Port of Call Lisbon Portugal

It’s easy while walking the streets of Lisbon to think you have somehow slipped back in time. The port of call of Lisbon really seems to live in the past. Quant cobblestoned streets lead to plazas bordered by palaces, churches and castles. Attractive small cafes and restaurants abound and shops and galleries invite at every turn. Streetcars that look like they really belong in another time, glide down narrow streets. Even much of this cities graffiti rises to the level of fine art. Portugal seems to have deliberately let the world speed on by, having discovered a comfortable place to sit back and watch everyone else frantically race on to – not sure where.

Where Your Ship Docks

There is a stretch along Lisbon’s central waterfront where cruise ships dock. There are two terminals not far apart, Terminal de Cruzeiros de Lisboa and Terminal de Cruzeiros de Santa Apolonia. Both feature good access to ships and town and have free public facilities. Much of central Lisbon is within a mile of the cruise piers.

Transportation

Lisbon features a good public transport network, both underground and surface with buses and trams and can also add the Transtejo (river connection). Lisbon Metro is one of the most cost efficient and flexible ways of traveling around the city.

There are 24 and 48 hour passes available and the funicular system can also be used.

 

1 Day ticket (24h)

Carris/Metro 6.40€ -Valid for unlimited journeys on Carris and Metro, networks during 24 hours following the first validation.

Carris/Metro/Transtejo (Cacilhas) 9.50€ – Valid for unlimited journeys on Carris, Metro and Transtejo (river connection), during 24 hours following the first validation.

Ticket Offices are open every day 7:45 a.m – 7:45 p.m at the following Metro stations:

Marquês de Pombal, Campo Grande, Colégio Militar/Lu, Jardim Zoológico, Marquês de Pombal

Rossio, Baixa-Chiado, Cais do Sodré, Oriente Aeroporto. There are also vending machines at every station.

There is also a visitor’s card called the Lisboa Card where you get unlimited travel for 24 hours for just €20 that also includes free access to Lisbon’s best museums and attractions like the Torre de Belem, Jeronimos Monastery and the Santa Justa Elevator and more. You can buy the card online HERE.

Currency

The currency of Portugal is the Euro and major credit cards are welcome almost everywhere.

Attractions

Castles, museums, churches and palaces all within a mile or so from the cruise ship.

Castelo de S. Jorge at R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo

Hilltop Moorish castle & palace ruins

Jerónimos Monastery at Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa

World heritage listed Gothic monastery

Oceanário de Lisboa at Esplanada Dom Carlos I

Waterside aquarium with ocean ecosystems

Museu Nacional do Azulejo at R. Me. Deus 4

Ceramic collections located in a church

Belém Tower at Tower at Av. Brasília

Medieval defensive tower

Padrão dos Descobrimentos at Av. Brasília

Concrete monument to maritime explorers

Santa Justa Lift at R. do Ouro

Elevator linking city levels from 1902

Carmo Convent at Largo do Carmo

Medieval ruins & archaeology museum

Basílica da Estrela at Praça da Estrela

Baroque church with twin bell towers

Ajuda National Palace at Largo Ajuda 1349-021

19th-century royal palace and museum

Arco da Rua Augusta at R. Augusta 2

Triumphal arch with a viewing platform

Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte

Popular destination for city views

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga at R. das Janelas Verdes

Historical art collection in old palace

Palácio dos Marqueses da Fronteira at Largo São Domingos de Benfica 1

Grand palace

Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen at Calçada da Graça

Terrace park featuring sweeping city views

Museu de Marinhaat Praça do Império

Maritime museum in sixteenth century monastery

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Love Locks – A Pledge of Undying Love

love lock Wurzburg, Germany
Wurzburg, Germany

Love Locks – Statement of Love or Vandalism?

A SHORT STORY

As we travel we have at times noticed collections of padlocks attached to bridges and other public structures. It wasn’t difficult to figure out what was going on by all the couples names engraved on the locks. But in the last five years or so it is becoming difficult to not notice these collections, they’re popping up everywhere.

The practice isn’t new but in the twenty-first century it has exploded worldwide. A love lock is a padlock which lovers lock to a bridge, fence, gate or monument to symbolize their eternal love. Recently the lovers’ names or initials, and the date, are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away usually into the river under the bridge to symbolize unbreakable love.

Dublin, Ireland

This simple and romantic practice seems innocent but more and more being treated by authorities as litter or vandalism, and there is becoming serious cost associated with damage and their removal. We’ve been told that there are places where authorities are embracing them as a tourist attractions.

A little research will show that love padlocks date back at least 100 years to a Serbian tale of World War I, about the bridge Most Ljubavi or the Bridge of Love in the town of Vrnjačka Banja. A local schoolmistress named Nada, who was from Vrnjačka Banja, fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja.

Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin

In Dublin there is a famous pedestrian bridge called the Ha’penny Bridge. It is one of the more famous symbols of Dublin. Nearly 200 years old (1816) it is a protected structure, but in recent years Dublin City Council have had to remove thousands of padlocks from the bridge. They are considered unsightly and are causing damage by chipping paint and adding considerable weight to the historic bridge.

While the key to many a heart now lies at the bottom of the River Liffey where couples in love have thrown them after securing their love locks to Dublin’s historic Ha’penny Bridge, a group is dedicated to breaking that bond. Almost as soon as the lovers have left, an expert lock-picking group arrives to tear these bonds of love apart and stop the locks from making the bridge structurally unsafe.

love lock Wurzburg, Germany

“It’s a fairly constant churn,” said Seán Nicholls, who set up the group when he was on his way to a professional lock-picking meeting. “I was heading to the meeting one day and I walked over the bridge and noticed all the locks. That’s kind of where the idea came from,” he said.

Love locks River walk Wurzburg, Germany
River walk Wurzburg, Germany

Dublin City Council made the group official in the aftermath of a love-lock situation in Paris where the locks caused a section of the Pont des Arts bridge to collapse.

The Cruise Port of Bar Harbor Maine

Visiting The Cruise Port of Bar Harbor, Maine

A favorite stop for New England and Canada Maritime cruises, Bar Harbor has a lot to offer. The town itself and waterfront are the major attraction with a number of shops and great restaurants to visit.

The Town Pier in Bar Harbor

Where Your Ship Docks

Bar Harbor is a tender port and the boats will tie up at the Town Pier. From there it is only a short walk into the center of town and there are a number of excursion and whale watching boats available right at the pier.

Because it is tidal New England the tides can rise over a large range sometimes making a it a climb up from the tenders dock.

 

 

Downtown Bar Harbor

Transportation

The best way to get around Bar Harbor is The Island Explorer, a free town shuttle bus that even offers free transportation to Acadia National Park and up Cadillac Mountain. The downtown area is also an easy walk with lots to see.

Currency

You’re in the United States and the U.S. Dollar is the local currency. Most credit cards are welcome and there are a number of ATM machines in town.

Attractions

This area is where the fall foliage starts to change color first in the Eastern United States and fall leaf change cruises are popular. Bar Harbor also offers a number of whale watching excursions and the town sits on the edge of Acadia National Park. A trip up Cadillac Mountain is a popular excursion. The top of the mountain is the first spot touched by the rays of the rising Sun in the United States each day and the Park Service offers a number of programs for visitors.

Good Links for Additional Information

Free Shuttle Website

The Official Bar Harbor Website

Acadia National Park Website

Visiting Cadillac Mountain Website

TSA and the Little Sequined Top

My wife has a sequined top that she has worn while traveling a few times. I don’t believe there is anything seriously metallic in the sequins and it has made its way thru a number of metal detectors. On a recent trip all hell seemed to break out over this top.

While we have never paid for pre-clearance we usually get pre-cleared on our boarding passes (not really sure why). Last October while passing thru the TSA Pre check my wife was directed to go thru the scanner. Feet on the marks, hands above your head and wait, something has gone wrong. It seemed the agent scanned her several times and now she is pulled aside for a thorough search. What went wrong? She was wearing that top!

After a little research we have discovered that TSA screening devices have a lot of issues with some types of women’s clothes. That splash of gold print on a T-Shirt can contain enough metal to set off the metal detector. The same with attached beads. Sequins can literally blind a scanner. Since often these things are part of the fabric, passing a wand over you cannot determine if it is the top you’re wearing or something concealed under it. Time for the pat-down.

A comment Submitted by Cindy M found on the TSA blog from Jan 2018 – When the scanners were introduced I believed they were an improvement. Now however, I see that the machines don’t spot real problems. Instead they seem to be confused by a variety of normal things such as sequins, metal, or other sorts of embellishments on clothing.

Why is it I\we have to dress for the TSA?! Actually you don’t but you can expect to be delayed and/or inconvenienced.  Especially if you ignore some simple tips that help TSA do their job efficiently. They do post a lot of information online that can help avoid these sort of issues. Unfortunately as of now sequins aren’t one of those tips.

 

 

An Unusual Blarney Castle Adventure

A Short Story

Blarney Castle Caution

If you are not up the the challenge of climbing six stories of steep stairs – don’t start the tour…

I think that one of those requirements for first-time visitors to Ireland is visit Blarney Castle. It was way up on our list of must see.

When you tour Blarney Castle the first thing you are confronted with is a six story, narrow spiral staircase. Everything is rough stone and there isn’t enough room on the stairs for more than a single file line. Someone getting past another in line would be a serious challenge. In touring the castle and getting up to the rock of eloquence (better known as the Blarney Stone) you must ascend on one staircase and descend on another equally narrow staircase. While on the ascent there are a couple of side rooms attached to the stairwell there is no way out until you climb the full six stories. At the top you walk over to the Blarney Stone and afterwords cross over to the other corner and start down the second staircase.

Before you enter the actual castle itself there is an attendant that clearly explains the issues with the spiral staircase and that if you don’t think you are up to the climb you shouldn’t continue.

On our visit last year as we entered the grounds we became aware of a couple in the group that stood out. He was, it turned out, in his 90’s and walked with a Hurrycane. It’s that foldable walking cane with the hand grip at the top and the four footed base as seen on TV. As we entered the castle the elderly gentleman was ahead of us with about six people between us and him in line. Just ten feet inside we were at the foot of that spiral staircase. At that point we commented to ourselves that we were impressed with his courage if not his judgement.

To his credit he made it up almost three stories before he couldn’t take another step. At that point the people below on the stairs couldn’t do anything to help because we were stuck in a single file. There was a lot of discussion up and down the line and eventually the line above him managed to get into an alcove and one gentlemen came back to him. With his wife behind him and help from the man above they managed to help him crawl up a number of steps to that alcove. After that the line started moving up again – there was no other choice. There was no way we were going to get a line three stories up into the castle to back up. When we got to the top of the castle several people explained to the attendants helping people kiss the stone* about the gentleman’s problem.

Maybe Blarney Castle has experienced this problem before but the logistics of stopping the line, getting help to him and than getting him down three flights of steep, narrow, spiral stairs does seem like a daunting task. That doesn’t even take into consideration the tour buses that are on a schedule and have significant distances to travel.

I’m sure there are a number of morals in this adventure but I’ll leave them to the readers imagination.

*You lay on your back while the attendants hold you as you stick your head through an opening at the top of the castle, six stories above the ground while you kiss the stone protruding from the wall above you – try that on a wet and rainy day. Also there doesn’t seem to be any Purell in use and you start speculating about all those people ahead of you that day?

Port of Call Akaroa, New Zealand

The cruise port of Akaroa, New Zealand is a popular resort area for New Zealanders being less than fifty miles from Christ Church and is also seeing more frequent visits by cruise ships with the growing popularity of cruising around Australia and New Zealand.

The cruise port of call Akaroa, New Zealand is located on the southeast side of sheltered Akaroa Harbor, centered on the cute resort township of Akaroa. It is on the east coast of New Zealand’s south island. The current population is only about 650 permanent residents with a significant increase in season.

Historically its heritage is unique as it was the only French settlement in New Zealand. The region was named for the botanist Joseph Banks, who sailed with Captain Cook on the Endeavour.

Geologically it was originally an island formed by two ancient volcanoes. The current peninsula has two ancient craters that feature spectacular volcanic cliffs which form Lyttelton and Akaroa Harbors. 

Where You’re Docked

Cruise ships need to anchor out and use tenders to reach the Akaroa dock. The dock is the focus of a number of boat tours and water attractions and is located right in the town near restaurants and shops.

Money

New Zealand uses the NZ$ which currently is worth US$0.70 and you will need to exchange money or use credit cards while visiting as US Dollars are not usually accepted.

Attractions

Explore the village with its colonial architecture, galleries, craft stores, and cafés. Akaroa, is famous for its several beautiful bays and harbors and there are numerous scenic boat tours available including dolphin watching. The protected waters are also perfect for sea kayaking. In Flea bay, a couple of miles southeast of town, there is a penguin colony that is rare for this region. Akaroa harbor is home to the worlds rarest and smallest dolphin, the Hector’s dolphins  and Akaroa is the only place in the world where you can take a trip out to swim with them. A short walk out of town is Meniscus Wines, a vineyard which usually is open when ships are visiting. Also not to miss is The Giants House, a unique sculpture mosaic garden above town.

 

Photo Essay – The Keukenhof

It’s coming up Spring in Europe and that means it’s Keukenhof  time in Amsterdam.

For additional information about the Keukenhof click  HERE.

Open 21 March to 15 May 2019

The Keukenhof is unarguably the largest flower gardens and show in the world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Official site click HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For additional information about visiting the Keukenhof click  HERE.