Travelog

FROM The man in the front seat / February 27, 2014

Liberty Square (Porto)

The square is a continuation of the Avenida Dos Aliados  and is the most important in the city. History The square was begun in 1718 to urbanise the city and was originally known as New Square (Praça Nova), originally confined by the old medieval walls and a series of palaces, all of which now have been destroyed. In 1788 the Order of Saint Eligius (Santo Lóios) built a convent on the southern side, where the old walls once stood. This building is today known as Cardosas Palace (Palácio das Cardosas)and […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 27, 2014

Church of Saint Ildelfonso (Porto)

Ildephonsus of Toledo was the Bishop of Toledo, Spain from 657 until his death in 667.  A cleric and a scholar he is known for his devotion to the Virgin Mary and reportedly experienced a vision of her on the 18th December 665. This church, located on Batalha Square,  is dedicated to him with this present construction being completed 1739. History The earliest known reference to a church on this spot dates from 1296 when it is mentioned in a document by Vincente Mendes, the Bishop of Porto, although it […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 24, 2014

Riesenrad (Vienna)

A visitor to Vienna is, sooner rather than later, going to hear about Emperor Franz Joseph whilst visiting the many sights Vienna has. Franz Joseph was Austrian Emperor from 1848 till his death in 1916. In preparing for his Golden Jubilee the state decided to build a Ferris Wheel to celebrate this milestone. It wasn’t uncommon, large Ferris Wheels existed at that time in the US, Britain and France. Erected in 1897 it measured 80.4m (264ft) and had 30 cars or gondolas. When it was constructed the US, British and French […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 16, 2014

Senyera – 300 years and counting

With the release of FC Barcelona’s kit for 2013-2014, the away shirt has created the most headlines with its “Catalan Flag”. Catalunya lost its independence on the 11 Sept 1714 and for almost 300 years have been fighting to get it back. The “flag” has been the symbol for this struggle so it worth having a closer look at it. The four red strips on a yellow background is known as “Senyera”, and shows up not only on the Catalan flag but also the Autonomous Communities of Aragon, the Balearic Islands […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 15, 2014

Cailler – first chocolatier in switzerland

In 1814, François-Louis Cailler went to a local fair in Turin, Italy and tasted, for the first time, chocolate. Loving the taste so much he eventually stayed there 4 years learning the art of chocolate making. When he returned to Switzerland he opened the very first Swiss chocolate factory, Cailler, in Corsier, near Lausanne. In 1825 he opened a second factory which he sold to his son Julian and his son-in-law Daniel Peter. Daniel Peter revolutionised the chocolate industry in 1875 when , with the help of his neighbour Henri […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 14, 2014

Monaco Grand Prix (Monaco)

Two names that are inextricably linked are Monaco and Formula One. First run in 1929 the Monaco Grand Prix is today one of the most prestigious and important automobile races of the year. The race is held on Monaco’s narrow streets and includes hill climbs, hill decents, tight corners and tunnels, making it one of the most demanding race tracks in the world. Nelson Piquet highlighted the difficulty by saying; “Monaco was like trying to ride a bicycle in your living room”. It is also a bit of an anomaly […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 13, 2014

Zenet – from Malaga with the blues

Toni Zenet is a man who is one of a group who are leading a revival of jazz vocalist music in Spain. Born in Malaga, Spain in 1967, Zenet started his career in the early 90’s as an actor appearing firstly in cinema then later in TV. His first foray into music started in 2008 with the release of his first solo album Los Mares de China (The China Seas) which featured the single Soñar contigo (Dream with You). Zenet created a style where he combined the styles of American […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 12, 2014

Almdudler – auf der alm dudlein

There are very few countries where a locally produced soft drink actually rivals the big boys such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, but the small landlocked nation of Austria is one of them. Almdudler, known to any Ex-Contiki staff who spent time waiting for the their clients at white water rafting, is without doubt one of the finest things to come out of Austria. Made out of grape and apple juice concentrates then flavoured with several herbs is today, in Austria, second only to Coca-Cola in sales with more than 80 […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 11, 2014

Wines of Spain – Petalos (Bierzo)

In 1998 Alvaro Palacios and his nephew Ricardo Perez began an adventure in wine making in the Bierzo region of north-western Spain. After searching numerous location the pair finally settle on the town of Corullón, located on Bierzo’s western border. The hillside reminded the pair of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or and the soil, although not of great quality had incredible diversity. The principle grape chosen to use was the Mencia grape, which grows well in difficult terrains and produces a light, pale but also relatively fragranced wines. The vines used are […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 11, 2014

Aperol – I must be in Venice

Created in 1919 by the Barbieri Company which  is based in Padua, Italy. Aperol has become one of the most popular Italian aperitifs of all time. After a relatively slow start Aperol’s unique combination of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and cinchona (a plant native to South America) has sky rocketed in popularity since WWII. Looking a little like Campari (in fact its owned by the Campari company today), Aperol is only half it’s alcohol content at 11% and much more pale in colour. Aperol is sold in Germany however its […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 10, 2014

Guttmann’s Curse – the curse of Benfica

All football clubs have their myths and legends, I doubt however that many would be able to match Benfica’s famous “Guttmann Curse”. For those of you who may not know, Benfica is a football club from the city of Lisbon, Portugal. Their famed “Stadium of Light” will hold the 2014 Champions League final. Guttmann joined Benfica in 1960 as manager and promptly won the championship and then again in 1961. He also won the European Cup (Old Champions League) in 1961 beating FC Barcelona 3-2 in the final (obviously poor […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 10, 2014

Wines of Spain – Viña Ardanza (La Rioja)

The search for the best red wine in Spain moves the Rioja region, probably the most famous in Spain, to try Viña Ardanza – Special Reserve. Rioja Alta, one of three sub divisions, is located around the town of Haro on the south of the Ebro river. Based on the Tempranillo with Garnacha grapes it is labelled “reserva especial” in good vintages, and till now only 3 (1964,1973 & 2001). Dark & fruity, great with meats and only €20-€23 a bottle, well worth a try.

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