AMSTERDAM. Go cycling! See more, do more!

A weekend in Amsterdam is not enough to see a lot that this City has to offer. We decided to rent bikes for three days.  They said that there are more bikes in Amsterdam than the number of its population. As cycling is a way of life here, riding and going around  in one of them is like being a local. Here are some of the photos that I took while cycling around Amsterdam.

NEMO Science Museum

NEMO Science Museum
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
De Gooyer Windmill: The tallest wooden windmill in the country is octagonal in shape & was once used as a flour mill.
The Amsterdam, was an 18th-century cargo ship of the Dutch East India Company.

Westerkerk – The World’s first biggest protestant church.
Amsterdam Centraal is the largest railway station of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Centraal was designed by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers and first opened in 1889. It features a Gothic/Renaissance Revival station building and a cast iron platform roof spanning approximately 40 metres.

The Magere Brug (“Skinny Bridge”) is a bridge over the river Amstel in the city centre of Amsterdam. It connects the banks of the river at Kerkstraat (Church Street), between Keizersgracht (Emperors’ Canal) and Prinsengracht (Princes’ Canal). -Wikipedia
Magere Brug

http://www.operaballet.nl

The Munttoren (“Mint Tower”) or Munt is a tower in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It stands on the busy Muntplein square, where the Amstel river and the Singel canal meet. -Wikipedia
On a sunny day, lounging on the beds of river Amstel seems to be popular among locals.
The Berlagebrug (bridge) was opened on 28 May 1932 amidst great interest. At the time it was not only the bridge that was furthest from the city centre, but it was also the biggest bridge in Amsterdam at 80 metres long and 24 metres wide. – Iamsterdam.com

Van Gogh Museum
Cooling down from the heat under the trees at the Museum quarter.
Edam Cheese originated in the Netherlands.
Museumplein
In Amsterdam, the cyclists are the king of the road.
Amsterdam is a popular place for Stag Do.
Amsterdam Rai Train Station
http://www.theartofbanksy.amsterdam/en/the-art-banksy/

The gateway to the Museumplein
Cycle Parking area
Basilica of St. Nicholas
The Dome of St. Nicholas Basilica
People waiting for the ferry services at the back of Amsterdam Centraal Station
EYE Filmmuseum
River Amstel beside the Amsterdam Centraal Station

 

Nuremberg . Nürnberger

   I honestly had not heard of this City until I was looking for a place to go for the Easter Holiday Weekend. As the cost of stayling in a hotel in England soared to ridiculous levels, I found going to Munich – including plane fares and train ride from Nuremberg –  would be cheaper than staying in a decent hotel in Manchester.

P4160924

P4160779P4160932

  P4160895        It is the second largest city in Bavaria or “Beyern” as it is known in German.  It was our gateway to Munich or “Munchen” in German. We went straight to the train station upon arrival but we have decided to spend a day here as we will be closer to the airport on our way back to England.  It turned out to be a beautiful city to explore.

P4160817

 P4160853

P4160825

    P4160831

 P4160849

P4160863

    To most people Nuremberg is associated with the Nuremberg trials or the Nuremberg Rallies, but today you can see that the city has moved on far from it’s past. The Nazi buildings are a reminder of the past, just like the other structures dating back from the Middle Ages that serve as an illustration of the city’s history.

P4160581

P4160675

P4160617

P4160756

P4160753

Tip! When travelling from Nuremberg to Munich, take the Ice train and enjoy the Bavarian countryside. You can book you train tickets online on Deutcshe Bahn and book it in advance to get cheaper rates.  Standard Class is very comfortable so you don’t necessarily need to go for First Class unless you wish to have added extras, however, the train journey is only approximately one hour so the benefits of going first class could be limited.

P4160764

P4160993

P4160996P4171011

Portugal: Food for Thought

P2051171

Wonder if what is the portuguese cuisine? I have sampled a few and these are the ones that turned out to be photogenic and delicious too! This are some of the food that we had tried while we were in Lisbon and Porto, Portugal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pastéis de Bacalhau – (literally “codfish pastries”) are typically made from a mixture of potatoes, bacalhau (codfish), eggs, parsley, and onion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They are also commonly referred to as “salt cod fritters” or “salt cod croquettes”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bacalhau à Brás – (Cod à la Brás) is made from shreds of salted cod (bacalhau), onions and thinly chopped (matchstick sized) fried potatoes in a bound of scrambled eggs. It is usually garnished with black olives and sprinkled with fresh parsley. The origin of the recipe is uncertain, but it is said to have originated in Bairro Alto, an old quarter of Lisbon. The noun “Brás” (or sometimes Braz) is supposedly the surname of its creator. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bacalhau Fresco – Found this food in the food court at Armazens do Chiado. 

DSC_1067 a

Polvo ‘à lagareiro’ (octopus with potatoes in the oven)

P2070231 a

Mexilhões

DSC_1341 a

Tripas à moda do Porto !  The dish is made with various types of  meat,  gut , sausages and white beans.

DSC_1454 a

Francesinha – Porto sandwich, made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with french fries. I was not able to finish my plate. 

Pastéis de Belém! Don’t leave Lisbon without trying it. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAP2041038 a

In 1837, the baking of the “Pastéis de Belém” began in the buildings attached to the refinery, following the ancient ‘secret recipe` from the monastery. Passed on and known exclusively to the master confectioners who hand-crafted the pastries in the ‘secret room’, this recipe remained unchanged to the present day. Enjoy the queue!

Tip! Although Lisbon and Porto are full of restaurants we have been declined entry in one because the restaurant is full . So if you are planning a meal in one of the restaurant better do a reservation. 

Tip Porto! Try eating at  Stall No. 40 in Mercado do Bolhão (Bolhao Market).

PORTO: Best European Destination 2017!

P2070478

Porto was elected Best European Destination for 2017. It is the third time for Porto. It has already won this title in 2012 and 2014.  Aside for having some of the most beautiful places in the world (in my previous post). Porto also boasts of 3 UNESCO world heritage sites and more.

p2070499

Dom Luis 1 Bridge – UNESCO World Heritage Site, An Ironwork Showpiece. This iconic bridge opened in 1886, when it held the record for the longest iron arch in the world, with a span of 172 metres (564 ft) and a height of 44.6 metres (146 ft) this was a great feat of engineering.

P2070430

Dom Luis 1 Bridge – The designer Téophile Seyrig, had been Gustavo Eiffel’s (of Eiffel tower in Paris) partner on the previous project,  and showed himself to be a more than able engineer with this bridge. It is worth making the crossing on the upper level, although being 60 metres (190 ft) above the waters of the Douro, it might not be for everyone! I did cross it, but I think it was the longest bridge crossing of my life!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar – The convent built in the 16th century belonged to the Order of Saint Augustine. Part of the area classified by UNESCO as World Heritage in December 1996, the Monastery of Serra do Pilar is the architectural landmark of Gaia.

It’s historical centre or I should say OLD TOWN of Porto is a UNESCO world heritage site.

P2070374

I thought I was able to get away with the 7 hills of Lisbon when we went to Porto. Only to realize that the city of Porto is built along the “hillsides” overlooking the mouth of the Douro river.

p2070357

 The central area of the city is outlined with a traverse of slight ascent and descent paths. But I am not complaining. You can find several old Churches in the Historical Centre.

p2070363

The Igreja de Santo Ildefonso situated close to Batalha Square, dates back to the 18th century. The church was completed in 1739 and includes a framed altarpiece by the prolific Italian architect, Nicolau Nasoni. It has a striking façade of over 11,000 classic blue and white azulejos, added in 1932 by Jorge Colaço (he also did the azulejos at Sao Bento Train Station).

P2070181
The Twin Churches

The Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas are twin churches built between 1756 and 1768. Igreja do Carmo has an azulejo-covered exterior with the church done in the rococo style. The two churches are separated by a very narrow (1m wide) house that was inhabited until the 1980’s. The house was built so that the two churches would not share a common wall and to prevent any relations between the nuns of Igreja dos Carmelitas and the monks of Igreja do Carmo.

 

P2070401

The Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto) – It is one of the city’s oldest monuments and one of the most important local Romanesque monuments. The current Cathedral of Porto underwent construction around 1110 under the patronage of Bishop Hugo and was completed in the 13th century, but there is evidence that the city has been a bishopric seat since the Suevi domination in the 5th-6th centuries.

 

P2080695

The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace)- inspired by the Neopalladian architecture. Building work began in 1842 and the general structure of the Palácio was completed by 1850.

 

P2070493

Cais da Ribeira – The alluring district of Ribeira is made up of medieval streets and seedy alleyways. It is a crumbling but fascinating place, ending at a riverfront square (“Praça da Ribeira”).

P2070539

With photogenic traditional boats floating at the quayside overlooked by colorful ancient houses, this is the most picturesque spot in the city and the place everyone loves — UNESCO did too, and declared it a World Heritage Site.

P2070568

Don’t  forget to cap your tour listening to Fado (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈfaðu]; “destiny, fate”) is a music genre which can be traced to the 1820s in Lisbon, Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. On 27 November 2011, fado was inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

P2070558

You can have a free Fado show at Porto Cálem wine cellar. The only wine cellar that offers this treat. It is on every 6pm after the port wine tour. It is nice experience listening to fado while sipping your red and white port wine at the end of the day.

 

P2070407

 

I never expected Porto to be as beautiful as it is. I only knew a few things about Porto prior to my trip. One of them is  that it is constantly featured as one of the affordable places to go in Europe.  That is true, Porto is a beautiful city without the expensive price tag, well maybe that’s why it’s the winner for Best European Destination 2017!

Facts grabbed from Wikipedia, portugalvisitor.com, and other websites I can’t remember.

PORTO, a city of some of the World’s Most Beautiful Places.

     The highlight of my visit to Porto was seeing some of the world’s most beautiful places. It is a city with one of worlds most beautiful train station, one of the ten most beautiful bookstore in the world, one of the ten most beautiful cafe in the world and the most beautiful McDonald’s outlet in the world. Yes! McDonald’s!

     Here are some of the Photo’s that I have taken in my recent trip to Porto and some bits of story I grabbed from Wikipedia and Atlas Obscura.

p2080928

 

p2080936

The Eagle on the facade as well as the original art deco interior design made it different from the rest of the McDonald’s outlet. It is regarded by many as the most beautiful Mcdonald’s outlet in the world.

p2070336-a

p2070343
The Inside interior is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau. One of the world’s most beautiful cafe.  “The Majestic Café is a wonderful place, where muses, thinkers and artists can get together to live the best moments life has to offer: simply sharing communication through words and gestures,glances smiles and even a few tears sometimes.” – Gloria Montenegro (President of the Paris Academy of Coffeeology)
P2060052.jpg
Porto, Sao Bento Train Station – One of the world’s most beautiful train station. The most notable aspect of São Bento Station is the large, magnificent tile panels in the vestibule.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The French Beaux-Arts structure holds within 20,000 magnificent azulejo tin-glazed ceramic tiles depicting Portugal’s past – its royalty, its wars, and its transportation history. The blue and white tiles were placed over a period of 11 years (1905–1916) by artist Jorge Colaço.

p2070257

Livraria Lello, also known as Livraria Lello & Irmão or Livraria Chardron, is a bookstore located in central Porto, Portugal. It is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. It is frequently rated among the top bookstores in the world, placing third in lists by the Lonely Planet and The Guardian.

p2070297

The bookstore was frequented by JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, when she taught English in Porto and is reported to be an inspiration for her writing. Elements of the facade and much of the interior are decorated in Art Nouveau, with some features of the Gothic Revival.

Next time Porto the world heritage site!

Visually attractive SINTRA

     If you take the tourists away from this town, it would be quiet. This one hour away by train town from Lisbon was once the residence of Portugal’s most affluent people. One thing have I noticed in this town is that even in the middle of winter it is still very green.

     We visited the three main attractions by taking tour bus 434 just outside the train station of Sinta.  It’s NOT an all day hop on hop off but let me call it “one circuit hop on hop off”. This bus route is designed for day trip tour.  Here are the places or palaces that the bus took us to.

     The Gothic Style National Palace of Sintra was extensively used by the nobility of Portugal between the 15th and 19th centuries and born witness to the growth of the country. We did not have time to go inside this Palace as we are running out of time. 

p2020094-ap2020099-ap2020078-a

 

 

Castelo dos Mouros – The castle was constructed during the 8th and 9th centuries. It is situated on the top of the Sintra Mountains, where it has a panoramic view of the municipality of Sintra.  You have to pay to get inside but just walking around outside the castle walls is already good enough. moorish-castlep2020138-ap2020170-ap2020130-ap2020117-ap2020174-ap2020139-a

 

Palácio da Pena –  is a Romanticist castle. The castle stands on the top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon and much of its metropolitan area. It is a national monument and constitutes one of the major expressions of 19th-century Romanticism in the world. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It is also used for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials. This place is the highlight of our Sintra trip. This is the only place that agreed to pay to get in. 

p2020240-ap2020245-a

p2020435-a
The Arch of Triton 

P2020247.JPG

p2020264-ap2020285-a

p2020356-a
The Chapel – Pena Palace
p2020368-a
The craftsmanship in some of the rooms is very exquisite!
p2020369-a
The ceilings and the walls in one of the rooms are decorated with this design. The craftsmanship of the past could easily outdo the present. 
p2020395-a
I was the last person walking out of the palace. The staff are so nice that they let me take photos before turning off the lights when I am done with a section of the floor.