Category Archives: Europe

The Amazing Castelo dos Mouros (The Moorish Castle) in Sintra, Portugal

First word of advice – if you want to visit Castelo dos Mouros (The Moorish Castle) in Sintra, Portugal – get there BEFORE the parks open at 9am (10 am in the wintertime) if you can, because right at 9am the cars and busloads of tourists start pouring in, and soon every spot along the road winding toward the castle and down into the city will be taken.

Second piece of advice – if you also want to go to the Park and National Palace of Pena (Parque e Palacio Nacional de Pena)wear comfortable shoes with good, non-slip soles, because that will be a LOT of walking.

And last but not least – bring a jacket or a sweater, because even if it’s the middle of the summer and hot down below, it might be colder and windy up on the mountain. It was when we were there in July 2014.

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Learning more about Pablo Gargallo’s Great Prophet

I admit, I’m not an art buff. We went to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, because I wanted to show the kids the Guernica (they were not impressed).

But a few rooms over I noticed a really striking sculpture. Except I failed to write down the title or the name of the artist, whom I never heard of before. Luckily, thanks to #AskACurator day on Twitter,  I  now know  that it is a sculpture by Pablo Gargallo, titled Grand prophète (Great Prophet).

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The Monkeys of Gibraltar

The monkeys of Gibraltar are famous for their openness to human interaction and for their unique status as the only population of wild monkeys in Europe. Descended from monkeys in North Africa, they are one of the biggest tourist attractions in Gibraltar.

The territory of Gibraltar is just 2.3 square miles. It is located at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula and thus borders Spain, while Morocco lies across the Straits of Gibraltar. The straits separate the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea and have played an important role in world history. The territory of Gibraltar has been ruled by Britain since the early 1700s and is considered an overseas territory.

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Warner Bros. Studio Tour “The Making of Harry Potter”

The most important thing you need to know about the Harry Potter  Studio Tour (technically called “Warner Bros. Studio Tour London“) is that, as their home page says in print that really should be bigger,

“Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets are not sold at the Studio Tour.”

You cannot show up and expect to buy a ticket on site.

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Period Clothing at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London

When my husband suggested we go across the street to the V&A after we left the Natural History Museum in London, I honesty hesitated, wondering whether it’s a good idea to take the kids to a museum about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Yes. That is correct. I really thought the Victoria and Albert Museum is ABOUT Victoria and Albert, and thought it would be better to go to the Science Museum instead.

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Sightseeing in London? Use public transportation

If you’re visiting London on a budget, skip the expensive hop-on hop-off tours and just buy yourself a London Travelcard which you can use not only on the Underground but also on the famous London double-decker buses, and you can see quite a bit of the city that way, especially if you manage to get seats right in front on the upper level.

London seems to have two options to buy tickets for public transportation – Oyster Cards and Travelcards, and the very well-designed London Transport site has a very handy page explaining the differences between the Oyster cards and the Travelcard.

London Tube map

Since the fee to buy an Oyster card is £3.00, we thought getting Travelcards on the couple of days we were sightseeing would a better option for the four of us, since we’d have to pay £12.00 just for the cards.

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