Portugal

. October 14, 2018 .

Olá amigos. Coming at you today with a slice of sunshine with my photo diary and travel guide from Portugal's dreamy algarve region. I know we're now well into autumn, but as much as I'm enjoying the crisp cold air and burnt orange leaves – my soul is craving a bit of sun and erm, my burnt orange tan. Plus, word has it temperatures in the Algarve are still a gorgeous 25 degrees. So, if you're planning a last minute euro sun adventure this month (or, are way more organised than me and already planning your adventures for next year) then read on and join me on the wonderful Portuguese adventure I had this summer. And if not, stick with me anyway and I might just convince you.


Many algarve destinations can have a reputation as party hot spots for brits abroad. And in the overly-touristy parts, littered with hundreds of enormous all-inclusive complex's, it can be. Great if that's what you're looking for on a girls/boys holiday, but travelling as an adventurous couple, we were after a spot with beautiful beaches, amazing food and traditional Portuguese culture (not forgetting somewhere we could rent our beloved scooter) and Lagos was just that. It's also a great base for exploring neighbouring parts of the Algarve.

I actually visited here when I was fifteen on a family holiday and remembered the charming old town of Lagos being my favourite place during our Algarve trip. Quaint, constructed of cobbled streets and traditional pastel buildings yet bursting with life through its many colours, bars and gorgeous restaurants. Simply riding through the teeny streets here on the scooter was a beautiful experience in itself.

Where to stay

We booked our trip extremely last minute in mid-August, so I'm sure you can imagine most accommodation had already sold out or was going to cost us an arm and a leg. We settled for a lovely little Airbnb a few minutes walk out from the old town. A gorgeous guesthouse hosted by a lovely Portuguese lady called Mariana, with clean, bright rooms and a spacious balcony, a well equipped kitchen (great for those travelling on a budget) and even a pool to cool off in after a day of exploring. Or to mess around in after a few too many cocktails after dinner, ahem. You can book now for just £33 a night here.

Some other spots to stay in and around Lagos:
1) For lux – Vila Valvedere
2) Boutique – Casa Mae
3) Farmhouse conversion – Vila Monte

Where to eat & drink

As I mentioned, the old town is full of amazing restaurants. Apart from our clifftop picnic (more on that below), we ate out every evening and got spoiled with some seriously good meals. A couple I loved were Taninos, a lovely little wine and Portuguese tapas spot serving some really tasty dishes – I went for a delicious octopus dish that was mouth-wateringly tasty. Another night, on a bit of a whim as we'd left too late to get a table anywhere, we went to an all-you-can-eat Sushi and Asian fusion spot called Dragon and were so pleasantly surprised! Even if we did have to roll ourselves home.

But my favourite by far, was a gorgeous spot right near the old town entrance called The Garden. Tucked away in a nook between the cobbled streets is a hidden green oasis filled with fairy-light lined trees, pretty patios and trendy mis-matched furniture. The menu has something for everyone, from local dishes to classics, seafood and plenty of vegetarian options too – I had the veggie lasagna which was insanely good. And what's even more great about this gorgeous place was the value, we had 3 courses each and drinks with the bill coming only to €35!

Also, don't forget to stop at Bon Vivant for a cocktail and second story view of the main old town street. Tropical lounge bar is another great newly-opened option with a lovely rooftop terrace and super chilled vibes. But if you're after a proper dancing-on-the-bar, 10 jagerbombs type night, Joes Garage is a must. I'll admit this bar was the first place my best friend and I ever got drunk back on that family holiday, and returning for a night out with bae some 8 years later, it was just as fun as I remember. Except this time it was Connor dancing on the bar, not me.


The Beaches

Lagos' coast is also home to arguably the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. With rugged ochre cliffs offset against the turquoise Mediterranean and littered with stunning natural caves and archways, a day at the beach here is a real wonderful experience. Praia Dona Ana is the most famous, full of vast, scenic cliffs plenty of room to find a spot for the day. My favourite though, was Praia do Camilo, a hundred or so steps down but the beautiful views make it oh so worth it. We spent a whole day here nursing a hangover and wandering through the caves, basking in the sun and taking refreshing dips in and out of the sparkling sea and it was absolute bliss. Get there early for a good spot.

Another beautiful spot along the coast we found was Ponta De Piedade. Overlooking the impressive rock formations as the deep blue tide lapped against them, it was the perfect spot for a romantic picnic. I loaded up my trusty basked with some deli treats from the local supermarket and we sipped vino verde as the sun disappeared beyond the cliffs, one of my favourite nights of the trip for sure and something I couldn't recommend doing enough if you're visiting the Algarve.

 Carvoeiro

After riding around everyday on our scooters in Bali, Connor and I were dying to get on a bike again. And honestly, riding around the algarve was such a perfect place to do it – I couldn't recommend it enough. We used a company called Algarve Riders in Lagos, who have several scooter/motorbike hire spots along the southern coast. You can pre-book online or just give them all a call when you're there and they'll come right to your location and pick you up free of charge, our scooter ran well and we got such a reasonable price for three days – these guys are the best.

We'd already rode it through the small streets in Lagos old town, but on day 2, it was time to take our new baby a little further afield. One place I new I really wanted to visit was Carvoeiro in Lagoa, a region full of gorgeous turquoise coves and smaller beach towns than the neighbouring bigger resorts. It was meant to be just under an hours ride from Lagos, but we somehow managed to take a couple of wrong turns. Though it made the journey a little longer, we ended up riding through some of the most beautiful spots.

We also somehow managed to get lost in the backstreets of old town Portimão on the hunt for a barbers for Connor (boys and their hair hey) but riding through the narrow, pastel streets here was just beautiful. After getting google maps back out, we ended up riding over a bridge accross the back to another gorgeous spot we stumbled upon, a quaint little harbour town called Ferragudo (the pic where I'm on the bike). We didn't stay long, but had fun riding around the dunes opposite the bay and had a short walk along the harbour. I can imagine it being a really peaceful place to stay for a couple of nights!

After finally arriving at Carvoeiro and finding our way around the beach town's tricky one way system, we stopped to enjoy the view and popped into a local supermarket to pickup some snacks for the beach.. Pastiés de Nata anyone? Carvoeiro beach itself was actually super busy, so we headed along to a nearby loaction Praia De Carvalho. A couple hundred steps and climb through a cave later, we'd arrived at the perfect spot for an afternoon of playing in the waves (/ trying not to get totally wiped out by them) and sunbathing. Not forgetting scaling the encompassing cliff walls to get those 'gram shots... safe to say Connor was not amused. A must on your algarve beach-hitlist.

 Sagres

Sagres was the last day trip we did with the scooter. There's plenty of beach towns and coves along the Algarve, and after already seeing so many beautiful spots in Carvoeiro and Portimão the day before – we opted for something a bit different with a little more culture. Sagres, most especially Cabo Sao Vincente; the vast headland there, is famous for being the southwestern most point of Portugal and mainland Europe. Which of course, meant the ride down was pretty bloody windy! You'll want to hold on to your helmets and take it steady here, but the ride was lovely and Scenic none the less.

We arrived around lunchtime and headed straight to Praia Da Mareta, the beach closest to Sagres town, for a beer and bite to eat on a shoreside restaurant. Sagres itself is quite sparse and the beach was nice, but not as stunning as the coves we'd seen in Lagos and Carvoeiro. What did make this place super special though, was a pod of dolphins making a special appearance just a few meters from shore as we ate lunch. I think it was the first time I'd ever seen wild ones from a beach and to have them so close (literally right next to where people were swimming!) really was a little magic.

After an afternoon dip in the sea, we jumped back on the bike and headed down to Cabo São Vincente. I'd read about the beautiful views on travel guides online, but nothing quite prepares you for how incredible they are in person. It kind of reminded me of lands end in Cornwall, but on a much warmer, bigger scale. We spent about an hour walking around the headland, strolling around the lighthouse, market stalls and a small castle, breathing the fresh salty Atlantic air as we let the jaw-dropping views below sink in. And of course, stopping for some cutie clifftop couple pics along the way – turns out a can of Sagres been makes a pretty good tripod! Another well-known spot you can visit here is the fort, Fortaleza de Sagres. We didn't actually inside here because it was pretty late in the day to pay for entry, but could appreciate how impressive it was by just riding up to the gates, if  historical buildings are you're thang then this sea-fort is worth a look. I can imagine this area is pretty beautiful at sunset too, but we headed back before then for dinner back in Lagos. 

I hope you enjoyed this chatty diary style guide to my time in the Algarve! And I hope I've given you some good inspiration for your next trip, flights from London are so very affordable now so it's the perfect time to grab a low-season bargain for some winter sun. Watch my Portugal stories highlight for some footage and more geotags of my favourite spots on the trips. Thanks for reading <3
Bristol

. October 03, 2018 .

Hello my loves. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and written a life update or personal post. Perhaps the last one I wrote was before I left for Bali back in March, thick with excitement and anticipation about my upcoming adventure. Whilst there’s been a few posts sparsely in between, my presence on here has been somewhat lacking over the last few months and so the beginning of October and what feels like the real start of Autumn seemed like the perfect point to return a fresh with a catch up and update on life, lately.

It hadn’t been intentional, my absence to my little space here. I’d visualised sharing weekly updates of my travels in Indonesia and expected to be overflowing with inspiration and things to share with you. This idea was somewhat flattened on week three (of twelve), when I spilt a glass of kombucha over my keyboard whilst working in a trendy Canggu café. My trusty MacBook Air went kaput and I was limited to working from friends PC’s or my iPhone 7 Plus - which was then stolen a couple of weeks later.




I didn’t appreciate before how much the lack of my usual tools would stunt my motivation and creativity. And whilst I could continue to post on Instagram and work (at a kind of compromised level) on my sponsored content from a second hand iPhone 6 I bought out there, my desire to write kind of evaporated. 

Which is sad really, because sitting here writing this now I remember how therapeutic getting my thoughts out on here is for me. But almost like when you don’t speak with an old friend for too long, a kind of awkward distance forms and instead of starting the connection up again, it’s often easier to ignore it. And don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of distractions to keep me busy. Lots of new friends, new places to explore by the scooter I was just learning to ride. That and, of course, falling in head over heels in love.


And I suppose that’s where most of my energy went this summer. New relationships can be all consuming, the heady honeymoon phase when you’re totally inseparable. I mean there was a blissful 7 weeks between July and August where we didn’t spent more than a few hours apart. 

Between that and craving more travel and adventure upon my return from Bali I spent most of my time (and money) travelling between mine and his (we live a few hours apart) and across Europe on a few magical adventures. Still of course creating content and working on some great projects, but I’ll admit I haven’t been living up to my full work potential. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I cherish the memories made this summer and actually, not being super present in my online life has given me the perspective on what I really want to achieve with my creative work moving forward.



Life still feels a little in limbo, I’m nearly always living out of a suitcase, juggling jobs and a huge chunk of me yearns to be back in Bali or somewhere else tropical, living the simple life. But right now, thanks to the new season, I feel stronger and ready for what’s ahead. I’m back in the gym, back going to work events and spending time with my friends. My relationship has adapted around work (for us both) and evolved into cosy nights cooking dinner and watching Netflix on the sofa, which I appreciate just as much as those summer nights riding along a coast on a scooter somewhere.

I’m feeling better about work and a lot more motivated than ever. New-season campaigns are rolling in and I’m brimming with ideas in fact, so many so I don’t know where to start or what even to put into place yet. But I know I want to push myself more on this little space and life on the gram and potentially more too. I’ve been toying with extra business ideas lately, something consultant based or even my own little brand - but more on that in another post.


So here’s to autumn. The season that shows us how beautiful it is to let things go but also the turn of the season feels like a fresh start. I’m excited to let new ideas and relationships blossom and finally get back to one of my greatest loves — writing. I have plenty of content ideas planned, from travel guides, Bali life, advice pieces and style posts, but please do leave me a comment below if you have any suggestions. Happy October guys x

Shop the look: New Look coat (old – similar here), Lovers + Friends blouse via Revolve, Dorothy Perkins jeans (similar), Topshop shoes (similar)


Greek Islands

. September 15, 2018 .

As summer comes to a close I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite moments of the season, starting with an unforgettable week sailing through Greece and Turkey with my Life Before Work family.

This was my second trip with Life Before Work and third time on a sailing holiday. There’s something about living on a yacht for a week with the same bunch of people, island hopping, adventuring and - ahem - partying that makes it different to other trips, and something I’ve vowed to do once every summer. Full of different groups and solo travellers, you eat together, explore together and drink together - forming a yacht life family by the end of the week. 

Last year I did it solo, but this time I dragged Charlotte along for the ride. Traveling alone or with a friend with LBW - both experiences were amazing (you can read what I got up to in Croatia last season here). So, late July, after one almost-missed flight and hours of travelling later, Char and I arrived in Bodrum harbour ready for a week sailing the Adriatic. 

Fashionably late as always, we arrived at midnight whilst the rest of the gang were out for a first night of partying. We were greeted by some of the lovely ship crew with some greatly appreciated drinks and fresh snacks before heading to our cute but spacious little room below deck for a good nights sleep.

Come morning time, we met all the guests and guides over brekky. I was even reunited with my friends Jesse who was a guest on my Croatia tour and Matty who was one of the guides and it was so good to be welcomed with some familiar faces! 

We set sail for Kos around 11, soaking up the rays on top deck with some new friends. I knew we’d hit Greek waters when my notifications started to ping through, a sign I was back in the EU and my data had finally started to work. Thank god - because we’d soon be hitting up the most Insta-worthy spots imaginable. 

Kos is a charming little Greek island, not my favourite we’d see on the trip but still a gorgeous spot. Char and I left the gang at a beach club in the afternoon, itching to explore and of course, being the little speed demons we are, jump on a monster quad bike and discover the island.

In the short couple of hours we had, we managed to reach the other side of the Kos and back, cruising along the cost we enjoyed the beautiful landscapes (Kos is actually pretty green for a Greek island) and stopped for a dip and quick photo shoot at some ancient ruins. Back just in time for drinks and dinner at sunset on the boat, we geared up for our first group night out on Kos. 

In the days that followed we also visited the Island of Nisyros – home to the most incredible volcano crater (that we of course ended up having a dance off in). Overlooking the volcano so the tiniest white washed Greek village that reminded me of a less hectic and more charming Mykonos town. It was here we located a tucked away, cash-only ice cream cafe that served possibly the best damn pistachio flavour I'd ever devoured.

Next up though was my favourite stop along the trip, Symi. I couldn't believe I'd never heard of this gorgeous little Greek island before – it was the most charming place, a pastel town of pinks and yellows met with a quaint harbour and the most scenic roads to ride around. Here the whole gang hired scooters and convoyed around the island, soaking in the breathtaking views as we went. We had a gorgeous family dinner out this night on the harbour making it my favourite day of the entire trip before heading back to the yacht for you guessed it, another party night.

And I have to say, life on board a yacht with LBW really is the best life. Exploring a new beautiful part of Greece and Turkey everyday, devouring incredible food made by the wonderful crew on board and of course dancing the night away every night in the middle of the ocean with a bunch of amazing new friends. A few sore heads yes, but even more new friends and unforgettable experiences made, all of course made extra special shared with my girl Char. 

Thanks to Life Before Work for having me for another incredible Yacht Life trip this summer. Special thanks to our amazing guides Des and Matty for making sure we all had an amazing time throughout, as well as the awesome crew on board Yacht Life Turkey & Greece – see you next year.

lucia grace