Discovering Aveiro: Recommendation for Portugal’s Hidden Gem

Nestled along the picturesque shores of Portugal, Aveiro beckons with its unique charm and distinct character, offering a captivating escape for those seeking an authentic Portuguese experience.

1. The Venice of Portugal:
Often referred to as the “Venice of Portugal,” Aveiro boasts a network of charming canals adorned with colorful moliceiro boats. Glide along the waterways and marvel at the picturesque scenes that unfold, showcasing Aveiro’s architectural elegance and vibrant spirit.

2. Art Nouveau Architecture:
Aveiro stands as a living canvas of Art Nouveau architecture. Stroll through its streets to witness the intricate details of buildings adorned with whimsical designs, adding an artistic flair to the cityscape.

3. Ovos Moles Delight:ֿ

Indulge your taste buds in Aveiro’s sweet specialty – Ovos Moles. These delectable egg yolk and sugar confections are often shaped like shells, fish, or barrels, reflecting the city’s maritime influence. Savor the unique flavors that have delighted locals and visitors for generations.

4. Costa Nova’s Striped Charm:
Just a short distance from Aveiro lies the enchanting Costa Nova, known for its vibrant, striped fishermen’s houses. Explore this seaside neighborhood, soak in the coastal atmosphere, and capture Instagram-worthy moments against the backdrop of these iconic structures.

5. Aveiro’s Cultural Scene:
Beyond its visual allure, Aveiro boasts a lively cultural scene. Immerse yourself in local traditions, perhaps catching a performance of the traditional Fado music or participating in one of the city’s vibrant festivals.

6. Pristine Beaches:
For sun-seekers, Aveiro offers access to pristine beaches along the Atlantic coast. Take a short trip to bask in the sun, feel the ocean breeze, and enjoy the tranquility of the shoreline.

In Aveiro, every cobblestone tells a story, and every canal reflects the city’s vibrant history. Whether you’re drawn to its unique waterways, sweet delicacies, or artistic allure, Aveiro promises an unforgettable journey through the heart of Portugal’s distinctive cultural tapestry.

Embrace the charm, relish the flavors, and let Aveiro’s allure leave an indelible mark on your travel memories.

Inca Trail Adventure: A Journey to Machu Picchu’s Timeless Wonder

Embarking on the classic Inca Trail is a transformative adventure that culminates in the awe-inspiring wonder of Machu Picchu. As one delves into this historical and picturesque journey, the trail unfolds like a narrative of ancient civilizations and breathtaking landscapes. Here, we share personal experiences and offer valuable tips for those considering this iconic trek.

1. The Trail’s Timeless Charm:
The Inca Trail, winding through the Andes, is not just a physical journey; it’s a walk through time. The well-preserved ruins, including Wiñay Wayna and Intipata, offer glimpses into the ancient Incan way of life. Each step is a connection to a rich tapestry of history.

2. Preparing for the Trek:
Physical preparation is key. Strengthening your stamina and endurance beforehand will enhance your overall experience. Packing essentials such as sturdy hiking boots, weather-appropriate clothing, and a reliable backpack is crucial. Don’t forget a good camera – the views are worth capturing.

3. Acclimatization Matters:
Cusco, the starting point of the Inca Trail, is situated at high altitude. Spending a few days acclimatizing in Cusco helps mitigate altitude-related challenges during the trek. Stay hydrated and listen to your body, allowing it to adjust gradually.

4. Embracing the Camaraderie:
The Inca Trail is not just about the destination; it’s also about the camaraderie forged along the way. Sharing the trail with fellow adventurers, local guides, and porters creates a sense of community. Take time to appreciate the collective spirit that accompanies this journey.

5. Machu Picchu Unveiled:
Reaching Machu Picchu at sunrise is a moment etched in memory. As the sun bathes the ancient citadel in golden hues, the sheer magnificence of the site becomes apparent. Explore the terraces, temples, and enigmatic structures that make Machu Picchu a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

6. Leave No Trace:
Respect for the environment is paramount. Following the principle of “Leave No Trace” ensures the preservation of this sacred trail. Stay on designated paths, carry out all waste, and be mindful of the fragile ecosystem.

Embarking on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is not just an adventure; it’s a transformative passage through time and nature. This iconic trek stands as a testament to human resilience and the enduring allure of ancient civilizations. Are you ready to lace up your boots and step into the footsteps of the Incas? Contact us and we will help you make a dream come true.

Cusco Unveiled: Beyond the Gateway to Machu Picchu

Nestled high in the Andes Mountains, Cusco stands as a living testament to the grandeur of the Inca Empire. While often recognized as the gateway to Machu Picchu, this enchanting city offers a tapestry of history, culture, and vibrant energy waiting to be explored.

The Historical Heartbeat:
Cusco served as the capital of the Inca Empire, and remnants of its glorious past can be witnessed in every cobblestone street and ancient stone wall. Plaza de Armas, the city’s main square, is surrounded by colonial architecture built atop Incan foundations. Marvel at the exquisite blend of Inca and Spanish influence, as seen in the majestic Cathedral and the Qoricancha, the Temple of the Sun.

Exploring Inca Ruins:
Venture beyond the city to discover the nearby Inca ruins that dot the landscape. Sacsayhuaman, an immense fortress overlooking Cusco, showcases the engineering prowess of the Incas. The intricate stonework, assembled without mortar, remains a marvel to behold. Other archaeological wonders like Q’enqo and Tambomachay provide insight into Inca rituals and astronomy.

Cultural Corners:
Cusco pulsates with cultural richness. Delve into the San Pedro Market, where locals trade vibrant textiles, herbal remedies, and traditional crafts. Engage with the Quechua-speaking communities and witness their customs come alive during colorful festivals that celebrate their indigenous heritage.

Culinary Delights:
Peruvian cuisine shines brightly in Cusco. Explore local markets for a taste of exotic fruits, or indulge in traditional dishes like alpaca steak and quinoa soup. Don’t miss the chance to try “cuy” (guinea pig), a delicacy considered sacred by the Incas.

Arts and Crafts:
Cusco’s streets are adorned with art galleries and workshops where local artisans showcase their talents. Dive into the world of intricate textiles, vibrant paintings, and unique jewelry crafted by skilled hands, each piece echoing the city’s rich cultural narrative.

Cusco by Night:
As the sun sets, Cusco transforms into a magical realm. Explore the narrow alleyways illuminated by soft golden lights. Plaza Regocijo comes alive with street performers, creating an ambiance that echoes the city’s lively spirit.

Conclusion:
While Machu Picchu may be the crown jewel, Cusco stands as a gem in its own right. Beyond its role as the gateway to an ancient wonder, the city beckons travelers to unravel its history, immerse themselves in vibrant traditions, and savor the essence of Peruvian culture. Cusco is more than a stopover—it’s an immersive journey into the heart of the Andes.

Lisbon: Portugal’s Enchanting Fusion of Past and Present

Lisbon, also known as “Lisboa,” stands as the beating heart of Portugal, encompassing both its capital and cultural-economic hub. Nestled along the shores of the golden Atlantic, the city captivates with a blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy. The juxtaposition of the ancient and the contemporary renders Lisbon one of Europe’s enchanting cities. When embarking on a journey to Portugal, including a visit to Lisbon is a must. The city promises a sensory-rich experience, boasting breathtaking vistas, picturesque beaches, unique neighborhoods, rich architecture, historical landmarks, diverse museums, lively entertainment venues, and exquisite culinary delights.

Here are some of the most recommended places to visit:

In the Belem quarter, situated to the west of Lisbon near the Tagus River, several historical and architectural landmarks define the city’s identity:

1. Jeronimos Monastery: A remarkable 16th-century structure, characterized by its unique architecture. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Jeronimos Monastery served as a place of prayer for sailors before their voyages due to its proximity to the Tagus River.

2. Belem Tower: Adjacent to Jeronimos Monastery and on the bank of the Tagus River stands the impressive Belem Tower, adorned with maritime motifs. Built in the 16th century, the tower served as a maritime entrance gate to Lisbon, a mooring point for the Portuguese fleet, and part of the city’s river defense system.

3. Monument to the Discoveries: The white monument on the riverbank is one of Lisbon’s most impressive structures. Atop the monument are statues revealing figures such as Vasco da Gama. An elevator takes visitors to the top for panoramic views of Lisbon and the river.

Exploring Belem is incomplete without indulging in the mythological pastry, Pastéis de Belem, from the iconic bakery established in 1837. Don’t miss the traditional Nata pastry, vanilla cream tart with sugar and cinnamon, made from a secret recipe.

Alfama: A walking tour through Alfama reveals the picturesque streets of Lisbon’s oldest quarter, which miraculously survived the earthquake and tsunami of 1755. In this historic area, you’ll also find traces of the Jewish community’s former residence. Modern cafes and clubs now dot the ancient streets, offering a chance to witness traditional Fado music performances.

Sao Jorge Castle: Close to Alfama, on the highest point in Lisbon, sits the city’s oldest castle. The fortress, surrounded by walls and towers, served as a royal palace and later as a prison. The breathtaking view from the castle’s summit awaits those who ascend.

Baixa and Rossio Square: Lisbon’s central square, Rossio, is surrounded by government buildings and the stock exchange, with a statue of King Jose I at its center. For a beautiful panorama of the city, visitors can ascend to the terrace of the stunning Victoria Gate.

Augusta Street: The main and vibrant thoroughfare of Lisbon, Augusta Street, unfolds for visitors leaving through the Victoria Gate. Lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants, some buildings feature colorful ceramic tiles.

Gulbenkian Museum: Lisbon boasts numerous museums, both large and small. The Gulbenkian Museum is worth a visit not only for its splendid art collection but also for its impressive architecture and well-maintained gardens. Other recommended museums include the Tile Museum (Museu do Azulejo), located in a monastery, showcasing the history and production of ceramic tiles, and the Maritime Museum, illustrating Portugal’s maritime history and major discoveries.

Bairro Alto: Nestled on the hilly slopes, Bairro Alto is an artistic and trendy district offering countless entertainment options day and night. During the day, enjoy the picturesque streets and unique architecture, along with galleries and boutiques. In the evening, Bairro Alto transforms with a variety of clubs, restaurants, cafes, and bars.

Lisbon, with its rich history, diverse neighborhoods, and cultural treasures, promises a sensory and enriching experience for every traveler.

Hidden Gems in South America: Unveiling Lesser-Known Tourist Sites

South America, a sought-after and diverse destination, lures travelers from across the world. While many venture to the popular attractions, this blog unveils the hidden gems, the lesser-known sites that are truly worth experiencing:

Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador: Picture a turquoise lagoon nestled within the caldera of an extinct volcano at an altitude of 3,840 meters. This is Laguna Quilotoa in Ecuador. The vibrant color of the water, surrounded by long vegetation and local traders offering their goods, makes the visit truly unique. Hiking down to the lagoon provides stunning views of dramatic landscapes.

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina: Also known as the “Exploding Glacier,” Perito Moreno can be found in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park. Unlike most glaciers, Perito Moreno advances about 2 meters daily, creating a spectacle when massive ice chunks detach and fall into Lake Argentina. The front of the glacier features a natural viewpoint, allowing visitors to witness this unique natural phenomenon.

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil: Situated in the state of Maranhão, Brazil, this national park is a marvel of endless white sand dunes punctuated by crystal-clear lagoons. During the rainy season, the depressions between the dunes fill with water, creating a mesmerizing landscape resembling sheets (lençóis) that led to the park’s name. Visitors often wade into the shallow lagoons for a refreshing experience.

Atacama Desert, Chile: Known as the driest desert in the world, the Atacama Desert in Chile offers otherworldly landscapes with vast sand dunes and a serene atmosphere. The region’s high altitude and clear skies make it an ideal location for stargazing. The Paranal Observatory, equipped with telescopes and laser guides, enhances the experience of observing the Milky Way.

El Peñol de Guatape, Colombia: Located near Guatape in Colombia, El Peñol de Guatape is a unique and towering rock formation. Rising 200 meters high, this colossal basalt rock offers a panoramic view of enchanting lakes surrounded by lush vegetation. Climbing the 740 steps to its summit is an experience in itself, rewarding you with breathtaking vistas.

Discover the wonders of South America beyond the usual tourist spots, where nature’s marvels await those seeking unique and less-explored destinations.

Iguazu Falls: A Natural Marvel in South America

Anyone traveling in South America cannot ignore or bypass the magnificent Iguazu Falls. What makes them unique? What makes them so attractive and renowned? What characterizes the Brazilian side and the Argentine side, and what legend accompanies the story of their formation? All this and more can be found in the following blog. Join us on a journey to the falls, a natural wonder like no other.

Unique Wonders: Iguazu Falls, straddling the Brazilian and Argentine borders on the Iguazu River, stand out among the world’s most captivating natural wonders. Comprising about 275 waterfalls cascading over basalt cliffs, these falls, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, create a spectacle unmatched elsewhere.

Legend and Name: The Guarani legend of Iguazu tells of a fleeing couple turned into stone and tree, symbolizing the falls’ formation. The name Iguazu, meaning “big water” in Guarani, perfectly captures this phenomenon’s grandeur.

Power and Beauty: What sets Iguazu Falls apart is the fusion of dense rainforests, vibrant wildlife, and the immense water volumes dissolving into a rocky abyss. The lush surroundings and colorful rainbows from the spray contribute to an unparalleled visual experience.

Global Tourist Attraction: Tourists worldwide flock to witness this natural wonder. Organized trips and independent travelers explore both the Brazilian and Argentine sides, featuring hotels, camping sites, souvenir shops, and vibrant wildlife within declared national parks.

Brazilian vs. Argentine Sides: While the majority lies in Argentina, the Brazilian side, Iguacu National Park, emphasizes quality over quantity. The Argentine side, with well-organized trails and the iconic Devil’s Throat, offers a broader experience.

Conclusion: Whether captivated by the Brazilian or Argentine side, Iguazu Falls remains a breathtaking marvel, attracting visitors from around the globe to witness the power and beauty of “big waters.”

Culinary Tapestry: Exploring the Rich Flavors of Portugal

Portugal’s taste is a symphony of diverse flavors, from exquisite olive oil to seafood specialties and the rich pastel de nata pastry. Shaped by its unique location and influenced by various cultures, Portuguese cuisine offers a rich tapestry of South American, African, and Asian touches. For food enthusiasts seeking a destination defined by its local cuisine, a visit to Portugal promises a culinary journey with unique and popular dishes served in diverse restaurants.

Typically, a meal is presented in the following manner:

Soup Starter: A customary first course rarely skipped in Portugal. Whether you visit in summer, winter, autumn, or spring, you’ll always be served a bowl of traditional soup before the main course. Portugal’s traditional soup, known as Caldo Verde, consists of pureed potatoes, garlic, and onions.

Fish Delicacies: Delight in the Portuguese expertise with Bacalhau, served in various styles, and savor the preserved sardines, particularly the flavorful Sardinhas Assadas.  – Rice and Seafood Fusion: Experience the winning combination of creamy rice and fresh seafood, a local favorite.

Sweet Farewell: Conclude your culinary adventure with tempting Portuguese desserts like honey-stuffed figs, walnut cake, Arroz Doce, and the iconic Pastel de Nata, perfectly complemented by a cup of espresso.

In this flavorful note, we invite you to savor the taste of Portugal!”

European Spirits Adventure: A Tasting Tour Across Traditions

When traveling to Europe, immerse yourself fully in the experience, especially through the palate. Indulge in the local alcoholic beverages, an integral part of each nation’s tradition. Cheers to a captivating journey through diverse countries and their spirits!

Here are some of our favorite local beverages:

1. Jerez Wine – A Concentration of Sweetness in Portugal:
Portugal’s Ginjinha, a sweet cherry drink, is a delightful experience. Best enjoyed in Lisbon’s Ginjinha Bar, it encapsulates the essence of Portugal’s sweetness. A family-run establishment, it offers Ginjinha with a piece of fruit, enhancing its natural flavor.

2. Ouzo – Greece’s Enchanting Flavor:
Greece’s famous ouzo, with its anise-flavored taste, is rooted in tradition. Produced exclusively in Greece, ouzo is enjoyed in small distilleries, offering a taste of Greek identity. Tsipouro, Retsina, and Mastiha liqueur are other Greek delights to explore.

3. Sangria – Spain’s Many Faces:
Sangria, Spain’s national drink, is diverse in its colors and flavors across regions. Dry, sparkling, sweet, hot, or cold – each type complements different styles of meals. Spain also boasts various cocktails, liqueurs, and aperitifs.

4. Scotch Whisky – The Water of Life:
Scotland’s rich whisky tradition spans centuries, with numerous distilleries offering guided tours and tastings. Each region, such as Highland and Speyside, brings its own unique touch to this beloved beverage.

Embark on this alcoholic journey and explore the unique tastes of each country.

Puzzle’s Portugal Unveiled: A Journey Beyond Boundaries | May 21-28 | September 17-24

Embark on a one-of-a-kind journey with Puzzle’s special tour to Portugal, where every moment is crafted for a truly unique experience. Our meticulously designed itinerary takes you beyond the ordinary, revealing the heart and soul of this captivating country.

What can you expect:

Exclusive Activities: From private vineyard tours in the picturesque Douro Valley to personalized cooking classes with local chefs, our special tour offers exclusive activities that bring you closer to the rich tapestry of Portuguese culture. Engage in unique experiences that go beyond the surface, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Meet the Locals: Connect with the heartbeat of Portugal through intimate encounters with locals who share their stories, traditions, and passions. Whether it’s a cozy chat with a family-run olive oil producer or a musical evening with Fado performers, our tour brings you face-to-face with the warmth and hospitality of the Portuguese people.

Culinary Delights: Indulge your taste buds in the diverse and delectable world of Portuguese cuisine. From savoring authentic pastéis de nata to relishing fresh fish, our tour is a gastronomic delight that celebrates the flavors and traditions of this culinary haven.

Puzzle’s special tour to Portugal is more than a journey; it’s an invitation to unravel the extraordinary. Join us as we redefine travel, creating moments of magic and discovery in the heart of Portugal.

Cheers to new discoveries and unforgettable memories!

For more details click here

Reykjavik – The Northernmost Capital in the World

Besides the unique natural phenomena that attract tourists from all corners of the globe, Iceland boasts the capital city of Reykjavik. If you ever thought Reykjavik was merely a stopover between attractions, prepare to be surprised by this wonderfully modern and tourist-friendly city, steeped in interesting history and dotted with leisurely sites. Get a taste of charming Reykjavik.

Meet Reykjavik:
Reykjavik, the northernmost capital in the world, stands as the most significant urban asset of Iceland. As the capital, it serves as the epicenter of Iceland’s governance, economy, culture, and academia, housing approximately two-thirds of the country’s population.

On one hand, Reykjavik is a primary, modern, and progressive European capital. On the other, it exudes the qualities of a small and picturesque town, characterized by a simple and charming atmosphere. Bustling yet not overwhelming, with shopping districts and multi-story buildings alongside small, pleasant cafes, Reykjavik has much to offer in terms of museums, galleries, and shops to enjoy throughout the day. Even in its vibrant nightlife, the city does not shy away from revealing its lively nocturnal charms. The presence of the University of Iceland, located in Reykjavik, injects a youthful and studious breeze, and the colorful houses and friendly locals extend a warm welcome to every visitor. Personal security on the city streets is an added value for travelers. Therefore, it’s no wonder that anyone who visits Reykjavik falls in love with it instantly.

 

Tourist Attractions in Reykjavik:
One immense advantage of Reykjavik is that its attractions and various sites are within walking distance from each other. When you come to explore the beautiful capital, you are invited to move easily from place to place:

– Laugavegur Street: The main shopping street of the city, where you can find everything: souvenir shops, Scandinavian kitchenware stores, second-hand shops next to designer boutiques, jewelry shops, and art galleries, to name a few.

– Hallgrímskirkja Church: The stunning church, towering at 75 meters, can be seen from almost anywhere in Reykjavik and is a symbol of the city. During a visit to this beautiful church, it is recommended to climb to the top and enjoy a perfect panorama of Reykjavik.

– Harpa Concert Hall:A beautiful and unique glass building considered one of the city’s symbols. The building looks like a harp from a distance, hence its name (Harpa). It is unique in its play of light and color created both by sunlight during the day and digital lighting that adorns its facade in the evening and at night.

– Flea Market: Located in the southern part of the city, the market sells a variety of products: works of local artists, second-hand items, hand-knitted sweaters, Icelandic chocolates, smoked fish, and more, all at affordable prices – a refreshing change from the expensive shops of Reykjavik.

– Hot Springs: In Reykjavik, you can ward off the cold by soaking in warm and pampering hot springs equipped with jacuzzis and saunas. The brave among you can also experience an extreme transition from hot to cold waters straight from the barrel.

– Botanical Garden: A magical garden adjacent to the zoo, featuring sea lion pools, ponds with winged inhabitants, children’s play areas, and picturesque paths inviting a serene and enjoyable stroll.

– Whale Watching: Departing daily and lasting about two and a half hours, these boat trips may bring the lucky ones face-to-face with a majestic whale, while others will settle for dolphins.

 

Explore Reykjavik, where the blend of modernity and charm, combined with its unique attractions, makes for an unforgettable experience.