Tag Archives: airport

Helsinki, Finland -> Port Ghalib, Egypt

When the dark autumn arrives in Finland, we want to head south – preferably to Egypt’s Port Ghalib. It is an amazing vacation resort.

ps. click on the photos to see them enlarged

Port Gahlib

Finnmatkat opened (after a short break) direct vacation flights to Port Ghalib this autumn – and that made us very happy.

We booked the flights and made direct reservations to our favourite hotel – Intercontinental The Palace Port Ghalib. The hotel is amazing and so is the staff, the beach, the coral reefs and the hotel’s rooms, suites and amenities.

Finnmatkat have changed the airline company (to JetTime) regarding flights to Marsa Alam Airport, Egypt. That was a small disappointment. The crew was great 🙂 and the food as well, but the plane was very old and small, the seat reservation service was troublesome and the delays before take off and getting the luggage were a sad experience. Finnmatkat itself gets our warm recommendations for their great service and the possibility to fly to our dream destination.

View from the suite at PG_2

Arriving at the Marsa Alam Airport was superb. The warm sunny weather welcomed us, as well as the airport staff. Here we have a photo of a my husband and a staff member, who welcomed us warmly. Egyptians are so friendly.

Welcome to Marsa Alam Airport

We had arranged a car to pick us up from the airport. That is a great service from the hotel. It takes just 10 minutes to drive from the airport to the hotel.

Here we are – finally at the hotel – happy and smiling.

Arriving at the hotel PG
Stay tuned – there are more stories to come!

ps. Here is a new photo of the amazing Picasso Triggerfish:

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Portugal: Praia Grande and Cabo da Roca

HONEYMOON BY THE ATLANTIC OCEAN

We love the Mediterranean Sea. For our honeymoon we decided though to try something new and we flew to see the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal. We searched the Internet for hotels by the sea. I also asked tips from my Portuguese colleague. We were looking for a place on the west coast.

I tried to learn a little bit Portuguese before our trip. I started with these: bom dia (good morning), fala ingles (do you speak English), sim (yes), nao (no) and onde e (where is). The rest I looked up in the dictionary, which I had with me most of the days.

The seaside hotel Arribas at Praia Grande was our final choice, as it offered so many things we were looking for. The huge Atlantic Ocean was just some meters from the hotel, which also offered a swimming pool larger than we have ever seen. The swimming pool was 100 meters long. It is one of the largest saltwater swimming pools in Europe. The beach next to the hotel looked inviting.

Hotel pool and the PG beach

PORTUGAL – HERE WE COME

As always, it is fantastic when the travel day finally arrives. The sun was shining in Finland when we waited for the taxi to take us to the airport.

Waiting for the taxi to the aiport
We flew to Portugal with Finnair. By the time we got to the airport, clouds were spreading over the clear blue sky.

Flying with Finnair
TOWARDS PRAIA GRANDE

Praia Grande is one of the best beaches in Portugal. It takes less than one hour to drive there from the Lisbon International Airport. To visit the famous Costa do Estoril and Cascais is easy as they are just 20 minutes to the south from the hotel. The beautiful and historic town of Sintra is just a 15 minute drive to the east.

We took the evening flight and drove in the darkness towards the hotel. I had a map, but as it was quite dark and the street signs were not always seen, we got lost around Sao Pedro De Penaferrim. We experienced the friendliness of the Portuguese, when we stopped at a small cafe to ask for help. I did not speak Portuguese and the café owners did not speak English, but that did not stop them from helping us. Body language works well. On top of that we got some huge and tasty sandwiches with us. We had not eaten much during the day, so the simple sandwich tasted marvellous.

Just before reaching the Atlantic Ocean we drove through the small city of Colares.

Colares region by the sea
COLARES

Colares is a wine region. The region has Portugal’s highest wine classification as a Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC means the system of protected designation of origin for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products from Portugal).

Colares wine_2

Even before there was a “Portugal”, the region of Colares was a place of human movement and settlement. The Norwegian Sigurd I conquered and held Colares for a few months in 1108. The Moorish occupied the area later on and around 1147 the region fell in the hands of the Crown, as Afonso Henriques conquered it. In 1801 the municipality of Colares included 1930 inhabitants and by 1849 it had more than 3300 inhabitants. Nowadays around 7500 people live in the area.

PRAIA GRANDE

The sound of the waves of the Atlantic Ocean is something everyone should experience. We got a nice room towards the sea. It was amazing to just sit on the balcony and watch and listen to the Atlantic Ocean.

The AO

The Terrace Restaurant with a panoramic view over the sea is the perfect place to taste special dishes. You can choose between traditional Portuguese and international dishes.

Hotel dinnerYou can reach Praia Grande also without a car. Take the bus from the airport (Aerobus 1) to Entrecampos. Then take the train to Sintra. From Sintra you can take the bus to Praia Grande. Just as the name suggests, this is a large beach and is a particular favourite among surfers and bodyboarders and has become a regular host of championship events in these sports.

Praia grande

The hills on the south side of the beach are huge. We took a stroll on the sandy beach before hitting the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

First day at PG

CABO DA ROCA

Not far from the hotel you find the westernmost point of continental Europe. We had heard of it and wanted to see it. During the ancient Roman period the area was called Promontorium Magnum.

Driving to CdR

The place is so beautiful. In the west you see the huge Atlantic Ocean, in the other directions green hills and rocks surround you. The Cabo da Roca lighthouse overlooks the promontory towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Cabo da Roca from the sea

The cliffs here are more than 100 meters high and cut into crystalline rocks. We took pictures, enjoyed the scenery and felt the cool wind blowing from the Ocean. I could smell the salt of the sea.

Ile at CdR

I recommend to visit Cabo da Roca. You can eat at Restaurante Cabo Da Roca enjoying great food and fabulous scenery.

Next to the restaurant you find an old monument. Below the cross you find the text written by the 16th century Portuguese poet Luís Vaz de Camões (1524 – 1580):

Aqui…

Onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa…(Camoes)

Ponta mais ocidental do continente europeu

In English something like this:

Here…

Where land ends and the ocean begins…

The westernmost point of continental Europe

After our trip to Cabo da Roca we drove back to the hotel, put on our swimsuits and ran through the hot sand and dove into the Atlantic Ocean. Nothing feels better than the hot summer sun and the cool waves of the sea. After a few hours on the beach my skin was pink. July is quite hot in Portugal. At least for a Finn.

Ile and the AO

Spain: Estepona, Fuengirola, Marbella and San Pedro

TIGERS AND GORILLAS

One day we visited Fuengirola and its zoo (Biopark Fuengirola).

J entering the zoo

Fuengirola is a town on the Spanish Golden Coast, 24 kilometers west from Malaga international airport, and about 30 kilometers east from Marbella. The sandy beach is 8 kilometers long and has been awarded the Blue Flag disctinction by the EU. The seaside promenade Paseo Maritimo is very popular and quite crowded with hotels.

In addition to the nightlife Fuengirola offers golf clubs, mini-golf, horse drawn carriages, watersports, nautical cruises, tourist restaurants, bars and many fashion boutiques.

Mangustit 2
The zoo was renovated in 1999. The old animal cages were destroyed and the animals were given more natural homes. There are about 90 species in this zoo, including mammals, birds and reptiles. The mongoose and the tiger especially caught my eye. You can also see parrots, a leopard, bats, gorillas and crocodiles. If you want you can join a free guided tour.

zoo leopard


SAN PEDRO ALCANTARA

We asked the personnel at our hotel to recommend a restaurant for us. First they listed a few ones in Estepona, but they were expensive restaurants for tourists. We wanted to experience something local and traditional. To sit with local people and eat good Spanish food. We got a tip of a nice place in San Pedro Alcantara, just 5 kilometers from the hotel. The small town is full of great restaurants. They do not always speak a lot of English at the local restaurants, but that did not bother us. We got a table even though we did not have a reservation. The place got packed quite quickly after it opened at 8 p.m. The food was fabulous. We ate grilled prawns with garlic and herbs, grilled fish, boquerones fritos, tasty clams and mussels. And tasted some very good wine.

Boq Fritos


MARBELLA

Most people have heard of Marbella, the beautiful city on the Spanish Golden Coast, where the rich and famous like to hang around. Also golfers like to visit Marbella and its golf clubs. The population is about 120 000. We visited Marbella one very sunny day. Already in April Marbella was warmer than most of the summer days in Finland. The boutiques were nice but expensive, the selection of restaurants and pubs is wide, the old town is beautiful, the seaside promenade offers a fantastic view towards the sparkling sea and the city itself and the beach is crowded during the summer months.

Johanna Marbella

The harbour is crowded with fabulous luxury boats. Puerto BanĂşs harbour is very popular. Around 5 million people visit it every year. The restaurants around the harbour are expensive due to tourism. If you like luxury, harbours and crowds, this is the city for you.

Ile Marbella


ESTEPONA

Estepona is a town about 34 kilometers west from Marbella and 83 kilometers from Malaga international airport. The area is known for fertile valleys crossed by small streams and a mountainous areas dominated by the Sierra Bermeja, which reaches an elevation of 1,449 m at the peak of Los Reales.

Estepona has many beaches, which stretch along some 21 km of coastline. It is a popular holiday destination. The most popular beach might be the Rada Beach, which is over 2 kilometers long and has golden sand.

Estepona beach
You can enjoy different kinds of sports, museums, the marina, the many tapas bars and restaurants as well as the shops in the town. Selwo Aventura is an interesting park (north of Estepona), where you can see birds, mammals and reptiles (kudus, Asian elephants, white rhinoceros, giraffes, African rock pythons, green iguanas and the brightly coloured scarlet ibis). There are also a wide variety of plants. The park offers adventure days and exhibitions.


FLAMENCO, TAPAS AND CREMA CATALANA

I recommend to visit Spain. The Spanish Golden Coast is just one of the many places worth a visit or two. In the middle of the Spain you find the capital Madrid, with a population of 3 million (in the metropolitan area almost 6 million). Madrid is known for the nightlife, the flamenco, Picasso, great restaurants and for many interesting museums and beautiful churches.

La Sagrada Familia
On the east coast you find the city of Barcelona, known for the artist Joan Miró ,
La Sagrada Familia (which will perhaps never be finished though the work started in 1882), the long beaches, La Rambla (a very long park road), the nightlife, great restaurants, the many museums and green parks as well as for football and the Futbol Club Barcelona (Barca).

The northern parts have many nice cities and towns. Maybe the most known of them is Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia and the destination of a Catholic pilgrimage route.

The Spanish Cuisine is very good. The tapas, the paella (Spanish rice dish), fried fish, the chorizo (sausage) and Jamon Iberico (Iberian ham), clams and mussels, garlic prawns, tortilla espanola (Spanish Omelet) and the olive oil are all tasty and delicious. Just like the red wine.

Paella
For dessert you can choose fresh fruit, Manchego cheese or Crema Catalana, which is the Catalan name and version of the French dessert, crème brulĂ©e. Or try a Churro (Xurro) and you won’t be hungry for hours. It is a sweet Spanish doughnut, a fried pastry. Do like the Spanish do – dip it into hot chocolate!