Well first, a delayed, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Heeelooo 2018. I love the new year. No, I am not all about the ‘New Year, New Me’, it’s more of a New Year, Lets learn from last year and kicksomeass. But first, lets reflect on the year that was.
2017 started out on an interesting note for me. I started with a bang fitness wise. Bought a few inspirational books & off to the gym I went. I managed to soak up a lot of sun, went to the gardens a lot & started my walkingeverylunchtime routine (which I have managed to stick to hooray!). We also had our friends Nick and Illana visit around Chinese New Year so we were able to have fun showing them around and enjoying the festivities before they flew back to NZ and Dietmar shipped off to South America.
The start of Autumn was great fun. I spent a lot of time at the gym & being really active. I signed up to an Insurance Benefits program called AIA vitality in which exercise and being healthy is what earns you points. It’s actually really great. I also had my amazing Aunty come and visit for a girls weekend in which we did a tour up the Great Ocean Road – it was really cool.
This was also the season where I travelled a lot. First – NZ to visit the fam – back for a few weeks & caught up with a few friends. Dietmar returned from his adventures & then I shipped off to Europe for my 3 week whirlwind trip around Spain and Portugal! My solo trip of a lifetime! Definitely one of the major highlights of 2017. 2 Countries, 5 cities & all the little towns inbetween!
The beginning of winter was dedicated to getting used to normal life again. After living alone for 3 months and then flying off myself, getting back and realising I had to adjust was surprisingly hard. I managed to spend some quality time with Dietmar, baked a lot & cooked a lot of comfort warm food! My birthday rolled around & I was completely spoilt with gifts and a LOT of chocolate from my beautiful friends.
Dietmar and I also did another trip up the Great Ocean Road for our anniversary and stayed in Apollo Bay which was really nice!
This was also the time that I left my job – flew back to NZ for a few weeks to visit all the friends and fam & then came back to Melbourne to start my new position. Was a whirlwind of a time!
Cherry Blossoms! I love spring. The weather starts to warm up again, all the flowers start to bloom and people just become happier! I started spending my lunchtimes walking around the botanical gardens & ate WAY too much fruit… because when berries are in season, I will eat them. Dietmar and I also managed to hire a car and take a trip up to Portsea & do the Portsea-Sorrento Artists Trail which is a beautiful walk.
I also relaunched my blog & began planning out all my ideas for 2018. We had some magnificent lightening and thunder storms & I started to take more care of my health & fitness by joining a 12 week challenge at the gym. We had our friends Michael & Sarah visit from NZ for 10 days which was so great! We did many amazing things. High Tea, Dior Exhibition, Lunches, Brunches & dinners and my personal favourite, The Book of Mormon, where I discovered my absolute love for musicals.
Christmas came around & it was one of my favourites in Melbourne so far. We spent it down in Barwon Heads with my cousin’s & their extended family. Food, many kids & sun made for a fantastic day. Hiking on Boxing Day really topped off the festive period.
Overall, 2017 was really amazing and I am so happy with everything that happened. As per anyone’s life, there were ups and downs but I know that I was challenged and have managed to come out the other side feeling so proud of myself and accomplished. Definitely ready to see what 2018 has in store and to smash all my goals!
What are your goals for 2018? Does anyone else just have this feeling it is going to be the best year?
I have waited a while to write these travel posts about Spain and Portugal because I feel that when you first get back from a trip, its all a bit depressing and a little overwhelming! It takes talking to various people to realise all of the things you really loved and want to see (and eat) again.
Lisbon was probably my favourite place I visited in those 2 and a half weeks. Which is a tough call considering I managed 2 countries, 5 cities & 3 towns during that time. It was just SO beautiful and I would say if there’s one place I would (and do) recommend to everyone, that would be it.
As you would have seen on my Instagram I went to Spain and Portugal earlier on this year and let me tell you, I LOVED IT. Lisbon especially, stole my heart – and my stomach. Dreams people. Dreams.
There were MANY things on my to-do list for Lisbon. However I was only there for 3 days so couldn’t quite finish the list however these are the places I did go and would highly recommend.
FOR THE VIEWS
Alfama. Alfama is great for many things. The small lanes, the hole in the wall coffee places and the teeny tiny restaurants that have old men living above them yelling and shaking their fist if you are noisy after 10pm (Not only is it the oldest suburb of Lisbon, it has the oldest residents..)
But best of all, I think it has the best views of Lisbon. Every ‘I went to Lisbon’ picture you see on Insta will include the view from here because it really is amazing.
WHAT TO EAT
PASTÉIS DE NATA Famously, there is a shop in Belem that does the ‘best ones’ however, there wasn’t a chance in hell I was queuing up for an hour to get in. I found the best ones I tried to be from a place called Manteigaira at the Time Out Market.
In fact, the Time Out, was where I got some of the best food I ate in Lisbon, So I would highly recommend going there and trying a few of the different places.
Its a great stop on the way back from Belem and is also very close to the city centre (as far as I remember) if not, there is public transport just across the road.
You HAVE to try Ginjinha which is a traditional Portuguese Liqueur made from Sour Cherries. You will find little hole-in-the-wall places all over the place (Even in Sintra) and I promise it is delicious.
Fresh fruit. I found myself eating a lot of fresh fruit on this trip. 1, because it was so hot that fruit, just sounded good. 2, it was easily accessible with little carts of cherries and berries scattered all around and 3, its cheap! and tasty.
On my last night in Lisbon, I had dinner with one of my new friends in a place called Lisboa Tu & Eu. We tried a lot of different things on the menu (sardines were… interesting, wine was delicious!) and the atmosphere was fantastic.
After having the old guy living above the restaurant come down and yell at the owners for the noise, we were moved inside and for the inconvenience, offered alcohol shots along with the other 10 or so people in there (which might I add were mostly older people). It was great. I happily declined the small beverages but I decided from that point on wards that this place was my favourite.
THINGS TO DO
São Jorge Castle – there are also some beautiful gift shops on the way up to the castle
This place was really cool. Super arty, funky and trendy. Its a little strip of old factories which have been turned into boutique, cafes, music stores, cork retailers & creative hangout spaces. I had the BEST chocolate cake i’ve ever eaten here from a place called Landeau. Def try if you get a chance.
About 6kms west of the city is a suburb? called Belem. It is well known for the Belem Tower & Pasteis de Belem, which drew me here and I never had 😦 but I also discovered it had beautiful scenery, gardens and the walk/ bus/ tram trip here alone was worth the visit.
There is many a beautiful Hotel here, just in any city. But I say, if you want to get to know the locals and get a bit of a different feel, stay in an AirBnb or a hostel. I booked my accommodation quite far in advance and because I wasn’t so sure on this solo travel thing just yet (hindsight tells me BOOK THE HOSTEL). However, my airbnb was great, the location was fantastic and the people were seriously cool (with many pets).
As with many cities in Europe, the public transport here is great! I used mostly trains and trams to get around Lisbon which worked a treat however there is also Uber which I used a fair bit and buses. All options really cheap.
I would say however, if you are semi-fit. Walk. Its a BEAUTIFUL city and is best seen that way (just wear sensible shoes because its hilly AF and also slippery!)
While researching Lisbon, I knew I wanted to do at least 1 day trip and the place that stood out most to me was a Town called Sintra. It is very well known and there are many ways to see it. I chose to do it alone and not with a tour group as I knew there were particular places I wanted to see and didn’t want the time crunch. Good choice in the end I say.
the Gardens. It was seriously stunning. I could write a whole post on this place ( if you want it, lemme know) so I will just leave it there. If you would like more info on how to plan a day trip to Sintra let me know!
Overall, Lisbon, Portugal was the best last minute travel decision I could have made. I spend HOURS planning this trip and when a few extra days came up in my schedule I had a really hard time deciding between here and Paris but decided, you know what. I ahve plenty of time in my life to go to Paris and Lisbon won’t be an under-rated destination for long. Overjoyed with my choice. Absolutely can not wait to go back and next time visit the rest of Portugal too!