Exploring levadas in Madeira

Exploring levadas in Madeira
This time it’s a family trip. More precisely a surprise trip for my mother’s 60th birthday. She’s always been a fan of Portuguese culture and heritage, hence the idea to go to Madeira. What do you associate Madeira with? For my mother and sister Luisa, this is the “island of everlasting spring” and the cradle ...

Breakfast in the City on the Seven Hills

Breakfast in the City on the Seven Hills
I see millions of anonymous lights glittering far beyond the horizon. The urban landscape extends endlessly and floods both sides of the Bosporus Strait, a narrow passage of water connecting the Balkans and Asia Minor. This is how Istanbul has gained the status of the only city in the world located on two continents. Maşallah! ...

Port in Porto

Port in Porto
Night panorama of Douro riverbank We park nearby Paços do Concelho, the city council of Porto. Shortly after I befriend a Portuguese woman who appears to be the parking ticket warden, so for that reason parking becomes complimentary. We crawl along Avenida dos Aliados, the main alley leading from the center to the Douro riverside. ...

Peniche

Peniche
Fortaleza de Peniche We are too late! This year’s world surfing championship at the beach of Supertubos ended two days ago. We missed Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton, the world’s top surfers. One of the accidental hitchhikers assured me that last week during the competition there were six meters high giant waves. The atmosphere of ...

Portuguese Odyssey

Portuguese Odyssey
Sanctuary on the dark Cabo Espichel The winding mountain path is surrounded by the lush green vegetation of Serra da Arrabida nature park. At dusk we arrive at the terrifying Cabo Espichel. The heavy, wet fog reveals only the outlines of abandoned buildings at the very end of the cape. This is a cultic pilgrimage ...

Lisbon

Lisbon
The great explorers set off their romantic travels I admire the dramatic view of sun subtly setting behind the clouds . Sailboats released in the wind, an ocean cruising ship and a few fishing boats cast long shadows on the wrinkled surface of the river. In the foreground there is the monument Padrão dos Descobrimentos ...

The vineyard of Herdade da Ajuda

The vineyard of Herdade da Ajuda
Wine production in Alentejo Portuguese province of Alentejo. A dark complexion, a little bit obese worker is arranging stacks of wine barrels. Drawn away from his work at the moment he reveals unconcealed enthusiasm and willingness to guide us through the vineyard. We are on the 21-hectare plantation in central Portugal. Not so long ago, ...

The land of Alentejo

The land of Alentejo
Windmill in Odeceixe The road north leads through a small fishing town Vale dos Homens. At the fish market we buy several doradas for dinner. This is a peaceful place, people rarely appear on the streets. We meet an old man sitting on a wooden bench in the shade of acacia lazily reading a newspaper. ...

Mussels and squid

Mussels and squid
Praia do Amado Cooking squid for not a skilled cook is kind of a challenge. Awkward incision makes intensely black ink  splatter around. I remove the squid’s float, looking indistinguishably like a part made of plastic. Everything around is stained with ink and definitely does not look like anything edible, not to mention being tasty. ...

Algarve tripping

Algarve tripping
Surfing time Early in the morning I say goodbye to southern Spain and cross the Portuguese border. My first stop is at the tourist information office. Courteous black girl, probably in the seventh month of pregnancy greets me with Portuguese “Bom dia!” and a smile on her face. I collect detailed information on the Algarve ...

Laid-back Andalusia

Laid-back Andalusia
Sometimes a road turns into the river Andalusia is considered the poorest and the least developed part of Spain. Take a look from another point of view. It is by far the most sunny part of Spain and time is running much slower compared to the other parts of Iberian peninsula. Our adventure begins as ...

Paella and snails

Paella and snails
Our feast in Tomatito bar, Tarifa During my stay on a surfing spot near the Valdavaqueros beach, one day I take my longboard for a ride to Tarifa. I visit my friend Polly, who is working for the summer in a bar called Tomatito. This is a very unusual place taking into account not only ...

A place for a grilled chicken

A place for a grilled chicken
El jardí de Sòl de Riu Cruising along a swerving coastal road we head south. Our intention is to skip the toll tunnel to see more of beautiful Catalonia. We stop at numerous viewpoints on our way and in the evening we arbitrarily choose a place to stay. A small village of Vinaròs is located ...

Longboard BCN

Longboard BCN
Barcelona is a longboarder’s paradise Last time I visited Barcelona I made a mistake and didn’t bring my longboard along. This time I finally got a chance to fix it. Now, my only concern is to park the yellow car in the center. This is not trivial issue, because by definition, you can’t move by ...

Sardinia

Sardinia
A place for snorkeling A night ferry from the Italian port Piombinio takes us to Olbia, a city on the north-eastern Sardinia. Still long before dawn we head towards the Isola de Gabbiani and Porto Pollo. It is getting bright and this is exactly the time and the place for a hearty breakfast and morning ...

Segovia (Spain)

Segovia (Spain)
Segovia Roman aqueduct in Segovia Segovia is a small town located north of Madrid. Like Toledo, fits perfectly for a one day excursion off the capital. The first impression is formed shortly upon the arrival. It is a deserted city. No, that is not. It’s just a siesta time, giving an opportunity to see the ...

Gibraltar, a sunny rock filled with monkeys

Gibraltar, a sunny rock filled with monkeys
A sunny rock filled with monkeys Intrusive monkeys have no limits Gibraltar is a place of numerous disputes over the centuries. The territory once conquered and ruled by the Berbers in 711 A.D. had been waiting more than seven centuries to get back into the hands of the Spaniards. Not for long because in 1704 ...

Cadiz, the Europe’s oldest city

Cadiz, the Europe's oldest city
Cadiz, the Europe’s oldest city Low tide at the fortress in Cádiz A bit after six, still cold, however we decide to rest on a beach. Every fifteen minutes more sunlight timidly emerge from behind coastal high-rises. The next comes breakfast. We order churros in a nearby bar. These are disgustingly fat and excessively sweetened ...

A family in el Escorial

A family in el Escorial
A family in el Escorial A dinner with Patricia’s family in el Escorial Patricia invites me for a couple of days to visit her family in el Escorial near Madrid. That is an interesting possibility to get to know her hometown and see how a typical Spanish family lives. Our walk from a bus stop ...

Toledo (Spain)

Toledo (Spain)
Toledo Alcázar de Toledo Toledo is a small town located about an hour south of Madrid. While in the capital, it is also worth to spend some time out on a fresh provincial air around. Toledo is definitely one of the most interesting one-day excursions. Getting off at the bus station I see a rising ...

San Fermin Festival in Pamplona

San Fermin Festival in Pamplona
San Fermin Festival in Pamplona Bull chasing people in the streets of Pamplona San Fermín is an annual week-long festival taking place 6-14 July in Pamplona. The history of bull chasing goes back to the fourteenth century and since 1592 has been in the same form every year. I travel half of Spain for a ...

Spanish Corrida

Spanish Corrida
Capeador waiting for the enraged bull to charge Corrida at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas in Madrid brings the essence of Spanish tradition. A massive 65 meter diameter arena makes it one of the largest sites of that kind in the world. It has a simple design. Sandy area with a well-marked range, ...

The heart of Spain

The heart of Spain
In the middle of Spain Rabbit pate topped with walnuts and garlic butter with shrimp Spain is a voluptuous country. Not only because of the local Iberian cuisine. It is also a lack of haste and a slow pace of life. Its culture and casual people with their easy-going outlook on life which does not ...

Barcelona, the European theme park

Barcelona, the European theme park
Barcelona, the European theme park A view of Barcelona from Park Guell “A European theme park“, a guy from bike rental shop told me in Madrid. I asked him to describe Barcelona in one sentence. Some say that the capital of Catalonia has nothing to do with the real Spain. One thing is certain. Barcelona ...

Snowboarding in the summer

Snowboarding in the summer
Traditional Austrian attire Snowboarding in the summer? Sure. You just have to find a bunch of guys who would rather take out the dusty snowboard from beneath their bed in the middle of summer rather than lie on the sunny beach.  The idea appeared to happen in mid-July, a period usually not identified with winter ...