International Day of Monuments and Sites

     There are good reasons to celebrate today’s date around the world. It is a very dear day to us here at Lisbon Stories: today is April the 18th the international day for monuments and sites. And you are more than welcome to come and join the party!

     Why is today so special? Well for a start, it is an official international celebration approved by the UNESCO in 1983, so actually today is its 30th anniversary. Many places around the world hold special events in Museums and other important sites today and during the next week and Portugal is no exception.

     Every year there is a different theme and the theme for 2013 is the Heritage of Education. More than 490 activities in 290 different monuments and sites were planned for today throughout Portugal and most of them include some very different tours from what we are used to.

     From food tastings and ancient dance shows in the castle of Saint George in Lisbon to a special guided tour to the painted tiles of Pena Palace in Sintra, there is a bit of everything to please everyone’s taste.

     By the way, did you know that the St. Jerome Monastery is the most visited monument in Portugal? Well, I dare you to come and figure out why. If not before, maybe you can come just in time for next year’s celebration of the international day for monuments and sites!

Paradise on earth exists and it’s called “Berlenga”

     With the sun shining outside and the hot temperatures coming in, everyone starts to think about their summer holidays. While some people prefer to spend them visiting sights and cities, others prefer to lay down in the sun, close to the beach or swimming pool.

    If you’re in the 2nd group, then this post is for you. Though I love to explore new cities, their history, museums, historical center and all, every now and then (about once a year) I need to get some sun, switch off my brain and think about nothing but sunscreen and good food. I’ve been to a couple of really famous beach destinations but the place that I love the most is… Berlenga.

    By now all Portuguese readers are surely laughing. Berlenga is a small, very small, archipelago located 45 min away from the Portuguese coast. It’s easily reachable by boat, with several departures per day, and consists of a bigger island (492 feet x 262 feet) and some smaller rocks. There’s no drinkable tab water, only one restaurant, one camping site and one small B&B with 6 double rooms. Wondering about cellphone connection? Just climb a small stone and you’ll catch it.

    Berlenga is only inhabited by a small fisherman community but receives many visitors (several dozens, every day) as it’s known for its unique fauna and flora. While rare plants grow in its granite soil, many birds choose the island to build their nests. No wonder Unesco classified it as World Natural Biological Reserve! Its limpid blue waters are perfect for those who like to snorkel, to dive or to take a small boat trip.Since it’s main beach is protected by the island itself from both sides, the water is calm and the beach is perfectly safe for kids or inexperienced snorkelers.

    The reason why I love it is simple: when I’m really busy in Lisbon (and though I love what I do) it’s nice to spare for a couple of days, away from everything, without stress, tv or internet. Wake up with the birds’ noise, enjoy the sun, snorkel and fill my stomach with some fresh fish, fished that same morning.

Berlenga island, Paradise on earth

Have you been there? Would you sleep in a place inhabited by seagulls? Share your thoughts with me and this post with your friends.