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The most beautiful national parks in Germany

European Park Day is celebrated on 24 May every year. Its aim is to protect natural areas. We have chosen the eight most beautiful parks in Germany for you.
Black Forest National Park
The forests of the Black Forest are dense and dark. Since the beginning of May 2014, this area in the south-west of Germany has been a fully-fledged national park. Rare bird species such as the capercaillie find refuge in the dense forests of spruce and beech, while its marshes are home to the endangered European common viper.
Jasmund National Park
The Baltic island of Rügen is known for its cliffs. The German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich made them a monument in his well-known work “White Cliffs on Rügen”. Add to that the island’s centuries-old beech forests and you have the perfect setting.
Müritz National Park
The Müritz National Park protects part of the Mecklenburg Lake District. In the water-rich landscape, it is possible to see virgin forests and to observe birds such as ospreys on its more than 100 lakes. Much of the park can be explored by boat or canoe.
Hainich National Park
“Jungle in the middle of Germany”. This is how the Hainich National Park in Thuringia is also known. In its forests, visitors can observe wild cats or travel through the treetops on specially constructed hiking trails.
he forests of the Black Forest. Since the beginning of May 2014, this area in the southwest of Germany has been a fully-fledged national park. In the dense forests of spruce and beech, rare bird species such as the capercaillie find refuge here, while its marshes are home to the endangered European common viper.
West Pomeranian Lagoon National Park
Also called ‘Baltic Sea Lagoons’, the islands that make up the park are islands or peninsulas separated from the Baltic Sea. The marshes and waters of the National Park are an important resting place for different types of migratory birds. For example, cranes, which arrive in their thousands every autumn on their way south.

Saxon Switzerland National Park
The rock formations in this park have been a favourite destination for climbers for 150 years. Some of the peaks are reached by stairs, making them easily accessible to visitors. From the heights it is possible to appreciate a wonderful panorama of cliffs, ravines and forests. A real dream.
Berchtesgaden National Park
This is the only German national park in the Alps. Located in southeastern Bavaria, this protected area is marked by the crevasses that characterise its steep rocks, but also offers green meadows and lakes. Marmots, eagles and chamois are native to this area.
Black Forest National Park
The forests of the Black Forest are dense and dark. Since the beginning of May 2014, this area in the south-west of Germany has been a fully-fledged national park. Rare bird species such as the capercaillie find refuge in the dense forests of spruce and beech, while its marshes are home to the endangered European common viper.

Featured

New tourist route of historic gardens

Por TPN/Lusa, in NoticiasTurismoNorte · 13-05-2021 

Northern and Central Portugal now offers 12 “Garden Experiences”, a new tourism product that brings together “29 historic gardens” and helps promote local security in times of pandemic.
The Vale Abraão Forest, the Casa de Mateus, the Vidago Park and Pedras Salgadas, in the district of Vila Real, the Casa do Campo, in Celorico de Basto, the Tibães Monastery, in Braga, the Quinta da Aveleda, in Penafiel (Porto district), the botanical gardens of Porto and Coimbra, the Quinta das Lágrimas, in Coimbra, the Mata do Buçaco, in the district of Aveiro, or the Penha Park, in the district of Braga, are some of the historic gardens included in the 12 tourist routes that are already available and marketed, announced the heads of the Association of Historic Gardens of Portugal, during the press conference to present the 12 ‘Garden Experiences’, held at the Soares dos Reis Museum, in Oporto.

“Gardens are environmental tourism, safe tourism and not mass tourism. Gardens are one of the areas of tourism that can be safely opened [in times of pandemic],” said Manuel Sousa, an architect and specialist in historic gardens in Portugal, during the press conference of the Portuguese Historic Gardens Association.

Manuel Sousa assumed that it is difficult to create a tourism product from scratch, but stressed that the future goal is to “grow with more experiences and continue to develop this product for the rest of mainland Portugal and the archipelagos of Azores and Madeira, as well as to internationalise the product”.

“It was an effort to transform this product [Portuguese historic gardens] into a tourism product with a new dynamic. It was a field study, talking to the owners, characterising (…). It was necessary to create a sellable product for tourists,” he explained.

The “packs” were conceived in a diversified way, with different durations, in a flexible way, as it is the visitor who can add more time or more places to his experience.

The packs include guided tours by the owners or their representatives, but if the visitor wants to explore on their own, there are also suggestions to visit new places or revisit them in a new context,” said Teresa Andresen, in a note handed to journalists during the press conference.

Associated with these tourism proposals are two travel agencies – Club Tour and Travel Tailors – that market the product and can help visitors make reservations, as well as give advice on where to eat or stay.

The Association of Historic Gardens of Portugal, created in 2003, now has more than 200 members who own some of Portugal’s most outstanding gardens.

Top 5 waterfalls near Lisbon

Nascente do Almonda.

The Almonda spring cave stretches over more than 15 km and is a real national speleological sanctuary as it represents the most extensive karst network currently known in Portugal. It is made up of various underground streams which give rise to the source of the Almonda river.

The Almonda spring cave is home to unique species adapted to life underground, such as the cave beetle Trechus lunai.

Regarding the cultural heritage, the existence of several archaeological deposits stands out, ranging from the Lower Palaeolithic to Roman times.

The cave was classified as a Property of Public Interest on 30 November 1993.

Located in Vale da Serra, in the area of the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park, the Interpretation Centre is a support structure for the Almonda cave, which promotes programmes oriented towards ecological and cultural tourism. It has an interpretative museum space, auditorium and accommodation.

The programmes available include preparation for the visit to the cave with an introduction to speleology, progression techniques and use of equipment, and underground diving.

Tahiti Waterfall

A few kilometres from the Arado waterfall and at the foot of the road from Ermida to Fafião is the Tahiti waterfall or Fecha de Barjas. It is not a single waterfall, but a succession of waterfalls formed by the river as it flows over the granite rock. When we visited it, the force of the water generated a thunderous sound that added to the beauty of the surroundings. Although there are areas set aside for bathing in some of the pools, you have to do so with great caution due to the dangerous terrain and the currents. In fact, a sign next to the road warns of this, reminding us that there have been fatal accidents in this place. To contemplate the succession of waterfalls, all you have to do is go down a flight of steps and walk carefully along the path that allows you to contemplate them without getting wet.

Cascata de Pinçâes

Due to its rare beauty, the Pincães Waterfall certainly deserves to be among the best waterfalls in Gerês. You should leave the car in the village of Pincães and follow a trail for about two kilometres, passing by an old oil press and some water mills. After this trail, the waterfall is easily accessible and the landscape will make you think you are on an island paradise.

Fraga da Pena

If the Serra da Estrela is unknown to many Spaniards, even more so is the Serra do Açor, also located in the Centro region and in the district of Coimbra. Cruelly punished by fires in recent years, one of the areas that has preserved its vegetation intact is the forest park where the Fraga da Pena waterfall is located. It is a 20-metre waterfall hidden in a leafy forest where walkways have been installed and a picnic area has been built. All this at the foot of the road and it is only a few metres walk. The origin of this waterfall is a geological accident and its waters are cold and crystalline, ideal for a swim when the heat is on. Fraga da Pena is only 22 kilometres from one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal, the village of Pioado.

Cascata do Mourao / Cascata de Fervenca

If you think that only in Gerês can you find dream waterfalls, you are not familiar with the Sintra waterfalls. Cascades near Lisbon may seem like a lie, but it’s really true. Only 40 minutes away from Lisbon are two true treasures of nature: Cascata do Mourão (or Cascata de Anços) and Cascata de Fervença (or Cascata da Bajouca).

Both waterfalls are located about 20 minutes from Sintra and less than 10 kilometres apart. So it is perfectly possible to visit these two fantastic natural spots in the same day.

But the best thing is to spend a weekend exploring the region, combining a visit to the waterfalls with a trip to the beaches of Colares, Sintra or Mafra. It makes an excellent weekend getaway for those living in the greater Lisbon area.

It is true that the two waterfalls are quite hidden, but following our tips you will get there without any difficulty.

Top 5 sunsets in Berlin

Berlin TV Tower

The Berlin TV Tower (Fernsehturm) is probably the most recognisable icon in the city’s skyline. Berliners nicknamed it the Alex Tower and it receives more than a million visitors annually.

Today, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the German capital, standing out from the rest of the buildings with its large steel dome and its skyward pointing antenna.

It is located in the central Mitte district and is just a stone’s throw from Alexanderplatz.

It was built during the times of the GDR, and nowadays the best thing to do is to enjoy its panoramic terrace, with one of the best views of the city while you visit the bar and restaurant.

The Reichstag dome

The main advantage of going up to the Reichstag dome, (the German parliament building) is that it is free, and the main disadvantage is that you have to book in advance, and considering the fast changing weather in a city like Berlin, it can be a bit tricky to schedule your visit on a clear day to appreciate the views and take good pictures.

However, since it’s free, there’s nothing to lose by booking in advance and going up to have a look at the government district and the centre of Berlin.

If you haven’t been able to book in advance, don’t worry: you can sign up for the tour on the day if there are still places available, otherwise you can always wait at least two hours or two days later. Your booking will only be accepted if it is for the same day or the following day at the latest.

-The dome is open daily from 08:00-00:00 hours and can be accessed every 15 minutes (the last entrance is at 22:00 hours).

The Kolhoff Tower (Panoramapunkt)

This building of curious architecture, located on Potsdamer Platz, stands on one of the places where we used to find the division of the famous wall. If you look up, you will see that the perimeter of the old wall is marked with pebbles.

The main interest of the Kolhoff Tower, apart from the building itself, is that on the 24th and 25th floors it houses Panoramapunkt, an open observation deck that offers the best panoramic view of the centre of Berlin. It has a café and a small exhibition that reviews the history of the reconstruction of the area.

Since this terrace was inaugurated in 1999, the Panoramapunkt has become one of the most visited tourist attractions in Berlin, and no wonder: from its viewpoint we can see the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Cathedral, the television tower, the Reichstag… a complete panoramic view of the most significant buildings in the German capital from a building that boasts the best sunset in Berlin.

– The observation deck is open daily from 10:00-20:00 and costs €6 (€8 if you don’t want to wait in line), making the Kolhoff Tower a cheap alternative to the TV Tower (and just as good).

The Weltballoon

Operated by the company Air Service Berlin, this helium balloon is attached to the ground by a steel cable and rises to a height of 150 metres for a breathtaking view of Berlin.

The downside? It’s the most expensive viewpoint in Berlin, costing around €19.90 per adult and €6.90 for children between the ages of 3 and 10.

If you decide to visit it you have to choose the right day to go up, as the views are very good as long as the sky is clear.

There are rises every 15 minutes, and it operates every day from 10:00-22:00 hours (between April and October) and from 11:00-18:00 hours (between November and March).

It is located next to Checkpoint Charlie, at Zimmerstraße 95-100, so you can take advantage of your visit and try to find our Hotel Gat Point Charlie. In the rooms at the back you can see the balloon as it rises.

Kreuzberg Hill in Victoriapark

The highest hill in Berlin (over 65 metres high), it is clear that Kreuzberg Hill offers one of the best views. It is located in the Victoriapark, (a park located in the heart of Kreuzberg, a very trendy neighbourhood in recent times).

Once at the top you have to walk up to the highest part and you can admire the views of the Kreuzberg district and the centre of Berlin, and even catch a glimpse of the old Templehof airport, which has been converted into a park open to the public (and quite curious, as you can imagine). A romantic spot from which to watch the sunset over Berlin is a real pleasure.

-To get there, take the metro to Mehringdamm (lines U6 and U7) and walk about 10 minutes to the park entrance, which, of course, is free.

Teufelsberg. Devil’s Hill

Our last viewpoint takes us to the outskirts of Berlin… and we assure you that, if you like to get away from the typical tourist sites, this tower, almost 50 metres high, will not leave you indifferent.

It is a former spy station used by the American secret services for eavesdropping during the Cold War, and abandoned after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is not surprising that David Lynch himself (yes, the film director and creator of Twin Peaks) noticed this place, which he tried to turn into a kind of esoteric university (something that was obviously not allowed by the Berlin City Council).

Before becoming a spy stronghold, the site was once a training centre for Nazi soldiers, which the Americans covered with tons of rubble at the end of World War II to build this tower on the promontory, which stands 115 metres above the outskirts of Berlin and is not only a great view of the city but an attraction in its own right.

Today, Teufelsberg is home to graffiti artists, street art photographers and the occasional tourist with an explorer’s soul who comes here to see what is undoubtedly one of the strangest, most ghostly and fascinating places in Berlin.

The good times will come again

The COVID-19 virus pandemic caught us by surprise here at Gatrooms, during a period of high occupancy, investments and improvement projects. Things were going smoothly, but then all of sudden our world changed. Like everyone else, we have reacted as quickly and efficiently as possible to the current situation.

People say that change is good, but it can also be painful.
In our case, the Gatrooms philosophy has taught us a valuable lesson: you can always be more flexible than you think. Until now, we believed that being flexible was making sure our guests had everything they needed during their stay. Recently, all that has changed: guests can now cancel their reservation if they are unable to travel and rebook their stay for whenever they think they will finally be able to make it to the city.

If there was any room for improvement in terms of cleanliness and hygiene, we have made changes; we have doubled down on cleaning measures in the rooms; and dispensers filled with hand sanitizing fluid have been installed throughout the hotel. We also make sure that the safety distance of 1½ meters between staff or guests is maintained in the communal areas such as Reception or the breakfast room. Perhaps, after all this, people will continue to use sanitizer and take more care to wash their hands thoroughly.

We have also changed the way we work: the team at Head Office currently work from home and the hotel staff take every precaution to avoid spreading or being infected by the virus, following the safety guidelines published by the World Health Organization to the letter.

If any changes are made or new orders given by the authorities, we will be sure to accept them fully and put them into place at Gatrooms immediately. But we will worry about that if and when the time comes‒for now, let’s all keep positive and look forward to when the lockdown is lifted, and we can greet and hug each other freely again.

Gatvoices #2

At Gat Rossio we promise you an unforgettable, worry-free break. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go to plan, but our Maintenance Manager Carlos Viegas knows how to provide guests with a perfect hotel stay: he quickly and efficiently solves any technical problems that may arise to make sure that nothing gets in the way of fun and relaxation. Carlos is known for his professionalism and doing his job with a smile!

In this poem, Carlos tells us that the secret is that he loves what he does at Gat Rossio, even if he is sometimes dragged out of bed on his day off!

Usually, if you like what you’re doing, you’re doing just that: doing what you like. It’s not really work, it’s passion.

If you work with passion, it becomes love. You no longer get tired or stressed; you always find a way out.

When you don’t get tired doing what you do, you have more time, space and energy for yourself and others.

When you’re not caught in the illusion of time, you have more of it to dedicate to yourself and those around you.

If you don’t have time for yourself ‒ to create, to care, to love ‒ what do you have left to offer?

If you don’t love yourself, how can you love others and appreciate them or learn with them?

If you can’t find what it takes inside you, do you intend to find it on the outside or in others and let life choose for you?

If you rely on others’ opinions and incentives, good or bad days, where is your freedom?

I believe that if we make mistakes or fail sometimes, we should unconditionally accept, forgive and love the most important person in our lives: ourselves!

The important thing is to do the best you can. Even in difficult situations, we should cooperate and stop pointing fingers.