Friday

My First Airbnb Experience

We stayed in our first Airbnb apartment in Lisbon, Portugal. The studio apartment was very clean, well-equipped and close to the metro and supermarkets and we had a really positive experience. The apartment was just a few minutes’ walk away from the beautiful Alfama district close to many of Lisbon’s major attractions.

Maybe it’s because we’d recently returned from lands where paying more than £10 a night for a room seemed like a frivolous luxury or maybe it’s because we chose to visit in the height of summer, but accommodation in Lisbon is not cheap. With shared rooms on the very outskirts of the city costing more per night than our daily combined budget in South America, it was finally time to turn our attention to Airbnb.

As a travel blogger in 2016 it seems ludicrous that I'd never stayed in an Airbnb before and I have to admit that I think I somewhat misunderstood the concept. As an introvert, the very idea staying in a stranger's house, encroaching on someone else's territory and having to make small talk over breakfast is enough to make me want to lie down in a dark room. And what on Earth would our hosts think when we stumbled back from the NOS Alive festival at 4am, our brains swimming in pints of Heineken*?! What I didn't realise is that instead of staying in somebody's spare room, you can actually rent out an entire apartment to have the whole place to yourselves. Which is exactly what we did with Cristina and Horacio's beautiful studio in Mouraria.

We arrived in Lisbon at a bit of an awkward time, but Horacio kindly picked us up at the airport and gave us so much useful information about where to visit, places to eat and how to travel around the city. The studio was very clean, had all the amenities we needed and the Wi-Fi was great (the novelty of finding this whilst travelling still hasn't worn off). The apartment was also in a really ideal location down a quiet street just a short stroll from the centre of the beautiful Alfama district. There were plenty of supermarkets nearby so we cooked for ourselves almost every night and the nearest metro stop was only a two minute walk away.

Lisbon is such a beautiful city anyway, but with such a nice place to stay it just made our time away even better. I wouldn't hesitate to book another Airbnb for future trips and I'm really excited to explore some more apartments in different parts of the world.

*It was actually more like hobbling home at 1am with bad backs - a tell-tale sign that we might just be getting too old for this festival business. 

We stayed in our first Airbnb apartment in Lisbon, Portugal. The studio apartment was very clean, well-equipped and close to the metro and supermarkets and we had a really positive experience. The apartment was just a few minutes’ walk away from the beautiful Alfama district close to many of Lisbon’s major attractions.




We stayed in our first Airbnb apartment in Lisbon, Portugal. The studio apartment was very clean, well-equipped and close to the metro and supermarkets and we had a really positive experience. The apartment was just a few minutes’ walk away from the beautiful Alfama district close to many of Lisbon’s major attractions.


We stayed in our first Airbnb apartment in Lisbon, Portugal. The studio apartment was very clean, well-equipped and close to the metro and supermarkets and we had a really positive experience. The apartment was just a few minutes’ walk away from the beautiful Alfama district close to many of Lisbon’s major attractions.


We stayed in our first Airbnb apartment in Lisbon, Portugal. The studio apartment was very clean, well-equipped and close to the metro and supermarkets and we had a really positive experience. The apartment was just a few minutes’ walk away from the beautiful Alfama district close to many of Lisbon’s major attractions.

We stayed in our first Airbnb apartment in Lisbon, Portugal. The studio apartment was very clean, well-equipped and close to the metro and supermarkets and we had a really positive experience. The apartment was just a few minutes’ walk away from the beautiful Alfama district close to many of Lisbon’s major attractions.

We stayed in our first Airbnb apartment in Lisbon, Portugal. The studio apartment was very clean, well-equipped and close to the metro and supermarkets and we had a really positive experience. The apartment was just a few minutes’ walk away from the beautiful Alfama district close to many of Lisbon’s major attractions.



Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb? If not, you can follow this link to get £20 credit towards your next stay. Not bad, eh? 


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We stayed in our first Airbnb apartment in Lisbon, Portugal. The studio apartment was very clean, well-equipped and close to the metro and supermarkets and we had a really positive experience. The apartment was just a few minutes’ walk away from the beautiful Alfama district close to many of Lisbon’s major attractions.

Wednesday

10 Honeymoon Destinations

Did you see the news? We got engaged! Okay so we've been engaged for four months now, but it's still very exciting. We haven't set a date for the big day yet, we haven't even started looking at venues and we don't even know which part of the country we want to get married in. All we know is that we want to do it as cheaply as we can and so far the extent of my planning has been shouting '5 grand for a teepee?!' Neither of us are the kind of people to blow a huge amount of money on one day. It seems so frivolous to us knowing that we could use the money towards a deposit for our own house, my Masters degree or - even better - to pay for an amazing honeymoon!

So while my wedding dress is still a distant dream you can bet that I've already started narrowing down honeymoon destinations. To me it's even more important than the wedding itself and it has a lot to live up to to compare to the country we got engaged in. These are just a few of many destinations running through my head at the moment. Can I just skip the wedding and go straight to the holiday please?

Mt. Fuji from My Town 6 Japan
I've spent the last few years trying to convince Tom that we should try living in Japan for a while, but it's probably time to accept that it's never going to happen. A holiday there is a close second though, right? I want to visit Tokyo, Osaka, Mt Fuji and, of course, DisneySea. In my head it was a great idea to combine Japan with a trip to Bali, but it turns out Indonesia is much further away than I realised. Who knew?! 

Sunset, Port Vila, Vanuatu Vanuatu
Okay so I know nothing about Vanuatu other than it's in the middle of nowhere and its beaches are alright, so I'll be honest and say that the main reason I want to visit is because it's so isolated and relatively untouched by other tourists. We tend to enjoy the holidays that make people say 'what?! why are you going THERE?!' the most and how many people do you know who honeymoon in Vanuatu?

Mostar Bridge Balkan Road Trip
I've been wanting to go on a big Balkan adventure for years now and even though I've already ticked Croatia and Montenegro off the list, there are still places in both of those countries I'd like to visit as well as Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania. What could be more romantic than starting your first few weeks of married life in the former Yugoslavia? Thought so. 

Olkhon Island Trans-Siberian Express
I've mentioned before that I love the act of travelling, whether it's on the train to work or flying somewhere new so travelling through St Petersburg, Moscow, Lake Baikal and the Mongolian countryside sounds like such an amazing adventure. But perhaps starting married life stuck on a train for weeks wanting to murder each other isn't the best...

Ballooning over Bagan Myanmar & Thailand
Myanmar is another destination that's been on my list for years, but I'm really concerned about travelling ethically so I keep putting it off. Seeing Bagan from a hot air balloon is so high up on my bucket list. And since we'd probably have to transit through Thailand anyway it seems silly not to spend a week or two in a secluded beach resort too, right?

Blue shoes Galapagos Islands
We've already been to Ecuador, but we didn't get to see the Galapagos Islands. We wanted to do it properly without having to scrimp so this time round it was off the cards. Ecuador was probably our favourite country in South America though so we'd definitely be up for seeing more of it!

Old Town Havana Cuba
Everyone I've spoken to who has been to Cuba has raved about it and really I just want to see the Old World charm of Havana before it inevitably succumbs to US influence.

Sarapes Mexico
I highly doubt we'll be going to Mexico on honeymoon as Tom has a lot of concerns about safety there at the moment. I'm a huge worrier but strangely the safety of destinations isn't necessarily the first thing on my mind when I'm booking trips. Similarly with travelling to Colombia though, I don't think safety will be too much of a concern as long as we research and stick to the right places. Mexico City, Oaxaca and Guadalajara all look so interesting!

Ushuia Argentina Departure Argentina
We had big plans to visit Argentina during our four month trip in South America but our limited timescale and funds had other ideas. We both really fell for South America though and are so keen to explore more, starting with Argentina. From the beautiful glaciers in Patagonia to the vibrant capital of Buenos Aires and of course some of the best wine in the world, I can't see anything not to love. We'd also both really like to visit Ushuaia and use it as a gateway for an Antarctica cruise.

Sunrise Addu Maldives The Maldives
Neither of us are really the lie on the beach and sunbathe type so the Maldives seem like an odd choice, but they just look so beautiful that I don't think it would be possible to get bored! 

Where did you go on honeymoon or, where would you go? Let me know as I clearly need a little bit of guidance.

All photos link to Flickr source.

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Sunset Over Salar de Uyuni
Snapshots from Zadar 

Monday

I Don't Want to Travel Anymore

Uyuni Salt Flats Sunrise (Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia)



I think I've fallen out of love with travel.

I didn't think I'd ever see the reach the point of travelling too much, but here we are at this point. Real first world problems over here I know, but bear with me. I live to travel and explore new places. It's the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning, the thing that motivates me to work hard, the thing that keeps my love of writing ignited and the thing I thought I'd always feel lost without. But that's not entirely true.

I don't ever not have any new trips booked or at least planned. Tom and I actually already have a holiday booked for 2019 so things are starting to get ever so slightly out of hand. During a week in Lisbon recently I said to Tom, 'you know we've only visited five countries this year, doesn't it seem like more?'. We both agreed that it really does feel like a lot more, but I felt an odd sense of guilt that we'd invested so much time and money into our travels this year and in the grand scheme of things barely covered any distance at all. I've blogged about travel fatigue and guilt before and this was a classic case. For a start, South America is a BIG place and I'm always preaching that travel isn't about where you go or how often you go, it's about the experience you have while you're there. Ticking countries off my bucket list is fun, but not if it’s making me lose sight of why I travel in the first place. Lisbon is a beautiful city and one I can see myself returning to again and again, but I'd lost that excitement that I used to have for travelling to a new country. I'm one closer to my goal of thirty new countries, but it made me kind of miserable. Honestly, I was kind of bored. 

I might be able to fit all of my belongings in a backpack, but that doesn't mean I have to carry on living out of one. I'm excited for the 9-5 routine again, I'm excited to get back to Manchester and re-visit some old favourites and I'm excited to savour and re-live these old memories for a while. Making new ones can wait.

As it stands now my next plane journey isn't until November and I am very at peace with that. I'm sure the world can wait for me.


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