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Portugal

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The Art Of The Galão- There are certain words in other languages that just cannot be directly translated in English. Take schadenfreude in German for instance, a feeling of pleasure gained via someone else's misfortune; ilunga, from the African language of Tshiluba, when loosely translated describes someone who will neither forgive nor forget a repeated wrong.


And then, in Portuguese there is the galão. This blissful beverage that elicits instant effervescent happiness is simple enough in its composition but incredibly difficult to describe exactly how delicious and uniquely flavored it truly is. It's the kind of drink that takes you aback and makes you want to say "you had me at first sip" as it's the perfect balance of ¾ hot foamed milk and ¼ espresso that somehow just tastes completely different in Portugal than in it does when recreated anywhere else in the world.


To be Portuguese is to live in a heightened state of all-consuming coffee culture. It was Portugal that actually even introduced coffee to Brazil by the King of Portugal centuries ago whereas most would tend to assume it was the other way around. It was brought to Brazil where it could be grown in massive volume and turned right back around to Europe, and now it's literally a part of the fabric everywhere across the country. In restaurants, perpetually buzzing cafes, clubs, museums, side streets, universities, homes and vending machines and is a daily ritual for most citizens, beginning early on in life.Coffee is more of an event, a social occasion even if only to meet someone and sip an espresso quickly while standing up at a café, it is a way to end (or even begin) a great meal and a means by which to spend a lazy Sunday morning.

The galão is truly best enjoyed a café in Lisbon. My choice would be a charming place called Pastelaria Suica in Rossio Square in the center of the city which incidentally served as a meeting point during World War II where exiles could negotiate their tickets to Switzerland and thus to freedom.


Outdoor seat, preferably facing a bustling square, aluminum table with just one leg slightly off kilter due to the uneven grooves of the cobblestone streets beneath your feet, tabletop covered by a waxy sheet of tablecloth paper, chair perfectly positioned outward in prime people-watching position. A galão is always served steaming hot in a tall glass, steam and gorgeous aromas arising constantly and one must take great care not to burn fingers. The sugarphobe in me always seems to take a hiatus when the concoction appears on a menu, because to have it just absolutely right, one must succumb to the multiple cubes that must be added to achieve the perfect balance.


Since a galão almost always must be accompanied by an obligatory sweet of some sort, order a traditional pastel da nata and enjoy that while waiting for your drink to cool. Then, sip or gulp, and enjoy the galão, the views on the street, and everything else that goes along with this charming city and stay as long as you want as most café waiters in Portugal will never bother you to move even if you decide to spend hours on just one drink.

If you can't hop the pond but find yourself in the New York metro area, hop a train or a taxi to the heavily Portuguese Ironbound section of Newark and take a stroll down to Delicia's Bakery on Ferry Street. It's about as close as one can get to the Lisbon experience, but there's still that tiny bit that's missing, that certain something that just can't be translated...

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TIVOLI PALACIO DE SETEAIS-

Once home to distinguished 19th century aristocracy, now home to the most discerning guests from around the world, Tivoli Palácio de Seteais combines the majesty and traditions of the elegance and grandeur of centuries past with a magnificent modern sense of place. This palatial property is located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and stands as a magnificent testament to XVIII architecture and elegance, graced with nearly 2000 pieces of extraordinary artwork, tapestries and frescoes which complement its superb sweeping views of the hills.

The 30 stunning rooms, including 1 suite, are a beautiful balance of old world elegance and technological innovations, while leisure activities abound at the sparkling outdoor pool, intricate maze gardens in which to wander, and a fully equipped Equestrian Center, ideal for children embarking on their first ride. Authentic local experiences specially designed by Tivoli including seeing Sintra by sidecar, royal wine tasting in a manor house, and a privately guided tour providing insight into the secrets and stories of Sintra.

Afternoon tea at Palácio de Seteais is positively a fabulous experience, served on the weekends from 4:30-6:30 PM, the lavishly decorated restaurant couldn’t be any more of a perfect setting to enjoy the views of the gardens, while indulging in an array of divine traditional delicacies including almond cakes with freshly whipped cream, tarts, and gorgeous selections of Portuguese cheeses.

theExplorateur Exclusive Offer-Complimentary fresh fruit array and bottled water in room upon arrival. Email info@theexplorateurportfolio.com for more info and as always, be sure & tell 'em The Explorateur sent you!

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TIVOLI HOTELS- Portugal
A trip to Portugal is best spent on the move…there are so many gorgeous hidden towns, ancient cities, gleaming beach resort areas and castles set upon rolling hills to explore that it’s nearly impossible to narrow it down to just one. Choosing an area may be challenging but here’s a little secret- Tivoli Hotels, a group comprised of some of Portugal’s most desired accommodations in all of the areas you want to be.

Lisbon’s got it all, but try taking a few days and combining a more serene are with a city break. Meet Tivoli Palacio de Seteais, long a personal favorite from childhood days where we’d run up and down the majestic palatial halls and pretend we were royalty. (ok, maybe we still do that today but so what!) Head straight up the mountains in stunning historical Sintra just a short drive from Lisbon and you’ll come upon this incredibly romantic 18th century regal structure complete with dazzling interiors, period furniture and magnificent frescoes. Linger over high tea served by white-gloved butlers and gaze out into the seemingly endless gardens and allow yourself to feel like a king or queen.
Prefer the beach? Try out the brand new Tivoli Victoria in the stunning Algarve region resort town of Vilamoura, complete enclave designed to include everything you’d want from a European coastal holiday. The adults have the golf, the spa, the splendid design and the nearby fab Nikki Beach Club, while kids will love the 4 pools, signature children’s butlers, and a phenomenal activities program. http://www.tivolihotels.com/ Need additional suggestions to make your Portugal adventure perfect? Just ask!

EXPLORATEUR EXCLUSIVE- Stay 3 nights at Tivoli Palacio de Seteais and pay for 2! Or, book Tivoli Victoria and receive a free 30 minute Rejuvenating Back Massage.
*Tivoli Victoria valid through 30 Jun 2010, Tivoli Palacio Setais valid through 31 May 2010 and valid on stays Sunday through Thursday only. Click HERE for more information and as always, be sure & tell 'em The Explorateur sent you!

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FERRY STREET- Newark, NJ
Every now and again, it just feels great to return to a place that holds great memories- whether it’s somewhere you used to visit as a child, a road you used to travel frequently en route to somewhere exciting, or even just a place you liked to linger for a while all on your own. One of our places is Ferry Street in this small section of Newark known as The Ironbound.

From first step and first smell (and we mean that in a good way), you’ve somehow crossed the border from industrial Newark to a mile-long stretch of street in Portugal. The signs and language spoke along the block- Portuguese. The restaurants, cafes & bakeries- Portuguese. The shops and markets hawking everything from intricate jewellery, to music to fresh groceries and fish- Portuguese. And it’s divine. We’ve spent many a Saturday ambling down the street, stopping in for a freshly baked buttered roll and a galao at Delicia’s for breakfast before browsing in small shop after shop selling everything under the sun- things you need, things you don’t need but might want, and of course the obligatory Lusitanian kitch and soccer-related paraphernalia present in almost every storefront.

One is absolutely spoiled for choice here when it comes to the heavy-hitting late lunch or dinner options...that’s part of the real beauty here. You’ve got tremendously affordable old-school places that serve the freshest, most traditional seafood dishes, you’ve got new emerging trendy spots delving into more of a tapas/sangria feel, and of course the rodizio houses. The gluttonous meat-fests made only more intense with the augmentation of not 1, not 2, but normally 3 starches on the table.

For us, it’s nostalgic for many reasons. For the first time visitor, we’re pretty sure it will strangely feel the same. It’s not too pretty, rather a bit gritty (and not really at all like a beautiful urban street in Lisbon), but the sights/sounds/smells/vibe are a pretty good match. Need advise on where to eat? Ask us, it would be our pleasure!

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VILLA SOL VILAMOURA SPA & GOLF RESORT- Algarve, Portugal
Amazing…aromas…azure…attractive...and affordable. Welcome to the Algarve, a most outstanding holiday destination in Portugal that is one of the last in Europe to still maintain a strong value (believe it or not!) It’s 100 miles of crystalline coastline, with 25 golf courses, and over 300 days of sunshine a year. It’s as peaceful or as cosmopolitan as you want it to be, with no lack of the vibrant all-nighter nightlife scene you’d also expect in an European seaside locale. Oh, and let’s talk about the food…the freshest fish straight from the sea to your plate, from charming beach shacks to gourmet restaurants, to dining in caves and no trip is complete without a sardine sandwich fresh off the grill.

We adore the Villa Sol Vilamoura Spa & Golf Resort, a relaxing retreat that’s self-contained in its own nature preserve and just minutes away from great shopping and the chic Villa Sol Beach Club, to which guests have private access. And, when you’re done beaching it for the day, the resort’s luxurious spa offers a menu of world-class spiritually-inspired treatments.
We especially recommend the Villa accommodations, offering the exclusive feel of a private home, set in a private enclave complete with lush greenery, 3 pools, a bar and elegant décor.
Thinking of traveling with the family this summer? Try their Escape package, including accommodations in 2 adjoining rooms, daily buffet breakfast, and discounts on meals for children. Singles, couples and friends traveling together can also save with our special offer.

EXPLORATEUR EXCLUSIVE- Save 10% on stays through 20 July 2010. Click HERE for more information and as always, be sure & tell ‘em The Explorateur sent you!

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QUINTA DAS VISTAS PALACE GARDENS- Madeira
Back in the days of our youth, Madeira was a familiar family retreat- an island that always seemed so natural, so beautiful, so un-overrun by crowds and so deeply embedded in its traditional roots that it felt somehow connected to mainland Portugal by an imaginary bridge. It’s known as the pearl of the Atlantic , with rugged mountainous beauty, decorative paved streets, hidden valleys, a year-round perfect climate where gorgeous beaches, flora & fauna abound. It's produced award-winning wines, world-famous dishes, and Cristiano Ronaldo (!) so we're talking major star quality here.

The best way to describe Madeira is Charming, and as fortune would have it, the best places to stay in Madeira are the properties in the Charming Hotels Madeira portfolio. It’s a luxurious collection of the most unique boutique hotels on the island, vintage Manor Houses carefully restored to period elegance and intimate enough to ensure you experience Madeira the way it was meant to be enjoyed- tranquil, elegant, slow-paced, and just enchanted. And, have we got a deal for you…

EXPLORATEUR EXCLUSIVE-Spend one week at the stunning Quinta das Vistas Madeira, a gorgeous hillside Manor House surrounded by acres of impeccably manicured gardens and receive the following:

- Upgrade to Panoramic room guarantied
- Champagne & fruits in the room on arrival
- One full body massage per person
- Madeira wine tasting at Quinta do Estreito
-One guided visit to the famous Quinta do Monte gardens
- One Madeira wine tasting at Quinta do Estreito
- One guided visit to Quinta do Monte Gardens -One complimentary dinner at their gourmet restaurant “La Belle Terrace” on property (for clients who book the HB meal plan)

Plus, they’ll even provide luxury transportation between all of the 4 Charming Hotels properties, so you can dine at any of their 4 restaurants during your stay. Valid for travel through 31 Oct 2010 and getting there is easy, with connections via Lisbon and London. Visit http://www.charminghotelsmadeira.com/ for more information, and to book please email reservations@charminghotelsmadeira.com or call +351 291 750 000 and as always, be sure & tell ‘em The Explorateur sent you!

*Please quote program code Explorateur Exclusive 2010 when booking

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AQUAPURA DOURO VALLEY- Portugal
Not that we're biased or anything, but Portugal truly is one of the lovliest places to visit. On a scale of 1-10, it packs an 11 and embodies all that Europe should offer, vivacious urban nightlife on one side with tranquil villages on the other, sumptious food, amazing wines and rich culture all folded into a diminuative package easily navigable by car from one end to the other. Where it really excels today is on the value side. We all know how stressful it's been lately, stress and money go hand in hand, so here's a solution for you courtesy of the amazing Aquapura Douro Valley for you to consider when you're crunching numbers and think you need to discard your vacation plans.

-19th Century renovated manor house property
-21 Villas with stunning contemporary design
-2200 square meters of spa created for absolute pure indulgence
-5 hectares of pristine woodland leading on to the river for spectacular views
-2001 marked the designation of this region as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
-Hundreds of wines and world-famous Ports distilled just steps away
AND
-1 incredible tailor-made "Health Meets Beauty" spa program, handcrafted by a team of clinical and aesthetic doctors and personal trainers which includes:

-Personalized physical and nutritional assessment
-Daily Fitness & Power Plate activity programs
-Electric lymphatic drainage
-Body & Face Mesotherapy
-Massage
-Detox daily supplement
-Accommodations and all meals

Whether you opt for the 4 or 8 day experience, you can rest assured the aesthetical assessment will be completley customized to YOU- down to your personal goals, optimal treatments, and long term maintenance plans that are feasible for your lifestyle. You need a break, now's the time to do it right.

EXPLORATEUR EXCLUSIVE- Complimentary upgrate from Spa Room to River Room with gorgeous views plus a special spa gift upon departure. Contact +351 25 466 06 60 or reservations@aquapuradouro.com to book and be sure & tell 'em The Explorateur sent you!

Know about Exclusive Travel Service by EXPLORATEUR  to find the Exclusive Hotels around the world

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