Europe | The Great Canadian Travel Co.

STAFF PICKS

August 1, 2019 | Lois Farley

I’ve been lucky enough in my lifetime to see the Northern Lights in my home province of Manitoba, Canada as well as while visiting Greenland and Iceland. They really are spectacular! Have you ever wondered how those bright dancing lights are created? They are actually collisions between electrically charged particles …

+READ MORE
July 31, 2019 | John Lelis

Picking up where I left off in my previous blog (I was talking about food), if you ever go to Porto, it’s a must to have a “Francesinha”, (meaning Little Frenchie or simply Frenchie in Portuguese) originally from Porto, made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak …

+READ MORE
July 17, 2019 | John Lelis

Our latest newsletter has Portugal as the featured destination. When asked to write a blog to feature in it, I thought it would be easy! After all, I am Portuguese and lived there until I was 39 before moving to Canada. But in fact, it isn’t that easy! There is so …

+READ MORE

Portugal is #1 best tourist destination, part 3!

August 19, 2019 | John Lelis

As I wrote at the beginning in part 1 of this blog, it would take a book to tell you everything I wanted about my beautiful country. Even the people are amazing, you’ll see once there, but I am aiming for the young at heart now. Hardly anywhere else in Europe will you find a place with such a vibrant night life as Lisbon. Night clubs and discotheques are all over the city. Each caters to a different crowd and music preference, from the amazing Gothic decor of Kremlin, playing hardcore techno, sometimes with celebrity DJ’s featured to the literally hidden (you won’t find it listed in any Fodor’s guide) Incognito, only playing alternative and dance music. There’s always something to appeal to everyone when it comes to letting go and enjoying the music.

  

And here is an inside secret, clubs in Portugal open around midnight (even if it is considered lame to arrive so early) and are usually open until 4, 5 or 6am. But, if you are an hardcore fan of partying, ask the doorman about the after hours party. Most of them have a secret after hours party (usually on Saturdays) that starts around 7am and goes until there is no crowd there, asking for more. Sometimes the partying may go until after noon!

There’s so much more to tell, but I hope to have at least made you think about doing some partying while you’re in Portugal for holidays. If you would like me to assist you in creating an unforgettable Portuguese experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at John@gctravel.ca.

Portugal is #1 best tourist destination, part 2!

July 31, 2019 | John Lelis

Picking up where I left off in my previous blog (I was talking about food), if you ever go to Porto, it’s a must to have a “Francesinha”, (meaning Little Frenchie or simply Frenchie in Portuguese) originally from Porto, made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat, and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick sauce (secret recipe). It is typically served with french fries.

  

If desert and sweets is more your thing, then head to Lisbon, to the pasteis de belem (Portuguese Custard tart) factory, founded in 1837 and keeping their secret recipe so well guarded that only they know where it is (beat this Coca Cola), and of course, ask for your espresso while at it, the combination is more than perfect, personally my record eating these babies is 18 of them in one hour, but I have friends who put me to shame.

And of course, one can’t even start talking about beverages without dedicating time to what for me is the best Portuguese secret (and it shouldn’t be), green wine (vinho verde). Portugal is the only country in the world that produces it, most people would never have heard about it, but once you try it, your life changes. Vinho Verde is a crisp, aromatic, low alcohol, and often slightly spritzy wine from the North of Portugal. Despite the translation, Vinho Verde is never green: it’s usually a white wine, although it’s possible to get red and rosé Vinho Verde as well. Green, in this case, means young rather than anything to do with its colour. In fact, the only thing that really makes a Vinho Verde a Vinho Verde is that it comes from the Vinho Verde region. You’ll find Vinho Verde in every supermarket in Portugal, and just about every menu in every Portuguese restaurant. It used to be hard to get outside of Portugal, and often you would have to seek out a specialty wine shop. These days most decent wine shops will stock a bottle and it’s increasingly being stocked by supermarkets as well.

 

 

There’s so much more to tell, but I hope to have at least made you think about going to Portugal for holidays to try some of the delicious food and wine. If you would like me to assist you in creating an unforgettable Portuguese experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at John@gctravel.ca.

Portugal is #1 best tourist destination!

July 17, 2019 | John Lelis

Our latest newsletter has Portugal as the featured destination. When asked to write a blog to feature in it, I thought it would be easy! After all, I am Portuguese and lived there until I was 39 before moving to Canada. But in fact, it isn’t that easy! There is so much to tell and so many stories to choose from that I found myself wondering where to start.

I guess a great way to start would be by saying that Portugal has been voted the best destination in the world for two years in a row in the World Travel Awards, the “Oscars of world tourism”. Everyone should go there! 

Portugal is the European country with oldest borders (I didn’t say oldest country in Europe, those are different things) and it has an amazing coast line that extends for 1.794 km (1115 mi). Of course, the main attraction must be the amazing beaches and, believe me, some of them are amazing. But a country with almost 900 years of history has, in fact, much more to offer. Its rich culture results from many influences including Roman, Celtic, Lusitanian, Phoenician,Germanic, Visigoth, Viking, Sephardic Jewish, and Moorish. All of these influences are still visible from the north to the south in many ways, even if the Roman and Moorish are the most visible, being also the most recent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting Portugal has the allure of a 2 in 1 Holiday. You may opt for spending your time visiting the historic centers of Lisbon or Porto, the country’s two main cities. Both have contrasts of the modern and comfortable cosmopolitan places they are, while keeping the old traces and vestiges that built their histories and are still preserved physically ans well as ingrained in the peoples’ culture.

If you are a sun lover and a holiday without beach, sun and amazing drinks isn’t a holiday for you, Portugal is also the place you want to be! From the northern point near Spain, going down to the most southern point of Europe; Sagres (in Algarve) bathed by the Atlanctic Ocean and then East towards Spain, bathed by the Mediterranean sea; with beaches, amazing fish, prize winning beers, typical dishes and bread, Portugal has it all. And, believe me, we the Portuguese love to enjoy it!

There’s so much more to tell, but I hope to have at least made you think about going to Portugal for holidays. If you would like me to assist you in creating an unforgettable Portuguese experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at John@gctravel.ca.

Amelia’s AmaWaterways Christmas Market Cruise

February 27, 2019 | GCT Bear

Wow, What an awesome time it is cruising on The Danube River. I went on a AmaWaterways Christmas Market Cruise and had a really exciting, informative and fun trip. Since I am a polar bear you can imagine the funny looks and stares I got while on the ship. I could not get over how many super cool things the ship had to offer. Read More >

Shauna Saw a Finnish Sauna

January 08, 2019 | Shauna Cook

I was told by many people before travelling to Finland – you can’t visit Finland and not visit a sauna!  There are approximately 5.6 million people in Finland, and around 3.2 million saunas!  The Finns take this very seriously! Here in North America, saunas are sometimes considered a luxury, but in Finland, they are considered a necessity! Read More >

Merry Christmas Market

December 21, 2018 | Margot Kalinowsky

Welcome aboard. 

Hearing that every time I walked down the gang plank onto the ship made me feel so at home. It was even a warmer welcome when I was offered a hot towel and a glass of hot Gluwein (mulled wine) to refresh myself. I was on an Ama Waterways 7-day Christmas Market Cruise down the Danube River. Wow did I have some fun!  Read More >

Adventures in Tallinn, Estonia

October 18, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Written by Martyn Cook with the help of Shauna Cook

Tallinn in Estonia. What is there to say about it, that’s not already been said a million times. Oh you have never heard of it? Don’t worry, I had not either. At this juncture in time you need to make me a promise. Promise that you will go there, share no photos, and tell no one. Let’s keep this beauty to ourselves, it will be our little secret. So we can keep going back over and over again maintain its splendour, without our fellow compatriots overcrowding it. Read More >

Copenhagen – Last Day of Adventure

October 04, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Written by Martyn Cook with help from Shauna Cook

Our last day. It’s been a two week tour spending no more than two nights in each country: Iceland, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, and Denmark. We have had a few rain showers here and there. Today’s rain shower somehow feels different. The rain today seems like Europe is mourning its loss, the loss of us going back to North America. In no other place on our trip have I felt more welcomed, no where else have I been asked more questions by tourists. Perhaps I look Danish, or I look at home here. There is no question, I am leaving a changed man. Read More >

Helsinki and a Finnish Sauna

October 04, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Written by Martyn Cook with the help of Shauna Cook

The hotel is bustling with people. The lobby has groups of people with laptops open, discussing subjects that elude context and understanding. We make our way to the breakfast bar which is just off of the lobby. A lovely mix of old brickwork and contemporary furniture gives a lovely vibe of traditions held, living alongside new. The smell of breakfast offerings dances in the air, a greeting for our senses. I find the usual fair of cheese, crackers, bacon and eggs, as well as the object of my desire, local delicacies. I try a pastry with rice in the middle which is traditionally served with butter mixed with eggs. They have ginger snap type biscuits, and an Oreo type cookie that contains a minty filling. The last local offering was a candy that had a fox on the label, it was a gummy candy that was given out by grandmas, information that I garner from local sources. We leave the hotel, making our way down the cobblestones to Senate Square to join our free walking tour. We are greeted by Sara, a young history student passionate about her city and its history. We walk the streets learning about Finland’s Germanic influenced buildings, the religion, political, and social struggles, and successes of its people. One building stands out to me on the tour, The Think Company. It’s a public space like a library, it has a cafe, bookstore, and free wifi. This place is free to go into, and you can take in a lecture, or discuss ideas for social change. This is why I love the Nordic countries, they inspire creative thinking; Ideas surrounding use of taxes, social programs, and the general health of the country are discussed and debated. Read More >

X

CONTACT US