Alentejo Coast, Lisbon and Luxembourg

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August 19th 2009
Published: August 19th 2009
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Hi there,

How are you all enjoying the summer (or the winter for you guys the other side of the hemisphere)?

Soon I will be back at work so I decided to update my blog before being immersed in my job tasks. What have I been up to the last 2 months?

Well, I was in Portugal in July where I could enjoy the Atlantic coast of Alentejo, the region above the touristiest region of Portugal, the Algarve. The coast of Alentejo is lovely: there is no mass foreign tourism, and even for the Portuguese, the adherence is mild (except in August: where thousands of young people come to the Sudoest Pop Festival!).

This is no surprise because the Alentejo region itself has low density qua inhabitants, so no highways give direct access to the coast. That’s good news too! What can you expect in Alentejo Coast? A reasonable offer of restaurants in places like Vila Nova de Milfontes, the fisherman spirit in Porto Covo, the whisper of the past at the spacey white beach in front of the Pessegueiro island with the fort looking over you, the amazing cliffs of Cape Sardão, the spectacular rocky beach (where Fado singer Amália Rodrigues used to spend her holidays) of Zambujeira do Mar and the picturesque village of Odeceixe, establishing the boundary between the Alentejo Coast and Algarve!

You can find in the Alentejo Coast, a variety of camping sites, bed and breakfasts, and rural tourism accommodations, among others. Fortunately you do not find here huge hotels .

We had 1 day in Lisbon, so we went to the Belém area to eat original Belém pastries
(the most popular pastry of Portugal), we dined watching the sun set at Café à Margem, to which followed the Dido and Eneas Opera, a special event celebrating the rehabilitation of the Cascade Gardens, on the back of the Museum of the President of the Republic - we were very glad we managed to get tickets to this special event!

In August I had a staycation (stay-at-home-vacation), while trying to minimise work to a minimum (or kind of), and enjoying the Netherlands: been at the beach of Katwijk aan Zee, toured Amsterdam along the remains of the wall around the city in the 16th-century, been to Rembrandt´s Huis in Amsterdam (and learned that the Master might have got some of his inspiration from Jan Lievens, a less known Dutch painter), and to his birth city Leiden, and went East all the way to Hardenberg where one can has energetic walks in the forest dunes.

Finally the city Luxembourg: just a short trip but left a nice flavour in my memory. How such a little country has contributed so much to shape Europe? After all, Luxembourg is founder member of NATO, EU, and OECD.

Behalf that, and that is a country of medieval castles, and of a large Portuguese immigrant community, I didn’t know much about it. I wasn’t even sure of the spoken language there, but I guess neither I am now: the administrative language is French, the German dominates in the press, on TV you hear the strange Luxembourgisch Language, which apparently is Franconian but it sounds more like German, and around the central station you hear mostly Portuguese!

The city is built in two hills, separated by a valley. To go from one hill to another, there are several bridges and viaducts, and to go from the hills (Ville Haute) to the valley (Ville Basse) there are curvy roads and paths, and also an elevator.

Luxembourg turned to be a pleasant surprise: with medieval castles, gourmet-type restaurants, with serendipitous paths in the valley where you can breath the humidity of the woods and have a quick look at the casemates. They also have a small but reasonable cluster of museums. One of the exhibitions was on “who may I kill?” Tips: . Tip: buy a 3-days museum card and don’t miss the levels below ground of the Museum of History of the city, neither of the Casino gallery (the latter might be a bit creepy - don’t tell I didn’t warn you!).

Overall, I found admirable how they combined ancient buildings (stoned-made) with modern glass features. Overall, there is a sense of good taste and sense in the city-planning department, I guess. Besides there are dozens of Wi-Fi spots on street corners, for those still want to quickly check there emails during a stroll, or quick check how to go to that renown restaurant in the city guide.

BTW you non-engineer-non-architect guys: do you know the technical difference between bridges and viaducts? If you don’t trust your intuition and prefer to see it for real than reading it, just book a trip to Luxembourg!

Time to stop writing so I have time to do some sight-seeing on the last day before work starts!

Ciao (just watched La Dolce Vita last night) my friends!

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9th October 2009

!!!! :) !!!!!
Good to see/read you again!!!! Hope you are well. Will send you an email soon :) Nice holidays!!!!!!!

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