Faro and Lagos, Portugal

Faro and Lagos are part of The Algarve, with Faro being the capital and where the airport is. You can see Faro in half a day so feel free to explore the rest of the Algarve, in particular Lagos which was beautiful! To get to Lagos, it would be best to pre-book a shuttle from transfer ( I used Greenbus costing 25euros, you can probably find something cheaper as I didn’t realise I needed to book in advance). This will save you time because if you wanted to take a public train or bus, you would first have to get to Faro city centre to then wait for specific set times and public transport stops at more places. A bus from the airport to the train station cost about 2euros and the train to Lagos costs 7.50euros or 5.50euros for students.

Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Walk around Lagos within the old town walls which is a tiny area so you can easily do in a few hours. There is a church, the fortress, a unique male statue and on a Saturday, the fresh fruit market is fantastic for cheap and good fruits. Spot all the art work too!
  2. Walk along the boardwalk, using the footbridge to see the Marina and Meia Praia beach. Consider taking a boat tour which departs from the boardwalk to see the caves, or kayak tour which departs from the fortress. 20180208_113555
  3. Walk from Praia Da Batata beach all the way to the light house to see sun set. You will pass by Praia do Pinhao, Praia Dona ana, Praia do Camila and Praia grande as you follow the walking path, stopping by each beach as you wish.
  4. Surf in Praia Porto De Mos known for good waves
  5. Take a day trip to Sagres, the extreme southwest of continental Europe (7.50euros return bus ticket from Lagos bus centre) and use the Tuk Tuk Sagres service which is 100% electric, therefore you won’t smell awful fumes and you’ll easily access all the main tourist spots rather than the usual huge tourist coaches. The Tuk Tuk shop is just outside the only tourist information centre in Sagres (18 euros for 1 person but the price decreases the more people there are, up to 5 people). The 2h tour will take you to Baleeira Harbour, see a view of Mareta Beach, Tonal Beach and Belich Beach, visit St. Vincent Cape (lighthouse), visit a fishing harbour and you can either return to the starting point or be dropped off at Belich Fortress to enter and explore at you’re own leisure. You’ll learn how fisherman catch all sorts of seafood!
  6. Faro is extremely walkable, especially with its designated pedestrian only shopping area, and the small old town still surrounded by a wall. Consider visiting the chapel of bones if you are interested in seeing a cathedral known for a wall of skeletons (I didn’t do this). I did enjoy taking photos of the beautifully designed and colourful doors around the city.

    Extra note: Make sure you have a nata or two! 20180211_091229

Trento and Asiago, Italy

Trento is a city in the Trentino–Alto Adige region of northern Italy. I was lucky enough to have had a local friend take me around which also included visiting Lake caldonazzo and Asiago town. Catch the Christmas markets if you go in December! Top 5 recommendations:

  1. Visit Piaza Fiera where you can find the Christmas market selling local products and food stalls. You will have to try Goulash and plantain, a common dish here. Just outside Trento train station there is also a nice park (although I was told the park was created to try improve the safety of that particular area, so be careful).23915698_10157236784318849_1989658320170067178_n 

  2. Trento Cathedral, featuring a rose window and a baroque chapel, sits on Piazza Duomo and Neptune fountain right in front. And diagonal from the cathedral, behind the fountain, you can find Case Cazuffi-Rella, a Renaissance building with a frescoed facade (washed out painting on the building, bottom left image). 

    23844934_10157236785118849_1534497371390324797_n23915951_10157236785248849_8945631328194120814_n

  3. Loacker cafe! Even though it’s an Austrian brand, they have a dedicated Loacker cafe in the city centre, great for breakfast.20171126_112225
  4. Lake Caldonazzo. In the Summer, a lot of people visit from Germany to chill here23844460_10157236784208849_4957956520050855077_n
  5. Asiago town centre – a minor township in the surrounding plateau region in the Province of Vicenza in the Veneto region of Northeastern Italy. It took about 1h to drive from Trento, passing by the lake along the way.23915626_10157236783463849_4248685400442187806_n23915680_10157236783518849_1867737988198450114_n23843552_10157236783603849_1755541038535597556_n

 

 

Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Yorkshire is a historic county in northern England. It’s known for its Roman and Viking heritage, as well as its Norman castles, medieval abbeys, Industrial Revolution-era cities and 2 national parks. My recommendations:

  1. Hike the Yorkshire Dales! I did a circular 20 mile loop from Grassington and stayed overnight at Grassington Bunk barn the day before to start early in the morning.
  2. Yorkshire Moors and Whitby day tour. This tour takes in the highlights of the area in including Goathland, the stunning seaside town of Whitby, Helmsley and the Vale of York.
  3. York Minster, Betty’s tea room, spot random cat sculptures and cute pubs throughout the beautiful town centre!
  4. York Chocolate story and the Shambles. I didn’t realise brands like Smarties, After Eight, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Kit-Kat came from York! You get to make your own chocolate too during the tour. The Shambles is known for its timber buildings that look like they are going to collapse as they lean in towards the road.
  5. York Castle Museum and Cliffords Tower. I really enjoyed the museum with plenty of history to be learnt and remembered.

Accommodation recommendation in York: Air B&B YO1 9TJ Steve was my host. Probably the only AirB&B in the town centre!

Tenerife, Spain

Tenerife is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, off West Africa. It’s dominated by Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano that is Spain’s tallest peak.  The island has many beaches (with sands from yellow to black) and resort areas, including Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas.

  1. Hike Masca taking less than 3hours from the top of the mountain to the sea where you can then take a boat/water taxi back to Los Gigantes-  Beginning amongst giant agave spikes and prickly pear cactus, the terrain gives way to the valley floor where, fed by underground currents, mini forests of willowy cane and lush ferns frame gentle waterfalls and still ponds of emerald translucency. You can swim as you wait for your boat to arrive, so bring your swim stuff and towel.
  2. Go jet-skiing near where you get off the boat after your hike10900093_10153926628458849_2775179284665471745_o
  3. Tiede quad safari. The guide takes photos on the trip which you can then purchase after for memories and to support their business. Mount Teide is a volcano on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. Its 3,718-metre summit is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic11036498_10153926625273849_1789620945618698312_n17991_10153926625158849_7564016527436502834_n
  4. Siam Park – famous waterpark with the coolest almost 90 degree slide! Remember to keep your legs together, crossed at the ankle for safety. Pre-buy your tickets and online to avoid long queues, make sure you print it out and make sure you arrive well before opening hours.
  5. Los Cristianos Beach because it was closest to my hotel – The beaches are beautiful and it has a harbour that offers fishing trips, pleasure cruises, outings on glass bottom boats, diving excursions and ferries to the neighbouring island of La Gomera.

Extra note: Playa de las Américas is next to Los Christians beach where you can go to party the night away

 

Fjord, Norway

What is a fjord? A fjord is a deep, narrow and elongated sea or lakedrain, with steep land on three sides. The longest fjord in the world is Scoresby Sund in Greenland (350 km), but the Western Norway region (Fjord Norway) boasts the next two spots on the list, with the Sognefjord (203 km), and the Hardanger Fjord (179 km).

I used the Norway in a nutshell 1 day tour (here) to get from Oslo to Bergen, while visiting fjords along the way. This tour was really well organised allowing you to experience the Bergen Railway, Flam railway, a cruise from Flam to Aurlandsfjord and on the narrowest fjord in the world- Nærøyfjord, and a bus ride from Gudvangen to Voss. If you have more time and money, I would highly recommend doing more than just this day trip, there are several options on the site to extend your journey. Here are some photos from my mystical experience:

18952570_10156589363613849_4635354451279593758_n
It got really cold at some point on the train ride!
19059817_10156589343263849_1284553395638654008_n
Fjords at Flam
18953074_10156589363558849_6641704875518461617_n
I love the reflection on the calm waters, taken from the ferry
19030626_10156589363698849_4275686327298740975_n
You pass by beautiful towns on the ferry

It would be nice to come back in future when there are blue skies. I can imagine a whole new look! Perhaps I’ll find some hiking options in future to oversee the area rather than be low down on the waters.