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Long time travel industry professional, Luís Lopes, describes his hometown . . . “Lisbon has a special, unmatched light that makes it truly unique.” The predominance of white in the limestone buildings and sidewalks contributes to this feeling of light. Situated by the widest stretch of the Tagus River, Lisbon further benefits from the sunlight reflected on its calm waters, which prevails during the majority of the year.
The Phoenicians discovered this calm bay and gave it the first name, Allis Ubbo. 2,000 years ago the Romans changed its name to Olisipo. Many more civilizations followed and even the Vikings visited. Much later, in 1147, the Portuguese, lead by their first king, conquered the city from the Moors. The 1,000-year old St George’s Castle, crowning Lisbon’s highest hill, witnessed this feat and still provides the most spectacular views over the city, particularly in the late afternoon with the setting sun as backdrop.
From Lisbon’s riverfront emerges the sumptuous Commerce Square and the medieval district of Alfama, with its narrow, life-filled and story-telling alleys. A little further west, the view is dominated by the three monuments that perpetuate the memory of the Maritime Discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries, bravely carried out by the ancestors of the present Portuguese: Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery (both UNESCO’s World Heritage sites) and the Memorial to the Discoverers. In those glorious centuries, Lisbon was a “Capital of the World” as the meeting point of different peoples and cultures.
If it is true the earthquake of 1755 was responsible for the destruction of most of the medieval city, it is no less true it made room for the birth of a modern metropolis. Following the Marquis of Pombal’s vision of a Lisbon prepared for the future, much of Lisbon was rebuilt from scratch. An excellent example is the downtown area with its parallel and perpendicular streets conceived like a chessboard; and Rossio Square, still today the city forum. Side by side with Rossio, history and charm blend together in Chiado and Bairro Alto, the much frequented areas for locals, visitors and the colorful streetcars!
The unique mosaic-paved sidewalks have become a trademark of Lisbon. Strolling along the Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon’s majestic, tree-lined boulevard, Roger Yockey, an American traveler observed, “Luís, you Portuguese spend your lives walking on art!”
For those planning a trip to Spain, Lisbon Airport is a convenient entry point, and the route from Lisbon to Spain is a comfortable day of travel. Escorted tours provide planning and direction to see all the most important sights.
February 16 , 2016 – Once at the very edge of Western Europe and the frontier defender of Christendom,the magnificent imperial city of Vienna is now the beating heart of a new Europe. Formerly the crown jewel of a vast Habsburg empire that ruled over much of Central Europe for over six centuries, Vienna offers visitors a cultural smorgasbord of opulent palaces, world class museums and atmospheric coffeehouses.
Vienna’s imperial grandeur is perhaps best on display at Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Habsburgs. Maria Theresa, the only female ruler of the Habsburgs, had 16 children and strategically arranged marriages, including that of her most famous daughter, Marie Antoinette, to expand the Austrian empire. An intimate after-hours tour of the lavish Baroque palace gives a fascinating insight into the royal court under Maria Theresa. “An evening tour of Schönbrunn is magical,” says Julian Mattocks, a Tour Manager at Image Tours Inc., who arranges for a private guided tour of the palace. “It’s incredible to see where a six-year-old Mozart played the clavichord or where President Kennedy met Krushchev. Every room has a story to tell, and you have them all to yourself!” For classical music lovers, Vienna is a mecca. As well as being the city of Waltz king Johann Strauss Jr, it was also home to Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Haydn and offers more classical concerts each night than any other city in the world. Art aficionados are spoilt for choice with a wealth of top museums, including the Fine Arts Museum, Albertina and Upper Belvedere, where visitors can view ‘The Kiss’ by iconic Art Nouveau artist, Gustav Klimt.
When talking about Vienna, one must mention the sublime 150-year-old Ringstrasse, often called the most beautiful boulevard in the world. Built to replace the old city walls under the order of Emperor Franz Josef, the Ringstrasse tantalises newcomers to the
city with its array of different architectural styles and glorious sights. Another must in Vienna is a trip to one of the capital’s legendary coffeehouses, where some of the world’s most notorious historical figures used to while away the hours. “It’s a lesser-known fact that in 1913, Hitler, Stalin, Trotzky, Tito and Freud were all frequenting coffeehouses in Vienna,” added Mattocks. “The same rule applies today – a single cup gives you the right to sit there all day if you want.”
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the subsequent eastward expansion of the European Union a decade ago, the vibrant Austrian capital serves as a gateway to the former east for travelers eager to explore Central Europe. An escorted tour is a stress-free way to explore Vienna in combination with Central Europe’s other fascinating and historic cities, such as Budapest, Prague, Bratislava and Krakow.
Customer demand for Spring 2010 escorted Europe tours has been very high, especially for the month of May. Many tour operators have already sold out their May departures. In an effort to meet the demand, Image Tours, Inc. has just opened an additional May departure for their signature 15-day HEART OF EUROPE® Circle tour. This departure will leave on May 21st and will visit some of the most popular countries including Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Holland.
The HEART OF EUROPE® Circle tour travels roundtrip in and out of Frankfurt. The itinerary is an ideal choice for travelers looking for a “taste” of Europe and for anyone desiring great vacation value. It is filled with visits to enchanting cities and opportunities to experience wonderful local flavor. The trip is an experience many past travelers say they won’t soon forget.
In addition to their May 21 departure, Image is also offering low prices for the Summer and Fall. Prices start as low as $2,990 including air, plus $110 in air taxes and fees. All of the most current dates and prices for 2010 can be found on Image’s website, www.ImageTours.com.
Image Tours was founded in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1939 and is now based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The company began U.S. operations in 1960, with the belief that everyone, at least once in their lifetime, should experience the rich beauty, culture, and history of Europe.