Tag Archives: hotel

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: Gibraltar, Ronda, El Tajo and Puente Nuevo

HOTEL DIANA PARK

My husband had visited Spain and Costa Del Sol many times as his parents had a house in Torremolinos. I myself had only visited Mallorca and the Canary Islands, so the mainland was still on my wish list. This was the reason we chose Spain as our spring break target some years ago.

We flew to Malaga and rented a car. Driving late at night is always an experience, as you can see all the city lights glimmering in the dark. We drove to Estepona, which is about 70 kilometers west from the Malaga airport.

We passed Churriana, Benalmadena, Mijas, Fuengirola, Marbella and San Pedro. They are all cities worth seeing, depending on what you are looking for during your holiday.

Hotelli Diana Park_Espanja

Hotel Diana Park was our choice during this trip, as it situated very close to the A-7. We would drive around every day, so being close to a major highway was preferable. The hotel was actually quite nice though it had only three stars. This neat budget hotel, with an awesome pool, is situated at Carretera De Cadiz Km 168, Estepona, Spain.


GIBRALTAR

It was Easter weekend and the weather was great. After Finland’s cold and snowy winter, Spain’s 16-24 C was awesome weather for us. The sun was shining every day, though not every hour. The day we drove to Ronda, it was partly cloudy and some light rain occurred for one hour, but that did not matter at all.

We decided to visit Gibraltar and drove towards La Linea (de la Conception). It has a history of being the place where many illegal immigrants enter Spain. La Línea is a major supplier of fruit and vegetables to Gibraltar; other industries include the manufacture of cork, liquor, and fish paste. It also had an important military garrison with substantial fortifications and a port. La Línea has 14 kilometers of beaches, named La Alcaidesa, Santa Barbara, El Burgo Sobrevela, Portichuelos and Torrenueva. Some have been are awarded each year a blue flag by the Coastal European Authorities.

La Línea made headlines under Araujo’s Socialist predecessors in the 1980s and 1990s, when it was dubbed a “ciudad sin ley” or lawless city. At the time, drug dealers, smugglers and other criminals made their living in the Andalusian border town.

La Linea

Gibraltar is seen from far away. But it is such a small place – only 6,8 square kilometers and a population of around 30 000. Half of the area is protected area.

Gibraltar is known for the Rock of Gibraltar, which is 426 meters high. The World War II tunnels, the Cable Cars, the Gibraltar Botanic Museum and the Gibraltar Museum are some interesting places to visit during your days in Gibraltar. The subtropical Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm summers attracts tourists from all over the world. If museums are not what you look for, you can spend the day shopping and visiting different cafeterias, bars and restaurants.

La Linea 2

The Official Gibraltar Tourist Board Website tells you in detail what to do and enjoy while staying in Gibraltar.

Gibraltarin torilla


RONDA, EL TAJO AND PUENTE NUEVO

It took us about one hour to drive up the mountains from our hotel to Ronda. Huge green hills surrounded us during the drive and the views were fabulous. When we arrived in Ronda, I thought “what a marvellous town”. The town is situated 750 meters above the sea level.

Ronda city
Ronda is the biggest of the Pueblos Blancos in Andalusia. These “white towns” are small towns from Malaga and Sevilla to Algeciras which are characterised by whitewashed walls and red tiled roofs.

Ronda P Nuevo

El Tajo canyon in Ronda is so amazing. Ronda was heavily affected by the Spanish Civil War. Chapter 10 of Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, describing the 1936 execution of Fascist sympathisers in a fictional village who are thrown off a cliff, is considered to be modeled on actual events at the time in Ronda. It is also said that modern bullfighting started in Ronda.

bullfighting

We visited the restaurant of the  Don Miguel Hotel. I can warmly recommend Don Miguel. Excellent food, kind service and awesome view towards El Tajo canyon. The prices are not as high as one would think. Soups start at 5.40€, fish at 12,50€ and the meat dishes at 11,50€.

Three bridges, Puente Romano, Puente Viejo and Puente Nuevo span the canyon. The 120 meter deep canyon split Ronda in two. Therefore the architect José Martin de Aldehuda and the construction manager Juan Antonio Diaz Machuca decided to build a beautiful and strong bridge. The building of Puente Nuevo, the tallest of these three bridges, commenced in 1751. It took 42 years to complete. 50 workers died building the bridge. Beauty has its price.

Ronda