This blog is to provide additional information about traveling to the Portugal Fall Festival, with teachings by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Topics covered include travel tips, suggestions about what to see in Cascais and Lisbon, vegetarian restaurants, etc.

Disclaimer: I cannot verify the accuracy of any information here but will try to post the source.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Festival Videos & Photos - plus HYT Empowerments Next Year!

Hope you all made it to the fabulous, mind-blowing Fall Festival in Portugal.
It's time to close down this website, but before we go know that you can see Festival videos of the teachings, reviews and meditations on YouTube and photos on Facebook, including a description and photos of the play.

I also wanted to alert you that the Empowerments of Heruka and Vajrayogini will be given next year in Hong Kong! I'm very much hoping to attend. In addition to the Cantonese dialect of Chinese, they speak English. I've been to Hong Kong a few times and would be happy to provide travel tips if there's interest. It's surprisingly easy to visit and enjoy, starting with the food ...

I'm also planning to set up a version of this website with a few travel tips for Summer Festival, having had the great good fortune to attend many of them. Here's the link to some basic info about Summer Festival 2014. If you enjoyed the Fall Festival, you'd almost certainly enjoy the annual Summer Festival at our Mother Center in the Lake District of England. Here are 2 videos about Festivals at Manjushri KMC:
A Tour of the Summer Festival
International Spring and Summer Festivals 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Internatio​nal Roaming on T-Mobile

T-Mobile is rolling out a new addition to most of their existing rate plans as of Oct 20 that includes unlimited international roaming texts and data, plus 20c/min for calls. There are 100 countries on the list, and Portugal is one of them. For more information, see T-Mobile's International Roaming
Thanks to Alexis for this.

Lekmo adds that "The T-Mo plan is  being rolled out on October 31st.  To get it early you just need to call their customer service (dial 611) and ask to have it added to your account early.  That’s what Jody and I have done.   There is no charge for this service.  There are times you might want to turn your wifi OFF  because doing this will be cheaper than going through wifi e.g., texting via wifi will cost".

Festival Info for Getting from Lisbon to Cascais

From the "ARRIVING IN PORTUGAL - 2013 Fall Festival News - October 17, Issue #7"

If you would prefer to make your own way to the Festival site, you can either take a train or a taxi from the airport. [If you are leaving from a hotel in central Lisbon and are close to the Rossio metro station, that is on the green line, so you do not need to change metro lines. See the Lisbon metro map with streets.]
Metro/Train: From the airport take the Metro Red Line to Alameda.  At Alameda change and take the Green Line to Cais do Sodre.  Change at Cais do Sodre and take the Cascais train line to Cascais (last stop on the line).  The Metro from the Airport to Cais do Sodre will take about 35 minutes and will cost €1.40. The Train from Cais do Sodre to Cascais will take about 40 minutes and cost €2.15.  Useful links: Metro/Train mapMetro website, and Train website.
Aerobus/Train:  From the airport take the Aerobus to Cais do Sodre.  At Cais do Sodre take the Cascais train line to Cascais (last stop on the line).  The Aerobus from the Airport to Cais do Sodre will take about 30 minutes and will cost €3.50. The Train from Cais do Sodre to Cascais will take about 40 minutes and cost €2.15. Useful links:  Aerobus website and Train website.
Taxi: A taxi from the airport to Cascais will cost around €35.  It is always wise to ask the taxi driver first approximately how much the fare will be.

Cascais & Sintra Tourist Bus Info

Scottub is the local bus company for Cascais, but they highlight routes for tourists on their website.
Diagram of Cascais route with info; note that the bus runs in a circle.
Cascais interactive map; scroll in then click on a red icon to get more info about the sight and the bus lines that go there
Sintra interactive map
Which local bus goes to which site; note that they have tourist routes for Cascais  & Sintra:
Fares and how to buy tickets

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Getting in Touch with Sangha at Festival - Phone List

Tom suggested - and Noreen agreed - that we have a phone list that will be kept at the Festival Bookshop so that others can contact you, if you'd like to supply your local number (hotel, apartment or mobile).

2 Seats on Inbound Festival Shuttle

Sangha members have 2 seats on the Fri, Oct 25, 3pm shuttle from the airport they're giving away to anyone who can use them. First reply gets them both.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Festival Schedule So Far

Did you notice the Festival schedule, which doesn't have specific times yet but does say which day particular teachings and the empowerment will be?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Travel Article about Lisbon

If you're visiting Lisbon, you may be interested in this Seattle Times article from Feb 17 this year:
"Walk through history in Lisbon's alluring neighborhoods"

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Know of Accommodations for Festival?

I am still hearing from students looking for a room. If you have a room or are looking for a roommate, please let me know so that I can try to connect you.

meredw AT Hotmail.com if you don't have my personal email.

The Festival Accommodations page says that places are still available, but that was on Sept 10.

Thank you.

Emergency Contact

If you have a dad like mine, your family would like to know how to get in touch with you in case of an emergency. Usually there is a phone number for the Festival for that purpose, but I got a definitive answer that there will not be because there is no phone at the venue. When you think about a hippodrome (the word for a Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing) and see a photo of the one in Cascais, it makes sense: It's basically a big grass infield where the Festival will build some kind of structure, such as a marquee tent, for the teachings, with auxiliary tents for other uses, I'm guessing.
That means if people need to contact you while you're in Portugal, you'll have to give them the number at your accommodations and possibly your mobile # if you have one or get one over there.

Rooms Available Before Festival

I know of 2 people who have rooms:
* Lisbon female dorm for Tues & Wed night, Oct 22 & 23
* Cascais apartment with 5 other roommates Oct 22-25

Let me know if you're interested and I will connect you.
If you don't know my personal email, you can reach me at meredw AT Hotmail.com

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Train from Lisbon to Cascais

For the most recent info, see the post Festival Info for Getting from Lisbon to Cascais

You may have seen this on the Festival Travel Info webpage: "Trains from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré (Metro: Cais do Sodré) run to Cascais along the scenic coastal line via Estoril. Trains leave twice an hour and stop at Estoril, Estoril Monte and Cascais." The Festival team is working to add more information about this.
Because some information, such as the price of tickets, on the definitive website of the train can be so hard to find, even though in some ways the English version of the site is useful (see For More Information below), I am trusting that this information is correct until we get more information:
The short answer, based on http://wikitravel.org/en/Cascais
"Cascais is easily reachable from Lisbon  by train (40min), from the Cais do Sodré station. A return ticket costs 2.30€ and can be bought from the automatic ticket machines. Remember to keep the ticket as it will be checked and punched by the conductor in both directions."
The English call a round-trip ticket a "return," so that's cheap (about $3)! That page was last updated in August; it looks like the price has gone up 20 cents.

For More Information
Lisbon-> Cascais Train Schedule - helpfully added to the Festival Travel Info webpage from the Portugal train website; much easier to find! With a helpful diagram of the route with stops.

Portugal Train Website in English - the site is well organized, but when you follow the links, you end up at pages like this:
  • Price of tickets, which are only in Portuguese, as far as I can tell.
  • For the NetTicket feature on the main page, click Timetable and Prices (I didn't find the Lisboa - Cais do Sodré  or Cascais stations in the drop-down list of the default tab), but the results say that it's a 3-hour trip, when everywhere else I've read said it's 40 minutes?? The price for a "poupou" (which even my linguist friend couldn't find a relevant translation of, but in context I take this for at least a regular adult one-way ticket, if not a round-trip) is 2.50 euros.
No wonder it's taking the Festival team a while to provide the details!

Rejoicing in the Efforts of Festival Organizers

I’d like to step back from my own preparations for Festival to appreciate all the effort that is going into the Festival preparations. By implementing Venerable Geshe-la’s vision, the organizers and their teams are giving us what I like to think of as a once-in-a-lifetimes opportunity. I have a strong sense that there will be vast benefits for us, the people we know, and the world, but also know there are depths to it I won’t really comprehend until I am farther along the spiritual path.

When I first learned about rejoicing, and that it was a practice you could even do lying down, I thought, “ooh, this is for me!” So this morning I was lying in bed trying to imagine what it was like to try to put this event together. Festival planning is always so much work, and this Fall’s Festival is by far the biggest event the New Kadampa Tradition has ever put together, by thousands of attendees.

One of the things I love about the NKT is that it’s not run by a bunch of  flakes: There are managers who have given up lucrative professional jobs to be in service of our Guru and his vision, and very skillful people who could have much easier lives working elsewhere. There are volunteers with a wide array of skills, from contractors to artists to cooks to accountants … who offer their talents generously. Many of them have been working for a long time, and I’m guessing planning for this very special event started more than a year ago. I suspect they must be exhausted by now, and there is still a final push these last few weeks to pull it all together. Gen-la Dekyong says that energy comes from compassion, so I rejoice in the enormous compassion they all must have. (They do not have time to lie in bed rejoicing!)

It’s hard to imagine what it’s going to be like at the Hipódromo Manuel Possolo in Cascais, even having been to some very large Festivals. Picture turning the Hipodrome, which is usually the site of big summer concerts and horse events ...

into something like this ...
When there was a big Festival in Berlin 2005, I was stunned by the enormity of the marquee tent that served as the meditation hall. I still can’t imagine how you put up something like that.

This Festival grew from the smallest seed: My memory is so unreliable these days, so please forgive me if this isn’t completely accurate – maybe someone will email me with a correction or a confirmation – but I think the first Festival was held in the North Wing gompa at our Mother Center in England, and that room only fits 50 (?) people. Hey, maybe there’s hope for me: If the Festival can grow like this over just a few decades, maybe my little Dharma seeds can grow like that too.

Think of the planning, much less what was involved in the implementation of the plan:
·  Researching venues that could hold thousands, then negotiating a contract with them.
·  Researching possible Festival accommodations, and then working out terms with them.
·  Building the Festival website to convey all this information clearly.
·  Putting together the online registration system, then keeping track of everyone’s choices, and then their changes. That is not an easy job.
·  Planning shuttles to get Festival-goers from the airport to their accommodations, and giving us information about other transportation.
·  Figuring out how everyone’s going to eat, in a country where the diet is mostly meat-based, and even adding on the lunch options, with photos of the meals!
· Planning the meditation hall:
o   Planning the seating, with sections for the disabled, the hard of hearing and translation in, I’m guessing, 40+ languages. Arranging for native speakers who can give simultaneous translation of the teachings and meditations Figuring out the mechanics of the headphones …
o   Putting together a plan for the Teacher’s throne and the shrine …
·  Arranging security for the Teachers and attendees …
·  Putting together the bookshop. Just wandering around in the shop, you can think of the kindness that went into preparing all the Tharpa items (books, CDs, postcards, etc.); other Dharma items, such as mandala kits and malas; and the array of gift items, including the greeting cards, which allow us to express our gratitude to our Teachers. Shopping as a cause of enlightenment!
·  Lest I forget, there's also all the work that goes into putting on the "cherry on the cake," as Kadam Morten called the play.
·    Organizing volunteer efforts to help in all of these areas during the Festival.
To say nothing of the new Temple in Sintra, which must have been years in the planning:
·  The decision that the latest Temple would be in Portugal – when there are so many countries that desperately need a Temple.
      Remember to  rejoice in your own contributions to the International Temples Project (ITP) that funded the project. Even registering for Festival creates enormous merit. Buying a cup of coffee at Festival too. It all goes to building more holy places like Temples, and schools, and retreat centers, and who knows what else. We are all part of that.
·  Scouts searching for suitable properties ...
·  Geshe-la’s design for the building and grounds, the architects and other planners who worked with him to implement it, and the builders and craftsmen, artists and landscapers who carried it out ...
·  Planning the tours of the Temple and grounds, arranging for shuttles to get us there and back, as well as translation …

And of course, the immeasurable kindness of Geshe-la, who is coming out of retirement at 82 to give us the blessing empowerment of the Buddha of Higher Wisdom, Prajnaparamita, and commentary to the practice, as well as on The New Heart of Wisdom book, the new Yoga of Inconceivability sadhana, and the new Vajrayogini sadhana The Blissful Path. How will we ever repay him?

Security Issue with Passports and Credit Cards

Wanted to alert you all to a security issue I just learned about. Some passports and credit cards have embedded RFID (radio frequency identification) chips that transmit a signal, as do work badges, packages, etc. Scammers can pick up the signal and steal your identity. I don't have time to research all the issues, but am summarizing the little bit I've heard and providing links to more info if you want to look into it and verify what's here.

There are cheap and easy ways to shield the chip. See the 3 easy steps for protecting your passport with aluminum foil at http://epic.org/privacy/rfid/
Or you can buy shields at places like REI, Amazon or travel-supply shops. Passport shields run about $5; shields for credit cards are cheaper.

For more information, see:

Lots more info on the Web, including on Wikipedia.