• EXPLORE eNewsletter from Travel Guard | August 2012

    Travelers the world over have long raved about their time in Paris, London and Rome, but sometimes it's the lesser-known cities that inspire awe in a traveler. Named by the European Union as one of two 2012 European Capitols of Culture[1], Guimarães, is the first capitol of Portugal and one of Europe's most affordable cities. Guimarães is situated in the northwestern region of the country and is known for its youth and vigor (50% of the population is under the age of 30), mazes of narrow, winding streets, and charming old houses with ornate character. Steeped in rich tradition, the locals are known to be very hospitable and the historical part of the city has been dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it one of the largest tourist centers in the region. One visit is sure to captivate the attention of any traveler with artistic celebrations of exhilarating music, fine arts, architecture, theatre, dance and cinema.

    Visit some of the area's most unique points of interest for a new take on European culture and history:

    Largo da Oliveira (Olive Square)
    If you want to visit a fascinating part of Guimarães that is in touch with its centuries-old cultural roots, look no further than Largo da Oliveria (Olive Square). This city square can be found by winding down centuries old, narrow streets lined in cobblestone and stacked with statue-laden houses that are so prominent you can almost hear the whispers of yesteryear through the passageways.

    A great time to visit the square is during the first weekend in August for the Festas Gualterianas - a medieval-style craft market complete with an arts fair and costume parade that has been held since 1452.

    Castelo de Guimarães (Guimarães Castle)
    What can't help but be seen for miles around the city of Guimarães? The Guimarães castle, of course! This castle, which was built in the 10th century, dominates the skyline for miles around, and centuries ago was used to protect the town against invaders. According to legend, Portugal's first king was born in the castle but visitors can envision for themselves what happened here so long ago by walking along the castle walls to see history for themselves. The Guimarães Castle was declared a national monument in 1910[2].

    Museu de Alberto Sampaio (Alberto Sampaio Museum)
    Travel through the history of Guimarães by visiting the Alberto Sampaio Museum. This museum features century's old religious art, silverware, paintings and sculptures which look particularly stunning during special night tours due to the building being a renovated monastery built in the 10 th century. Particularly interesting is a tunic allegedly used by King João I at the Battle of Aljubarrota and a silver triptych depicting the visitation, annunciation and birth of Christ.

    Centro Cultural Vila Flor (Vila Flor Cultural Center)
    Centro Cultural Vila Flor is attached to an 18th century palace and showcases movie screenings, cafe concerts, theatre and art exhibits. This year the landmark will feature a special international dance festival in honor of the city being named a European Capitol of Culture and showcase major contemporary dance companies.

    House of Memory
    The House of Memory is a new edition to the city and contains well-known sentimental items from people who have inhabited the city in recent generations. The location offers a walk down memory lane for locals and hosts an interactive display of personal items donated by the people of Guimarães. The items tell and preserve the history of the common people in a big world that forgets and quickly changes.  

    Penha Mountain
    After you are done exploring the city of Guimarães perhaps the surrounding hillside will call your name. Nearby Penha Mountain boasts cable car rides to the top of the mountain, a hilltop chapel, horse-riding, a picnic area and plenty of caves and look out areas that offer panoramic views of the city below.  

    Explore the magic that awaits you in Guimarães and learn more about its rich culture by clicking here.


    [1]: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/our-programmes-and-actions/capitals/the-present-future-and-past-capitals_en.htm
    [2]: http://travelinos.com/castles/n22-15051-Guimaraes_Castle
    http://www.golisbon.com/portugal/cities/guimaraes.html http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/hottest-travel-destinations-of-2012/5  

    Best Apps for Exploring a New City

    Even the best travel planners need to make choices about what to do in a new city they are visiting. Whether you want to get connected, chill out by yourself, discover fun family activities or find the latest party on the block, here are a few travel apps that are perfect for almost any trip.

    Connection Counts: How many times have you worried about not finding a Wi-Fi connection at your destination? Worry no more with the Wi-Fi finder app. Just a few clicks and this app will find all free and paid Wi-Fi connections in the area in which you are traveling.

    Take a Bite Out of This: Looking for gourmet places to eat? Try the Chef's Feed app which contains opinions of local chefs as the guide to the best eats in town. If you are traveling with a family and opt for whatever is closest or most affordable, try the UrbanSpoon app which can give you instant results to quickly feed hungry mouths.

    So Much to See: Sure, we may have all heard of Foursquare and Dopplr to find things to see and do in a new area, but have you heard of Trippy? Trippy is an app that lets you share where you’ve been with your friends on Facebook. It also lets you plan great trips using other friend’s ideas.

    Fabulous Flick Picks: Who needs to watch TV in the hotel when you have things like Flixster, Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango? These apps let you see what’s playing and the location of theatres in the area. Rotten Tomatoes even rates current movies and lets you buy tickets directly to almost any theatre you would like to visit.

    Traveler Phone Home: Perhaps this is stating the obvious to some seasoned travelers, but if you are away from home and want to stay in touch with family, try uploading Fring or Skype to your smartphone. These apps will let you make video/voice calls to loved ones anytime of the day or night.

    Introducing Pinterest!

    If you love to travel, you will love what Pinterest has to offer. Pinterest is a social sharing site that allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web - including one-of-a-kind travel photos!

    Follow Travel Guard on Pinterest today! 

    Where in the World?

    Q: Where is this stunning cityscape located?

    Singapore. At night the lights make this futuristic city come alive!  

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