Sunday Special – Sintra, Portugal


Sometimes heading out of major city centres for a day trip is what you need. Located 28 km / 17 miles outside of Portugal’s capital of Lisbon is the picturesque coastal town of Sintra. One may see why this locale is a popular destination for those looking to escape the big city for a day, though a longer sojourn to truly experience all this UNESCO World Heritage sight has is suggested. Meander through the narrow streets; explore the historical castles and palaces or take in the views as Sintra is situated atop the mountains that shares its name. When I finally make my way to Portugal I will certainly seek out Sintra. The town sounds simply charming and inviting.

pena-medio-cut

Pena Palace, Sintra – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain

castle_of_the_moors_28252607896729

View of Sintra, Portugal from the Castle of the Moors – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by By Chris Yunker from St. Louis, United States (Castle of the Moors  Uploaded by tm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Park Güell, Barcelona


barcelona_in_parc_gc3bcell

View of Barcelona and a portion of Park Güell – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned  Marrovi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 mx (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/mx/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Antoni Gaudi has his stamp on Barcelona. An architect and with a penchant for what is now referred to as Catalan Modernism.  His attention to detail and in his designs extended to use of wrought iron, ceramics, glass and more. One of his popular contributions is Park Güell, located on Carmel Hill. It was built during the years of 1900 – 1914. Its beginnings as a housing development failed and the area was then turned into a park in 1926. In 1984 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (classified as part of the works of Antoni Gaudi). Today people flock to see its buildings, statues, pillars and more. I do know that I will visit this place should I make my way to Barcelona. The curves, vibrant mosaics and bold structures are reminiscent of candies and fairy tales. I expect I will be taken with the wonder of the design.

parc_guell_09

Terrace filled with onlookers – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By es:Usuario:Rapomon [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Curved bench at Park Güell – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By deror avi (Own work) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Korčula Island, Croatia


Croatia. This country is definitely on my bucket list. I do want to visit all of the former Yugoslav countries (I have been to three: Slovenia, Serbia, and Macedonia) so of course that includes Croatia. However, that is not the only reason I want to visit it. I understand it is a wonderfully beautiful country with much to see. Islands lie all alongside its Adriatic Coast providing a large number to choose from. Some are major resort locales while others run at a slower pace. Of the latter, one such island is Korčula (also the the name of the main city) in the southern area of Dalmatia. Beaches of course are bountiful with shorelines ranging from sandy to rocky and everything in between. A great way to unwind. Wineries and wine tours are not lacking on the sun-kissed isle. In fact, Korčula Island has some indigenous varietals such as grk and posip.  Many of the wineries have been producing wines for centuries. Additionally, there are stories that explorer Marco Polo was in fact born on this small island and the very house where he supposedly entered the world. I wonder what the Italians have to say about that? LOL.

Korcula

Korcula, Croatia – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Andrzej Wolinski 

Andrzej Wolinski [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

mesto_korcula2c_pohled_z_hradeb2

Town of Korcula – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Martin Broz 

By Martin Brož (Martin Brož’s camera) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

krajolici_korc48dula04593

Korcula countryside – are those grapes for wine? Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Anto 

By Anto (talk) 14:40, 7 October 2009 (UTC) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Malta


The island archipelago nation of Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite being made up of several small isles only three are inhabited. These are Malta, Comino and Gozo. Even with its small area it has a history to rival many larger countries. Over thousands of years it has brought forth countless world powers – Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, French, British and the Knights of the Order of St John, to name a few. Now Malta is an independent nation and part of the European Union (EU). Aside from history showcased in old temples, historical forts, archaeological sites and world-class museums Malta boasts other attractions. Stunning grottoes, red or golden sand beaches and its own Blue Lagoon (on Comino Island) that beckons sun-worshipers and water sport aficionados alike. Shopping and dining are in abundance as well.

dimg_0959_4996486109

Malta’s Blue Lagoon – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Bengt Nyman 

By Bengt Nyman from Vaxholm, Sweden (IMG_0959) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

1024px-valetta

Evening view of Valleta, capital city of Malta – Photo is Public Domain

1024px-valetta_10_6803970534

Valetta, Malta – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Tony Hisgett

By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Valetta 10 Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons