Going on a Trip to Portugal: Insight into the Historical Events and Lifestyle

Portugal is endowed with an 800 km coastline. Water sports such as surfing, windsurfing and sailing are very popular in this country and tourists can enjoy these activities during their vacation. The Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Azores also offer several facilities, where ardent water sport loving visitors can enjoy to their heart’s contentment.

Sea has always held a fascination for mankind and the long seacoast of the country and mild climate are favorable for several beach activities. Tourists can laze on the beaches or go for a stroll to savor the beauty of the sea. Portugal has an ancient and long established history of seafarers. Many coastal towns and resorts have sailing clubs that run coaching courses for visitors. Visitors can also hire boats from these clubs.

Guincho outside Cascais in the Estoril Coast is claimed to be the best beach worldwide for surfing and thus hosts several international championships too. It is very easy for tourist to procure windsurfing boards and sailing boats on hire and also avail of coaching lessons in the resorts of Algarve. The modern marinas at Lagos and Vilamoura in Algarve are important yachting centers. There are a number of small harbors and anchorages all along the Portuguese coast. Tourists adept at sailing may also hire a boat and crew and sail out into the sea.

Water sports like canoeing and kayaking are very popular in the country. Several rivers like Mondego, the Zezere and the Cávado run through the country where many of these competitions and are events held.

Tours

A stroll alongside these channels could give an insight into the historical events and lifestyle of Portugal. Also it would be a great way to see the countryside.

Cycling tours are a great hit with most tourists due to the mild climate and fairly flat terrain of the southern and central regions. The conditions are ideal for bicycle touring and mountain biking. It is possible for tourists to rent bicycles at holiday centers, while tourists who are cycling enthusiasts prefer to carry their own customized bicycles for touring. Algarve in the southern coastal region and the flat and largely unpopulated regions of Alentejo, further north are favorite destinations to go for a cycling tour. Minho, a fertile and hilly region in the northwestern part of the country attracts tourists because of its impressive scenery and gourmet cuisine.

Peneda-Gerês is appropriate for mountain biking as the tourist can cycle through the panoramic natural beauty of Portugal. The country also boasts of a rich riding tradition and is home to the exquisite breed of Lusitano horses.
There are several regional fairs held throughout the year, which are combined with religious festivals. The Roman Catholic country celebrates most Christian festivals and is a major attraction for the visiting tourists.

As a tourist, there’s nothing to complain because there’s plenty of recreational avenues wherever you turn. Whether you like organized tours or simply want to trek, you’ll never have to choose between this, and that because there’s plenty of outdoor activities to choose from apart from.

Check and Go: Weather and Money in Portugal

Weather

The weather is cool and rainy in the northern area while in the south the weather is warm and dry. The average temperature in the Portugal mainland is 55 degree F in the north and 64 degree C in the south. Portugal is one of the warmest countries in Europe. Spring and summers are sunny with the months of July and August recording the highest temperatures. In the center of the country, the temperature during these months reaches 86 degree F to 95 degree F. Sometimes it reaches as high as 113 degree F in the southern interior. On the other hand, autumn and winter are marked by rains and winds, and the temperature rarely falls below 41 degree F. Snowfall does take place in the mountainous regions of the north.

Money

The currency of Portugal was the Escudo, which comprised of 100 centavos (154.24 escudos was equal to US $ 1 in 1996). However, in May 1998, Portugal with ten members of the European Union, decided to officially switch to a new single currency called the Euro. The euro has been adopted for all financial transactions and has been in operation since January 1, 1999. The euro has been functional since 1999 for electronic and accounting purposes. Euro coins and bills were issued in the year 2002, which also marked the termination of the Portuguese currency as the legal tender. However, the local currency of Escudos was in circulation until the 1st of March 2002 and was finally and completely replaced by the Euro on 28th February 2002.

Currency Exchange

Travelers’ checks are widely accepted, primarily for exchange purpose in the banks as well as at the exchange booths. However, this exchange is possible only on payment of a fixed amount, which is a sort of commission, given to the banks for encashing the travelers’ checks. At Lisbon airport, the charge for encashing travelers’ check US $9.5. You do need to have your passport with you to encash your travelers’ checks.

Commercial banks can be found all over the country. They are open Monday to Friday but remain closed on weekends and on public holidays. Normal working hours are from 8.30 am to 3 pm. In addition to the commercial banks and their branches, hotels, camping parks and hotels also have exchange facilities. The amount charged for exchange of cash is about US $3. The exchange rates are, however, subject to change and each and every bank or a financial institution has a different exchange rate to offer. In the Algarve region, the euro can be bought or exchanged very easily at banks, Bureau de Change, hotels and even at some shops. Bureaus in big towns offer the most competitive rates and commissions. There are automated cash points as well in most of the supermarkets and the shopping areas of most of the towns and villages in Portugal.

ATM’s are widespread all over the country and they have transactions displayed in English. Bankcards, Visa and MasterCards work in most of the ATM’s and cash can be withdrawn in the local currency.

Portugal Travel Checklist: Telecommunications and Taxes

Telecommunications

The telephone system in Portugal has undergone tremendous development in the recent years. A state-of-the-art telephone network was established by 1998, which included high-speed broadband capabilities. This new infrastructure has boosted local as well as international communication.

International calls can be made by first dialing the international code of ‘00′ followed by the respective country’s code, the area code and lastly the specific number. The rates for calling long distances are relatively less between 10 pm and 8 am on weekdays and on weekends and public holidays. Helpline numbers assist users with connectivity problems. 009 can be dialed for problems related to European countries, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia and 098 can be dialed for all other countries. Direct dialing facilities are also available, wherein you can call the operator in your country.

The GSM network facilitates standard mobile telephone service in Portugal. This also enables you to avail of roaming facilities. The two GSM service providers in Portugal are TMN, associated with Portugal Telecom, and Telecel.
At the Lisbon Airport, GSM phones are available on rent for non-residents for a minimum period of three days. These are made available by both Telecel and Telerent or TAP. Portugal’s international dial code for mobile phones is 268. Public telephones are spread across most cities and towns and can be used for making national and international calls.

Taxes

In Portugal, the Value Added Tax or VAT is known as ‘IVA’. This can be reclaimed by visitors who do not reside in the European Union, if their stay is less than 180 days. For this, the visitors need to fill in a form called ‘Isencao de IVA’. This form is supposed to be presented to the custom officials before leaving the country.

The IVA fluctuates between 8% for basic items like books and food to 17-19% in case of luxury goods and other items that a foreign visitor purchases in Portugal. The price of almost all the items and services is already inclusive of the VAT. If the tourists from any of the non-euro countries make purchases of a minimum of 60 euros in one shop, they can avail of IVA refund. There are shops, which provide this facility and these display signs such as, ‘Europe Tax-Free Shopping Portugal’.

If you purchase a minimum of 60 euro in one shop, they can avail of the benefit of IVA refund. There are shops which provide this facility and these display signs like “Europe Tax – Free Shopping Portugal “.You can take the help of the staff in the shop for getting the refund. The refund comes usually in the form a check and the administration fees are deducted beforehand. At the airports of Lisbon, Porto and Faro, the visitors are required to display their goods, checks and passport at the customs counter in order to claim the refund in the form of cash, postal note or through credit cards. In case of overland travel, customs at the final EU border point can be contacted for the purpose.

Travel and save money: Cheap hotels in London

Do they actually exist?

Do inexpensive hotels in London actually exist?

Well, yes, they do, but you should keep in mind that ‘inexpensive’ is a relative term as far as London is concerned. The hotels included on this page will set you back anything from £100 to £200 per night for a double room.

Depending on your budget, you might not think this is particularly ‘inexpensive’, but accommodation in London is so ridiculously pricey, and some of these hotels are so centrally located, that they actually represent very good deals.

A lot of the more inexpensive hotels in London are categorized as 3-star, and there’s a vast amount of dross among them.

The hotels listed here, however, are highly regarded, generally well-reviewed, and represent good value for money because of their location, facilities, etc.

Fielding Hotel

Address: 4 Broad Court, Bow Street, WC2

Tube: Covent Garden

Size: 25 rooms

Right in the heart of Covent Garden, the Fielding Hotel stands on a pedestrianized street and, from the outside, rather resembles the kind of family pension you might find in Italy.

Facilities and services are basic. Although the front desk is manned around the clock, there’s no bar, breakfast room, concierge, or room service. And there’s no lift.

The location, however, is hard to beat – less than a minute’s walk from the Royal Opera House, within walking distance of most West End theaters, and close to the restaurants of Soho and Chinatown.

Strand Palace Hotel

Address: 372 Strand, WC2

Tube: Charing Cross / Covent Garden

Size: 785 rooms

Located right opposite the Savoy Hotel, the Strand Palace is huge, central and very popular.

Like many other inexpensive hotels in London, it’s a functional, no-frills, three-star establishment. Rooms are modern and predominantly small, with 24-hour room service and complimentary Wi-Fi – but no air-conditioning, which can be a bit of a problem in summer.

Slap bang in the middle of Covent Garden, within walking distance of a huge number of London’s most popular attractions, not to mention its theaters, bars, and restaurants, this is a solid, great value hotel.

Luna Simone Hotel

Address: 47-49 Belgrave Road, SW1

Tube: Victoria / Pimlico

Size: 36 rooms

Two converted houses make up the Luna Simone Hotel, a family-run establishment in the charming neighborhood of Pimlico, an area much in demand for its proximity to Westminster.

Most of the main tourist attractions are within walking distance, but there’s also a bus that stops right outside the hotel, which will take you directly to Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square.

base2stay Kensington

Address: 25 Courtfield Gardens, SW5

Tube: Earls Court / Gloucester Road

Size: 67 rooms

Located in South Kensington, overlooking a garden square, base2stay – which aims to offer ‘affordable luxury’ – sits somewhere between a traditional hotel and a serviced apartment. All rooms have mini-kitchens and there’s a large supermarket a few minutes’ walk away, making this the perfect option if you want to keep costs down by doing some self-catering.

Kensington Palace, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Albert Hall are all close by, and the hotel is near to a couple of tube stations, giving easy access to the center of town.

Lancaster Gate Hotel

Address: 66 Lancaster Gate, W2

Tube: Lancaster Gate /Queensway

Size: 188 rooms

Located in a white stucco-fronted building typical of the Bayswater area and just steps away from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, the Lancaster Gate Hotel is one of the most popular inexpensive hotels in London.

Recently renovated, the rooms are clean and bright, and the doubles and triples are very spacious by London standards.

The hotel is equidistant from Notting Hill and Marble Arch, and it’s possible to walk to both – although the public transport connections are good if you should decide you’ve had enough exercise.

Hoxton Hotel

Address: 81 Great Eastern Street, EC1

Tube: Old Street

Size: 208 rooms

I can hardly believe I’m including a hotel as upmarket as the Hoxton in the ‘inexpensive hotels in London’ category – but it’s true! Their pricing structure works along the lines of a low-cost airline – prices start low and increase as your date of arrival nears (the opposite of most hotels). By booking six months in advance, you can, therefore, get a room for less than £100.

Hoxton is one of the trendiest places in London, but it’s a bit off the beaten track tourist-wise and the streets are quiet at night. A lot of affluent people have moved into the area in recent years, but it also has its unsavory elements and is quite rough around the edges. However, it’s perfect if you want to experience a bit of East London life, with markets, tiny pubs, and a buzzy atmosphere.

The ever increasing popularity of modern cruises

Cruises

The evolution of cruise liners carrying freight, in days gone by, to the modern day era where cruise ships will sail through exotic waters and dock at fantastic ports has been a tremendous one. It’s been a great transformation and now cruising takes up a massive share of the holiday market. One can tailor-make their cruise holidays to what they want to see and do, and so it’s possible to find cruise deals well suited to your budget range and requirements. In the past, cruising was considered inhibitory in terms of cost. But, nowadays with many companies like, celebrity cruises, offering bespoke packages you can now find a cruise you want to go on at a reasonable price. With the demand growing and growing for cruising, more and more companies are coming into the fray with different destinations and itineraries. So, it’s important to look at several factors for choosing cruises. First off, one should be looking at the duration of the cruise. If you only have one week’s holiday, it makes little sense in going for a 2 week cruise holiday. Then do your research on the kinds of destination visited by the ship and what itineraries they offer. Also on your list to look at, should be the facilities onboard the ship. For example, MSC cruises offers a great range of onboard entertainment and activities to keep both young and old entertained. Also Cruise deals are vitally important in decision making. One should always try and see if any group or family discounts are offered.

 

Cruise Deals

For years now people have always wanted to get the best value for money when they go on holiday. This is not just limited to booking their flights, accommodation and any other associated costs. Once they arrive in the actual destination they want to be sure they are getting value for their pound (or dollar). So it’s important they choose a destination where the exchange rate is favorable. However, now cruises are extremely favorable as one does not necessarily have to be confronted with such issues- as most things are included in the original price. Take Fred Olsen cruises, for example, they give fantastic value for money. One should not have to fork out too much extra whilst on board. Obviously onboard they are gratuities, and one may like to have some spending money for gift items and snacks etc. But most ships cater towards your every need with no extra cost. Cruises can offer the perfect package for someone wanting to cut down on their expenses whilst they are actually on holiday. One major concern for people is entertainment and facilities on board. Will there be enough to keep all parties busy? NCL cruises has recently been rated as one of the best companies out there in terms of modern ships and the current cruise deals they offer are extremely competitive. The market can also be great for late deals, if you have left things to the last minute.

 

Come sail way

Cruises offer a perfect chance to escape land and take to the open seas. Not only, this but more people than ever are taking to the seas to get a different sort of adventure to a traditional sun and sand holiday. There are fantastic fleets of vessels available to the modern day cruise passenger with everything you could find and more on a typical beach resort. Furthermore, one can easily find great Cruise deals available online, ensuring you make good savings. But the main advantage cruising has over traditional holidays is the value for money. For instance, Caribbean cruises aren’t as prohibitively expensive as before. And the further you go on a cruise the more you can fit into your holiday. If you are a first time cruiser it’s really up to you on what type of  vacation cruise you want to go on. Perhaps, it’s advisable to opt for European destination (if leaving from the UK) cruises. This would provide a good taster, ensuring a good build up to a longer duration cruise. Also, one is never short of activities to do whilst onboard. Many modern ships have state of the art entertainment facilities and a whole host of activities. P&O cruises, especially, have a range of activities on board their ships including fitness center and swimming pools. There are cruise deals out there so it’s best to ensure you get the best price for you and all your fellow cruisers.

 

Off and away!

Cruises are a great opportunity for all sorts of people to mix on board a luxury vessel. It gives experienced cruisers and first-timers to share a great experience and see some fabulous places. Whatever, your reason for going on a sea voyage, be sure to do some initial research online. Also, find out what do you can expect onboard, what itineraries are offered, how long the cruise is, if any kind of cruise deals exist, what kind of cabins are offered and most importantly how much is the cruise going to cost. But it needn’t be expensive. Deals are found in abundance; particularly Royal Caribbean cruises seem very competitive in the market. But, these days one is flooded with choices. It is worth looking around and getting the best possible price. However, if you opt for selecting cruises occurring at peak times in the summer holidays expect to pay more than usual. For many the transition from a beach holiday in the Algarve to a cruise holiday can be a hard one. But many companies offer so much more, Cunard cruises being one of them. Finally, it’s important to get an idea of what clothes to pack for formal and informal events, getting great cruise deals, and also getting the right season for your cruise. After all, the last thing you want is going on a cruising holiday and being disappointed because of the weather. So the most important thing is doing enough research before you go.

 

Tips On How To Find Last Minute Travel Bargains

If you do much traveling, then you know that it can be a lot to take care of when you’re trying to make plans for your travels. Most people will make plans six months or more in advance, especially when they’re planning a big trip. This gives you time to get everything in order and to find the best deals available, but you may be missing out on last minute travel bargains.

There may be times when you find yourself making last minute travel plans and when this happens, you need to know how to find some bargains. You can’t just call up a travel agency and expect to get a good deal just like that.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a little spontaneous and still save money with last minute trips.

You could check out Grand Circle River Cruises which offer last minute discounts on unbooked tickets. Many airlines, hotels and rental car services will offer discounts to last minute travelers because they would rather cut their prices than not make any money at all. Therefore, hotels offer some excellent last minute deals on their rooms, airlines will give you a great rate for vacant seats that needs to be filled and car rental agencies will often reduce their daily rates. Just keep an eye out and you are sure to find some last minute travel bargains in your area.

So, whether you’re making last minute plans for family holidays or if you just want to take a spontaneous trip, the following information can help you get the best last minute travel deals. When you save money on your traveling plans, you’ll have more to spend on yourself.

Tips On How To Find Last Minute Travel Bargains

  • Never be afraid to ask for discounts. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know for sure what options are available.
  • Search the web for last minute travel specials. You never know what you can find when you dig deep and there are some websites that specialize in last minute travel plans.
  • Consider taking a package deal because sometimes you can get better deals when you book your seat on a plane, the hotel and the rental car as a package.
  • Be flexible if you truly want a good deal. If you’re not picky about the day and time that you travel, you can find excellent deals.
  • Do your traveling in off-peak times instead of weekends and holidays.
  • When you find a good deal, take it immediately. If you wait and try to get it later, the offer will most likely be gone.
  • Be persistent and search for a good deal. If you sit around and wait for them to come to you, you’re not going to have much luck.

You can even make 90 day last minute travel plans or less when going on long trips such as visiting another county when you follow the tips listed above. It’s also vital that you stay informed and always know the details surrounding your trip. This would include such things as flight times, options for rental cars, hotel information and so forth. Last minute travel bargains are available anytime of the year when you put forth the time and effort to find them.

How to Spend Less Time Blogging and More Time Traveling

This is a post by Dave and Deb from the Casino Trust Rank NZ who have been monitoring online and offline gambling facilities in NZ and also all over the world.

One of the most important aspects of running a travel blog is being able to travel.  This can be a difficult task.  While many travelers start up a travel blog at the beginning of their first around the world trip, many fail or lose interest part way through their travels.

Running a successful travel blog takes a full time commitment and this can really cut into your quality time seeing the world.

How can a person travel and enjoy their time exploring the earth while running a successful travel blog?

It is much easier to keep up to date with everything when you are at home in the comforts of your living room, but on the road any situation can pop up.  You may be in the middle of the jungle for several days or climbing a mountain without Internet access. Many countries have terrible and slow connections and you may find that you cannot upload photos or even get into your site.

You have to be prepared for any situation and you never want to have a blog that hasn’t been updated for long periods of time.

We have developed a system that not only allows us to travel, but to go on multiday adventures without even looking at the Internet while still managing to post content 7 days a week.   While things are easier when we are not travelling, we have our greatest increase in traffic and interest when we are out exploring the world. So our goal is to be on the road as much as we can each year.

Here are the ways that we manage to stay on top of social media, post content regularly and manage to contribute to other blogs through guest posts and interviews regularly.

  1. Schedule Posts

Before leaving on a trip, we have two weeks of blog posts already scheduled.  We stay two weeks ahead on our blog at all times. This gives us a cushion if we find ourselves in a situation where we can’t get to an Internet.  Even though we are not in the location that we are writing about at the time, nobody knows it.  Only our core group of friends and fellow bloggers know the truth about where we are, but they are not the audience we are writing for. We write for people searching for information on a location or people that are interested in our adventures and don’t know us personally. They still get the story, just two weeks later than when we were there.

  1. Schedule Social Bookmarking Sites

It is extremely important not to fall out of the loop of social networks.  We receive a lot of our traffic from twitter, facebook and StumbleUpon. We learned early in our travels that if we didn’t tweet and share other people’s content, they would forget about us. We use a combination of Hootesuite and  su.pr to schedule tweets.  Bloggers that we know who put out good solid content regularly are tweeted automatically from Hootesuite using their RSS/Atom application.   In doing so, we can instantly share their content and not even be online.

Su.pr is another great way to spread out our tweets and to post on facebook. We will spend a day scheduling people’s content to be tweeted and shared at different times throughout the week.  This allows us to add a human element to our scheduled tweets.  Autotweeting doesn’t allow any personality, but when scheduling tweets with your own little comments it allows you to engage with your audience.

We also use su.pr because it gives people an easy option to submit our posts to StumbleUpon.  It must work because we receive a lot of traffic from StumbleUpon.

Use Facebook Effectively – Start a fan page and use networked blogs to syndicate your content on facebook. It will automatically pull your feed from your blog and post your content onto facebook as soon as it is published.  This lets your fans instantly know when your new post is up.  You can also schedule facebook status updates through Hootesuite.

  1. Photos

We host our photos on SmugMug and Flickr. This allows us to mass upload photos to be used on the website.  SmugMug houses our more professional travel photos while Flickr hosts our snapshots. Both types of photos are just as important to further the story of a post.  These sites are useful because it is quick and easy to upload several photos at once rather than inserting one photo at a time to the blog.  All we have to do once we write the article is to link the photos to the post where we want them. This saves valuable time online.

  1. Write posts ahead of time

There is a lot of down time when traveling. You can spend hours on a bus or sitting in an airport. Use that time to do work.  Pre write your post on your laptop and sort and choose your photos for uploading. When you have an Internet connection all you have to do is copy and paste your content into the site. And when it comes to your photos, all you have to do is upload the album that you have already made.

I even pre write my tags and the excerpt for my post so that I don’t waste time having to think about anything at the Internet.  The less time I have to spend online, the more time I have to enjoy my travels.

  1. Keep a Journal

When you are out on a tour jot down some notes. This will help you write a post faster than trying to remember details or having to look up information.  I brainstorm ideas all the time in my journal and keep it close by for quick reference.

  1. Buy an iPhone or Blackberry

We always carry an iPhone to answer emails.  Advertisers contact us daily and we would hate to miss out on a business opportunity because we can’t get on the Internet.  We buy a SIM card and data plan in each country as soon as we enter. Our iPhone has become one of our most important items because its an excellent way to stay connected.   We can send out tweets and facebook updates and moderate comments on our blog all while stuck in transit.

  1. Enjoy your travels

We travel hard and then we work hard. We will go for several days at a time unplugged but nobody knows it. By doing all the legwork, we stay connected and have posts coming out regularly while we are off enjoying the adventure of a lifetime.  Once we are finished our adventure, we then settle in for a couple of days to catch up on our work and write our next round of posts.

Take advantage of the many times that you will be stuck waiting for boats, trains, planes and buses to get your work done. There is nothing else to do in a waiting area but wait; you might as well do your blogging so that you don’t have to work when you arrive at your destination.

We like to immerse ourselves in our travels.  We aren’t a type of traveler that sits in one place for months on end. We take part in adventures; we go on treks and move around a lot.  The last thing we want to do is spend too much time on the Internet.