PORTUGAL: ‘school-assignements’ in Lisbon, Portugal

Bom dia,

After a year of radio silence, I finally had the time to sit down and type a post for my blog. Its been too long, I know. Sometimes I forget how much I appreciate the written word, and how much I love just writing about anything BUT school related things…

To keep up the flow of travel stories on by blog, today I wanted to tell you about Lisbon. I visited the capital of Portugal beginning of this summer and I must say I fell in love with this city. I’ve been to Portugal once before, in 2012. Actually, I’ve written about that trip as well. Anyway, this time I visited the land of Fado and sardines with a few of my friends from school. For an assignment, we could go abroad to ‘develop ourselves on a cultural level’ so the choice was quickly made to go somewhere sunny and warm.

First things first. We flew with TAP Portugal, which was really nice and a good airline. Since we are all poor students, we booked an apartment through AirBNB. I highly recommend this, even if you have more to spend. Hotels are great, but staying in the apartment of a local gives you a much better picture of the country and city you are staying in.

Many compare Lisbon to other bigger cities such as Barcelona. When walking the streets of Lisbon vs Barcelona, you will both understand and deny this comparison. Lisbon is smaller and cosier, compared to big city Barcelona. Also, Barcelona is better maintained as far as I’ve seen when I visited but Lisbon’s rough edge makes up for the lack of maintenance. Lisbon has many gorgeous landmarks, such as the monastery and tower in Belem (a district of Lisbon), castle St. George (or in Portugese: castelo Sao Jorge) and the oceanarium of Lisbon. If you are into museums, I recommend the Calouste Gulbenkian museum. Armenian dude Gulbenkian was a big fan of art and donated his immense art collection to Portugal. His collection consists of peaces from all eras, with the Lalique jewelry as climax of it all.

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Next to your regular sightseeing, Lisbon is great for going out and having an awesome time. The Bairro Alto offers lots of places (bars, clubs) to go and have a drink, dance and enjoy the international scene of people. Trust me, if you are into bar hopping and secret clubs under bridges and in our factories: the Bairro Alto (and Lisbon in general) is perfect for you. If you are not a bar hopper but enjoy listening to live music, don’t worry. Portugal has a wonderful tradition when it comes to music. Have you ever heard of Fado? Traditionally Fado music is performed with only a guitar and a voice. The songs are about anything and everything in life. It is about emotions and typically Portugese. You can find it in lots of little restaurants, where the staff will perform it in between courses. My friends and I wanted to experience this at least once when in Lisbon, so on our last night we walked into one of the hundred Fado restaurants in Lisbon and enjoyed the guitar music, emotional voices and Portugese food. An absolute must-do when you go to Lisbon and want to see the real Portugal.

Speaking of food, Portugal has a great, diverse cuisine. It mainly consists out of fish (since it is positioned next to the ocean) such as sardines and ‘bacalhau’ (codfish). They also eat lots of ‘chouriço'(which is a kind of sausage) and ‘arroz’ (rice). But the best part of the Portugese cuisine is the desserts and pastries. Oh.. my.. god. One thing you for sure have to try is ‘Pastéis de nata’. I’m pretty sure I already mentioned these delicious pastries before in a post, but they are so worth mentioning.

All images in this post are made and owned by me. 

 

SPAIN: Hola world, I’m back… From Barcelona!

It has been a while, a big while to be honest, since I wrote a blogpost. This has many reasons, with one of them being time. I just did not have any left for blogging. Even though I missed it like crazy sometimes, and I had all kinds of ideas that I wanted to write down, school, work and life got in the way.

But now,  I finally have some free time to get some writing done. Summer is almost over and I am starting to go to my usual hours at work. High school already begon in The Netherlands, but college and uni only begins in about 3 weeks. Hooray!

Speaking of summer, I had a great one. Sure, I worked a lot but 1. now I have lots of money and 2. the 3 weeks I did have actual vacation were awesome. The moment was, after 3 months of waiting, there to go Barcelona last week and it was amazing. Barcelona is beyond gorgeous and I seriously fell in love with Gaudí’s fairytale artworks. I already want to go back, just to admire the beautiful architecture. Of course what would me saying this mean without some pictures I toke during my trip.

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If you ever go to Barcelona, and seriously YOU SHOULD GO, then here are some tips to survive Barcelona:
1. Book your tickets online for the Sagrada Familia before you leave to Barcelona. It is only 15 euros and so 100% worth it to go inside. It is by far the most beautiful cathedral I have ever been to. This way you do not have to stand in line for 3 hours.
2. If you go a bit longer then a usual citytrip of about 3 days, and you want to visit a beach, then take a train to go a bit outside of the city. The beaches at Barceloneta are incredibly crowded and it is just less fun.
3. Speaking of trains, if you are going to use public transport, buy a T-10 ticket. This cart you can use for the metro, busses, trams and trains. The ticket is 9,95 euros and can be used for 10 rides.
4. There are definitely pickpockets and thieves active in Barcelona. Always be aware of this. Never act like a tourist. This you do by not wairing short pants, do not show you are lost by looking at a big touristic map and wair all your valuable things on your body (for insance put your money in your bra or buy a little bag to put under your shirt). Do not worry, I did all this and I did not even catch anyone glanzing at my bag.
5. If you love fairytales and magic, go see all the beautiful creations of Gaudí. The buildings he created look like they have come straight from the world of the stories the Grimm brothers of something similar to them.
6. On a budget? Try airbnb.com for a cheap room/apartment on a great location. We stayed in an apartment in the beautiful, tourist-free neighbourhood Exaimple. It was only  a minute away from the metro station and it was a 10 minute walk to the Passeig de Gracia, the most expensive street of Spain. The apartment was very nice, we shared it with a couple friendly other, from all over the world. We had a room to ourselves en we shared the bathroom and kitchen. BTW, this is a good one for staying everywhere in the world, airbnb.com has rooms in more than 190 countries.

Also, spanish food is delicious. When you are in Barcelona, definitely go to mercat Princesa. It is an indoor market where you can get all kinds of food at different stands. A great concept and the food there was great. You could get tapas, typical spanish, but there was also sushi, mini pizzas, hamburgers and salads. Something for everyone.

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The drink you see in the picture is also very very very recommended. It is called Sangria and it is a delicious spanish wine. We had it every day, at lunch and dinner. It is BTW quite common to drink wine at lunch in Spain. Another reason to visit Barcelona…

PORTUGAL: family holidays in the algarvé

Hi people, I’m back! It is already February and the last time I posted it was still 2014. Time flies!

Yesterday I was scrolling through my photos of past holidays, which always makes me happy. Maybe the best holiday I’ve had in the past decade was our trip to beautiful Portugal, with my whole family. Portugal is definitely a country that won my heart, I love the food and the surroundings of the Algarve. Algarve is the most southern part of Portugal and as well the most sunny. In this part the famous party-destination Albufeira lies and I stayed in a close town near Albufeira, named Olhos d’Agua. This is the smallest seaside town, with small, stoned roads and tiny shops on the boulevard. If you want to go to Portugal and have a relaxed holiday without drunk teens, go here. Or, go in the fall to Albufeira. No party people there then, and I like it so much more.

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Coffee and Pastéis de Nata, which are small, extremely rich custard tarts. They are so delicious.
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Sunset at the beach. I think I love the giant rocks on the cost the most, you can walk on them and you can walk from Olhos d’Agua to Albufeira on the rocks.

More reasons why you should go to Portugal:

1. The food. The food. THE FOOD. They have much fish in their cuisine, which I personally love (fish are friends not food). Also, the pastries are yummy and the drinks like Galao, which I wrote about before I think, is delicious.
2. The language is beautiful. My grandma speaks Portugese fluently, and it always sounds so pretty. I would love to learn it one day.
3. The sea and the boulevards. If you like the sea, (of course you do) then you will love the Algarve.
4. For the alcoholics under us, Port (a type of wine) is from Portugal and it is very tasty.

Obrigada! (Thank you in Portugese, the only word I know in Portugese haha)