Category Archives: sometimes adventure

Inside And Out: Exploring The Algarve On A Budget

I’m not a travel blogger. I don’t usually write in depth pieces about the best Michelin star restaurants, fancy hotels or the best trains to take when it comes to a budget trip. I do however reflect on the importance of travel (like travel alone to The Algarve) and managing yourself when traveling. I love the idea of being prepared when it comes to food and drinks, always. Got a food intolerance? Then, I got you or at least, part of you.

Since a recent trip to The Algarve, I’ve had several requests for a write-up on my trip and how to do it cheaply and cheerfully.

At the end of July, I decided to head to the Algarve. I hadn’t seen sun in god knows how long and the idea of spending hours melting on a beach certainly wasn’t too much to handle. I booked five nights in Portugal, flying to the Algarve and having zero itinerary. Having been to Praia da Rocha over six years ago, I had a rough idea of the coastline. Spending several weeks in Lisbon as a freelancer also had me prepared for the basics of Portuguese and perfect coffee.

Booking something last minute and going alone meant the budget was super tight. It was necessary to consider what I wanted most from my impromptu adventure. I knew that choosing luxury meant more money while having a tight budget equaled compromising on what I consider pure comfort.

I opted for the lower budget trip and learned a lot along the way.

Ryanair offered the cheapest flights (Dublin to Faro). Booking six days in advance would mean more pricey flights and I managed to get them for 158€ return. That meant that I needed to fly on a Monday morning at 7am and return on Saturday morning at 8am. As I had the option of flexibility, I went for that option. It also meant having 4x full days and another 1/2 day to play around with. Taxis to and from the airport meant that this bumped the price up altogether 158€+45€ (because of my location) so it’s worth considering this factor before booking an early morning flight. From Lucan for example, the airport don’t go before 6am. Moreover, if you decide to stay in Portimao (as I did) then it won’t work staying there the night before an early morning flight if you’re relying on public transport. Instead, you can opt to stay in Faro which is ten minutes from the airport.

Having sworn off hostels circa my Chilean days, it was a big leap for me to book one. The Aloha hostel in Portimao didn’t disappoint. At 25€ per night, I slept in an all female dorm right in the town centre and with the nicest owner I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. At just over a year old, Aloha hostel had nearly 10/10 on Booking.com. The decor is perfect and it’s super clean. I was also fortunate enough to meet a mix of fellow solo travellers from all over the world.

With all the reviews online, don’t be fooled. Portimao is beautiful and I believe, just as beautiful as the rest of the Portuguese coast. It has a perfect seafront, stunning bridge view and an authentic feel to it. Arriving there on the first day, I sat in the main square taking in the views and inhaling a glass of vino verde. The seafood is tasty and most importantly (whether on a budget or not), it is super cheap. To offer a comparison, I got a lunch one day for 8€. That comprised of a coca cola, massive salad and roast potatoes. The following day, I had lunch along the seafront in Praia da Rocha and it cost 12€ for just a salad! Choose wisely and bring snacks to the commercial beaches should you choose to head there.

The bus from Portimao to neighbouring towns and beaches is just 2€! It’s five minutes on a bus to Praia da Rocha which I highly recommend for the nightlife. Meanwhile, the trains to Albufeira, Faro, Lagos and other neighbouring Algarve cities is 6€. When heading back to Faro for my last night, I opted for the train for the sheer comfort and ease. The train station is super central and easy to find. On that note, I was given the heads up not to stay too close as it’s much safer and a higher standard of accommodation in the town centre.

Heading the first week of August, it was the middle of a heatwave in The Algarve. The day I left, it was 35 degrees! This was great for tanning however if you’re not used to the heat, a September or October trip will still be 23+ degrees. It will also work out cheaper as it won’t be peak season.

Any other tips and tricks about The Algarve? Fancy reading more travel posts from me? Be sure to share your thoughts.

Table For One: The Joy Of Travel Alone

As I sat on a boat headed out to the caves along the Algarve, a polite and intrigued man smiled awkwardly. Possibly confused and definitely wind swept by the salty breeze blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean, he plucked up the courage to ask me what seemed like a dreaded question. For most, “Who are you travelling with?” seems like a normal query however at times, like when answered with an “Oh, just myself” type answer can leave a strange silence. Expecting a further explanation by this stranger, I highlighted that in fact, traveling alone had its rewards and that I had made friends. Reflecting on my response later, I laughed about it with the other solo travellers in my hostel who had experienced similar.

Self-reflection and sheer convenience are just a couple of reasons to travel alone. I could also imagine that watching ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ would be spur on a one woman (or man) escapade. For me, it’s the fact that I get to spend lots of time alone. I’m an introvert at heart and although, I love people and feel confident, I get my energy from spending time alone. This means that I recharge my batteries by listening to music, blogging and travel (to name a few). Upon observation over my thirty one years, I can recommend at least some alone time for everyone- at home or abroad.

For those wannabe loners, listen up! it doesn’t have to be a challenge to plan a lone-trip and it certainly doesn’t need to be expensive. To get started on the trip of a lifetime (or short-time), the internet and stores are full of the resources you need.

All of the main booking applications such as Ryanair.com, Booking.com and Hostelworld.com allow for solo bookings (crazy, I know). They are also full of cheap offers so that you don’t need to carry heavy prices without someone to share them with. Moreover, they make it easy to navigate, should you feel overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go when I booked Portugal this month. All I knew was that I needed sunshine and a beach. Hey presto, I used my one vote to choose flying to Faro for less than 170 euro (booked one week in advance). To avoid being a total loner for my trip, I went for a hostel – costing 25 euro per night. Winning, right?

If you’ve got a bigger budget and you’d prefer luxury then AirBnB have amazing offers everywhere. You can have the space and location choices just like hostels but without loads of bodies in your space. Just be sure that you’re choosing accommodation in a central location so that total isolation doesn’t happen. I said alone time is good for you but you’re going to want to meet humans at some stage.

Being alone means reaching far outside your comfort zone. Bobbing along beautiful beaches and perfect cities is fun alone however after some time, it might be time to consider reaching out. Hostels are the perfect way to connect at any time of the year and you can meet friends for life. Couch surfing is also useful. I started using this site back in 2013 when I was in Chile. Not knowing many people and actually not wanting to sleep on any couches, I browsed the local Couchsurfing page for fun activities. Thankfully, I saw that an American girl had just arrived and wanted to explore. To this day, we’re still close friends and we had a ball together in South America and more recently, in Ireland. Likewise, I spent one night drinking Sangria with new friends I met via Couch surfing hangouts in Portimao.

Got some tips and tricks when it comes to traveling solo? Post them in the comments below or across social media.

Adult Hard Or Hard Adult? Ignoring My NCT

An adult you say? Those people over the age of eighteen with more responsibilities, higher expectations and extra hair to shave. They’re the ones that check their bank account everyday to ensure they can pay bills they keep forgetting they have. Their income becomes a motivator as, each month and its agenda revolve around that sweet sweet payday. All the while, pretending to like the likes of kale and clean-eating makes up the time between weekends when cheat days happen.

Friends tell me that at aged thirty one, adulthood is inevitable. At this stage, I have to agree.

Last week, I went for my first NCT. For those unaware of what that means, it’s the national car test here in Ireland. I’ve had my car just over a year and love it dearly. Really though, I’d do anything for it. Anything except bring it for the NCT apparently. Four weeks had passed and I could see that the disc was getting more and more out of date. After a dodgy tyre meant I needed to visit the garage for repairs, reality struck. I booked in the NCT and passed six weeks out of date. I’m not going to lie. If the centre had been anywhere more than five minutes away, the procrastination would’ve been longer. Alas, it was not and I look forward to the great NCT of 2018.

For now though, I ponder what it all means and how I can be a better adult. Next time I let something slide, perhaps it can be nipped a bit earlier? Instead of telling myself that I’ve got better things to do, I should turn off Netflix and focus on my to do list. Or, I could give myself the fear about letting them slide into oblivion?

In any event, the lesson is that it needs to happen eventually. When I tell myself that something’s a pain and that doing it will stunt my creative streak – perhaps I need to face the facts. While there are plenty of things I could be doing, I’m not actually doing them. Those holidays I’d like to take, they’re not happening. As for all those books I’ve talked about writing, yeah I haven’t started.

The truth is that getting what I need to get finished will happen. Why not hurry it up and (dare I say) get it out of the way. There are plenty of upsides as far as I can tell.

Firstly, there’s the feeling of satisfaction and getting it ticked off. Love to do lists? Yeah, me too. Care to join me in ticking them off? Ticking off a list of completed items works wonders for the mind. Trust me.

While we’re at it, there’s a little reward scheme. I had a bunch of college work to do last year. It took lots of time and felt like adult life on steroids. I treated myself to new make-up upon completion. It felt amazing and I got the work done. Now I associate finishing the task with a great feeling and not the stress I (sometimes) felt. It’s a win win.

The rest of adult life isn’t without its procrastination. It’s just about choosing your priorities whether you want to or not.