Perhaps the most common question I was asked in my life was where I got my energy from, and how I kept smiling all the time. The secret probably lies in the fact that I discovered my passions quite early and that I stuck to them as much as I could. Apart from the journeys that leave my mind full of memories and sights, smells and sounds to stay there and be remembered forever, there is another passion of mine that keeps me going on a daily basis, and that is dancing.
Many years ago, when I was still a teenage girl, I discovered the beauty of Standard and Latin dance. The amazing sensation I have every time I hear a familiar rhythm is something that has been following me ever since. If someone offered me to go to the gym for more than two hours a day, I would have rejected it at no time, but even after four or five hours of dancing nonstop at dancing parties, I always feel sorry when they end.
The two styles are different in technique, rhythm and costumes, but they both exemplify basic elements of ballroom dancing such as control and cohesiveness.
With the appearance of Salsa, Kizomba or Bachata, dancing popularity exploded. In huge cities like mine, if you feel like dancing, you will definitely find a place to do it every single night. Ballroom dance, or Salsa parties, street Tango or a mixture of everything will be waiting for you at every corner.
After so many lectures that I have a day, and despite immense love for my job, I usually feel quite exhausted in the evenings. It happens very often that I come to my Salsa training with zero energy level. However, after just a few minutes of listening to that adorable beat, I feel alive again. By the end of the practice, which is too short for all of us, no matter how long it lasts, my face is radiant and smiling again, and my body is full of bouncing energy.
If you are lucky enough to find your “rechargers“, make the most of them.
Being healthy, and having an adorable son and family, I have already no rights to complain at all. However, with the addition of travelling, dancing and working what I like best, whenever and wherever I want, no wonder I glitter!
That is the answer!
What are your external sources of energy? What can always make you feel better? Leave me your comments; I would love to hear your ideas!
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and its political, cultural and economic center. With a population of about 430,000, it is the largest city in the country, but still one of smaller capitals of Europe.
It has several universities, many museums, theatres and galleries, as well as the headquarters of many Slovakia’s large businesses and financial institutions.
It is a small city, easy and quick to explore on foot, from the historic Old Town to the modern UFO Bridge.
As always, in order to save your time and feet, I will offer you a quick itinerary to visit its top sites, without making any unnecessary steps.
The Blue Church
The Slovak National Theater
The Holy Trinity Column
St Martin’s Cathedral
The Cumil Statue
The Old Town Hall
The Primate’s Palace
The Roland Fountain
The Holy Savior Church
The Franciscan Church
The Trinitarian Church
The Grassalkovich Palace
The UFO Observation Deck
The easiest way to start the tour is from The Blue Church because it offers plenty of space to park if we come by car.
The Church of St. Elizabeth, commonly known as The Blue Church because of the color of its façade, mosaics and blue-glazed roof, was built in the Art Nouveau style at the beginning of the 20th century in the eastern part of the Old Town in Bratislava. It is a Hungarian Secessionist Catholic church, which initially was a part of the neighboring high school where it served as the school chapel. Now it is a popular place for weddings and baptisms.
Grösslingová and then Jesenského Streets will lead us straight to our next destination The Slovak National Theater (Slovenské národné divadlo).
It is undoubtedly one of Bratislava’s most beautiful buildings, constructed in 1886 in the Neo Renaissance style, with the lovely Fountain Ganymed in front, in one of its most famous and picturesque squares, Hviezdoslav Square (Hviezdoslavovo Námestie).
The square has existed in the Kingdom of Hungary for 1000 years. Before the reconstruction at the end of the 20th century, it was just a small city park, but now it is a marvelous city promenade.
The magnificent Holy Trinity Column with the Statue of the Virgin Mary on the top stands at the end of the square, on the spot where the bodies of those who died from the Plague were burnt to prevent the disease from spreading.
St Martin’s Cathedral (Katedrála svätého Martina) is the Roman Catholic Cathedral, situated at the western part of the historical city center, below the Bratislava Castle. It is the largest and one of the oldest churches in Bratislava, and it was the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary between 1563 and 1830. A gilded replica of the coronation crown on the top of the cathedral tower at a height of 85 meters reminds of that glorious age.
The church and the castle, similar in their striking Gothic lines and colors, dominate Old Town’s skyline.
Walking along Panská Street, we will get to one of many famous bronze statues of Bratislava, “Man at Work” (Cumil), a small good man spending his time by watching people and the life of the Korzo. There are many other attractive statues here like “Napoleon’s Army Soldier Statue“, the sculpture of a soldier with a big Napoleon hat, standing on the Main Square near the Roland’s fountain behind a bench.
One of rare statues with a real story behind it is “Schone Naci Statue“, the sculpture of a real man, Ignac Lamar, born in the family of shoemaker who suddenly became a legendary person of streets, cafes and restaurants of Bratislava being one of the most elegant men of that time.
Thus, we get to the heart of Bratislava and to its Main Square with the Old Town Hall (Stará Radnica) as the most eminent building there. Actually, it is a complex of buildings from the 14th century created by connecting three townhouses. It is the oldest city hall in the country with the tower built approximately in 1370. It is easy to recognize by its colorful tiled roof.
It houses the Bratislava City Museum, its oldest museum, founded in 1868, featuring the exhibition of the city history and of torture devices.
Behind it, there is the beautiful Primate’s Palace (Primaciálny palác), a neoclassical palace built from 1778 to 1781. In 1805 this palace and its Hall of Mirrors were the location of the signing of the fourth Peace of Pressburg, after the Battle of Austerlitz, which effectively ended the War of the Third Coalition. Today, it serves as the seat of Mayor of Bratislava.
In the middle of Main Square, as one of the downtown’s favorite meeting points, there is the Roland Fountain or Maximilian Fountain (Rolandova fontána or Maximiliánova fontána), the most famous fountain in Bratislava, ordered by Maximilian II, the king of Royal Hungary, in 1572 to provide a public water supply.
Next to the Old Town Hall, there is the Holy Savior Church or the Jesuit Church (Kostol Najsvätejšieho Spasiteľa, Jezuitský kostol), originally a protestant church from the 17th century, built for the growing number of protestants of German ethnicity in the city.
By the King’s decree it could not resemble a Roman-Catholic churches, so it was built without a spire, presbytery or the entrance from the main street.
Just a little bit further there is the Franciscan Church (Františkánsky kostol or Kostol Zvestovania Pána), the oldest existing religious building in the Old Town of Bratislava, consecrated in 1297.
The building was damaged several times by fire and earthquake and just a small part of its original form is preserved. The adjoining Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist built in the 14th century is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the city.
Zámočnícka Street will take us to Michael’s Gate (Michalská Brána), one of the best-known symbols of the town.
In the medieval times, the town was surrounded by fortified walls, and had four heavily fortified gates. This one was the smallest gate of the four, but the only one that has been preserved. Built around 1300, it is ranked among the oldest town buildings. Its present form is the result of Baroque reconstructions in 1758, when the statue of the Archangel Michael, slaying a dragon was placed on the top. The tower with an elegant copper roof, houses the Exhibition of Weapons nowadays.
Michalská Street will lead us to the Trinitarian Church (Kostol trinitárov), a Baroque-style church, on the Župné námestie square, built on the site of the older Church of St. Michael, which was demolished in 1529, during the Ottoman wars.
The Trinitarian Order started construction of the church in 1717 and it was sanctified in 1727.
The Grassalkovich Palace (Grasalkovičov palác), situated a bit further on Hodžovo námestie, is the residence of the president of Slovakia. The building is a Rococo and late Baroque palace built in 1760 with a French garden, which is now a public park.
Before we leave this beautiful town, I would highly recommend a visit to two sites offering a marvelous view of the city.
One is Bratislava Castle (Bratislavský hrad), the former seat of the rulers of Bratislava, and today the seat of the Museum of History. It is a massive rectangular building with four corner towers, standing on an isolated rocky hill above the Danube River. Due to its size and location, it has been a dominant feature of the city for centuries.
The other is the UFO Observation Deck on the New Bridge (Novy Most), the flying saucer-shaped structure atop the bridge’s 84.6 m (278 ft.) pylon, which is one of the most iconic structures in Bratislava. The top with a restaurant is reached by the lift, and can be crowded, but is definitely a point not to be missed in Bratislava.
The third part of our visit to Lisbon belongs to the city’s most northeastern, and the most contemporary part, completely reconstructed for the Expo ’98 World’s Fair.
Lisbon in a Few Hours! (Part 3)
Estação do Oriente
Centro Comercial Vasco da Gama
Parque das Nações
Oceanário de Lisboa
Jardins de Água
Telecabina do Parque das Nações
Torre Vasco da Gama
Ponte Vasco da Gama
Parque Eduardo VII
Estádio da Luz
We will start our tour from the Estação do Oriente (the Lisbon Oriente Station), inaugurated on 19 May 1998, as a part of the opening celebration of the fair.
This is Santiago Calatrava’s masterpiece melding Gothic-style and Modernism, with the impressive modern design exterior, and a fabulous front canopy supported by the glass and metal lattices, resembling a dense forest. It is a busy and clean station, which includes a Metro station, a high-speed commuter and regional train hub, a local, national and international bus station, a shopping center and a police station.
There is the Centro Comercial Vasco da Gama (Vasco da Gama Commercial Centre) opposite the station and it is within walking distance from the waterfront as well as from several other attractions including the MEO Arena, Casino Lisboa, the Oceanarium, gardens, etc.
Located in a prime area of Lisbon’s Parque das Nações, the Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre has 170 shops, a six-screen cinema and a health club. Since the opening in 2009, it has become a favorite spot for everyone who values the option of combining shopping with free-time activities.
Parque das Nações (Park of the Nations) is a beautiful park, by the river, and next to the Oceanarium, dedicated to the different nations of the world, and ideal for a riverside walk.
It has a brand new marina, Marina Parque das Nações with 600 berths, a river pier for cruises or historical vessels, but also a spot for bird watching as it is situated in the Tagus Estuary, one of the largest estuaries of Europe.
The Oceanário de Lisboa (The Lisbon Oceanarium) in the Parque das Nações, was also constructed as one of central features for Expo ‘98 Built on a pier in an artificial lagoon, it resembles an aircraft carrier. It is the world’s largest salt water Oceanarium and is a fantastic tourist attraction especially for families. It has a large collection of over 450 different marine species, and about 16,000 individuals.
Right next to it, there are beautiful Jardins de Água (Water Gardens)
They are free, full of powerful waterfalls and misty geysers, dedicated to entertainment and leisure activities. They are a marvelous spot to cool off in summer.
Telecabina do Parque das Nações (The Nations Park Gondola Lift) and its south terminal is located next to the Oceanarium, so you should not miss the opportunity to enjoy this magnificent and unique experience… It was inaugurated on March of 1998, also for the International Exposition of Lisbon (EXPO’98), and it was one of its biggest attractions.
It has 40 closed cabins with automatic doors and the capacity of eight passengers. Its South terminal is located on Passeio de Neptuno, next to the Oceanarium and the North terminal is located on Passeio das Tágides, next to the old Vasco da Gama Tower, now the Myriad hotel. Its white and blue color stands as a beautiful contrast between the blue sky and the river.
The trip lasts from 8 to 12 minutes on a course of 1230 meters, 30 meters above the Tagus River, providing a breathtaking view.
It will take us to the Torre Vasco da Gama (The Vasco da Gama Tower), a 145 meter (476 ft.) lattice tower with skyscraper, built in 1998 for the Expo ’98, with a three-story building at its base that served as the European Union Pavilion during the Expo.
The base should have been leased for office space after the closing of the Expo, but never found tenants. Having been used only occasionally, both the observation deck and the restaurant were closed in October 2004.
The base of the tower was demolished in 2007 and the Parque Expo received the permission to construct a 20-floor, 178-room luxury hotel (The Myriad Hotel).
The architects were inspired by the form of a sail. The base enters the river like the bow of the boat. The tower has a vertical “mast”, a metallic, tubular “sail”, and a “nest”, a platform with the rotating restaurant and viewing area 120 meters above the ground. The view of the Vasco da Gama Bridge from here is truly amazing.
Ponte Vasco da Gama (The Vasco da Gama Bridge) is the longest bridge in Europe after the Crimean Bridge with a total length of 12.3 kilometers (7.6 mi) and it has six road lanes. It was built to alleviate the congestion on Lisbon’s 25 de Abril Bridge, and eliminate the need for traffic to pass through the capital city.
Its construction began on February 1995 and it was opened to traffic just in time for Expo 98, the World’s Fair that celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery by Vasco da Gama of the sea route from Europe to India.
We can walk back to the Altice Arena (formerly MEO Arena), a multi-purpose indoor arena that is also one of the largest indoor arenas in the European Union with a capacity of 20,000 people, and mostly used for big concerts of national and international stars.
Using the benefits of the perfectly functioning Lisbon Metro, I would end up our tour either at the Benfica Stadium for football fans, or at one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Lisbon, at Parque Eduardo VII.
Parque Eduardo VII (The Eduardo VII Park) is a public park with a nice landscape architectural style, and the largest park in the central city. Within the area of the Park are the Carlos Lopes Pavilion, and the Estufa Fria (a greenhouse garden)
On the northern top of the park, there is a flagpole with the present largest Flag of Portugal, offering a magnificent view of the city all the way to the Tagus.
The Estádio da Luz, officially named Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, is a multi-purpose stadium in Lisbon, owned by Portuguese club S.L. Benfica. It is one of the biggest stadiums by capacity in Europe and the biggest in Portugal. It was also elected as the most beautiful stadium of Europe in an online poll by L’Équipe.
Opened in 2003, it replaced the original Estádio da Luz, which had 120,000 seats. The seating capacity was decreased to 64,642.
The translation “Stadium of Light” is not accurate because Luz refers not to “light” but to the original address of the stadium: Estrada da Luz. It is often referred to also as a Catedral (the Cathedral) or as o Inferno da Luz.
It was designed to focus on light and transparency. Its polycarbonate roof allows the sunlight to penetrate the stadium and illuminate it. The roof, supported by four steel arches, seems to float above the tribunes.
Lisbon is a city of endless possibilities. The route I have offered you is just a plan that you can use to get the most out of a short visit. However, whatever you do in Lisbon, you will surely get the most beautiful memories.
Feel free to leave me a comment if you do not agree with something or if my advice has been helpful to you. I am here to share my experiences, and to help yours get richer.
Is there a greater pleasure for teachers than a triumph of their own students? It could only be a double triumph, accomplished in two different, equally hard disciplines. However, the pleasure I am feeling at this moment has no comparison, because this time my student is also my own child.
I got him when I had already achieved all of my competitive ambitions. I had never wanted to put the burden of my own expectations and desires on his shoulders. Having recognized his inherited talent for learning languages, I channeled my teaching only to the extent that he was interested and curious to follow.
By coincidence, the first foreign language for my child was Italian, not English. I used to travel very often to Italy when he was two and he started collecting words and expressions without my influence.
I was amazed to see how the child of three or four absorbed with ease such complex grammar issues.
When he started going to school, we had to stop travelling that often, but I chose the school offering Italian and English as the second and the third language. It was also when I started teaching him, using my particular techniques. The internet and the constant communication in English with friends from all over the world have completed the job.
As a result, when he finally got a chance to compete (The first official competition in my country for languages is at the age of 14), he won the first prizes, both in English end Italian.
Can you imagine how proud I feel at this moment? There is no greater reward for all the effort and patience that I have given him, nor better publicity and proof of quality for my teaching methods.
I know that in a very short time I will be able to teach him also the secrets of digital marketing, which, with all the knowledge he already possesses, will enable him to enjoy his work and to live the way he loves most.
The second part of this tour will take us through the very center of Lisbon.
The Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square)
The Rua Augusta Arch
Rua Augusta (Augusta Street)
Rossio Square – Praça de D. Pedro IV (Pedro IV Square)
The Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II (The Queen Maria II National Theatre)
The Estação de Caminhos de Ferro do Rossio (The Rossio Train Station)
The Castelo de São Jorge (Saint George Castle)
The Church or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (St. Vincent Outside the Walls)
The National Pantheon – the Igreja de Santa Engrácia (The Church of Santa Engrácia)
The Museu do Fado (The Fado Museum)
Sé de Lisboa (The Lisbon Cathedral)
The Elevador de Santa Justa (The Santa Justa elevator)
The Bairro Alto
We will start it from the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square), still commonly known as the Terreiro do Paço (Palace Yard), because it was the location of the Paços da Ribeira (Royal Ribeira Palace), until it was destroyed by the great earthquake in 1755. After the earthquake, the square was completely remodeled.
Situated near the Tagus River, the square was very important place in the history of Lisbon. There is a huge archway to the city center (The Rua Augusta Arch) and a beautiful equestrian Statue of King José I in the middle of it.
The Rua Augusta Arch is a stone, triumphal arch and one of the most recognizable attractions of Lisbon. It was built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the earthquake. It has six columns and with statues of various historical figures and with the coat of arms of Portugal. The group of statues at the top represents Glory rewarding Valor and Ingenuity.
The building was originally designed as a bell tower, but later, after more than a century, it was transformed into an elaborate arch.
It takes us to Augusta Street, which links the Praça do Comércio with the other traditional Lisbon square, the Rossio.
Rossio Square, officially the Praça de D. Pedro IV (Pedro IV Square) paying homage to Pedro IV, King of Portugal, has been the place of many revolts and celebrations, executions and bullfights, and is still a favorite meeting place in Lisbon.
In the 19th century, it was paved with typical Portuguese mosaic and was decorated with bronze fountains. The Column of Pedro IV was erected in 1874 and the square got its current official name that has never been accepted by the people.
Most buildings around the Rossio were reconstructed after the earthquake in the second half of the 18th century, like the magnificent All-Saints Hospital. Only the Palace of the Independence survived it.
The Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II (The Queen Maria II National Theatre) built in the 1840s, is one of the most prestigious Portuguese venues. It was designed in neoclassical style. The main feature of the façade is a portico with six Ionic columns and a triangular pediment decorated with a sculpted relief of Apollo and the Muses. On its top, there is a statue of the Renaissance Portuguese playwright Gil Vicente, considered the founder of Portuguese theatre, whose plays, ironically, had sometimes been censured by the Portuguese Inquisition in the 16th century.
In 1887 another important landmark and an important addition to the infrastructure of the city was built in the square: the Estação de Caminhos de Ferro do Rossio (the Rossio Train Station) whose beautiful neo-manueline façade dominates the northwest side of the square.
Going towards the eastern part of Lisbon now, we will first visit the Castelo de São Jorge (Saint George Castle), a Moorish castle on the top of the hill overlooking the historic center of Lisbon and Tagus River. This well-preserved citadel offers a magnificent view of the city and it is easy to reach either taking the famous 28 tram or a tuk tuk, which is already a unique experience.
The Church or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. It also contains the impressive royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.
It was originally built in Romanesque style in 1147 outside the city walls, dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought there in the 12th century.
Its magnificent façade follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism and has several niches with statues of saints and two towers.
The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent Baroque portal, located beside the church façade. The monastery houses a museum containing the largest collection of Baroque Portuguese tiles.
Climbing the steps up to the bell tower, we will get one of the most beautiful views of the city.
On the slope between the São Jorge Castle and the Tejo river, lies the Alfama, the oldest district of Lisbon.
Its steep and narrow cobblestone streets are filled with historical attractions, but also restaurants and Fado bars. Seeing one of the fado dinner shows is a must.
The Arab influence here is remarkable, both in the architectural style and in the whole layout of the area.
One of the Alfama’s hidden gems is the National Pantheon, located in what was formerly the Igreja de Santa Engrácia (The Church of Santa Engrácia).The church was converted into the National Pantheon in 1916 and it contains the tombs of many important Portuguese rulers and historical figures. It is worth climbing to the broad terrace that provides panoramic, breathtaking views over the Alfama neighborhood.
There is a beautiful baroque portal at the entrance to the church with the coat-of-arms of Portugal held by two angels. A high central dome was completed only in the 20th century, and its magnificent baroque organ from the18th-century was brought from Lisbon Cathedral.
On our way to the Lisbon Cathedral, we will pass by the Museu Militar (The Military Museum) and The Museu do Fado (The Fado Museum), both worth visiting if the time allows it.
Sé de Lisboa (The Lisbon Cathedral) is a Roman Catholic Church and the oldest church in Lisbon. Since the beginning of its construction in 1147, the building has been modified several times and survived many earthquakes. Nowadays it represents a mixture of different architectural styles. The facade is relatively plain, but the interior is quite stunning.
Coming back to Augusta Street, we will walk to the Elevador de Santa Justa, which will take us to our final destinations, this time on the western part of Lisbon, the Bairro Alto and the Chiado.
The Elevador de Santa Justa (The Santa Justa elevator), one of the eccentric sights of the Baixa district, was designed by an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel, Raul Mesnier de Ponsard in 1902.
It is 45 meters tall, made of iron and decorated with filigree. Up to 20 passengers at a time can travel up and down.
At the top, there is a walkway that links the elevator with Largo do Carmo in the Bairro Alto.
The Bairro Alto (Upper District or “neighbourhood”) resulted from urban expansion in the 16th century, outside the walls of the historical city.
This cobbled area is a bohemian part of the city with numerous tiny shops and boutiques spread along the narrow streets, and many crowded, fun, and lively bars that are bursting with people hanging out.
Between the Bairro Alto and Baixa Pombalina, there is the Chiado, a square with its surrounding area, a traditional shopping area that mixes old and modern commercial establishments, but it is also an important cultural area, with several museums and theatres.
After a huge fire in 1988, the Chiado area has recovered, and nowadays features the highest real estate property prices in Portugal.
Mission impossible! Three times in a couple of hours is already feasible.
Many of you have been asking me to write a map of the visit to Lisbon for a long time, but many of you also resented my blogs being too long. Therefore, I came up with the idea to introduce this marvelous city to you in three parts. Depending on your available time, you can choose the parts you definitely do not want to miss, according to your own affinities.
Lisbon (Portuguese: Lisboa), the capital and the largest city of Portugal, is an energetic and amazing city, which has so much to offer to its visitors, of history, heritage, fascinating architecture, delicious food, wonderful cork products and a surprisingly vibrant nightlife.
The Belém Tower
The Monument to the Overseas Combatants
The Tagus River
The Belem Lighthouse
The Monument of the Discoveries
The Jerónimos Monastery
Pasteis de Belém
The National Palace of Belém
25th of April Bridge
The Sanctuary of Christ the King
Time Out Market
My unquestionably most favorite part of Lisbon and its most iconic feature, is the Belém Tower (Portuguese: Torre de Belém), where we will start our tour.
The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus River and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. It was built in the early 16th century and is an outstanding example of the Portuguese Manueline style with hints of other architectural styles from the Gothic to the Romanesque.
It was built from Lioz limestone and it consists of a bastion and a four-storey tower. If you decide to enter, count on climbing 93 steps up to the top!
Right next to it there is the Monument to the Overseas Combatants, an attraction more recently added to Lisbon’s waterfront, commemorating all the people that lost their lives in the wars that Portugal was involved.
Its simple design and the cold geometry focus our attention to what the monument represents, and towards the center where the flame of the nation is placed. The lake symbolizes the distance and separation of the combatants from home and family, and there are no names of individuals or wars.
Two soldiers stand guard at the Monument all the time.
Following the River Tagus (Tejo), the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula (1,007 km), which empties into the Atlantic Ocean, forming a large estuary near the port city of Lisbon, in the direction of the city center, we will get to the Belem Lighthouse and to the Popular Art Museum (Museu de Arte Popular).
Just after them, there is the Monument of the Discoveries (Padrao dos Descobrimentos), a contemporary monument celebrating the Portuguese discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The view from the top is awesome, and you can also admire the breathtaking, large compass rose made of different color stone, laid into the square in front of the monument.
The area surrounding it is always full of tourists and locals, usually there is a band playing, and the atmosphere is simply fantastic.
We will leave the Tagus now, and cross Av. Brasilia to get to The Praça do Império (Empire Square), a city square and park situated adjacent to principal monuments and tourist attractions of Lisbon. The park is situated to the south of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Belém and west of the Centro Cultural de Belém.
It has the central illuminated fountain on a square platform, covering an area of 3,300 square meters (36,000 sq. ft.), and the sculptures of the seahorses on the extreme edges of the southern part of the square.
The Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), is a former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome, and one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. In 1983 it was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém.
The Jerónimos Monastery replaced the church formerly existing in the same place, which was dedicated to Santa Maria de Belém and where the monks assisted the sailors in transit.
It is impressive inside, with some lovely stained glass windows and the Tomb of Vasco da Gama, who spent the night in prayer there with his men before departing on their expedition to the Orient in 1497. It is well worth a visit.
At the very beginning of Belém Street, you will find an old pastry shop, where you can taste their famous Pasteis de Belém (called Pasteis de Nata when not made in Belém itself). Be prepared to join a long queue, but the service is great and it moves very quickly.
These delicious Portuguese custard tarts come warm and they are some of the best in Lisbon.
The shop’s interior is beautiful and it is worth visiting for a few minutes. You can have a look into the bakery through the glass panes. The building is very old and there are some fabulous hand-painted tiles on the walls.
Following the street towards the city center, you will see Afonso de Albuquerque Garden on your right and the Palace of Belém on your left side, with the Tropical Botanical Garden behind.
The Belém Palace, or the National Palace of Belém, (Palácio Nacional de Belém) has been the official residence of Portuguese monarchs and later, the Presidents of the Portuguese Republic. The five buildings that make up the main façade date back to the second half of the 17th century.
To finish the first part of our visit to Lisbon, we can either take the train over (actually under) the 25 de Abril Bridge to visit the statue of Jesus Christ, which takes 4-5 minutes, or we can proceed towards the center and go to the Time Out Market. On the other hand, we can do both! 🙂
25th of April Bridge is a suspension bridge connecting the city of Lisbon to the left (south) bank of the Tagus. It was inaugurated in 1966, and a train platform was added in 1999. It is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, US, because they are both suspension bridges of similar color. It is a wonderful construction of 2,277 meters (7,470 ft.), whose upper deck carries six car lanes, and the lower deck carries a double track railway.
The Sanctuary of Christ the King (Santuário de Cristo Rei) is a giant statue in cement, erected to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II. It is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ overlooking the city of Lisbon.
Time Out Market in Lisbon is a brilliant place for any food lover, although it can take you ages to decide what you want to eat because there is so much to choose from! There is something for every palate, such a diversity of restaurants where the food is very well prepared and prices are moderate, along with littles stores where shopping is very pleasant. It is a place full of high-spirited energy from all around the world.
If you have finally decided to take your life in your own hands and get the maximum of it, you will probably have to get rid of some old habits. Here are some of the most common ones that very often represent an obstacle on your way to success and a richer life in every sense.
Get rid of your limited beliefs.
Depending on the environment where we grew up and on our childhood, we all bear the burden of various preconceptions taken from our parents, at school, from our friends or enemies. It is time to realize that they exist only in our heads and that they have lived there for far too long as parasites. The ideas like, “You cannot have a beautiful, smart and good-hearted woman at the same time”, or “You cannot be that lucky” or simply “You are not smart enough or capable of it”, leave to those ones who imagined them.
Stop dwelling on the past.
You cannot change it. Do not be too harsh about your mistakes, because they made you the person you are today, interested in getting the maximum of your life. All the things that hurt or disappointed you in the past, the mistakes or embarrassments are obstacles that could hinder you from progressing and developing.
Stop resisting changes.
They are natural and necessary. Our brains will desperately try to maintain the existing, although maybe completely terrible situation, recognizing it as a safe zone where survival is possible, which is always better than any uncertainty and change. Be aware of it!
Exclude negative self-talk.
Never insult anyone, especially not yourself. My motto is, “If you have nothing nice to say, you should say nothing at all”. If you think of yourself badly, if you keep saying to yourself how stupid, incapable, fat, ugly or weak you are, how do you expect others to treat you differently!
Stop blaming others.
No one is guilty of our failures. The others are responsible for their own actions, and we can only react to them adequately. No one can eat or walk; neither breathe, nor feel, instead of us.
It provokes either compassion or a mockery. You do not need any of them. Estimate the situation and do your best in such circumstances on your own, without waiting for anyone else to save you.
There is no need to impress other people or to ask for their approval.
Do not strive for somebody else’s goals and dreams, and you will not need their approval and support. Nobody knows you better than you do. The achievement of your own goals is so fulfilling, that will make the others’ opinion completely irrelevant.
You do not need to be always right.
You cannot always succeed. Mistakes are necessary and inevitable. They are our best teachers. However, it is important to try and to be persistent.
There is absolutely no room for laziness or for the lack of motivation.
With no action, there is no reaction, and no positive results. Persistence and consistency are the key to any success.
Stay away from negative people.
In every segment of your life, stay away from spiritless, unexcited and ungrateful people. Criticism without a constructive suggestion in return, should be left to politicians. Well-intentioned advice from less brave people should be left to their limitations. If there is a burning desire in you to achieve something, then you will certainly do it. You should not let yourself be limited by the people who do not want to see you grow and change, usually for their own, very selfish reasons.
Wealth without health means nothing.
Make an exceptional health be the number one priority in your life.
Finally, I will just repeat the famous advice of Robin Sharma. “Do not live the same year 75 times and call it life.”
Leave me your comments below, or via “contact” section. I will be thrilled if I manage to encourage any of you to take the path of change and self-improvement.
I visited Budapest for the first time four years ago. The funny thing is that it is the capitalof Hungary, one of my neighboring countries. I guess some other, far away cities, seemed more attractive beforehand. The truth is that Budapest left me breathless. Bathed in sunshine, it glittered like the most magnificent gem that was in front of my nose all the time. One building after another, one more interesting and splendid than the other, a sight after a sight, made Budapest one of my favorite cities in the world.
The most convenient start for our tour is the Castle Hill, one of the top places to see in Budapest. The Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings, built in 1265, but the massive Baroque palace that occupies most of the site today was added between 1749 and 1769. The castle now houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. It is an incredible building to walk around and it offers unforgettable views of the city and of the Danube, day and night.
Make sure not to miss the impressive Fountain of King Matthias, on the opposite side of the building, inaugurated in 1904 and showing a hunting party lead by King Matthias. It sits in a very large decorated niche created by four huge Roman columns, topped with an arch.
Walking towards Matthias Church, we will first encounter the Holy Trinity Column in front of it, a beautiful Baroque 15m tall column made to protect the city against the plague. Residents believe the Holy Trinity Statue did its job, because the plague did not return after 1709 when it was built.
Matthias Church is one of the top attractions in Budapest and one of the top romantic places to see there. It is a Roman Catholic Church at the heart of Buda’s Castle District, originally built in Romanesque style in 1015, but with no archaeological remains of it. Its official name is the Church of Our Lady. Each era, ruler and castle siege has left its mark on the building. What we have today was mostly formed in the 1900s when the square was redesigned, Matthias Church got back its Gothic details, and the Fisherman’s Bastion was constructed with the Statue of St Stephen facing the church.
Although less historical, and more like a castle from Disney’s fantasy, but built from 1895 to 1902, so undoubtedly older, The Fisherman’s Bastion is one of my favorite attractions of Budapest. It is a terrace built in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style, situated on the Buda bank of the Danube, with seven towers representing the seven Magyar tribes, which settled in the Carpathian Basin in 895. It has many stairs and walking paths and offers an amazing view of Danube, Margaret Island, and Pest to the east.
Walking down those stairs towards the Danube, we will come across St. Francis’s Wounds Church, founded by the Franciscan order in the early 17th century, but completed much later, around 1757. Most of the interior furnishings and decoration were the work of the monks themselves, created in the monastery’s workshop.
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Hungarian: Széchenyi lánchíd) is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest. It was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark, and built by the Scottish engineer Adam Clark. It was opened in 1849 and at the time of its construction, it was considered one of the modern world’s engineering wonders. It was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary.
Though it carries the name of István Széchenyi, a major supporter of its construction, it is most commonly known as the “Chain Bridge”. Its decorations made of cast iron, and its construction, radiating calm dignity and balance, made it highly ranked among the bridges in Europe.
The bridge will lead us straight to the Gresham Palace (Gresham-palota), a beautiful example of Art Nouveau architecture. It was built in 1906, and today it is a luxury hotel managed by Four Seasons Hotels. Originally, the palace served as an office building, then it was used by the Red Army during the World War II, and eventually, as an apartment building during the People’s Republic of Hungary. After the end of the communist regime, the building was extensively rebuilt as a luxury hotel, when most of its original details as a large staircase, stained glass, mosaics, ironwork, and winter gardens were restored.
Following the Danube upstream, we will be able to admire the beautiful façade of Hungarian Academy of Sciences, built around 1865 in the Renaissance Revival style, and soon we will come across the Shoes on the Danube Bank, an incredible memorial, which achieves such a powerful impact, in such a subtle way. It is a stunning representation of the horrific events, a memorial for those Jews who were taken down to the Danube and shot, but first they had to leave their shoes to their executioners. If you look into the shoes, you will see grass and flowers growing as a proof that life is indestructible.
The Parliament of Budapest (Hungarian: Országház), is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, and the most notable landmark of Budapest. It is currently the largest building in Hungary and still one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest. It lies on the bank of the Danube.
The construction started in 1885, after an international competition, won by Imre Steindl. (The plans of two other competitors were later also realized in the form of the Ethnographic Museum and the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, both facing the Parliament Building). The building was inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of the country in 1896. It was completed in 1904, but the architect of the building went blind before its completion.
About 100 000 people were involved in its construction. The Parliament Building is made in the Gothic Revival style; it has a symmetrical façade and a central dome built in the Renaissance style.
Also from inside the parliament is symmetrical and thus has two identical parliament halls, of which one is used by politicians, the other for guided tours.
The main façade overlooks the Danube, but the official main entrance is from the square on the east side of the building.
We will then pass Liberty Square in order to get to St. Stephen’s Basilica (Hungarian: Szent István-bazilika), a Roman Catholic basilica, named in honor of Stephen, the first King of Hungary (975–1038), whose “incorruptible” right hand is housed in the reliquary.
The site of today’s basilica used to be a theater in the 18th century, where animal fights were hosted. Today, it is the most important church in Hungary, and with the Hungarian Parliament Building, it is one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest with their 96 meters (315 ft.). This equation symbolizes that secular and spiritual thinking have the same importance. Current regulations prohibit the construction of any building taller than this in Budapest.
The architectural style is Neo-Classical. It was completed in 1905 after 54 years of construction. Such delay can be attributed to the collapse of the dome in 1868, which required complete demolition of the completed works and rebuilding from the ground up.
The elevators, or 364 stairs, take up to the viewing area on the terrace of the Basilica, offering an amazing view of Buda and Pest.
Andràssy út will take us to another amazing building of Budapest, the Hungarian State Opera House (Hungarian: Magyar Állami Operaház). It is a neo-Renaissance building located in central Budapest, designed by Miklós Ybl, a major figure of 19th-century Hungarian architecture. Its construction began in 1875, and the new house opened to the public in 1884. It is truly magnificent and well worth visiting.
Following Andràssy út, we will turn right to Erzsébet krt, which will take us to New York Palace Café (Hungarian: New York Kávéház), a place that is a must in Budapest for afternoon tea. The New York Palace is a luxury hotel on the Grand Boulevard of Budapest’s Erzsébet körút part, constructed in 1894 by the New York Life Insurance Company as a local head office. The famous ground floor has been a long time center for Hungarian literature and poetry.
Its stunning interior and a quartet playing on the elevated stage at the back of the room, create a fabulous atmosphere that I cannot recommend enough.
We will turn right and take Rákóczi út and walking towards the Danube, it will lead us to the Great / Central Synagogue (Nagy Zsinagoga) on the right and to the Hungarian National Museum founded in 1802, on the left.
The Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe, seating 3,000 people. It was built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish Revival style.
Following Múzeum krt, we will walk pass the Great Market Hall and get to Liberty Bridge (Szabadsag hid), which connects Buda and Pest across the Danube at the southern end of the City Centre. It is the shortest bridge in Budapest’s center. Built as a part of the Millennium World Exhibition at the end of the 19th century, it features art nouveau design, mythological sculptures and the country’s coat of arms. It was the first to be rebuilt after suffering heavy damage during World War II.
We will end our tour on the opposite side, at the Citadella fortification located upon the top of Gellért Hill, the place of the huge strategic importance in Budapest’s military history. Climbing up the hill is a good fun if you like a bit of exercise after eating delicious Hungarian food, or you can simply use the elevator. A walk around the walls leads to the area with a number of statues including the famous Hungarian Statue of Liberty, built to celebrate Budapest’s liberation from the Nazis. At night, Budapest is fantastically illuminated so it is a great spot for exquisite photos.
Naturally, Budapest has so much more to offer, so I highly recommend a longer stay.
Among the sites that should not be missed, but not that close to the city center, is definitely Heroes’ Square (Hungarian: Hősök tere), one of the major squares in Budapest. It is famous for its iconic statue complex featuring important Hungarian national leaders, and for the Memorial Stone of Heroes, erected in 1929 as a tribute to those who died for defending Hungary’s 1000 years old borders.
Two important buildings, the Museum of Fine Arts on the left, and the Palace of Art (or the Hall of Art) on the right, surround the square. On the other side, it faces Andrássy Avenue, which has two buildings looking at the square – one is residential and the other is the embassy of Serbia.
I sincerely hope that you will find my itinerary useful and that it will save you from wandering. If so, I would really appreciate to hear your comments.
Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria located in the wide Inn Valley, between high mountains, at the intersection of two important traffic routes between Germany and Italy and between Switzerland and Vienna. It is a well-known winter sports center, which hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1964 and 1976 and the Winter Paralympics in 1984 and 1988. Its name means “Inn Bridge”
The Golden Roof
The City Tower
The Helbling House
The Cathedral of St. James
The Imperial Palace
The Jesuit Church
Maria Theresien Strasse
The Hospital Church of the Holy Spirit
St. Anne’s Column
The Servite Church
The Triumphal Arch
The Swarovski Crystal World
The best way to start our tour around Innsbruck, (if we have limited time or if we simply don’t want to miss some important sites), is from the very heart of The Old Town, and from one of its main attractions, The Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl).
The roof was completed in 1500, and it was decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles for Emperor Maximilian I to celebrate his wedding to Bianca Maria Sforza. They used the balcony to watch festivals, tournaments, and other events that took place in the square below.
Around Christmas, this square becomes a huge market with lots of stalls selling gifts, food and drink.
The best view of it is doubtlessly from The City Tower, built 50 years earlier, in 1450 on the side of the old town hall with 133 steps and the 31-metre-high viewing platform. Guards kept watch from it for almost 450 years, warning citizens of fire and other dangers. The lower floors were used as a prison. Today the tower is there for visitors to enjoy, giving them a magnificent and romantic view of Innsbruck.
The Helbling House, named after one of its previous owners, is a building that is simply impossible to miss in this square. It was built in the fifteenth century, significantly changed with new architectural styles afterwards, and completed in 1732. The Rococo stucco decorations added in the early eighteenth century, designed to capture light, made this building unique.
Taking Pfarrgasse Street, we will get to The Cathedral of St. James (Dom St. Jacob), Innsbruck Cathedral (Innsbruck Dom), a beautiful cathedral with imposing twin-towered west front and the high dome, built in Baroque style in 1724 and fully restored after World War II.
The Imperial Palace (Hofburg) is a former Habsburg palace, constructed around 1460, and, along with the Hofburg Palace and Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, considered one of the three most significant cultural buildings in the country. It was the main building of a large residential complex including the Silver Chapel, the Hofkirche, the Theological University, the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, Innsbruck Cathedral, the Congress, the Hofgarten…
It was remodeled in Baroque and Rococo style in the 18th century upon instructions from Empress Maria Theresa. The Giant Hall in polished marble and decorated in white and gold, with three large ceiling frescos from 1775, and beautiful portraits of the Imperial family, is particularly impressive. Maria Theresa’s Rooms, Empress Elisabeth’s Apartment, the Ancestral Gallery, the Furniture Museum, and the Painting Gallery, are also worth seeing.
The area around the Hofburg offers several other attractions worth seeing. The Silver Chapel built in 1587 as the burial chapel named after a silver image of the Virgin, the Old University founded in 1562, The Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche), with its mighty 60-meter-tall dome built in 1640, the Tyrolean Provincial Theater (Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck), built in 1846, and the Hofgarten, with its Art and Concert Pavilion.
Burggrabben Street will take us straight to Maria Theresien Strasse, the main street of Innsbruck transformed into an elegant promenade and pedestrian zone in 2009, which is the ideal place to take a stroll, do some shopping, meet friends and sit at one of the many outdoor cafés, admiring the magnificent Baroque architecture and the city panorama.
At the head of this street, we will find The Roman Catholic Hospital Church of the Holy Spirit. The hospital that gave its name to the church no longer exists, and the church has changed its appearance a lot over the years, since the 12th century, when it was first mentioned.
St. Anne’s Column (Annasäule), a beautiful monument commemorating the event when the last Bavarian troops were driven from the Tyrol on St. Anne’s Day (26 July) in 1703, stands in the center of the street. A bit further, there is The Servite Church (Servitenkirche) scenic, old and typical Austrian church built in the early 1600s and got its current appearance in the late-baroque period, perfect for a lovely picture to capture with the mountains in the background, if the sky is blue.
The street, and our tour, ends with The Triumphal Arch (Triumphpforte), built in 1765 on the occasion of the wedding of the second son of Empress Maria Theresa, Archduke Leopold, to the Spanish princess, Maria Luisa. Because of the sudden death of Leopold’s father, Francis Stephen of Lorraine, its south side portrays motifs of the wedding of the young couple, and its north side commemorates the death of the emperor.
If you still have some time, do pay a visit to The Swarovski Crystal World (Swarovski Kristallwelten) in Wattens, just 20 minutes outside Innsbruck, a magical place that fills senses with wonder and delight. For those who love the brand, or simply love sparkling crystals, this attraction is a real fairy tale world of shimmering crystals for both adults and children.
I hope that you will find my itinerary useful and that it will make your visit even more amusing and pleasant.
This time I wanted to share with you a story that I personally find very inspiring. I know that many of you will ask me afterwards, “Isn’t it sending a totally opposite message of what you have been telling us all the time?” It is not, and it is very important for you to understand that.
You will always hear me saying that we should step out from our comfort zone, and use smartly each second of our lives, that we should be committed to our goals and follow our dreams in spite of everything.
However, it is essential for all of us to stay happy on that path of growth and live with joy every second of our new journey. It is extremely important to have our goals very clear in our heads, made of, fewer material things and more of emotions that we want to face and feel, and to free ourselves from the burden of fear called “What if it goes wrong”, being positively orientated and thus attracting only positive things, which I explained in my previous posts…
The Story of Mexican Fisherman
by Timothy Forriss
An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor’s orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.
“Only a little while,” the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.
“But… What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor.”
The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard MBA and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you could run your expanded enterprise with proper management.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, señor, how long will all this take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years, 25 tops.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO, sell your company stock to the public, and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions senor? Then what?”
“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll in to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
Nice story, isn’t it? However, I wanted to show it to you from another angle.
I was that “fisherman” for so long. I had chosen wisely that kind of life that needed zero effort to give me the maximum pleasure. So what went wrong?
It was not MY dream. I am NOT a fisherman. If you have wings, you should use them to fly, not to hang them on the wall.
If you have talents, they are not there for some strange reason. You have to find that reason and follow your star. Otherwise, you will live somebody else’s dream, not yours. It is absolutely fine, if your dream is to spend time with your friends and family drinking and dancing in a small village hidden from the world. However, if deep inside, you know that you are meant to be somewhere else, go for it. Follow your own dreams, and dream as big as you can.
I got to the point where, continuing living the idealistic life of mine meant starting dying slowly. I had neglected all my talents for so long, but they finally imposed, and stood for their rights.
Be happy and grateful for everything you already have, but at the same time find the courage to choose the unknown and steep path called progress, and to take the responsibility for your own lives.
What do you have to say? Leave me your comments below!
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