Category Archives: Tourism news

My Top 21 recommendations for what to see and do in Havana, Cuba!

I arrived in Havana on 3 July 2019, with no preparation of what I wanted to see or do, except that I wanted to learn to dance the Salsa. I was lucky that a slightly out of date ‘Cuba’ Guide by Lonely Planet was lying in the lounge of the San Lazaro BnB I stayed at. I annexed it for the more than three weeks that I stayed there, and found useful background information in it, but perhaps it contains too much information, not just focused on Havana, my only destination in Cuba, therefore making a large part of the book irrelevant to me. Much more useful was the Guidebook ‘300 Things to love about Havana’ by Heidi Hollinger, focused on Havana, divided into the various suburbs of Havana, with an address, a good representative photograph, and largely accurate in its descriptions, even if published in 2018. 
 

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Sweet Service Award goes to Fusterlandia; Sour Service Award goes to Hotel Inglaterra in Havana!

The Sweet Service Award goes to Fusturlandia, and its creator José Rodrigues Fuster, for creating the most visually dynamic suburb in north Havana, created with sculptures and tiles, creating a tourist destination that benefits his neighbours in the suburb, who all have tiny shops on their properties, selling arts and crafts. Fuster himself makes his money by selling paintings and some ceramics, not taking an entrance fee. A visual and sensory delight in Havana.  
 

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Sweet Service Award goes to Lisbon train service; Sour Service Award goes to Diana Tours in Lisbon!

The Sweet Service Award goes to the Lisbon train service, for its amazing train to Porto, and for the discount I received when making the booking at the Lisbon station, Initially the ticket seller told me that the second class tickets were sold out, and that I would have to buy a first class ticket at €85 for the three hour trip. He understood my question about a pensioner price, asked to see my passport, and lo and behold, I was given a second class ticket at €22! I mistakenly sat in the first class section initially, and the seats in both classes were almost identical, with footrests, and WiFi! South African trains have a long way to go! Continue reading →

‘Lisbon under Stars’ an impactful multi-media modern presentation of Lisbon’s history!

Prior to stating my Portuguese Coastal Camino from Porto, I spent three days in Lisbon, sightseeing as a tourist. One of the highlights of visiting the city was the 360 degree audio and light show ‘LISBON UNDER STARS – immersive Spectacle’, performed in the open air ruins of the Carmo Church, now an archeological museum. 
 
 I had read about the show ‘Lisbon under Stars’ in the TAP inflight magazine whilst flying from London to Lisbon, and when my friend Arno and I walked last the ticket booth by chance, it was meant to be, and we booked and paid for tickets for the following evening. 
 
On arrival, with Arno running slightly late, I queued to get inside, not knowing what the seating would be like. It appeared that our tickets had been booked for the night before, but the ticket office was very kind to swop our tickets for the correct evening. Just then Arno arrived, and we went inside, not knowing what awaited us inside. 
 
A few chairs had been set up, and some cushions. Fake lawn had been rolled out in some sections, and the idea was to find a comfortable spot from which to view the 360 degree show, set in the unrenovated Carmo Church, which was a victim of the famous Lisbon Earthquake and Tsunami in 1755.  
 
The show was preceded by lit up Archeological treasures in the shared space, making them
look surreal, and very modern. And then the lights went down, and a series of historical and cultural events in the history of Lisbon and Portugal was communicated in a modern visual, audio, dance, and musical story and show, one having to look forward, backward and sideways to not miss out on anything. 
 
A female figure represented Lisbon, being the storyteller. The Programme describes it best: ‘You are entering a time travel machine that will transport you on an immersive journey through more than 600 years of history, glories and tragedies of the Portuguese people.’
 
The following historic highlights in Lisbon’s heritage are represented :
 
#. Prologue
 
#. 14 August 1385: Battle of Aljubarrota: 7000 Portuguese defeat 40000 Castilians and ensure the independence of Lisbon. 
 
#.  1389 Construction of Carma Church to celebrate the victory of the 1385 Battle of Aljubarrota. 
 
#.  1423: Dom Nuno Alvares Perreira becomes a Carmelite monk, donating all that he has to the Order of Carmo, joins the Convent, and dedicates himself to a monastic life until his death. 
 
#.  8 July 1497 Vasco da Gama leaves Lisbon, to discover the sea route to India. Almost a year later he arrives in Calcutta. 
 
#. 1 November 1755: The great Lisbon earthquake, the firestorm, and the tsunami, which submerged Lisbon’s lower zone’.
 
#.  1756: Reconstruction of Carmo Church: the monks dedicate themselves to the reconstruction of the Carmo Church by their own means. 
 
#.  1834 : Extinction of the Religious Orders’: all religious orders are abolished, and the monks leave Carmo Church
 
#.  1864: Foundation of Carmo Archeological Museum on the foundation of the 1755-destroyed  Carmo Church. 
 
#.  23 July  1920: Birth of Amália Rodrigues, becoming a Fado singing star. 
 
#.  25 April 1974: The fall of the dictatorship, celebrating 48 years of dictatorship in Portugal 
 
#.  Today: Free Lisbon. Multicultural Lisbon. Lisbon Under Stars. Celebration of Lisbon’s Urban art, and cultural and historic heritage. 
 
The show is short at 45 minutes, but is highly recommended. 
 
 
LISBON UNDER STARS. Carmo Archeological Museum. Lisbon. www.lisbonunderstars.com 
 

Dear reader: Due to the hacking of our Social Media accounts, you may need to follow our Facebook again, the hackers having removed 2000 Friends; and our Instagram account, the account having been deleted completely, and now replaced by me with a new one (new handle below). 

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein

 

Sweet Service Award goes to Emirates; Sour Service Award goes to New Milton Taxi Service!

The Sweet Service Award goes to Emirates, for the excellent service on board their A380 flight to London from Dubai in particular, operated in conjunction with Qantas. The food is excellent, the seats wide and comfortable with ample legroom, and the service far better than the Cape Town – Dubai leg. On the Cape Town – Dubai leg we were offered the menus after the trolley came to our seats, and when I asked what type of fish was served, the hostess said that she did not know, thinking it was ‘white fish’. I was disappointed to not have seen the menu in advance, as it was hake, and I would have chosen this instead of the spicy chicken alternative.

 

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Lyndhurst in the UK New Forest home to Alice in Wonderland!

On many visits to my son since he started working at Chewton Glen Hotel five years ago, we have driven through Lyndhurst, a town characterized by its Tudor style architecture and always busy High Street, dominated (modernly) by a Maserati dealership! I paid it a visit during my stay, on a lovely sunny 21C day. The town is associated with Alice Liddell, the person who inspired the main character with the same name in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll.  Continue reading →

WhaleTales Blog and SwitchBitch Book 3 go on a new exciting adventure, step by step!

Today is the first day of a three-month adventure on three continents, and including five countries. Not only is it a personal journey, but it also completes my SwitchBitch Book 3 which I stated writing two months ago, and gives me the opportunity to visit and review restaurants I eat at on my Blog. Continue reading →

Cape Town is the world’s Number one Festival and Event City!

Last week Cape Town received the high honour of being named the ‘World’s Leading Festival and Events Destination’ at the World Travel Awards 2018, held in Lisbon. It follows Cape Town being named ‘Africa’s Leading Festival and Events Destination’ two months ago.   Continue reading →

Bewitched at Tintswalo at Boulders, luxury boutique accommodation with Breakfast with a view!

Three weeks ago I and a group of writers was invited to enjoy breakfast at the new Tintswalo at Boulders, perched above Boulders Beach in Simonstown, renowned home to the African penguins. Shortly after our visit, we were invited by Five Star PR to spend a night at the luxury boutique accommodation lodge, directly overlooking Boulders Beach. I chose to stay on Saturday evening 8 December, having to be at Stargarden in Fish Hoek for a reading from my second book ‘SwitchBitch: My Journey of Transformation in walking the Camino, Sole to Soul’ the following day. Continue reading →