Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lisbon - Portugal

The Place: Spent two days in the city of Lisbon, a very beautiful city with a mix of old and new.
Some features: Walked up to the cities castle which dates back to the 6th century BC. Ate out in a traditional restaurant playing fado music before partying in the Bairro Alto district. It's a network of tiny streets high up on a hill, where people roam, sangria or grinja in hand, enjoying the live music.

Peniche - Portugal

The Place: Host to world champ surfing because of it's high speed 'super tubos' wave, rated the best in Europe, Peniche is a great little beach town with cool people.
Highlights: Went surfing on Praia de Peniche, made friends with some of the surfers at Peniche Beach House Hostel and partied with some of the students at a small spot on the beach.

Porto - Portugal

The Place: Was taken from Paris to Porto as a birthday surprise. Crossing the bridge at the Ribeiro over the Douro river takes you to Vila Nova De Gaia famous for it's many Port Cellars.
Features: The town is full of history and character, and most of our time was spent roaming the narrow streets finding new places of interest. The trams, tiled churches, tightly packed houses, old markets and riverside cafe's were all very impressive. Visited two Port cellars, Calem and Kopke to taste what the town is famous for.

Paris - France

The Place: Spent a weekend in Paris cycling around the city, joining french protests, and seeing the sights.
Highlights: Bicycles were a really cool way to get around. Paris have a system which allows you to collect a bike from any of the allocated bays in the city. You then have the freedom to park your bike at any bay, go and do something, then pick up another bike from another bay.
Joined a May day protest not really sure of what we were protesting, but had fun wandering among the different festivities of the day. We ended up climbing up onto the Column of the Bastille in the centre of the square where we had a good view of activities going on below. The march went by the name of 'Rêve générale' (General Dream) as a pun on 'Grêve générale' (General Strike), and found out afterwards it was organised by the eight biggest unions against Nicolas Sarkozy's reforms against the public sector - jobs, health care, universities, etc. Though the issues may have been serious, the march was a lot of fun including jazz bands performing on the back of moving vehicles, walking samba bands, street meats and mojitos!