There are good places to visit…
and some not so much
AN UNDERRATED DESTINATION
We all know Europe can be expensive. But there is a wonderful European city where your budget still buys comfort and value along with marvelous sights and friendly people. That place is Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. It is one of the world’s oldest cities and one of the greatest bargains of all the major cities of Western Europe.
Lisbon is safe, clean, colorful and chock full of outdoor cafes and a variety of restaurants that feature tasty local and international cuisines at reasonable prices. Even better, the famous wines of Portugal are in abundance at bargain rates.
Conveniently, the city has a wide range of transportation choices including the famous old yellow streetcars that are fun to ride while viewing the sights, funiculars that climb some of the city’s many hills, an underground metro and modern light rail trams. Taxis are also plentiful.
Visit the city’s many historical sights during the day, but save at least one night during your stay to visit a fado house where you can savor dinner, wine and the beautiful melancholy sounds of the fado, a unique form of music born in Lisbon.
Its brightly colored buildings, many green parks and impressive city squares combine with fine vistas along the Tagus river to make Lisbon more relaxed and liveable than many other major cities. It is one of the world’s great places to visit and a delight to explore:
This is the link to Lisbon’s official website: Visit Lisbon, a good resource for all of the many things that make Lisbon special.
My advice is to consider a visit to Lisbon and perhaps all of Portugal soon.
Tell me what you think. And let me know what you consider an underrated place to visit.
AN OVERRATED DESTINATION
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
Rio is known for some world-famous attractions.
Almost everybody recognizes Sugar Loaf Mountain’s cable car with its breathtaking views of Guanabara Bay.
The towering Christ the Redeemer statue that crowns Corcovado mountain is also not to be missed.
What else is there to see? Regrettably, not much.
Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are impressive but are often very crowded, and sometimes the surf can be very strong. Also, be prepared for an annoying, almost endless parade of vendors who loudly hawk all kinds of things while weaving between bodies and beach umbrellas. Of the two beaches, Ipanema is much preferred.
NEVER leave valuables unattended even for a minute. Lightening fast petty thieves are watching.
Sadly, even Copacabana has little more to offer than the beach and street people. An appalling and dismaying number of these unfortunates live their lives on most of the major streets. Many are families with children sleeping on cardboard mattresses even in the rain and accompanied by the family dog.
And dogs are everywhere, most on leashes but some are not. Safe sidewalks throughout the city are much fewer in number. Most are paved with little tiles badly in need of repair or replacement. Please look down a lot when walking in Rio to avoid nasty holes, breaks and uneven raised surfaces waiting to snare you. (By not paying attention, I’ve tripped on them several times and seen others do the same.)
In Rio, except for traffic signals, cars have the right of way and never stop for pedestrians. Drivers rudely honk for you to get out of their way and let them pass. So be very wary every time you cross the street.
Other than drivers, Cariocas, as the people of Rio are called, are not especially rude to visitors, but they are not especially friendly either.
Don’t go downtown unless you have business there. Few tourists do. The area, crowded and noisy during the day, becomes a ghost town at night when shops and offices close. It is dangerous to walk there after dark, especially if alone and after 10 pm. Copacabana is generally safer because the military now patrols the area and can be spotted everywhere.
It is no secret that Rio is an unsafe city. Especially dangerous are the favelas, slums that climb almost every hillside in the city, You can not miss seeing them. Some are so perilous that even the police refuse to enter. You should NEVER enter a favela even on a guided tour. People have died that way.
My advice is to forget Rio de Janeiro. The city looks old and tired and for the most part lives on its reputation of beaches and the 5 days of carnival each year. There are much safer, better kept and more pleasant destinations to explore for your fun and adventure.
Tell me what you think. And let me know what you consider an overrated place to visit.