Posts Tagged ‘Sunset’

Exploring Portugal: Vibrant Lisbon

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Famous 28th tram in Lisbon

Editor’s Note: Anastasia Chernykh (the social media manager for My Life’s a Trip) just came back from Lisbon  with rave reviews. I asked her to do this post for the blog. Her images have me craving a trip to Portugal. – Jen Pollack Bianco 

The number of foreign tourists visiting Portugal has exceeded 10 million for the first time in 2016. Portugal has been named the destination of the year (Travel+Leisure), most popular place to visit in 2017 (Huffington Post), and on top of that the city has won Best European Destination World Travel Award. Everyone seems to be going to Portugal now, and I can see why!

I flew to Lisbon after a short trip to Paris, and it was such a great difference. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely love Paris, but Lisbon felt so welcoming, cozy and warm after a big rainy city. Like a visit to an old friend.

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Lisbon fashion tip: blend into city colors!

You know a city is tourist friendly when you don’t need to spend  hours to get from an airport to its center. Lisbon airport is just 6 miles away, and has several transportation options including metro, bus, and taxi. The weather is pleasant here all year round. The climate strongly influenced by the Gulf Stream, it is one of the mildest climates in Europe (imagine 6-month long summer!).

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Azulejo tiles on Lisbon buildings are part of the city’s bright creative look

We stayed in an old city part called Alfama. I would say it’s one of the most interesting and iconic parts of Lisbon, but it’s not everything. You may not want to take famous 28 Eléctrico as it’s usually notoriously overcrowded, but use it’s route as a map for your own tour since it covers almost all main landmarks.

Walking seems to be the best way to explore old center of Lisbon, or the most convenient at least. It’s not a good idea to use a car in the city unless you are prepared to spend hours in traffic jams and looking for parking space. Cycling also doesn’t seem like a good idea, since Lisbon is located on seven hills, some of its streets have tram lines, potholes and an absence of designated bicycle lanes.

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Narrow streets of Lisbon

For me, Lisbon is not that much about sightseeing as about experiences. So try to live like a local in Lisbon instead of visiting:

Start your morning with pastéis de nata (an egg tart), this is the most famous local pastry and it’s delicious. Cafe culture is a very important in Portugal (fun fact–Portuguese colonists initiated the first coffee plantings in Brazil). The local coffee lingo is a bit different, for example espresso is often called bica, and for locals it’s normal to have at least 3 bicas a day. You won’t be able to stroll down a street in Lisbon without passing at least several of cafes.

After that, try to climb up to one of the several main Miradouro (viewpoints). The one near Santa Luzia church, for a breathtaking view of the city with its old terra cotta roofs.

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View of Alfama quarter and river Tagus

Lisbon doesn’t really have any ocean access or beaches, but it has long avenidas in front of river Tagus – Avenida Infante Dom Henrique and  Avenida Ribeira das Naus. Walk down the first to get to Praça do Comércio, one of the main city’s squares that was completely remodeled after the horrible Lisbon 1755 earthquake.

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Praça do Comércio with Statue of King José I 

The square is connected with the other traditional square Rossio, paved with typical Portuguese mosaic, this square is filled with cafes and restaurants, with a train station of the same name nearby.

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Praça do Comércio as seen through Arco da Rua Augusta

Keep walking along Avenida Ribeira for great sunset views of the 25 de Abril Bridge. There are several spots where people seat along the waterfront and enjoy the beautiful sunset views with another local specialty, porto wine.

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25 de Abril Bridge sometimes is compared to Golden Gate in San Francisco

Port is a world famous fortified wine from Portugal, produced exclusively in the Douro Valley (that’s where the city of Porto is located, hence the name of the wine). There are several styles of Port, including red, white, rosé and an aged style called Tawny Port.

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Vibrant sunset colors kept changing every 5 minutes

Looking for day trip options from Lisbon? Try visiting a small town Sintra. It is located only 20 miles away from Lisbon and packed with attractions.

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Entrance to Rossio train station, trains to Sintra run every 30 min

With its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, Sintra is now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and attracts visitors from all over the world. Royal retreats, estates, castles and other buildings, including the mediaeval Castelo dos Mouros, the Pena National Palace and the Sintra National Palace, are giving the town almost fairytale look.

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Sunset in Sintra

From Sintra it’s easy to go to the Westernmost point of the Europe, Cabo da Roca. The cliffs of Cabo de Roca were believed to be the edge of the world up until the late 14th century. Sunset is the best time to visit this dramatic landscape.

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Exploring Maui, Hawaii: Sunset Stroll and Happy Hour Picks in Wailea

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The Mana Kai Maui during golden hour

During my amazing girls trip to Maui our base for the first few days was the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort. Our first night on the island we took a walk along the beach towards Kihei to enjoy the sunset views.

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Sunset fishing spot in Kihei

There are a couple of great happy hours in Kihei with stunning views. Sarento’s on the Beach and the 5 Palms at the Mana Kai Maui are both excellent locations to take in the sunset and enjoy an adult beverage.

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White sand beach during golden hour at Kamaole Beach Park

If you just want to stretch your legs, there are quite a few lovely public spots to take in the stunning views of Maui.

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Golden girls during golden hour

The public beaches are all easily accessible via foot including Kamaole Beach Park I, Kamaole Beach Park 2 and Kamaole Beach Park III. Walking through them is enjoyable because you’ll see plenty of locals playing in the surf and walking their dogs in these parks.
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Dog walk at Kamaole Beach Park

After dark, I highly recommend heading to the Andaz Maui where guests can enjoy roasting marshmallows poolside. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s worth dining at Morimoto Maui for their sushi and Japanese menu (the hamachi tacos and chicken ramen soup are stand out dishes).

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Curves and clouds at Kamaole Beach Park

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Golden hour at Kihei’s Kama’ole Beach Park

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Toasting marshmallows poolside at the Andaz Maui

If you don’t want to do the walk after dark, an Uber X costs about $4 to take you from Kamaole Beach Park back to the Andaz Wailea.

Sarento’s on the Beach

2980 South Kihei Road
Kihei, Maui, HI 96753
Phone (808) 875-7555

5 Palms
2960 S. Kihei Road
Kihei, Maui HI 96753
Phone (808) 879-2607

Morimoto Maui
3550 Wailea Alanui Dr.
Wailea, HI 96753
(808) 243-4766

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Exploring Maui, Hawaii: A Sunset Sail on the Alli’i Nui

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Sailing at sunset on Maui

On my recent girls trip to Maui, I decided to take a sunset cruise to check out the scenery by boat. After reading many reviews, I booked on the Royal Feast Dinner Sail aboard the Alii Nui.

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Bare feet aboard the Alii Nui

This two 1/2 hour adults-only cruise provided transportation to and from our hotel (the Andaz Maui at Wailea), and I liked that the luxury sailing catamaran was capacity controlled so that guests plenty of space. The $189.00 all-inclusive price included unlimited cocktails as well as dinner and transportation (gratuity is not included).

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Up go the sails on the Alii Nui

The dinner menu included appetizers such as local vegetable crudités, caprese skewers, cheese and crackers and wide array of selections for dinner. Prime rib, Kiawe smoked baby back ribs, sushi, and crab cakes were very popular. Everything I tried was good but food was not the main focus of this sunset cruise. The full bar with cocktails, beer and wine were also included. There was even a selection of Scotch and after dinner liquors.

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Magic hour aboard the Alii Nui

The crew of the Alii Nui made us feel taken care of before we even got to Maalaea Harbor. They were great about confirming pickup time at the hotel via text and our transportation arrived promptly. Guests were looped in on the plan for the evening, and the high staff to guest ratio was nice. Everyone was ready to have a good time before we took off our shoes once we boarded the 65′ sailing catamaran for this barefoot sunset dinner cruise.

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Pineapple over the Pacific

While the cruise was not a tour, the crew was available to answer questions and made sure everyone got enough cocktails and food. They even offered to take pictures of the guests, which was a nice touch. The music selection was nice and played at a non-intrusive volume.

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Blue hour aboard the Alii Nui

I must confess that boats are not my favorite mode of transportation. But sea sickness wasn’t an issue for anyone during this smooth sail.

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Sundowner aboard the Alii Nui

Alcohol brands were premium and cocktails did not seem especially strong, but everyone was having a great time. There were also plenty of non alcoholic beverages as well as coffee and tea. Guests seemed fond of the signature Slip 56 signature cocktail and the Alii Nui Mai Tais.

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Obligatory sailing selfie with Zan Aufderheide

The other guests were friendly and the boat offered enough space above and below deck for guests to spread out. Everyone seemed to enjoy the experience of taking in the blue Pacific waters and the gorgeous sunset and West Maui views.

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Sailboats, sunset and windmills and moody clouds

The Alii Nui crew had service down to a science and the separate bathroom facilities for men and women were appreciated.

A little video of the Royal Feast Sunset Cruise on the Alii Nui

I started to think that Christopher Cross might be onto something with this sailing stuff!

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Happy customers aboard the Alii Nui

I was impressed with the value for money of the Royal Feast Dinner Cruise on the Ali’i Nui. The Alii Nui offers a wide variety of other charters including whale watching, snorkeling trips to Molokini and Turtle Point, and other speciality cruises. Our experience was so positive we hope to take one of their snorkeling trips on a future trip to Maui.

Alii Nui Sailing Charters
Toll Free (US only): 1- 800-542-3483 Ext. 1 Local: 1-808-875-0333
info@aliinuimaui.com

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Exploring the Pacific Northwest: Twilight and Sunsets on First Beach La Push, Washington

 

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Sunset at First Beach in La Push, Washington 

The Olympic Peninsula in Washington State has some gorgeous beaches. Ruby Beach is my usual go-to, so I made a point of heading to First Beach and Rialto Beach to check them out for myself.

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A summer afternoon on First Beach

Rialto Beach is part of Olympic National Park but First Beach is not. First Beach is accessible by car, and is located within the Quileute Nation . The Quileute Oceanside Resort is the nearest lodging. I stayed at the pet-friendly Forks Motel, located about 15 miles away.

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Boat passing Little James Island as seen from First Beach

First Beach is sometimes known as La Push Beach. It has a crescent-shaped swatch of sand as rocky points and views of James Island and Little James Island. It’s a favorite of both surfers and vampires (the location is featured in the Twilight series of books). La Push is one of the most popular destinations for Twihard tourists.

Summer sunset at First Beach in La Push, Washington

The Forks chamber of commerce has seen a 600% increase in tourism since 2000, and Stephanie Meyer’s YA series of books is often credited as a major factor. Fortunately, my visit was vampire free.

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 Stylish totem outside the Lonesome Creek Store in La Push

The Forks Chamber of Commerce has set up a First Beach Webcam so you can visit virtually if you can’t make it in real life.

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Pacific Northwest Surfer Girl

First Beach is a great place to watch the sunset and take in the twilight. I enjoyed watching the sun dip below the horizon between James Island and Little James Island.

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A panorama of sunset seekers enjoying the view from First Beach

First Beach is also a favorite of storm watchers and one of the most popular stops on the Twilight Tours. La Push is where Bella learns the tale of the Cullens and later goes cliff diving and almost drowns

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First Beach driftwood frames trees on Little James island  

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Pacific Northwest Summer evening on First Beach

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Clouds and sunset on First Beach

Only members of the Quileute Tribe are allowed on James Island. But there is a James Island webcam.

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Twilight view from First Beach in La Push

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Dusk view of Little James Island from First Beach

First Beach is easily accessible and open to all. Located near LaPush (about 15 miles west of Forks). Put the Quileute Oceanside Resort in your GPS as your destination and you’ll find it.

Quileute Oceanside Resort

330 Ocean Drive

La Push, WA 98350

 

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Exploring the Big Island of Hawaii: Sunsets at the Fairmont Orchid

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Kohala Coast Sunset on the Big Island of Hawaii

Gorgeous tropical sunsets are the stuff Hawaiian post cards are made of. The Kona and Kohala Coast of the Big Island offer some spectacular spots to watch the sun dip below the horizon and enjoy the last rays of the day. The lagoon at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel  was my favorite sunset spot on my recent trip to the Aloha State.

Big Island Sunset Time-Lapse

I shot the sunset time lapse above using the Time-Lapse function on my iPhone 6s on the lagoon beach at the Fairmont Orchid, which is a popular gathering spot around sunset.

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Last light off the Kohala Coast of the Big Island

After sunset, the Fairmont Orchid hotel offers stargazing opportunities for guests a few nights a week, with giant telescopes set up right on the property and an on-site astronomer.

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Big Island sunset at the Fairmont Orchid

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Sunset at the Coconut Grove 

The Fairmont Orchid’s Coconut Grove is a popular choice for destination weddings on the Big Island. The scenery is pretty spectacular.

Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

1 North Kaniku Drive
Kohala Coast, Hawaii  96743
TEL + 1 808 885 2000
FAX + 808 885 5778

orchid@fairmont.com

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