13 reasons to visit Lisbon in November

It’s happened; we’ve put the clocks back. The days are shorter, we have fewer hours of daylight and it’s officially winter. It also feels as though someone’s put the temperature back along with the clocks. As the mercury heads towards zero we inevitably start thinking about sunnier shores; who can blame us? Still, not everyone wants the long-haul. So where should we go for a little blue sky? How about the sunniest capital in Europe? Yep, Lisbon. Here are 13 reasons to visit Lisbon in November.

It’s the sunniest capital city in Europe

Let’s get this out of the way; Lisbon is Europe’s sunniest capital enjoying a staggering 2,799 hours of sunshine per year. This number of sunny hours beats all other capital cities on the continent. It also means you’re likely to catch some rays later in the year.

Low cost flights

There are a number of operators offering low cost flights to Lisbon from most UK airports. Depending on the time of year online travel operators offer deals from as little as £44 from London to Lisbon one-way.

Short flight time

With an average flight time of around two and a half hours trading off comfort for a no-frills journey won’t matter. You’ll arrive in less time than it takes to cross London during rush hour. Put your headphones on, get comfortable and enjoy the short journey.

Public transport is convenient and inexpensive

Lisbon airport is only seven kilometers from the city centre. Wherever you choose to stay the journey time is unlikely to be more than 25 minutes by Metro. Trains leave every few minutes but you may need to change lines.

Buy a Viva Viagem card which costs €0.50 from the ticket machines and top it up. Your single journey from the airport to the city centre costs just €1.40. Given that this is also quicker than taking a taxi it’s an easy decision to make. If you plan to use public transport for the rest of your stay a daily pass is just €6.30. It allows you to make unlimited journeys for 24 hours on all public transport including ferries, tram, funiculars and buses as well as the Metro.

IMG_5875

Trams

Lisbon’s trams are quite spectacular. I’ll never forget my first tram; think Laura Dern in Jurassic Park (2013) when she sees a dinosaur for the first time. Bear in mind that there are also modern trams in  the city. The classic Remodelados are mainly yellow and rattle and screech through the winding cobbled streets of Lisbon. Route E28 which crosses the Alfama district is the most scenic and a wonderful way to see Lisbon. The trams run from 6am to 10.30pm hourly. Latest time tables can be found here to Campo Ourique and here to Martim Moniz.

IMG_5899

Funiculars

Whilst Lisbon’s trams are icons of the city its funiculars are less well known. Lisbon was built on seven hills and the funiculars were introduced in the late 19th century to make them a little more manageable. There are three funiculars and one lift: Ascensor da Bica, Ascensor da Glória, Ascensor do Lavra and Elevador de Santa Justa.

For great views of the city, against the backdrop of River Tagus, Ascensor da Bica is considered the most picturesque ride. It climbs one of the steepest hills and crosses the quaint area of Bica district. Best of all, funiculars are part of the public transport network so the Viva Viagem card is accepted on them.

One of the world’s oldest cities

I was surprised to learn that Lisbon predates ancient cities like Rome, London and Paris by centuries. You can feel history seeping out of the cobbles when you walk on them; dramatic but true. Alfama is the oldest district first inhabited by fishermen and the poor. The Moorish Castle of São Jorge is found here as is Lisbon Cathedral. Take a walk amongst the old houses and new restaurants in Alfama and listen to the familiar sounds of the Fado filling up the evening.

Facetune_26-10-2018-22-31-38

Pastéis de nata

The Guardian ranked pastéis of Belém the 15th tastiest delicacy in the world. The 18th century Monastery of JeróNimos in the parish of Santa Maria de Belém is where it all began. A revolution in 1820 caused religious orders to be gradually shut down. In Belém, some monks started to sell pastéis at a nearby sugar refinery to bring in an income. When that monastery too was forced to close, in 1837, the recipe was sold to the refinery. They duly opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in the same year. Their descendants still own the business. You really don’t want to miss this one. Lisbon bakes 10,000 pastéis a day.

IMG_5917

Street Cafes

We’ve established that this is the sunniest capital in Europe. So it would follow that al fresco dining is popular. From coffee shops serving Portuguese coffee to bakeries filled with every sin imaginable, Lisbon loves cafe life. Doors wide open to busy streets send the aroma of the sweetest treats wafting out. Lisbon’s streets are lined with cafes. You’ll be spoilt for choice with places to eat and drink whilst sight-seeing.

Fine Dining

If cafe culture doesn’t suit you’ll be pleased to know that the city has a growing reputation for fine dining. Suba restaurant at Verride Palacio Santa Catarina hotel, headed by Chef Bruno Carvalho, is a real gem. With an express Executive Menu for lunch time diners and a more extensive a la carte menu for the evening it’s a credit to Lisbon. Expect innovative cuisine such as cauliflower cappuccino mixed with traditional dishes such as goat stew all presented with Michelin-worthy flair.

IMG_5886

Street art

It’s remarkable how the city has embraced its street art and artists. Trams, funiculars, walls and shop fronts are often covered in artistic graffiti. However, instead of painting over, as most city authorities would, Lisbon has embraced its street art making it a unique meeting of past and present. It’s not uncommon  to find residential streets with historic buildings adorned with colourful street art.

321

Sleep in a palace

Lisbon has made a swift move from being a low-cost European city break to one of unparalleled luxury. Hotel Verride Palácio Santa Catarina, for example, has swept the board this year with luxury accolades ranging from inclusion in the Condé Naste Traveller Hot List, a nomination for the World Luxury Hotel Award and making the shortlist of Wallpaper magazine’s Urban Hotels awards. Visit in November and you’re more likely to get a chance at booking their Royal Suite which is an ethereal dream.

Roof Top 2

Rooftop bars with views

Given that this is a city built on seven hills the rooftops of Lisbon offer spectacular views over the city. Most hotels take advantage of this and offer rooftop bars to rival each other. Verride Palacio Santa Catarina hotel has the highest point with 360 degree views in the neighbourhood of Santa Catarina. Their Happy Hour on Thursdays and Fridays are legendary and attracts Lisbon’s hippest crowd. Never fear dipping temperatures as the bar here has a roof and outdoor heating.

 

 

I was a guest of Verride Palácio Hotel located at: Rua de Santa Catarina nº 1, 1200-401 Lisboa.

Female Empowerment Through Travel

On this day as we celebrate women, our accomplishments, our struggles and our joys I want to acknowledge the role that other women play in our journeys. That may sound like stating the obvious. Of course other women support us! We are all in this together after all. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many women who do not believe in equality and many more who will not fight or support the struggle for it. Then on the other hand, there are those who dedicate their entire lives to it.

PalacioDeSaoMateus-Portugal

Tânia Trevisan is such a woman. She had been fulfilling her dreams of seeing the world and returned to her native Brazil in 2014. During her travels and as a professional events planner she had noticed the spectacular outcome produced by bringing women together. This single thought gave birth to a whole new idea.

Integral Woman

integralwomanteaam-sp

 

The Concept

On 8th March 2014 Tânia set up Integral Woman . It is a project where women from one country could travel together to a new one and exchange skills, knowledge and ideas with local women. The project was a huge success. By 2016 it crossed the Atlantic and Integral Woman reached entrepreneurial women in Portugal and Spain.

Integral Woman Ambassadors

Dubai-EmiratesPalace

The idea expands through Integral Woman Ambassadors who play a key role in spreading the good word of the concept. The ambassadors are locally based and are responsible for aligning Integral Woman’s principles with the local culture whilst identifying the needs of women from their region.

The Integral Woman Tour then brings these women together through bespoke, well planned travel itineraries. Since 2014, Integral Woman Tour has explored different parts of Europe, South America, Caribbean and the United Arab Emirates with further trips planned in 2018:
April – Portugal and Spain – North
May – Portugal and Spain – South
July – Portugal and Spain – North
July – Croatia and Slovenia
September – Portugal
September – Portugal and Spain – South
October – Costa Rica

As her simple idea expands beyond anything she could have dreamt of Tânia Trevisan has this to say: Traveling creates unforgettable memories. It increases our cultural baggage, opens our mind to understand different people and help us to make new friends. It also strengths every woman’s self-esteem.

As a woman who loves travel and has made it her life, I for one, couldn’t agree more. So on this special day I wish to thank all the women who have supported me on my journey. I acknowledge those who fight the good fight so that we may all walk a little more freely each day.

 

For more information visit: www.integralwoman.com.br
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/integralwomanbrasil/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/integralwomanbrasil/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUA0Ef7iVbdBjNU3Xb3CR_g

5 Worst Travel Myths Unmasked

There are many handy tips, bits of helpful advice and invaluable ”insider knowledge” that we all seek before we embark on a journey. Nonetheless, how much of it is actually helpful? Do they really make a difference to our experience? To help you decide here are a few of my most frequently heard travel myths – unmasked.

1. Travel is a  luxury.

How do I travel so much? As a blogger and freelance writer my life (thankfully) is not fixed around a 9-5 schedule. I’m the girl working remotely on a plane, in the restaurant, at the beach, in the desert or in my hotel.

A significant consideration is to know that ”travelling” is not the same as ”holidaying”. “Holidaying” implies a break from you regular life – a short indulgent time of leisure or recreation. “Travelling” is not a short lived time of excess. There’s no requirement for special clothes, special diets or “bikini bodies”. It’s being fully present wherever you are, doing regular things as you would at home. Master ”travelling” and you’ll never need another ”holiday” from your life.

2. Duty free “bargains”.

It’s of course tempting to browse in “duty free” shops at airports while you wait. That is after all, why they were created. However, you’re not necessarily paying less for anything. It only means that you’re paying no tax. I often find skin care, perfume, confectionary and wine at much lower prices at home in London.

One thing I do to match cost in various countries is to use one of my daily skin care products (250ml facial cleanser) as a measure. In some countries I find it better value in terms of cost per size but in many places the ”saving” is negligible.

3. Long transits are a waste of “vacation” time.

If you have a transit in excess of 5 hours at Changi Airport (Singapore), Narita Airport (Tokyo, Japan), Incheon Airport (Seoul, Korea), Taoyuan Airport (Taipei, Taiwan), Ataturk Airport (Istanbul, Turkey), Salt Lake City Airport (Utah, USA) or Hamad International Airport (Doha, Qatar) you’ll be in for a treat.

They offer visa free heritage tours in their respective cities for transit passengers. If you have less than the required time it’s still possible to enjoy in-airport tropical gardens, cinemas, spas, swimming pools and even museums. While there are conditions attached to city tours other facilities can be enjoyed even on a brief lay over.

I enjoyed the 25 meter, temperature controlled indoor pool at Hamad International, Doha during a long transit. After a relaxing swim, I sipped orange juice and fell asleep on one of the cosy loungers. It was absolutely worth the £40 entrance fee. When your airport offers a gym, hydrotherapy tub and squash courts which stay open 24 hours a day, every day, you can turn even the most merciless lay over in to a mini vacation.

4. Jet lag.

Jet lag does not need to be a part of travelling. It’s caused by sleeping at the wrong time rather than a lack of sleep. Short naps are fine on short haul flights. However, if you want to avoid jet lag, only sleep if it aligns with the slumber time at your destination.

When I’m on long haul flights I adjust my sleep accordingly. Being in sync with my destination when I arrive lets me get the best out of the day as I often have to go straight into ”work mode”. Try it on your next trip to escape the groggy, detached feeling of jet lag.

5.  Cash is best when you travel.

I almost never carry wads of cash when I travel. This is to avert the risk of losing it, misplacing it or having it stolen –  ALL of which have happened to friends or relatives (sometimes within hours of arriving at a new destination) which doesn’t make for a good start.

Using my debit card allows me to keep track of my spending via mobile banking. Major banks helpfully offer the choice of paying in your own currency OR the local currency when using cards abroad. This means I know EXACTLY how much something costs in £Sterling BEFORE I pay. It’s a great deal more convenient than working out the exchange rate every time. Banks further offer preferential rates to loyal customers thus reducing the fee per transaction. Many credit cards have perks such as no foreign transaction fees and % back on purchases. Add to all of this the convenience of 24 hour helplines and I am sold.

 

This post was inspired by Gilbert Ott’s 8 Travel Myths, Debunked.

 

How to do New York on a Budget.

By guest blogger – Leandi Schoonraad

New York is not somewhere you go, it’s not something you see. New York is something you do. The Big Apple. There is no other city like it on earth. The bright lights from the adverts throw colours that dance across the night air to indulge the awestruck spectator. There is absolutely no doubt that like Alicia Keys and Jay Z sing – this is the concrete jungle where dreams are made. Unfortunately, finances are often what stand in the way of us chasing those dreams. We don’t want that to be the case with New York, so we’ve put together a few suggestions for how to do New York on a budget.

Explore Central Park

139

Most people enter Central Park from the south, walk around for 20 minutes and think they’ve seen Central Park. Not true. This enormous space can take a week to explore if you wanted to. Museums flank the east and west of the park, and the children’s zoo is in the south-west corner. Meandering walkways are everywhere and it’s easy to lose yourself in your thoughts as you amble through the oasis of peace. Don’t miss the pretty lakes throughout the park. You might recognise the Loeb boathouse in the middle of the park; it’s one of Central Park’s most iconic spots. In winter, release your inner child by spending some time ice skating on one of the temporary rinks.

Be Part of an Audience

Many of the TV shows – such as The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – air from New York and have a live studio audience. Most of these shows are completely free to attend; you just need to apply online and in advance for a ticket. If that doesn’t work for you, check it out on the day. Some have first come first served standby tickets available to fill the seats of no-shows.

See a Discounted Broadway Show

181

There are literally dozens of Broadway shows a day, and all of them are fantastic. Does it really matter which one(s) you go to see? Some of you might have a strong preference, and that’s OK. But if your goal is just to see an award-winning musical on Broadway, then I’ve got great news. In Times Square, there is TKTS; a red booth which sells discounted (up to 50% off) tickets to same-day shows. It’s open from 4pm to 7pm and there’s almost always a line, so get there as close to 4pm as possible. That means you have the most shows to choose from and first pick at the best seats still available. If there’s a particular show you’re desperate to see, it might be worth approaching the theatre ticket office directly. Some shows will sell standing room only entry for sold-out performances.

Retail Therapy for the Cash-Strapped

It would be criminal to visit New York without indulging in some shopping. Now while NYC is considered cheap for international travellers, we know not everyone can afford the big brand names. Enter Century 21. Our favourite branch is the one in the Financial District, where several floors are jam packed with designer brands at heavily discounted prices. There’s nothing wrong with the stock; it’s just last season’s supply of clothing, accessories and homewares. We’re talking Emilio Pucci dresses, Armani jackets, Juicy Couture tracksuits and everything in between. At around 70% off. It’s also a great place to pick up a new suitcase. You know, just in case the shopping was so good that you went a bit overboard.

The Statue of Liberty

063

Most tourists wanting to see the great Lady Liberty take a dedicated ferry trip to Liberty Island. Mistake. Not only is the ferry ride expensive, ($25.50 per adult) but waiting times are long, so it’s potentially going to waste hours of your day. True travellers know that the best view of the Statue of Liberty is from the Hudson itself, not from underneath the statue. Jump on the Staten Island ferry instead. It gives you an excellent view of the Statue of Liberty as you sail past it and take your iconic photo. Best of all? It’s completely free. Look back too; the Manhattan skyline is incredible.

Look for Promo People

083

Along 7th Avenue, there are normally plenty of people handing out promotional fliers advertising various evening entertainment. Keep an eye out for something you might be interested in going to. A little friendly conversation and some back and forth banter is always very well received, and we’ve scored free tickets to comedy shows or gotten back-stage invites more than once.

Walking through the Districts

Plan your route to pass by green spaces such as Bryant Park, which has some cute cafes where you can grab a coffee. Hit the High Line, which is a long elevated walkway offering superb views of Chelsea. While you’re there, pop into the Chelsea Market and browse some of the unique offerings in the boutiques. Little Italy, SOHO and the meatpacking district all have their own charm and are just as worthy of a visit. Actually, every corner of New York is different and amazing. For much more detail on each individual area, our favourite book is “New York: The Big City and its Little Neighbourhoods”.

Now you have some top tips on how to do New York on a budget, so stop dreaming and start planning!

 

Leandi Schoonraad was born in South Africa but is now a citizen of the world. She has been to 61 countries on 6 continents and loves to inspire others to go travelling too. Leandi and her best friend share their photos, stories and top destination tips on their website; WhistleStops. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram