth, I've discovered the region with visits of Bournemouth, Durdle Door, Corfe Castle, Knowlton Church & Henge, Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral and New Forest (September and October 2005).
Back to London in November 2005 after a few years absence... And back again with my mother in January 2006! First time for her and she just loved it!
The country I probably love the most in this planet! Five times to New York City, twice to Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles (Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Marina del Rey), Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon (North Rim and South Rim) and once to the Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Chicago, Boston (Lexington & Concord) and Washington D.C. (Mount Vernon and Alexandria, VA). One cannot neglect the Grand Canyon! That was my ever-best experience in the World. I've just experienced a strange feeling of magnificence and quietness that I've never felt before! And also, that the fact that my Grandfather was a geologist, I just thought how much I'm sure he would love to have done this same trip! Rocks and stones everywhere. That was in 1992. And because I really wanted to live this fabulous experience again I didn't resist to go there again 8 years later (October 2000), this time with my mother's company that she too, she just loved the Bryce and the Grand Canyon!
In Summer 2001, I have visited Rome and the Vatican and I've enjoyed the Holy City very much. Saint Peter is very beautiful. Unfortunately, I just missed the Pope and the Sistine Chapel that was closed...
The last country from my list! And also one of the best places I've been... Victoria Falls was the place I've been and that "Flight of Angels" above the falls as well as the sunset cruise won't disappear so easily from my mind!