Tag Archives: Vacation

Why Lagos, Portugal is seriously underrated

Ponta da Piedade

World Class Beaches

The beaches of the Algarve have ranked among the top one hundred beaches in the world. They are breathtaking. It’s hard to put into words the soaring cliffs, clean sandy beaches, and turquoise waters. I will try to include as many pictures as possible to fully  illustrate this point.

Praia do Camilo

It’s Cheap

The prices in Portugal are very reasonable. My hotel was only 25€ a night and included a communal kitchen so I could prepare food saving me even more money. Car rental start as low as 15€ a day. If you’re a ‘sun worshipper’ you can easily spend a week exploring the endless beaches and parks in your own car. I was only in Lagos for 3 days and didn’t find a car necessary, but I probably walk 5 to 10 miles a day when on vacation. A taxi from the bus station to my hotel was only 4.5€. To give you an idea of prices.

Praia Donald Ana

No Tourists

I visited Lagos in March. The weather was perfect 75°F (22°C) outside and sunny. There were just enough people out and about to not feel isolated. It was fantastic hiking along the Algarve’s dramatic coastline cliffs without crushes of tourists. You could walk along the endless sandy beaches at sunset with only a handful of other people. If you’re looking for nightlife then make sure you visit during the summer. Personally after a month walking Spain’s crowded and often rubbish filled beaches Lagos felt like my own private paradise.

Praia de Porto de Mós

Great food

I like a variety of food. Everything I tried in Lagos was good and the prices were reasonable which is important for the budget conscious travelers. Here are a couple of items I tried to give you an idea of prices.  A ‘cafe com lete’ (coffee with milk) and ‘sandwiche mista’ (ham and cheese sandwich) will cost between 3-5€. You can get Kebab from a take away place for 4€. I had a world-class chicken curry from an Indian restaurant for only 6.50€. And beef stroginough one night for only 9€. Of course prices can cost a lot more than that*.

Praia do Camilo

Cork

Driving from Lagos to Lisbon you see endless rolling hills of cork trees. Cork is a fascinating  natural resource. There is a lot of information about the harvest and processing of cork online. I urge you to read about it before going to Portugal. I might try to include another blog post on sustainable resources like cork. Tours of cork farms are available from different locations in Portugal. Shops sell both affordable and luxury cork products. These include wallets, iPad cases, and handbags to name a few items. In recent years the wine industry has seen a shift from cork to synthetic stoppers. The cork industry is doing a marvelous job of re-branding this durable natural resource to a new market. I love to see old traditions adapt to current trends and changing demand instead of becoming extinct.

Ponta da Piedade

A multilingual population

In the words of my best friend, “you had me at speaks English.” Almost everyone in Portugal speaks at least some English especially in the South. So if your like me and you speak nil Portuguese don’t let that deter you from visiting. Portugal is a very diverse country welcoming tourists from all over the globe.

Praia do Camilo

* I feel like I need to include a couple of paragraphs about the downside of Portugal. Overall my experience was wonderful or I wouldn’t be writing a blog encouraging you to go, but I found a couple of experiences stressful. I hope that by including my mistakes here you wont have to repeat them and will essentially have a smoother travel experience. After a month traveling through Spain, Portugal caught me by surprise. Everyone I talked to said Portugal and Spain are very similar culturally and that the Portuguese are very honest. To clarify this statement you can ‘probably’ leave your bag unattended go to the bathroom and come back to find it where you left it (not that I recommend trying it). The unemployment rate in Portugal is considerably less than Spain, so the crime rate is much lower as well. Spain with a soaring unemployment rate of 20 percent has  understandably higher pickpocket rates. To say the Portuguese are more ‘honest’ is a different story, however. In Spain the price is the price. There are no hidden fees, and I have never had anyone overcharge me. I found Portugal a lot more stressful in that sense. Just because the menu says the price is 8.5€ doesn’t mean your waiter won’t try to charge you 24€. If restaurants try to overcharge you it’s important to be firm with them about the price. Some waiters try to take advantage of unaccustomed tourists. I got swindled twice in one day when I first arrived. Also in Lisbon hosts standing outside of restaurants can be very pushy. One actually grabbed my arm and tried to pull me into the restaurant, which made me understandably upset. On another occasion I  had a taxi driver charge me a 2€ baggage ‘handling’ fee for helping me with my luggage. He was just trying to rip me off and I find it difficult to argue with people over 2€. Overall during the course of a week I was only swindled out of 20€ that I know of, which could have been much worse.

Ponta da Piedade

Have you been to Lagos? I would love to hear your questions or thoughts in the comments section below.

Why Spain is perfect for solo travel


Thinking about your next solo adventure? Here are 5 Reasons Spain is a great destination, especially for the lone female traveler.

The Culture
Spaniard’s are great. In general everyone is super helpful. Spain has a relaxed and friendly culture. The bus drivers are a little grumpy, but they still help point you in the right direction.

It’s Relatively Safe
Spain is much safer than the United States, but not as safe as Iceland or New Zealand. It is possible to stay out until the late hours of the night during the week. Or the early hours of the weekend and everything is fine. That being said there are pickpockets. Apparently they target foreigners. You won’t get mugged or assaulted, but if you leave your bag open someone might help themselves to your wallet. I am told that pickpockets listen for foreign accents so if you’re traveling alone hopefully you’re not talking to yourself. Another tip is to travel low-key don’t wear anything too fancy or expensive, which will call attention to yourself. As a female solo traveler I have found Spanish men charming and helpful. To Some immigrant men living in Spain are a little more forward than I would like. I think its the difference in culture so I started wearing a wedding band out.

 The Price
Spain is surprisingly affordable. It is one of the cheapest countries in the EU (European Union). You can easily rent rooms with private baths for under 30€ a night. Hostels are under 20€. Many places include breakfast. Meals are very affordable as well. An espresso with a ham and cheese sandwich is less than 3€. Meaning you can travel on 35-75€ a day depending on your rooming, transportation and excursion choices. An entrance ticket to La Alhambra Palace in Granada without a guide will cost you 15€. While a guided day trip to Gibraltar from the sunshine coast will be closer to 50€.

Easy Transport
Spain has great transportation. There are buses and trains to pretty much anywhere you want to go. Even remote villages have at least one bus in or out a day. I brought an unlocked cellphone and purchased a 3GB Lycamobile Internet plan for 15€ a month. Then you can use GPS to find the best public transit routes. I highly recommend bringing or buying a phone. Knowing where you are going will give you more confidence to explore. I have people asking me for directions almost everyday.

The Climate
Spain has one of the warmest climates in Europe. I’m currently traveling Spain in the winter time from January to April. Its off-season which means less tourists and with weather between 50-80 °F (10-27 °C) it’s really quite enjoyable. The trick is to bring layers. Nights can feel cold while sunny days can feel warmer than they actually are. I packed a softshell jacket that doubles as a raincoat so I didn’t have to pack an umbrella.

Did I leave anything out? I would love to hear you thought on traveling solo in Spain. Feel free to comment below.

Happy travels,

Amanda Tiffany

Eight photos that prove Traverse City is perfect for your next beach vacation

When you live in Traverse City it’s easy to take for granted how beautiful the area really is. I wanted to spend the summer compiling a list of places and photos that showcase what makes Northern Michigan so great.

The Downtown area has diverting boutiques, gourmet food, and is located within blocks of Lake Michigan’s pristine blue waters.  Here are 8 photos show casing why Clinch Park is the perfect spot for a day to the beach.

Photos scroll to the right with a click of your mouse, and captions appear when the mouse hovers over a photo.

Enjoy!

Let me know what you think in the comments section below. What are your favorite things to do in Northern Michigan? How could Gallivant Society better fit your travel needs?

Manalo’s and happy travels.