Archive for March, 2010

Rejuvenation in Portugal’s Madeira Island

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Portugal’s Madeira Island is known as “the garden of the Atlantic,” but that idyllic subtropical paradise was last February 20 the victim of a major storm (perhaps the worst on record) that left over forty people dead and much infrastructure damaged. However, the area where most of the hotels are located was left largely unaffected, and the island has been cleaned up and is picking itself up to continue to share its beautiful setting and serene atmosphere with the world. It therefore continues to be the perfect place for a rejuvenating getaway right now, with wonderful hotels offering breathtaking views and special pampering services. Here are a few of the best which include special rooms, views, and spa:

Quinta Splendida, Madeira

With views of the Atlantic and a botanical garden, this hotel has a contemporary, Asian-inspired ambience. Its spa offers special services for couples, or you can enjoy a massage or luxurious treatment all by yourself. The hotel also has a small golf course and 25 spa suites for a truly splendid stay.

Choupana Hills, Madeira

This nature-inspired design hotel has a health and beauty spa with hot stone massages and aromatherapy among other treatments. It also includes a Turkish bath, sauna and heated indoor pool, as well as yoga classes, all at prices starting at 40 euros. The hotel overlooks the city of Funchal and the Atlantic, and is surrounded by a subtropical garden with over 200 plant species.

CS Madeira

You can say that the Atlantic that surrounds the island is the inspiration for this spa hotel. All of its treatments are water-based, allowing their healing powers to do their magic on your mind and body. There are 14 treatment rooms and four outdoor pools, so you’ll always find space to relax in peace.

Portugal’s Medieval Village of Obidos is Inundated With Chocolate

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Obidos Chocolate Festival

Obidos is Portugal’s most picturesque medieval village, it’s found about one hour north of Lisbon, and is inundated with chocolate every year. The Obidos Chocolate Festival this year takes place from the 4th to the 14th of March, and has a calendar of special events for each day.
Chocolatiers from around the world (this year from the United States, France, Germany, Brazil, and Austria) compete with others from Portugal in the international chocolate recipe contest, and there are also awards for the local chocolatier of the year, best chocolate window display, and best “chocolate jewelry” (necklaces, bracelets, and rings that must be 80% made with chocolate).
One of the highlights every year is the sculptures exhibition, obviously all made up of chocolate. This year’s creations have the theme of “world wonders” and will be in the form of the Rome Colisseum, the Great Wall of China, the Chichen Itza pyramid, the Taj Mahal, the lost city of Petra, and Portugal’s World Heritage City of Guimarães (which will be the European Capital of Culture in 2012).
On the 12th, it will be time for the annual chocolate fashion show, this year presenting creations by Portuguese designer Augustus who will of course incorporate chocolate into the looks. Other events will include presentations and workshops about cake design, creative (chocolate) gastronomy, and special activities for children which includes telling the history of chocolate.

Joana Vasconcelos, Portugal’s Top Contemporary Artist in Lisbon’s Berardo Museum

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Joana Vasconcelos, Lisbon

Lisbon’s Berardo Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art inaugurates a special exhibition today called “Sem Rede” (“Netless”) presenting the work of Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. She’s recognized as Portugal’s top contemporary artist, having one of her pieces recently sold for half a million euros at a Christie’s auction. That piece was called “Marilyn,” a couple of stilettos (pictured above) made of stainless steel pots and pans. The artist is known for her large pieces made of unusual materials, with an especially famous creation being a large chandelier completely made of tampons (it hung for some time in Lisbon’s Lux club).
The current exhibition can be seen until May 18, and is free along with all the other exhibits (temporary and permanent) of the museum. There are around forty of Vasconcelos’ works, including large-scale sculptures placed at the entrance and outside the building. Much of the artist’s work is said to question identity (gender, class, or ethnicity), and has a particular focus on the female condition, social issues, and Portuguese culture.