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Janet Scraper, ECC, 954-525-7753
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  • 2 Why we LOVE Traveling

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    Why we LOVE traveling Welcome to my first attempt at Blogging! I thought the first topic I would write about would be to try to define why we love traveling and why there is a void in our gut while we stay home. I also wanted to say a few words about what went into the creation of my new website. 2020 has been a very challenging year for all of us, in just about every aspect of our lives. For those of us in the travel industry, it has been a time for creatively reimagining our business. After all the rebooking and cancelations, I had time to reflect on why so many of us feel the need to travel, why is it that travel is my biggest passion and how I was going to cope with not being able to go far afield this year? For me it has been an extremely long practice of patience to stay home. While contemplating why we love to travel, I spent a lot of time identifying travel options that would deliver the unique experiences we crave, while offering more security for the health and safety of my clients. I spent several months of this down-time creating an entirely new website featuring travel options that I hope will appeal to my clients and bring in new clients. This work kept my mind on my travel business, encouraged me to study, and acquire new specialty designations within travel options I had not focused on before. Best of all, doing all the research and writing allowed me to travel in my mind. To live vicariously thru the words and pictures I chose. I hope you will check out my website to explore those options in more detail https://arrowdiscoverytravel.com. I am also starting this Blog, to keep my clients up to date on new offerings, trends and reflections on travel. I encourage you to comment on the posts and let me know what you would like to read about. Please share any posts you think your friends and family might enjoy. For this post, tell us what you love the most about traveling and where you want to go next. I am new at Blogging, so your feedback and input will really help me figure out what type of information you value.  So why do so many of us not only love to travel, but NEED to travel? There are many reasons. This is a good time to share some of my favorite travel quotes          1.  Traveling changes us. Every time we go somewhere new or even revisit a favorite place, we experience new things and make new memories We learn more about a culture or experience nature in a new way, from a different perspective We build on the knowledge we have We create new shared memories with spouses, friends, and family. As we learn and experience more, we add that information to our current selves and have a larger frame of reference We become MORE 2. Travel takes us out of our routine and opens our minds. We learn to be spontaneous and go with the flow We learn patience. If something doesn't work out as we planned, we do something else that might end up being a cherished experience It teaches us to think creatively and adapt to the here and now 3. We learn to make lemonade out of lemons. A wrong turn takes us to a local market or parade celebrating something we don’t even know about We find off the map places that have enduring charm and warm our hearts We develop a sense of humor, because the mishaps of today, will be the funny stories we tell when we get home 4. We learn to appreciate the little things. A cool breeze on a sunny day The local that tries to help us find our way A bottle of wine in a café with a stunning view Discovering an awesome local food The love of our spouse who puts up with our idiosyncrasies and does what we need to make sure we have fun or to brighten our day 5. We learn to smile and how far being nice will take us. We learn a smile given is a smile returned How being nice is results in unexpected favors 6. We meet the locals and witness their kindness A shop keeper that spends an hour helping us find the perfect gift The hotel maître d who tells us where the locals eat The bus driver that makes sure we don't miss our stop and tells us when and where to catch the return bus The waiter or restaurant owner who becomes our friend Our private tour guide who bends over backwards to make our tour exceptional The Vintner who shares his wine shows us his vineyard and tell us his family's story Our taxi driver who volunteers to show us around for a great price The staff at our tented camp on safari, who provide every luxury we could ask for and makes sure we have everything we need, before we know we need it Our safari guide who teaches us the Swahili words to the song Hakuna Mata, which we sing over and over hoping to remember 7. We learn to make friends with strangers The lovely couple from our tour group that is staying at our hotel or is from our hometown, or is from halfway across the globe, but we click and hang out together, maybe becoming lifelong friends. The guy next to us at the local bar that tells us about local places or events we didn't know about 8. We become strong and self-assured. We learn we are capable of going somewhere new and making our way We learn confidence, independence and freedom We acquire problem-solving skills and learn that we can overcome difficult situations and we can make new friends 9. We learn to value experiences over things. We learn about different cultures, how we are different, how we are the same and why. We learn to like new food, new fashion, new customs, a few phrases of a new language, a history we didn't really appreciate and most of all new people who we come to love. 10. In short, we become MORE.       What do you love the most about traveling? What are your favorite travel memories? Where do you want to go next? I hope you are inspired to start planning your next adventure! Contact me janet@arrowdiscoverytravel.com 954-525-7753 Office 954-600-2555 Cell.    

  • 0 Bubble Travel

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    Bubble Travel Everyone I talk to is beyond eager to go somewhere and do something! However, their concern for health and safety is high. The first trip you plan will likely be with family or close friends, in a way that avoids crowds, but allows you to spend time together doing something fun. This article offers a few ideas for safe travel right now. By Bubble Travel I am referring to traveling with those in your personal bubble, which starts those in your household. By now, you have evaluated the activities of nearby family members and a few friends and have added those you consider safe to your bubble. It is recommended (even if it's not required) that everyone receives a negative Covid-19 test before traveling together. You can start thinking about the types of vacations that provide minimum exposure to those outside your bubble group. This will be the first level of travel most people are comfortable with.   Here are a few of the safest vacation ideas RV Adventures – On an RV Adventure, you can take a road trip for a weekend, a week, or a month, staying close to home or covering long distances. You can even bring your family pets. Your RV contains all the equipment you will need, a fully equipped kitchen, a bathroom with shower, and a place to lay your head at night. You can rent provisioning kits for dining and cooking needs, as well as towels and sheets. Before traveling, check out the locations, amenities, pricing, and availability of space at campgrounds in the areas you want to travel, and make reservations if necessary. The most popular sizes of RV’s available for rental accommodate 3-7 passengers. You can rent more than one RV and caravan for larger groups.   Villa Rentals – Since April 2020, there has been a mad dash to add US domestic villas to the portfolio. It has been a little slow because every villa offered by Arrow Discovery Travel is held to a high standard and is personally visited and approved by the company representing them. That said, there are villa rentals available in at least 14 states and the number is growing. Villas are available in a wide range of prices and sizes to accommodate any group. In some resort areas, there are condos available, and it is possible to rent multiple units in the same resort for multiple families. Villas offer a larger space for your family/friends to be together while being able to isolate from the outside or explore the surrounding area and activities, whatever you are comfortable with. Extra sanitation measures have been put in place for your safety. There are many large luxury villas with a slew of amenities for guests of all ages to enjoy. There is also a good selection of villas available in the Caribbean. Yacht Charters -Crewed Yacht charter vacations are similar to villas, but you get to be out on the water, and you can sail to many destinations. You are provided with a Captain and a Chef/Hostess, so you don’t have to worry about a thing, except enjoying your maties and the sun and sea. In the US and the British Virgin Islands, you can even book by the cabin (double occupancy) (6-8 guests max guests onboard) if you don’t have enough people in your party to charter. Even if you book a single cabin, you are limiting your exposure to a very small group, all of which would have to have been tested before boarding. You can also charter multiple boats if your party is larger, and you can sail around together. Contact Janet for more information on these vacation ideas janet@arrowdiscoverytravel.com 954-525-7753 Are you likely to try one of these vacation ideas with your Bubble group?

  • 0 Easygoing Active Luxury Vacations

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    Easygoing Active, Luxury Vacations Just the right combination of lively and luxury   A new kind of active vacation has been introduced, which I believe will appeal to many of my clients, Easygoing Active Vacations. Escape the crowds and have an authentic one-of-a-kind vacation. Immerse yourself in the destination. For those of us who want to be active but don’t want to commit to a full day of hiking or biking, these vacations offer about 2-4 hours of biking or walking each day, combined with time to relax and experience the local treasures. You have the freedom to set your own pace each day. This option is also great for couples or groups with varied interests – you can explore new surroundings or relax by the pool or both. Breeze over the hills on your e-bike, stroll along scenic footpaths, or mix it up on a multi-sport adventure. Unwind in luxury boutique properties that showcase the charm of each destination and enjoy authentic, incredible local cuisine and hospitality. Each itinerary is hand-crafted to allow you to experience the local flavor of your destination. For now, these small group luxury vacations are offered for adults only, singles, friends, and couples. World-class trip leaders and local guides provide an in-depth exploration of the region’s hidden gems. Each group is supported along the way with a private van. Biking in the Loire Valley France Hiking in Switzerland   There are more than two dozen itineraries in destinations worldwide, including several in the USA. You can choose which style you prefer; e-biking, walking, or multi-sport. There is even an e-bike tour in combination with a Danube River cruise. Close to home, you can explore Maine, California Wine Country, Kenai in Alaska, the San Juan Islands in the Pacific NW, Utah & Arizona’s National Parks, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Canadian Rockies. Overseas itineraries feature Tuscany, Iceland, New Zealand, Peru, France, England, Ireland, Switzerland, Spain, and Norway, plus many more countries. GO PRIVATE - If you have 8 or more in your party, you can create a private group GO CUSTOM – From a honeymoon for 2, to a family reunion to a 100+ person corporate trip, you can design your dream trip with a customized itinerary. Contact Arrow Discovery Travel today to learn more about Easygoing Active Vacations   Multisport adventure in Kenai, Alaska What do you think of this style of vacation? Is this something of interest to you? I am just getting started with blogging and want to learn what interests you. What topics would you like to read about in my Blog?

  • 0 Portugal in 10 weeks - Lisbon Day 1

    5.00 of 1 votes

    10 Weeks in Portugal – Lisbon Prologue  On February 28, 2022, my husband Steve and I embarked on our first international trip since the COVID-19 lockdown.  We were beyond excited to get back to Europe!  We have long planned that once or twice a year, we would take a slow travel adventure for 3-6 months at a time.  While we have been to many, many places in Europe and beyond, we could only be away from home/work for 3 weeks or less and have yearned to spend more time, living like a local vs being a tourist. For those of you who are not familiar, US citizens can only spend 90 days in the Schengen area of Europe and then have to exit for 90 days. So, you can spend 90 out of 180 days in the collective Schengen countries. (you should exit on day 89 to be sure). There are penalties for overstaying your Visa, such as being banned from entering again, so plan carefully. We decided to spend 10 weeks in Portugal for our first adventure. The remaining two weeks we had available were left open. It turned out to be easier said than done to stay in one place long enough to live like a local for a travel agent who wants to see everything, so we were tourists, but we were able to take time to relax, explore at an easy pace, work as needed, rest, get to know our neighborhoods very well, and even meet some new friends.  I did take online European Portuguese (not Brazilian!) lessons for several months, but the month before we left was so busy with work and getting ready to go, that I forgot most of it by the time we got there. While we managed to get by without knowing much Portuguese, it would have been very helpful to know at least the fundamentals during our trip. We covered a lot of ground in those ten weeks, so I will try to break up my Blogs into manageable pieces. We stayed 2 weeks to a month in 4 different geographic areas of Portugal to use as a home base for exploring the areas within a couple of hours. Our home bases were 2 weeks           Lisbon 2 weeks           Faro - Algarve 1 month           Caldas de Rainha – Silver Coast 2 weeks           Porto Lisbon was jam-packed with awesome things to do and see, so I will break it into segments. This one is: LISBON – DAY 1 We arrived in Lisbon on March 1, 2022, at 7:45 am.  We weren’t the only ones who had decided to travel, there was a HUGE crowd, and a 2-hour wait to get thru immigration! We had to wait until 11 am to drop off our bags at our apartment, so we rested at an airport cafe, then took a cab into town (about 30 Euros). We were pleasantly surprised that we could check in early, so we unpacked a bit and then set out to explore the neighborhood.  Line to Immigration Our Building, Nata Fina on left Stairs to the street above Our apartment was a lucky find. It was a 3rd-floor apartment in a modern building with a lift.  It was furnished nicely and appeared to be newly remodeled. The bathroom was a good size and very nice. The bedroom had a comfortable bed and lots of storage. There was a sectional sofa and a dining room table in the living area, and the large screen TV even had Netflix and many English-speaking TV stations!  The kitchen had everything we could need, except ice cube trays. We were told to buy ice at the store. We had many things we would not see again in Portugal, AC and heat and a clothes washer/drier combo. We even had a dishwasher, but we didn’t use it. We were very comfortable for the two weeks we stayed there. The location of our apartment was excellent, technically in the neighborhood of Mouraria, on the border of Baxia and Alfama.  We were across the street from the Martim Moniz Square and Metro Station in an area that is known as one of the most multi-cultural areas of Lisbon. It was March 1, but the area was buzzing with activity with what appeared to be locals going about their day. The famous Tram 28 starts on this square, at the foot of the Castelo Sao Jorge. While it has more of a local feel than other more well-known areas of Lisbon, it is literally a block to both Alfama and Baxia, and a few more to Bario Alto/Chiado, Restauradores/ Avenida de la Libertad. We were across the street from the Mundial Hotel, known for scenic vistas from its rooftop bar, a short block from a nice Continente grocery store, and surrounded by bakeries, local restaurants, shops, and food markets. Just around the corner was Figueroa Square with the Rossio Metro station and one block from the Rossio train station. The main pedestrian avenue, Rua Augusta which leads to the famous arches, Arco da Rua Augusta, on the Lisbon waterfront was just a few minutes' walk from our apartment. It might have taken 15 minutes at most to walk to the Tagus River from our apartment.  We also took notice of the huge staircase next to the apartment, leading to the street above.  We understood that was a notice that Lisbon is a very hilly city. Praca Martim Moniz Castelo Sao Jorge The first order of business was to get our Metro passes, so we headed to the Martim Moniz station.  We had a bit of trouble figuring out what to choose at the machine, but a nice lady who worked there, helped us out and we got our passes and learned how to refill our cards. By now we were feeling a bit peckish, so decided to get a bite to eat.    Right next door to our apartment was a Pastelaria (bakery), Nata Fina, so we went there for lunch. We introduced ourselves to the staff since we will probably be regulars. Steve ordered Bacalhou a Bras (accent over a) codfish and shredded potatoes cooked in olive oil with egg, (and salad as garnish) and I went to look at the selection in the shop. Nuno, behind the counter, patiently told me what was in several items that looked "lunch-like". I ordered ham and cheese in a flaky pastry. Peter, our waiter said it was called a Miranda (picnic) so I guess people get those to eat on the go. There were several combinations on offer. The food was really good! I also got a wine (huge portion), Steve got a big beer and we got two Pastel de Nata for dessert (small egg custard tart, famous in Lisbon) total of 20 Euros. We forgot to take pictures of our food. Nata Fina Nuno and Nat Fina selection After lunch, we went to get some groceries and supplies, at the Continente grocery across the street from the square. We wandered around looking at everything, not knowing what exactly we were looking at. LOL. We got some basic supplies for the apartment, some kind of cheese and sandwich meat, some bread, Hellman’s Mayo, (yeah) coffee, etc, then stood in the wine section staring at rows of wine that we had no knowledge of. We decide to buy a variety of types, all under 10 Euro, most under 5 Euro. We could not find ice or ice cube trays.  The total grocery bill was under 30 Euros. (we got the wrong size coffee pods – hint, take one that was provided with you so you can get the right size for your coffee maker).  Stopped by an Asian grocery store a few doors down from the apartment in the other direction and found a bag of ice and bought some paper expresso cups to make ice cubes. Got home, put away the groceries, and called it a day.  Went to pour a glass of wine and found the wine opener in the apartment had seen its end of days. Luckily, I always pack a wine opener, so we were good to go. I just have to say, travel sooner than later. Our bodies are not as resilient as they once were.  We were laughing and crying at how tired and achy we were.  But we know from experience that this too shall pass, and we will bounce back after a good night’s rest and some more exercise. Wine Selection at the grocery Deceased corkscrew Success!            (Corkscrew is next to what was to become my favorite wine, JP from the Alentejo, 2.99 Euro)    

  • 0 Lisbon - Day 2

    5.00 of 1 votes

      Today we are feeling much better. We woke up around 5 am due to the time change (and early bedtime) but were able to fall back asleep for a couple of hours. Had a leisurely morning drinking coffee, and found we have a great shower. Yeah!    Steve couldn’t find his mini i-pad charger, so went in search of one. Found one nearby!  Catastrophe avoided! We headed out around 11 am. It was a beautiful sunny day. We walked one block west over to Figueira Square (Praca de Figueira).  This is a happening spot where all the tuk-tuks line up, tram stops, the Rosio metro station, and lots of shops and restaurants line the square. The next block west was Praca Dom Pedro IV, an even bigger square, from which the main pedestrian thoroughfare, Rua Augusta, leads to the Tagus River. We headed south towards the river via Rua Augusta.  I was just starting to notice that the sidewalks and pedestrian areas are all tiled in black and white little squares in various designs. Finding new tile designs on the walkways would become an obsession.  Rua Augusta has shops and restaurants lining the way, with seating for the restaurants under shade in the middle. We passed the famous Elevador de Santa Justa that will take you up to visit the Carmo Archeological Museum (the ruins of the Carmo Convent - which we will visit another day)       Praca Figueira Pedestrian Area Elevador de Santa Justa Arco da Rua Agusta ahead                   Tiles on Rua Augusta Praco Comercio & Arco Agusta Side Halls of Arco Augusta   We continued toward the huge archway we could see ahead (Arco da Rua Augusta), which opens onto the main square on the Lisbon riverfront, Praca do Comercio.  After checking out the action on the riverfront, we headed east along the river and came to the ferry port (Cais do Sodre). Inside there were beautiful tile mosaics depicting all of the historic trading areas of Portugal.  We continued east along the river, past the Cruise Port to our destination - the Fado Museum.   Mosaics of Algarve town seals     I really enjoyed the Fado Museum. Fado (from the word Fate) is a traditional music genre of Portugal. The current genre can be traced back to at least the early 1820s, but some theories of its origins go back to influences by medieval and Moorish times.  The performers from the 1800s were mostly from the working class, namely sailors, bohemians, and courtesans, who sang and danced Fado in taverns.  The tales are sad and melancholy, often about the sea or the plight of the poor and loss and longing. The instruments played are the Portuguese Guitar (uniquely shaped12 string) along with other Portuguese stringed instruments. The museum explained the history of Fado, displayed instruments, famous musicians, had samples of Fado music throughout, and some miniature and full-sized mock-ups of the taverns and neighborhoods where the music was played. The museum is located in Alfama, the neighborhood where the music is thought to have originated and is now regularly played in taverns at night. Portugese Fado Guitar Fado Painting Shadow Box Historic Alfama    Mock-up of Fado Tavern After the museum, we headed north up the hill towards Castelo Sao Jorge. Along the way, we found a little restaurant with tables outside (Morgadinha de Alfama) and stopped for lunch.  Steve had the traditional grilled sardines (with potatoes and salad) and I had garlic prawns. Very yummy!  Steve had a big beer, I had 2 glasses of white wine, and the bill was 30 Euros, including the tip. Compared to south Florida, the prices here are very reasonable, especially for wine and beer.   Lunch and walk to the Castle    We continued up the hill (very steep) to the Castelo de Sao Jorge, one of Lisbon’s most iconic monuments, located on its highest hill. The current castle was built during 900-1000 when Lisbon was an important Moorish port. There is archeological evidence of Celtic tribes, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, and Muslims, indicating humans have been occupying this area since at least 8 BC.  In 1147 the first king of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henrique captured the castle from the Moors and it figured in many historic Portuguese events. An earthquake in 1531 and another in 1755 destroyed much of the castle and there was limited repurposing of the site. In 1910 It was declared a National Monument and during the 1900s careful restoration work was carried out, resulting in the monument you see today.   Castelo Sao Jorge Ramparts Castelo Sao Jorge interior Tagus River view from Castle         Peacock Peacock Stay to the right, Danger above! The castle grounds are delightful to stroll around, learn the history, see the panoramic vista of Lisbon from its highest hill and enjoy the park-like settings scattered throughout.  Many peacocks were strutting around,  putting on a show. Plan a couple of hours to cover the castle and the surrounding neighborhood, Alfama. Scenes around Alfama Celebration Decorations Cool Mosaic After a casual stroll around the neighborhood, we walked down the other side of the steep hill toward home.  Back at 4:30 pm. We made a sandwich from our grocery supplies, opened another bottle of wine, and settled in to relax for the evening. I tried to connect the Amazon Fire Stick I brought but couldn’t figure it out. (never did) However, our TV got Netflix and lots of American channels (unusual). We watched several episodes of the new season of Emily in Paris.  Went to bed around 12:30 but couldn’t fall asleep. The change in time zones is a bit disruptive, but we adapt fairly quickly.  

  • 0 Lisbon Day 3

    0.00 of 0 votes

      Steve got up earlier than I did and went to the grocery store to get the right sized coffee capsules and look around again. He brought home a wine he found for 1.75 Euro? I’m skeptical… It was raining a bit this morning, but it cleared up and we went out around 11:30 to take the famous Tram 28.  This tram is supposed to take you around all the popular areas of Lisbon and is mentioned in all the tourist info, so I felt the need to try it. There was a very long line, so we talked to a Tuk Tuk driver and he told us the Tram 25 down the street would take us to Belem. No line, so we took that one.  Live and learn moment.  Tram 25 did in fact terminate at the same place that Tram 28 does, but while we were expecting to end up near the Belem Tower, we were about 3 miles from there.  The Tram ride was crowded and stopped a lot, (mostly locals running errands) so we didn’t fancy taking it back. The Tram 25 route is more for local transportation and doesn't go by many tourist spots. You cannot stay on the Tram when you reach the end of the line, you must get off and wait for the next one.  So, we started to walk home. Another live and learn moment. While we did discover many interesting places we would never have found along the walk home, it was very far, and up and down many, many, very, very steep hills. (just over 2 miles for us, but it seemed much further) We had seen a beautiful church a few blocks back, so we headed in that direction.  Before we got there, we found another interesting church to check out, and just behind that was a cool looking Market, (Mercado De Campo Ourique) so we stopped in there to check it out.  The fresh fish market was closing down, but there were many rows of other goodies in the center, as well as food and drink, so we explored. We didn’t buy anything, but it was a trendy concept and we will look for other places like this closer to home.     Spotted from Tram, Basilica de Estrela Discovered  Santo Conestavel Santo Conestavel entrance Mercado de Campo Ourique From the market, we wandered thru the commercial district of that neighborhood, in the direction of the church we were looking for. Lots of shops and restaurants along the way.  We came upon a lovely park (Jardim Guerra Junqueiro) which was between the street we were on and the church.  Went in to look around, found a café there, and decided to stop for refreshment and enjoy the park for a while.  Walk to the Park Jardim Guerra Junqueiro In the end, we decided not to go into the church we had set off to see but went out another exit from the park and walked east thru several nice neighborhoods in the Estrela area. Up and down hill after hill. Great exercise. Steve had to drag me up some of the hills. BUT, we would never have found this area if we were on a schedule and didn’t have time to go exploring.  After all, this is exactly what we wanted to experience during our extended time in Lisbon, so explore we did. Tram 28 Steep Hills of Lisbon Praca Luis de Camoes (famous poet) We ended up in Baxia/Chiado and were ready to sit down and have a cold drink and a bite, so we found a cute café, Brasileira do Chiado, in a very active square near the Metro stop.  The prices in this popular tourist area were higher than we had seen before, but not outrageous.     Brasileira do Chiado   After our snack, we continued our walk home and arrived around 4:30 pm. Tried the 1.75 Euro wine, and honestly, it wasn't much different from the others, tho I still prefer the JP from the Alentejo.  Pictures of some sights along the walk home. Praca Dom Pedro IV Beautiful Tiled Building Internacional Hotel

  • 1 Lisbon Day 4 - Belem

    4.00 of 2 votes

      Today we took the train to Belem, to explore the western area of Lisbon along the Tagus River.   Belem Tower is about a mile from the train station, so we walked along the river through several beautiful parks, by many lovely residences, and the Belem Palace, the Official residence of the President of Portugal.      Afonso De Albuquerque  Belem Palace Gazebo in Jardim Vasco da Gama   Among the parks is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries). This very impressive monument is 170 feet tall and was built to commemorate the Age of Discoveries in Portugal. It was inaugurated in 1960, on the 500th Anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator, who discovered the Azores, Madeira, and Cape Verde.  The Monument to the Discoveries is made up of a group of sculptures that represent the prow of a caravel (a small sailing ship constructed by the Portuguese to explore the Atlantic Ocean). Leading the ship is Prince Henry the Navigator and behind him are many figures who were pivotal to this era, including other explorers, scientists, cartographers, royalty, missionaries, and artists.     Monument of Discoveries Close-up of the figures   There is an observation tower on top of the monument, where you can get a great view of the stunning, 164 feet diameter tile mosaic of the compass rose and world map, the Monastery de Jeronomios, across the street, and a birds-eye view of this area of Lisbon.  You can reach the observation tower either by climbing stairs or by elevator.   Tile Mosaic of Compass Rose with World Map Riverwalk between Monument & Belem Tower   Next, we went to the Belem Tower, located in the lovely, wooded, Jardim da Torre de Belem.  Officially the Tower of Saint Vincent, the tower is a 16th-century fortification that served as a point of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. Of course, we had to buy tickets to see the interior of the tower, which was surprisingly elaborate.  We also visited the Military Museum next door, which was very informative, as we did not know much of anything about Portuguese Military history.   West side of Belem Tower Cannons inside the tower   Ramparts along the River Tagus River side of Tower from ramparts East side of Tower   In between the Tower and the Museum, there was a large tiered sitting area along the Riverwalk and a Violinist was performing.  We brought a picnic for lunch today, so we found a spot, took in the music, and people-watching while we rested up and enjoyed our sandwiches and wine. Across the street from the Belem Tower is the Mosterio dos Jeronimos, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lisbon, so we headed over there. Words are inadequate to describe the size and ornate beauty of this place. The Monastery of Jeronimos is the most impressive symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth during the Age of Discovery.  The first stone was laid in 1502 by King Manuel I, on the site of a hermitage founded by Henry the Navigator. Vasco da Gama and his crew spent the night in prayer there before his fabled trip to India in 1497. The Monastery of St. Mary of Belem was built to commemorate the safe return of Vasco da Gama and his men. King Manuel later dedicated the monastery to the Order of Jerome, whose spiritual job was to give guidance to sailors and pray for the king’s soul.   Exterior View of Monastery from west side Ornate Portal on the south side   An exquisite example of European Gothic style, much of the design is characterized by elaborate sculptural details and maritime motifs. This style became known as “Manueline” and can be seen in many structures throughout Portugal.  It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Monument in 1983. Many famous Portuguese are buried in the monastery, including Vasco da Gama, poets, such as Luis de Camoes, the poet who wrote the epic The Lusiads, glorifying the triumphs of De Gama and his compatriots, King Manual I and King Sabastiao.   Open Passage around Cloister Incredibly fine stonework Interior Room, Paintings of Apostles   Refectory Detail of the Tile Mosaic in the Refectory Nave of the Church   After this already full day, my back was hurting, but we pushed on to visit the nearby, very famous, Pasteis de Belem, the original home of the Pastel de Nata (but here, Pasteis de Belem) Founded in 1837, the pastries are handmade, following traditional methods, using an ancient recipe handed down from the Monastery of Jeronimos.  This was a “must do” for me, while so close, no matter how touristy or tired we were.  The line for takeout was around the block, but we noticed you could eat inside without a wait. We were seated right away. Yeah!  The inside is massive and has many different rooms and is decorated in beautiful blue tiles (Azuletos).  We rested and enjoyed our cappuccinos and natas.  They were heavenly and hit the spot.     Line for takeout at Pasteis de Belem Inside, Azuletos (blue tiles) everywhere   Cappuccinos and Natas Stylish Ladies' room   Antique wash basin in Ladie's room Gift shop leaving Pasteis de Belem                     The train station was not too far away so we made our way home. 17.000 steps for me today, no wonder our backs hurt, and our legs are on fire.  Arrived home around 5:30 pm.  Poured a glass of wine, rested for a while, and then Steve went a few doors down the street and got takeout Chinese food. Pretty good, but different. So much for Lisbon at leisure.  There are so many things to see here, I‘m not sure two weeks will be enough.  We are only on day 4 and feel a need to get to everything right away.  Maybe week 2 will be more leisurely?  


Contact Arrow Discovery Travel to help you find the experience best suited for your party.



Janet Beazley Scraper, ECC, CTP

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