11 reasons why you should visit Porto – the city of wine – and why it matters!

Sailing on the Douro River in Porto!
Sailing on the Douro River in Porto!

So last week I wrote all about why I thought Lisbon would be the next top European place to be!

And why?

Because it’s worth it!

And you know what?

After spending three (3) days in the Algarve, and three (3) days in Lisbon, is it any wonder that we wanted to continue travelling around Portugal?

So we did.

We went to the Northern part of Portugal. To a place called Porto.

Porto – Portoooooooogal!

Do you see what I did there?

 PORTO

Porto - Portugal.
Porto – Portugal.

Porto, otherwise known as Oporto, is the second-largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon.

Porto’s combined Celtic-Latin name is known as Portus Cale, and is believed to be the origin of the name “Portugal” meaning “the port”!

Located along the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal, Porto is one of the oldest European cities in the world and its historical centre was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996!

Porto’s settlement dates to as far back as when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire, during the Medieval Ages, and to important artifacts found in the 8th century!

Portugal's most internationally famous export - port wine - named after the city of Porto itself!
Portugal’s most internationally famous export – port wine – named after the city of Porto itself!

And of course, one of Portugal’s most internationally famous exports is the port wine, named after the city of Porto itself!

Truth be told, until a year ago, I had never even heard of the city of Porto!

Yes, of course, I’ve had many a glass of port in my time.

Ahem!

But somehow, it didn’t click that the lip-smacking tipple of port, came from an actual place called Porto!

Until last year!

The BBC Travel Show!
The BBC Travel Show!

I was watching the BBC Travel Show when a feature came up on the city of Porto, and on how parts of it had been forgotten, with many of Porto’s oldest houses either abandoned, or at the risk of collapsing.

Porto was once an important global centre of trade and production for many a century and then just like Bristol, business moved to the capital of the country and that was that.

The locals moved away into the suburbs of Porto, the city lost it’s populated buzz, business followed suit, and what was left was the emptiness of a harbour, and the quiet husk of a neglected abandoned building.

I was intrigued!

And so, when I planned our Spain & Portugal Spring Break, I decided to add Porto to the core!

AND YET. I HAVEN’T A CLUE!

And yet. I haven't a clue!
And yet.
I haven’t a clue!
  1. Porto is a lovely city-break destination:

And yet.

Most people have never heard of it! Up until last year, even I had never heard of it!

  1. Porto is an important city steeped in history and river-side glamour:

And yet.

Porto seems to be dying. A little over 220,000 people live in Porto with 1.5 million living in the suburbs! As a result, 18.8 % of residential buildings in Porto are empty with many more abandoned and neglected.  A very untypical story.

Porto is a city of wine!
Porto is a city of wine!
  1. Porto is a city of wine:

And yet.

When most people think of Port, they don’t think of Portugal, but of England, and English companies such as Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman!

  1. Shopping:

Who doesn’t like to buy a souvenir to take home? Portugal has a reputation of high quality, standard goods.

And yet.

Some shops were raking it in, but many shops and buildings were boarded up, becoming quite the eyesore, not only uncomfortable to see, but also with a hint of “is-it-safe-for-me-to-walk-through-this-street?” feel.

"is-it-safe-for-me-to-walk-through-this-street" in Porto?
“is-it-safe-for-me-to-walk-through-this-street” in Porto?
  1. Bookshops:

On almost every street, you’ll find some sort of bookshop.

And yet.

Outside of the pretty historical few, when was the last you patronised a bookshop? A real bookshop. Of pestle and mortar. Come to that, when was the last time that you even purchased and paid for a book?

Exactly!

  1. Cats:

I love cats. In fact, we have two lovely twin cats at home and we love them dearly.

And yet.

There were cats literally everywhere! Under cars. On roofs. On walls. In doorways. Everywhere. I can’t imagine that they’re all domestic, looking as skinny and scrawny as they did. Certainly not the type of animal that you would think of stroking.

Or touching, come to that.

There were cats literally everywhere, in Porto!
There were cats literally everywhere, in Porto!
  1. Blue and white tiles:

Lovely, pretty mosaic tiles with pictures of historical or religious images, donned the walls of various buildings.

And yet.

You only have to turn around a corner or a side-street, and you would find a building that was derelict, covered with broken red brick, over-grown with weeds, strewn with old newspapers, bottles and rags, or half-built derelict buildings.

11 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT PORTO AND WHY IT MATTERS!

The Douro River is famously important, in Porto!
The Douro River is famously important, in Porto!

As always, my number one piece of advice is not to shy away but to visit.

And here’s why!

  1. It’s a river-side city: Porto, like Lisbon, is a city that owes much to the sea. The D’Ouro – meaning gold – is where the river flows into the sea where you can have lunch or dinner on the river side, go fishing or simply sail on a gentle boat or cruise, while taking photographic selfies as you cascade along the rivers and shores of history!
  2. A weekend destination: Porto is a great destination for a short-term stay as most people are young, it’s cheap and with most tourists coming from Spain, from France, Brazil, or Portugal itself, it hasn’t yet attained a reputation of a lager-lout hub!
  3. The architecture: Wow! What amazing colours that you see splashed across the city. Where some cities look dull or have no personality, Porto has a colourful enthusiasm. In spades!
  4. Porto is utterly charming: It has narrow streets and a young, vibrant, cosmopolitan centre.
  5. The wine: Wine fans will want to be in the Douro wine region. We tried to go on a wine cellar tour but we couldn’t find it and ended up buying a huge amount of port an hour before we had to leave for the airport! Luckily, on every corner and in every shop, port can be found in a multitude of forms and sensations such as ruby, tawny, white, rosé, and vintage! Phew!!
  6. Little shops and galleries: A lot of the shops have retained their old style traditional appearance, so that visitors can imagine what things were like in times gone by. In fact, antique dealers and art galleries make a roaring trade!
  7. Antiquarian booksellers: On almost every street, you’ll find some sort of bookshop. The most famous one of all being the Livraria Lello neo-Gothic beauty which was built in 1906, and which many say was the inspiration of the Grand Staircase, or the Hogwarts Stairway in the Harry Potter series, as well as the Flourish and Blotts Diagon Alley bookshop! But be warned, the bookshop has become so over-run with over-excited tourists, that the shop has begun to charge €3.00 for entrance, which you are reimbursed with purchases made in the bookshop!
  8. Porto is tiny: The city is even smaller than Lisbon with a population of slightly over 250,000 inhabitants, and charmingly walkable, cobbled stones, and hilly steeps!
  9. The train station: Wow! The Estação de São Bento or the São Bento Railway Station looks pretty sexy! Built between 1905-1916, it’s famously known for its tile (azulejo) panels that depict scenes and historical events concerning the History of Portugal. What with its alluring magnificent blue and white tile panels, that reach to up to 20,000, helpful staff, wide-open spaces, and the shell of a Benedictine monastery! It’s no wonder that other train stations just look dull and functional, in comparison!
  10. Historical buildings and artistic monuments: You know how I love a good old building. Well, Porto didn’t disappoint with artistic creations such as the 13th century St. Francis of Assisi Church, the Stock Exchange Palace, the beautiful Porto Cathedral, the Torre dos Clérigos, or the Tower of Clerics, leading to a breathtaking view of the city, the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis or the Soares dos Reis National Museum and the Serralves Foundation – a cultural institution – making it Porto’s high point of art-deco architecture, and one of the most relevant museums on the contemporary European art circuit!
  11. Because Harry Potter: J. K. Rowling lived in Porto for a little while and so the influence and inspiration of Harry Potter world is right there. Under your nose! Think Salazar Slytherin – an acronym for the authoritarian Portuguese president – António de Oliveira Salazar! Think the Grand Staircase, or the Hogwarts Stairway  – an acronym for the upstairs cafe of the Livraria Lello Bokshop! Think Flourish and Blotts – which is said to be inspired by the Livraria Lello Bokshop too! Think the Hogwart school uniform gown – an acronym for the gowns related to the Praxe Académica worn by the students of Oporto University, and a tradition stemmed from a century ago. Having said that, we have academic gowns in the UK too, but perhaps no longer on a daily basis….!

TAKE ME THERE?

 A type of single carriage diesel railcar used by the Portuguese Railways - Comboios de Portugal.
A type of single carriage diesel railcar used by the Portuguese Railways – Comboios de Portugal.

Getting from Lisbon to Porto was enormously smooth.

This time we took the train. Again, I can’t remember the exact details, but the train the company was called Comboios de Portugal and we bought our ticket just 24 hours previously. It pays to do so a little earlier, as the cheaper tickets went pretty quickly! The cost was something like €25.00 for adults and 25% off for “youths!”

The Portuguese train was clean, smooth and efficient. Some trains are also “quiet” carriages, but it shouldn’t be an issue unless you’re playing to party your way along the aisle lol!

The journey from Lisbon to Porto was roughly 3 hours.

If you’re flying from the UK then Ryanair is virtual proof of the pudding. If you’re on the Continent, then Easyjet and any other airline residing in France, in Belgium or Switzerland, is probably your best bet. If you’re coming from America, then you’d probably need to fly to Lisbon or any other European hub, first.

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Is it going to be crowded in Porto?
Is it going to be crowded in Porto?

Nope!

With a population of just 200,000 people, you’ve got the place to yourself!

WHAT IS PORTO LIKE?

We were only there for three (3) days but Porto is on the one hand charmingly young, and on the other, historically old!

I DON’T SPEAK PORTUGUESE 

He doesn't speak Portuguese either! He's a scary water-spout gargoyle in Lisbon!
He doesn’t speak Portuguese either! He’s a scary water-spout gargoyle in Lisbon!

Ho! Ho!

Who does?

English is widely spoken, but there’s nothing wrong with learning a few basic words of Portuguese as a measure of respect!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

Well no.

Things haven’t quite come to that!

I’M ON A BUDGET, BUT I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY AS I DON’T WANT TO ROUGH IT! WHAT SHOULD I DO?

The trendy art Gallery Hostel!
The trendy art Gallery Hostel!

Juat like in Lisbon, we stayed at another a rather adorable contemporary styled boutique hostel located in the trendy Art Quarter of Miguel Bombarda.

The Gallery Hostel characterizes the new concept of a luxury hostel, and is based in an impressive 1906 building house, blended with a modern décor, infusing neutral and earthy tones, with unique textures and furnishings.

Phew!

We chose this hostel not only because it was family-friendly and family owned, but because it has its’ own art gallery!

An Art Gallery!

I mean.

An. Art. Gallery!

Yippee!

I like the little luxuries in life, just as much as the next girl!
I like the little luxuries in life, just as much as the next girl!

I’m not going to lie.

I like my luxuries, pampering and exclusive service.

And let me tell you, when I’m in Asia or Eastern Europe, that is exactly what I go for.

And why?

Simply because I can!

Sometimes, I go for Art Design Hotels and sometimes, I go for a Quirky Bed & Breakfast.

And sometimes, I target luxury boutique hostels.

Just like the Gallery Hostel.

See you next week!

Porto in the sunlight!
Porto in the sunlight!

This article is part-sponsored by the lovely boutique Gallery Hostel, but all opinions, and the delightful glasses of port that we sipped whilst on the riverside quay, are my very own!

Next week, I’ll be focusing on food!

From June 2nd – June 3rd, I’ll be at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival.

From June 28th – July 2nd, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week.

Save the Date!

June is going to be fabulous!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & Facebook!

If you’re not in Berlin in June, you’re going to miss out on everything!

Watch this space!

11 reasons why you should visit Porto - the city of wine - and why it matters!
11 reasons why you should visit Porto – the city of wine – and why it matters!

Have you ever been to Porto? What’s your tipple of choice – Wine, Whisky, Sherry or Port?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

17 reasons why Lisbon is the next top European place to be!

An iconic tram. Is Lisbon the next top European place to be?
An iconic tram. Is Lisbon the next top European place to be?

I’m back!

My brother wrote a book and it’s exciting!

OMG!

This summer is going to be so awesome!

I can’t give you any details right now but I’ll tell you all about it in June! Promise!

But first, Pooooortugal!

A few weeks ago, I told you about how we had such a lovely time in the Algarve and all the unique things that we did!

However, we did more than just go to the Algarve.

Yep!

We also went to Lisbon. And Porto!

But today, I’m going to tell you why Lisbon is the next place that you should visit!

17 REASONS WHY LISBON IS THE NEXT TOP EUROPEAN PLACE TO BE!

A traditional neighbourhood shop in Lisbon.
A traditional neighbourhood shop in Lisbon.

Lisbon, also known locally as Lisboa, is the capital of Portugal. It lies on the north bank of the Tagus Estuary, on the European Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city in continental Europe! It’s also  slap-bang in the centre of Portugal, and is approximately 300 km from the Algarve in the south, and 400 km from the northern border with Spain!

Lisbon offers a wide variety of options to the visitor, including beaches, countryside, mountains, and areas of historical interest, only a few kilometres away from the city centre, and boy did we take advantage!

This wasn’t my first time to visit Lisbon. In fact, my first and previous visit was back in 2007. The very same year that I went to Vietnam!

However, The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” had never been before, so I wanted to ensure that they saw everything that needed to be seen, and that they had a good time!

WHY GO TO LISBON?

The former fishng village of Belém. In Lisbon!
The former fishing village of Belém. In Lisbon!

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

  1. It’s a waterfront port city: You know how much I like river destinations and Lisbon is no exception.
  2. The port of Lisbon is romantic: You can enjoy a very pleasant walk along the river-side, you can take as many selfies as you like on the monumental terminals, or you can simply have a meal or a glass of something bubbly, while basking in the early evening sun!
  3. Lisbon is known as the white city due to its unique light: The city is filled with monumental statues that are glaringly built with bright white stone!
  4. It’s a city of lively character: The suburb of Bairro Alto is one of the most characteristic quarters of the city, crammed with traditional restaurants, packed alongside cosy bookshops, hipster design shops, and diverse little cafes, where cups of steaming hot tea cost 80 cents and you can see right through into the living room!
  5. Lisbon is authentic: I always felt as if I was in somebody’s backyard, as on practically every corner and side-street, strings of washing would be strewn across the window or terrace. In some places, with the horror of a pair of damp dangling knickers fluttering, in front of one’s face!
  6. Lisbon is young: A stroll down the Quarter known as Chiado would throw up an area of art, theatre, and young musicians. In fact, one of our favourite things was to find an upper hill platform and chill-out on the steps. The Music Producer wasn’t comfortable “chilling” with the 20-something student crowd, “chilling” with cheap bottles of beer, or “chilling” with young drug-dealers who kept trying to sell him some illegal substance, until they saw me and ran speedily away! So we went to a very smart family friendly roof-top bar called Madame Petisca, and spent almost €70.00 on tapas and fried potatoes / sweet potato crisps, that came in a metal jug-like bucket, an excellent roof-top view, and glasses of wine and cocktails instead. I  know!
  7. Lisbon is small: The city is quite small with a population of slightly over 600,000 inhabitants and perfectly walkable, as long as you watch out for the trams and mind your head lol!
  8. The nightlife: Lisbon has a great nightlife. In pretty much every corner, there’s a bar or neighbourhood dedicated to having some sort of party.
  9. Unique music: You can’t go to Portugal without experiencing the haunting mournful tunes and lyrics, of melancholic feeling and loss, known as Fado. And if you drink a glass or two of delicious portuguese wine, you can relax a little, and even sing along!
  10. Friendly people: Most people speak English and were very helpful and open to visitors and tourists.
  11. Quirky museums: I love places that have quirky museums and Lisbon has them in spades such as – the National Tile Museum, the Puppet Museum, the Water Museum, or the National Coach Museum of the 17th – 19th centuries!
  12. History: Lisbon is an old city full of history and stories.
  13. Lisbon has not one, but two (2) World Heritage Sites: The Jerónimos Monastery also known as the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the Torre de Belém otherwise known as the Belém Tower or the Tower of St Vincent, both built in the 16th century!
  14. It’s off the beaten path: Funnily enough, Portugal, not to talk of Lisbon, is still relatively unknown! I saw plenty of Americans there, lots of Germans, but very few Brits, and most of them were in the Algarve! In comparison to Madrid (the capital of Spain), the prices are lower and the quality is better!
  15. Portuguese food: OMG! Marvellous. We found a farmers market that was so good. We went back twice! More about that in a couple of weeks!
  16. Close enough for day trips: Lisbon is so on point that you can take a day trip to the lovely “Garden of the Eartly Paradise” otherwise known as Sintra, the spectacular landscape of Costa Azul, or the glamorous Portuguese Riveria, otherwise known as, Estoril and Cascais!
  17. Because dessert: The best place in the world to try out the pastéis de nata, otherwise known as Portuguese custard tarts, is in Lisbon. Nom! Nom!

TAKE ME THERE?

On the funicular, in Lisbon!
On the funicular, in Lisbon!

Getting from the Algarve to Lisbon was easy-peasy.

It was possible to take either the train here, or here, or the by bus-coach here!

The bus-coach was cheaper for the three (3) of us and took almost the same time, so we decided to take the coach-bus instead! Oh, and even though I can no longer remember the exact details, the company was called EVA and the cost was something like €15.00 for adults and €10.00 for children, so a no-brainer as far as we were concerned.

The coach was comfortable and had WiFi which sometimes worked, and sometimes didn’t. It also had a toilet on board and you could eat your snacks (as long as you wer discreet) unlike in Germany and Eastern Europe, where beer is sold on the coach-bus for everyone (over 16) to partake in!

The journey from the Algarve to Lisbon was roughly 3.5 hours.

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

The strength of a lost global empire!
The strength of a lost global empire!

Not in my opinion!

Well, a little, but only because Lisbon is tiny. It was a little after Easter and of course, Lisbon is a university town and a working city. By 20:00, the place was booming and the trams were packed!

WHAT IS LISBON LIKE?

We were only there for three (3) days but Lisbon definitely made an impact on me back in 2007, and it made an impression on me once again!

I DON’T SPEAK PORTUGUESE 

He can't speak Portuguese either! He's a scary water-spout gargoyle in Lisbon!
He can’t speak Portuguese either! He’s a scary water-spout gargoyle in Lisbon!

Unlike Madrid, English is widely spoken however, if you speak Spanish or German, you won’t be out-of-place. Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with learning a few basic words of Portuguese as a measure of respect!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

You're not going to live in a hut, and you're not going to live in the palace of Estoril either!
You’re not going to live in a hut, and you’re not going to live in the palace of Estoril either!

Not at all. Portugal isn’t Germany, and even though we saw an awful number of abandoned or derelict buildings, Lisbon is certainly a high-income advanced economy, with a very high standard of living.

You’re definitely not going to be living in a cave!

I’M ON A BUDGET, BUT I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY AS I DON’T WANT TO ROUGH IT! WHAT SHOULD I DO?

What say you to Lisbon’s bohemian nightlife?!
What say you to Lisbon’s bohemian nightlife?!

We stayed at a rather lovely boutique hostel located a few minutes walk from many historic and tourist attractions, right in the heart of Lisbon’s Bohemia nightlife!

Located in the Bairro Alto Quarter, the hostel is just two (2) minutes walk away from all the action in the Chiado Quarter, and a few minutes from tiny bars, restaurants in one direction, and about a ten (10) minute walk from fancier bars and up-market restaurants, in the other direction!

Which ever way you go, you’re not far from the delights of a thriving nightlife!

I first saw mention of this hostel as part of the Luxury Hostels of Europe project on the website of one of our top world-known bloggers – Kash of the Budget Traveller – who is a great guy and a mate of mine, and also some inspiration from the blog of another top blogger – Agness of eTramping – a sweet girl and another good friend of mine.

So I just had to check it out for myself!

And omigosh!

StayInn Lisbon Hostel wasn’t your ordinary hostel.

At the StayInn Lisbon Hostel!
At the StayInn Lisbon Hostel!

It was akin to a fancy hotel!

We were lucky to be on a part-sponsorship with the StayInn Lisbon Hostel and as a result, they very kindly gave us a heavily discounted suite, and a double room!

Thank you so much!

Wow!

The hostel is on the first floor and as you enter, there’s someone to help you with your bags, a warm welcome smile waiting for you, and a very wide, clean, colourful, artistic space!

At the StayInn Lisbon Hostel!
At the StayInn Lisbon Hostel!

StayInn Lisbon Hostel features a modern décor, bright airy rooms, parquet floors, comfy squashy bean-bags, colourful soft sofas, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a common lounge and living room area with patch-work cushions, a mini-library, and a large flat-screen TV!

This boutique hostel was designed to embrace the sophisticated charm and historical delight of Lisbon and has a cosy space of just nine (9) rooms – two suites with private bathrooms, two double rooms, two twin rooms, one eight (8)-person mixed dorm, one six (6)-person mixed dorm, one six (6)-person female dorm, and a feng shui botanical smoking area.

My husband and I were in one of the suites with a huge private en-suite bathroom, whilst “The Tall Young Gentleman” was a very happy Larry, as he had a double room all to himself!

Blissssss!

The "Tall Young Gentleman" looking blissfully happy! © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
The “Tall Young Gentleman” looking blissfully happy!
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

As “The Tall Young Gentleman” has become older and almost as tall as his father, it has come to our realisation, that in order for all of us to get a good nights sleep and reduce teenage drama, separate bedrooms are necessary.

And that was what we got!

It was marvellous to have the luxury of separate bedrooms especially when you’re travelling, you’ve got a tween who’s “on holiday,” and knick-knack is just thrown everywhere!

It was lovely just to have the space LOL!

A hostal is Spanish in style but does the job!
A hostal is Spanish in style but does the job!

Whenever we go on a family holiday, I like to mix things up a little in order to experience a wide variety of accommodation possibilities, to meet the locals, and to stretch our budget in a more comfortable way.

In Madrid, I decided to book a triple room Spanish-style hostal! In Seville, we stayed with friends in a lovely traditional Spanish suburban villa. complete with pool! In the Algarve, we booked a really nice studio-villa apartment in the coastal town of Lagos. This time around, it was time for a little more comfort.

Our stay at StayInn Lisbon Hostel was an absolute pleasure.

When you book a room on-line, you can never be entirely sure what you’re going to get, and can only hold your breath, and cross your fingers.

I didn’t know what to expect in Lisbon and was delighted at what we received.

Our suite at the boutique StayInn Lisbon Hostel in Portugal!
Our suite at the boutique StayInn Lisbon Hostel in Portugal!

Our suite consisted of a hallway, and a large private bathroom. Our bedroom had a double bed, one (1) rather nice fancy armchair, a writing-table / make-up table with mirror and stool, a large enclosed wardrobe, a huge open window, lots of wall adapters and a relaxing window-sill that you could imagine yourself sprawling on, whilst drinking a glass of wine..!

The second (2nd) bedroom had a large double bed, a bed-side table, a huge mirror, a large wardrobe, and very spacious, open windows. “The Tall Young Gentleman” was delighted moreover, he even had an electric card-key which only he had access to!

Our private bathroom at the boutique StayInn Lisbon Hostel in Portugal!
Our private bathroom at the boutique StayInn Lisbon Hostel in Portugal!

Our private bathroom was very clean and had two separate shower cubicles, a separate WC cubicle, two Mr & Mrs sinks (which I loved), a hairdryer, a huge mirror, and was fitted out with hair and body wash items, and plenty of fluffy towels.

The hostel also had two chill-out areas, a dining room, a fully-equipped kitchen which guests were free to use, free WiFi, and a more than generous free buffet breakfast!

For breakfast, you could help yourself to a large basket of bread, rolls of butter, a platter of ham and cheese, as well as a variety of cereal, fruit, slices of home-made cake, juice, and as much tea and coffee as you wanted!

All this from €60 – €80.00 per night in the suite, from €45.00 in the double room, and from €16 – €21.00 in the dorms.

Awesome!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Lisbon is pretty small so that everywhere is walkable. You can travel around the city by bus, train, funicular or tram. You can also hang on while the tram is moving, but don't do that at home kids!
Lisbon is pretty small so that everywhere is walkable. You can travel around the city by bus, train, funicular or tram.
You can also hang on while the tram is moving, but don’t do that at home kids!

Lisbon is pretty small so that everywhere is walkable. You can travel around the city by bus, train, funicular or tram. The best parts are the historical trams that looked as if they couldn’t get up the steep hills, but did.

Each and every time!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Ditch the heels and expensive leather brogues, and take comfortable walking shoes.

There be steep and cobbled stones!

MY VERDICT:

Lisbon is quaint. It's appealing. It's got history, art and culture, and looks utterly charming.
Lisbon is quaint. It’s appealing. It’s got history, art and culture, and looks utterly charming.

I have a fondness for Lisbon.

It’s quaint. It’s appealing. It’s got history, art and culture, and looks utterly charming.

If you’re looking for the next best European city of 2016 that’s safe, lively, and ready to be discovered. You’ve found it!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Utterly!

Go visit Lisbon!

Taking a taxi in Lisbon.
Taking a taxi in Lisbon.

This article is part-sponsored by the lovely boutique StayInn Lisbon Hostel, but all opinions and the fascinating historical trams that we huddled over, are my very own!

Next week, I’ll be focusing on Porto!

From June 2nd – June 3rd, I’ll be at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival.

From June 28th – July 2nd, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week.

Save the Date!

May & June are going to be fantastic!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & Facebook!

If you’re not in Berlin in May, you’re insane!

Watch this space!

17 reasons why Lisbon is the next top European place to be!
17 reasons why Lisbon is the next top European place to be!

Have you ever been to Lisbon? Do you think Lisbon is the next top European place to be?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

How to write and publish a book – Introducing The Bee Hive!

The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun - my very own brother!
The Bee Hive by
Simon Adepetun – my very own brother!

Have you ever wondered if you had the talent, or enough patience, to put all your ideas onto paper and pen? Have you ever thought about writing a book?

Here’s someone who did!

My own brother!

Who has written and published a book.

A real book.

A children’s book!

Published in paper and ink!

Ha! I’m his sister, so I get to interview him first.

Read on!

How to write & publish a book!
How to write & publish a book!
  1. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? What were you like at school? I’m from Manchester, England but currently I reside in a Cheshire town called Great Sankey, in Warrington. I was very energetic as a child so I channelled such energy into sports, story writing, and creating pictures. In my teens, I wrote songs and sang them!
  1. Were you good at English? Yes, my talent outshone all my peers in this area, and beyond. My writing was very neat, stories different to everyone else’s, lovely illustrations created in boxes around the words. I absolutely loved it.
How to write & publish a children's book!
How to write & publish a children’s book!
  1. Is this your first book / Where did you get the idea? Yes it is. It was my sister who gave me the idea! My sister – The British Berliner who lives in Berlin, Germany, handed me a cut-off from an English newspaper (the Guardian), about a children’s novel writing competition. Up until this point, I had never written a children’s novel before, and I only had three (3) months left to submit it! The challenge wasn’t necessarily writing it, but conceiving an idea of what to write! One day while driving to work, I noticed a rundown shed, I pictured a few characters, looked at my kids, thought to myself ‘now there’s an idea’ …. and The Bee Hive novel was born!
  1. What is your book about? It’s a story of how two best friends, aiming to win their school’s scientist of the year award, stumble on a treasure map that they find in a make shift lab, which just happens to be an old Bee Hive. They reluctantly team up with one of the friend’s sister in an attempt to unravel the mystery of the map, and claim the treasure. Add the fact that two hoodlums appear from nowhere, demand back the map, prepare to do everything it takes to retrieve it, and you have a real adventure full of twists and turns!
How to unravel the mystery of the map, and claim the treasure! Ship @ Alina C photography
How to unravel the mystery of the map, and claim the treasure!
Ship @ Alina C photography
  1. How much research did you do? When writing a children’s book, it’s important to understand how children act in situations, how they speak, what makes them laugh, how children nowadays relate to their parents, and vice versa. With three young children of my own, and having been a Nursery, Primary and Secondary School Teacher myself, I’ve done all the research possible!
  1. When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? I’ve always had the passion to write. Since Junior-Primary School, clear evidence of my writing talent starting to ooze out! I guess it was while at University studying English, where I was the first undergraduate ever to win the coveted Kollaj Short Story Competition, and eventually graduating as the Best Creative Writer. It was then that I realised, “hey I could make something here.”
Back to school again!
Back to school again!
  1. Why did you decide to write a book? I’ve spent years writing short stories, plays, novels, and poems, but never concentrated on entering them into writing competitions. I wrote a poem titled ‘March’ and it was published on the UK poetry online platform, due to the excellent feedback received. I then realised, if I’m good enough for the feedback, I must definitely be good enough to write a book and get it published!
  1. How long did it take you to write your book? Just under three (3) months!
It took my brother just under three (3) months to write his book! Aaaargh!
It took my brother just under three (3) months to write his book!
Aaaargh!
  1. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? I’m a husband and a Dad. Quality time with my family means the world to me, so I write mainly on my day off (Mondays), weekday mornings when the kids are in school, before I go to work, and late at night 23.00 – 01.30, when the whole family is fast asleep.
  1. Do you write full-time or part-time? I write mainly in my spare time.
He mainly writes in his spare time.
He mainly writes in his spare time.
  1. Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I write when I can carve out the time, but I have a principle not to put my passion for writing ahead of my family. They come first.
  1. Do you write every day? Most days, mainly late at night.
How to write & publish a book!
How to write & publish a book!
  1. Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate, longhand, or traditional pen and paper? I write on the PC that I bought in 2002 and it is still faithful to me, and very indestructible! I also write, and scatter about the house scraps of paper to scrawl ideas, before they vanish from my brain!
  1. What gave you the inspiration of a children’s book? My sister – The British Berliner – and my kids’ characters.
Me being thoughtful during a Live TV broadcast in Germany, and looking as if I'm about to sing! ©Pascale Scerbo Sarro
Me being thoughtful during a Live TV broadcast in Germany, and looking as if I’m about to sing!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro
  1. How did you decide on the characters? Mainly on my own kids. A little exaggerated, but every reader of the book both children and adults, will be able to relate to the characters’ experience.
How to write & publish a book! Your readers should be able to relate to the characters’ experience.
How to write & publish a book!
Your readers should be able to relate to the characters’ experience.
  1. Who designed your book cover/s? My Toni daughter, now 12, but 11 years old at the time!

17. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the creative process? Yes, because the story is unique, the writing technique, and the symbolic book design, all add to its quirkiness! It’s a children’s book written primarily for children, designed by a child.

The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun. A children’s book written primarily for children, designed by a child.
The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun.
A children’s book written primarily for children, designed by a child.
  1. When did you write your first piece of literature, and how old were you? I must have written stories in drips and drabs over my early years, but Manley Park Junior School was probably where I really got into the art of writing. So I was about seven (7) years old!
  1. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I like to be with my wife and kids, spending time with them. Being around my family gives me no better feeling.
I like to be with my wife and kids spending time with them.
I like to be with my wife and kids, spending time with them.
  1. What does your family think of your writing? My wife and kids are extremely proud of me. They know I love writing so much, and this experience means as much to me, as it does to them. They have all been promoting the novel to friends at school, and colleagues at University.
  1. What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating and writing your book? Two things: God loves a grafter and boy, did I graft for this novel! Secondly, be determined to go for it, no matter what it is you want to achieve, because if you don’t, you might think in years to come…”if only….”
Lots of graft is needed!
Lots of graft is needed!
  1. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? I wanted to be a footballer.
I wanted to be a football player!
I wanted to be a football player!
  1. Many fellow bloggers and writers would kill to get a hardback book published. How did you do it? I approached four (4) publishers with the manuscript of my book. They read the first three (3) chapters, liked it, and requested the whole book! All four (4) publishers thought it a viable venture and wanted to publish the novel, so I chose the publisher I felt, wanted me most!
  1. Some people are a bit put off by the hard work and loneliness of being a new writer, so where’s a good place to start if you want to learn how to be a published author, or a good creative writer? Follow writers’ blogs, let them take you on a journey from despair, to one of joy and redemption. A case of hard work, determination, the will to succeed, the “Yes, I can” attitude, and patience, is all that is required.
The work of a true writer is never done. There's just so much to dooo!
The work of a true writer is never done. There’s just so much to dooo!
  1. What is the hardest thing about writing? Conceiving ideas.
  1. What is the easiest thing about writing? Turning the writing into a finished piece of work.
How to write & publish a book! Turning the writing into a finished piece of work.
How to write & publish a book!
Turning the writing into a finished piece of work.
  1. How long on average did it take you to write this book? Less than ninety (90) days!
  1. For your own reading, do you prefer E-books or traditional paper/hardback books? Paper/hardback.
How to write & publish a book! I prefer paper or a hardback book!
How to write & publish a book!
I prefer paper or a hardback book!
  1. What other things have you written? I have written Agama (an unpublished novel), March (a poem), and several short stories and plays. I also have a self acclaimed blog.
  1. What do you think makes a good story? A well thought out plot. Great visuals through descriptive and expressive language. Believable characters.
The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun.
The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun.
  1. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? I had an excellent feedback review for my novel – The Bee Hive from the writers of Amazon Kindle and my publishers – Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd. 
  1. You work as a Sales Manager – How is writing a book different from writing an analytical report? At work, I have to follow certain policies and procedures. There are no rules connected to writing…just write.
How to write & publish a book! There are no rules connected to writing. Just write!
How to write & publish a book!
There are no rules connected to writing. Just write!
  1. What do you enjoy most about writing? The fact that I can create a literary world without any boundaries.
The literary world is complete and utter freedom!
The literary world is complete and utter freedom!
  1. Who are your current favourite authors? Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry).
  1. Which writers inspire you? Toni Morrison, Richard Wright , Ben Okri.
  1. What are your ambitions for your writing career? To be one of most creative writers to come out of Great Sankey in Cheshire, and the whole of North-West England!
Sheep in Cumbria - North-West England!
Sheep in Cumbria – North-West England!
  1. You live in a suburb in the countryside of Cheshire. What do the locals think of having a proper writer in their midst? They are very excited, and are very supportive of me. Not everyone can write like I do, it’s not often Great Sankey in Warrington has a mention, so they’re all very proud.
  1. Have you been interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch? I will be talking LIVE! on my first radio interview on Monday, May 16th, 2016 @96.5 Bolton FM and on Wednesday 18th May, 2016 at 10:00 with Chris Hajdar @96.5 Bolton FM once again!

Here’s a podcast recording of Wednesday’s radio interview. Check it out!

http://www.podcasts.canstream.co.uk/boltonfm/audio/boltonfm_18-05-16_3-10_1463562003.mp3

How to write & publish a book using local press & radio!
How to write & publish a book using local press & radio!
  1. What other activities are being done to promote your book? I have been visiting schools in my local area where I will do a workshop with the kids on “how to create a story.” I already have five (5) bookings! I have also arranged to appear in three (3) different “Fun Days” across Warrington where the public can meet me, purchase my book, and get it signed. My publishers will be launching their own marketing strategy which will include book signings, newspaper and magazine interviews, etc.
How to write & publish a book. Organise book signings, newspaper and magazine interviews - They are very important!
How to write & publish a book
Organise book signings, newspaper and magazine interviews – They are very important!
  1. Have you been invited to be a speaker or talk about your book? Yes.
  1. Where can we see or meet you and get a signed book? I will appear at Birchwood Carnival on Sunday, 4th June from 12:00 to 16:00, Orford Park Festival on Sunday, 12th June from 12:00 -16:00 and on Great Sankey Fun Day on Saturday,  2nd July from 12:00 to 16:00 on my birthday! Several other locations are also highlighted on my website – The Bee Hive.
Let's go and see the writers in North-West Englaaaaand!
Let’s go and see the writers in North-West Englaaaaand!
  1. Do you have any tips for people who would like to try writing a book? Never give up trying, and stick to your own style of writing, because everyone has a unique way of penmanship. Be encouraged by every success story, as the beginning of any journey gets better as you go on.
How to write & publish a book. Stick to your own style of writing!
How to write & publish a book.
Stick to your own style of writing!
  1. Describe your book in one (1) word. Awesome!

I’M EXCITED! WHERE CAN WE BUY THE BEE HIVE?

I’m excited! Where can we buy your book?
I’m excited! Where can we buy your book?

DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR!

Simon Adepetun - Author of The Bee Hive.
Simon Adepetun – Author of The Bee Hive.

SIMON ADEPETUN – AUTHOR of THE BEE HIVE!

Simon Adepetun was born in Manchester, and has lived in Cheshire since 1999.

He has a 2:1 B.A. (Hons) in English Studies and a Postgraduate Certificate in Theatre Studies from the University of Manchester.

Simon is married with three children, works as a full-time Sales Manager and enjoys, writing stories, poetry and songs, and spending quality time with his family.

That’s it folks.

Go ahead and buy the book!

HOW TO WRITE AND PUBLISH A BOOK – INTRODUCING THE BEE HIVE!

The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun.
The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun.

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the very excitement of my brothers’ first children’s’ book, are my very own!

In the summer I’ll be going to Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and possibly Russia!

From May 18th – May 22nd, I’ll be at the Berlin Music Video Award.

From June 2nd – June 3rd, I’ll be at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival.

From June 28th – July 2nd, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week.

Save the Date!

May & June are going to be fabulous!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & Facebook!

If you’re not in Berlin in May, you can’t be breathing!

Watch this space!

How to write and publish a book!
How to write and publish a book!

Have you ever wondered if you had the talent, or enough patience, to put all your ideas onto paper and pen? Have you ever thought about writing a book?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com