Portugal

∴ LISBON∴ PORTO

When: April 2018

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I have been wanting to go to Lisbon for a very long time. The pictures always looked so amazing and in April I finally went to Portugal during the Easter holidays. Marina and I wanted to spend the holidays together since we don’t see each other that often, because I live in Spain and she lives in Austria. First she thought about coming here to Valencia to visit me but in the end we decided to go somewhere else and explore a new place we both haven’t seen yet. So we decided to go to Portugal! We booked our flights to Lisbon and the return flight from Porto.

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I flew with the portuguese Airline TAP to Lisbon and it was the scariest flight I ever experienced. Since the wind in Valencia was REALLY STRONG (no exaggeration…) I already felt a little scared although usually I don’t mind going by plane at all. It was a really small plane with only 4 seats per row. After taking off the plane soon started shaking a lot and moving around and people screaming…and I thought: “that was it” haha. I honestly always wanted to know how I would react in situations like that (I know.. maybe weird but true) because I always thought that I would just keep calm and that it would not affect me that much. From the outside I actually kept calm, I did not scream, but from the inside it felt like an explosion. I got so sick I thought I would have to throw up and my heart was racing like it never has before. It was a horrible situation, probably my first panic attack in my life. Anyways,… the pilot handled the situation well and we arrived safely in Lisbon. Never was I happier to be on the ground again.

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Marina and I met on the airport and we went to the city together. We stayed at the Passport Lisbon Hostel (Link: http://www.passporthostel.com/en-EN/lisbon-rooms/). We stayed in a double room which was great. Every room is very funny and creative. The only thing I did not like but it seemed to me that it is a general problem in Lisbon is all the mold on the walls.

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We spent 3 days in Lisbon and walked around a lot. We went to see the LX Factory which is a little far from the city center but you could also take the bus. There are many handmade souvenirs, clothes and jewellery, book stores, bars etc. It’s definitely a nice place. We also went to see the Tram No. 28 because it’s the most famous but we did not go on a ride, we just took several pictures of it. If you go to the Santa Justa it is not necessary to take the lift. You can walk up on the other side, passing the restaurant “Bellalisa”. If you want to go all the way up you would have to buy a ticket and take the stairs from there, but if you stay at the platform there is a nice view and in my opinion it’s not worth it paying extra money just to go up a few meters more.

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On the third day we went to Porto. The plan was going by train but when we arrived to the train station they told us that there is no train because of a strike. It was a little complicated but in the end we found a very cheap bus going to Porto. We spent two days in Porto.

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While we were very lucky with the weather in Lisbon, the weather in Porto was not that nice. It was cold and rainy. Porto is also a nice city, especially when you walk through those little streets next to the river. The bridge is truly amazing and on the other side you can go for a walk along the river. We found a really cool breakfast place called “Zenith” but it was sooo full. Luckily we were the first ones because we were there before it even opened. But if you arrive just 10 minutes later you will already have to wait to get a table. It was crazy!! But their food is really amazing (see pictures below).

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All in all I liked Lisbon more even though many people told me that they preferred Porto. Lisbon is a little hippy, many tiles on the walls and a lot of street art, many handmade things etc. The trams and the bridge remind a little of San Francisco (the bridge is a mix of SF’s two bridges “Golden Gate Bridge” and “Bay Bridge”). The typical dessert “Pastel de Nata” is also really yummy and you should definitely try it.

I really liked Lisbon a lot and would definitely visit it a second time too 🙂

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Spain

∴ MONTANEJOS

When: June 2018

 

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The summer has finally arrived! In Valencia we live right next to the beach but to see something different we went to Montanejos. It’s a 1 hour and 15 minutes car drive from Valencia to get there. It’s formed by the river “Río Mijares” and close to the town there is a place called “Fuente de Los Baños” where you can go swimming. The scenery there is beautiful. The water is shallow, clear and turquoise.

The rocks around the river are steep and high. The water was pretty cold… too cold for me to go swimming. There is parking closeby. We went there during week and it was great but if you go on a weekend you have to expect many many people.

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We didn’t do much other than sunbathing and swimming (yup, I got sunburnt as well). It’s a really nice and natural place.

The best thing to do after a nice day at the beach or lake or river etc. is to drink a good Horchata. This is my favourite summer drink every. It’s made out of nuts called “Chufa” that grow in Alboraya (Valencia). First time I tried it I didn’t even like it so much and now I just love it 🙂

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Spain

ALBARRACÍN

When: June 2018

 

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We have been wanting to go to Albarracín for a while now and fiiiinally did it! The reason why it took us so long to go there is because the weather in Albarracín is completely different than the weather in Valencia. In winter it gets really cold there and even minus degrees (I know, I am from Austria and people always tell me that I should be used to the cold – but I am NOT! In fact, I don’t like cold weather at all, that’s why I live in Spain now haha)

Now in June we finally went there. We left the hot and sunny Valencia and then arrived to a cold and windy Albarracín. It is a 2 hours drive away from Valencia. We walked up to the castle walls and had an amazing view over the old town of Albarracín. It looks like a town stuck in medieval time but it’s incredibly beautiful.

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Everything there has the same colour and is made out of stones and wood. Even bigger companies/banks blend in perfectly by adapting their logos to a brown colour. We enjoyed a lot walking around there.

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After lunch we wanted to explore a little more but right after we stepped outside it started pouring – but… A LOT! We waited for a while under a little roof because usually in Valencia when it starts to rain that much, it stops quickly afterwards. So we waited and waited and nothing. It was getting really cold, my shoes and socks were already soaked and then we just decided to run to our cars. So we ran and got completely soaked, it was crazy. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of it. We then drove back to Valencia, 2 hours in a car with completely wet clothes and hair so we turned on the heating just to get a little dry. And 2 hours later we arrived back to our hot and sunny Valencia 🙂

Here are some more pictures of Albarracín:

btw. the first time I heard about this place was on a spanish TV show called “Volando voy”. http://www.albarracin.es/

 

Austria

WELSTHALGAU

When: May 2018

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Last weekend I went to Austria to visit my family and friends. From Valencia to my hometown there are no direct flights so I had a stopover in Frankfurt (Lufthansa). I arrived on Saturday at noon and my sister and my niece picked me up from the airport in Linz. We then went to my mom’s place to have lunch all together which was really nice. I haven’t seen them since Christmas. I usually go to Austria 2 times per year.

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On Sunday we went hiking to my favourite mountain in Austria. It’s called “Schober” and it’s located in “Thalgau”. It’s my favourite mountain because from the top of it you can see 7 different lakes and the view is just amazing. It takes around one hour to go up there. There is no restaurant on the top (it’s a smaller mountain) so better bring your own food. The weather was also amazing and much better than in Spain which is not very usual. This year the spring in Valencia has been really bad while in Austria it was really warm.

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On Monday I visited my grandparents and on Tuesday I went already back to Valencia. It was a very short trip but I did so many things in these 3,5 days, including a birthday party, going to the gym, hiking, family dinners and lunch, going to a lake, going to the doctor (because unfortunately I had a bad experience with a doctor here in Spain so I will only go to my doctor in Austria).

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Unfortunately I did not have time to visit my favourite city Salzburg but next time then 🙂 It was really nice to see my family and best friends again. I wish I could go to Austria more often.

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Scotland

EDINBURGH GLASGOW

When: May 2018

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Arthur’s Seat

At the moment my boyfriend lives in England for 3 months so we planned a vacation in the UK to see each other. After checking flights we chose to go to Scotland. From Valencia to Edinburgh – and back from Glasgow to Valencia I only paid 50 Euros for both flights (Ryanair). It was a pretty spontaneous trip and never thought I would visit Scotland this year already.

 

So I arrived in Edinburgh on Thursday night and stayed at the “West End Hostel”. The first night I stayed alone in a hostel because Javi arrived the morning after. I did not have any pounds because I paid all the hotels and flights online and Javi would give me the cash in pounds to pay for his part so I don’t have to change money from Euro to Pounds.

To get from the airport to the city center you just take the bus A100 which is right outside the airport. It was very easy to find the bus and to find my way from the bus station to the hostel. When entering the hostel I looked for the reception but could not find it, but there was a bar so I asked the bartender where the reception is because I wanted to check-in and he told me that the bar is also the reception. So that was pretty weird but funny.

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The next day when Javi arrived we went to check in at the Britannia Hotel and finally started touring around the city. First we went to “Dean Village”. It is a nice walk next to a small river with a lot of nature and cute houses. It is a very calm place and really nice to take pictures.

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Dean Village

In the afternoon we went to see the old town, walked up the castle and along the High Street. For lunch we had Jacket Potatoe which is apparently typical in the UK – it was really tasty! In the evening we walked up the Calton Hill. It is a really nice place with good views and definitely a must see when you are in Edinburgh. Luckily we had great weather and it didn’t even rain at all.

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Calton Hill

The second day we did a little hike up the Arthur’s Seat. There are actually more ways and hills you can climb up and you have a great view of the city and the river. I was so impressed by the nature and the green hills. After living in Spain for a while you get really impressed when seeing something so green (because where I live now most of the mountains are just brown and dry haha).

 

I only brought one pair of sneakers which was a big mistake. I was wearing sneakers that I usually only wear when doing exercises (a short amount of time) and never had worn them before for 2 days straight. My feet were hurting so much it made walking around really difficult and of course I got blisters…various blisters :-(.

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Calton Hill in Edinburgh

 

In the afternoon we went to Glasgow. We booked the bus ticket 2 hours before on the phone. It was 5 pounds only and a 1:15 hours bus ride with Megabus. In Glasgow we stayed at the EasyHotel. It is a budget hotel and really really basic. There is nothing in the room except for a bed (and a TV which you have to pay). There was not even a window. The wifi was not for free either. But the worst part was the blanket – it was way too small for 2 people and did not even cover us fully up so we slept very little. We stayed in Glasgow for 2 nights. We walked around a lot in the city. It is really big and modern. The funniest thing is the statue of the duke with a traffic cone on his head. We first thought it was a joke but then read online that the cone has been up there for many years already.

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Arthu’s Seat in Edinburgh

We went to the botanic garden. It is located in a beautiful park and the botanic garden itself is even for free. Since there are not that many things to see in Glasgow the botanic garden is a nice place to visit.

 

 

 

All in all it was a really nice vacation and I am so impressed by how friendly the people in Scotland are. Every person we met in public places like restaurant, shops, hotels etc. was really friendly and attentive. In Edinburgh there are many more things to visit than in Glasgow. The two cities are really very different from each other. Personally I liked Edinburgh much more. If you haven’t been there already you should maybe consider a visit 🙂