A day in Lisbon

If you are staying outside of Lisbon it is well worth making a trip in to Portugal’s capital at some point during your stay. We were staying in Cascais a 35-minute train journey outside of Lisbon. Their train systems are easy to use and super cheap (only 2€ each way), so you have no excuses. The train ride provides you with stunning views of the coast as you make your way into Lisbon.

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Trams in Lisbon 
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Views on the way into Lisbon on the train

Attractions 

You can read as many tourist books as you like but I don’t think you can beat the advice of a local. That’s why when we arrived into ‘Cais do Sodré’ station we hoped straight into one of the many ‘Tuk Tuks’ you will find on the streets of Lisbon, locals estimate that there are close to 400. No matter what your budget is they are a must. The beauty of them is that there isn’t a set tour, you can pick where you go or they can decide based on your interests. You can give them a price limit and they will bring you to as many places they can within your budget. Our Tuk Tuk tour cost us 60 euro per hour which worked out at 10 euro each per hour in our 6 man Tuk Tuk. I am unsure about the price ranges with different companies, but it was a great way to see so much of the city in such a short amount of time especially because you won’t be getting far in the blistering heat of July and August on foot. Our driver Mario was so kind and he gave us a great feel for the city. You could tell he really cared about his passengers and getting us the best value for our money. Mario wasn’t the only Tuk Tuk driver we were in contact with that we were impressed by their generosity. They all seemed so genuine and we weren’t worried or sceptical about being ripped off as you do with so many other tourist attractions all over the world.

  • Choosing the right Tuk Tuk:

If you are going to get a Tuk Tuk get an electric one. Not only are they better for the environment, but they make it a lot easier to hear what your guide is saying while you are driving. Another reason why I would recommend the electric Tuk Tuks over the gas ones was because of the awful fumes that the gas ones were giving off. I’m sure a tour would be quite sickening in one, especially because the Tuk Tuks don’t have doors to keep the smell out.

  •  On a budget where should I ask them to take me:

Lisbon is a stunning city, being built on a hill means there are loads of look out points all over the city. Although they are all spectacular the most amazing one we say is called ‘Miradouro da Senhora do Monte’, so if you are on a budget ask them to take you there.

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View from ‘Miradouro da Senhora do Monte’

Feeling a bit peckish?

Taberna da Rua das Flores which was recently featured in the Sunday Times, is a hidden gem that is getting a bit more attention from tourists than it’s local regulars may like. Hidden away off ‘Praça Luís de Camões’ this quaint, authentic Portuguese restaurant would be missed by people not looking for it. The menu changes daily and is written on a big blackboard which is carried around the restaurant and translated to English for the non-natives. The menu consisted of 2 starters and 4 main courses. Although choice is limited the options on the day I was there all sounded amazing. The ‘rough and ready’ style makes you feel like you are sitting in a Portuguese kitchen waiting to be served. We all really enjoyed our meal here and I think it is worth ditching the touristy restaurants for one day and paying a visit to this for some real Portuguese food.

Main courses ranging from 8-10 euro – at lunch time.

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Taberna – Lisbon 

Everyone wants to eat different things? 

No problem, the ‘Time Out Food Market’ is the place for you. There are stalls with nearly every cuisine so you are sure to find something everyone will love without having to eat in different places. Your only problem now will be finding a table in their expansive seating area. Highly recommend.

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TimeOut Food Market 

Sweet tooth?

Then you have to stop in Amorino. This ice-cream parlour can be found in most major cities and has a huge range of ice creams and sorbets. However, the thing that I love Amorino for is their macarons that have a thin layer of ice-cream in the middle. To die for.

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Amorino Lisbon 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ice-cream filled Macarons 

We all absolutely loved Lisbon and hope to be back at some stage in the near future. It was a stunning city with both historic and modern aspects to it. The perfect weekend break at only 20 euro for a taxi from the airport to the city centre.

The Girl on the Go xx

 

The Oitavos Hotel Cascais, Portugal

The blue tinted mirrored panels give nothing away when you pull up at the Oitavos Hotel Cascais, Portugal. Upon entering reception, you will think you are back at the airport terminal or maybe even in an Ikea with the high ceilings, long corridors and expansive seating areas. A peculiar hotel we thought at first. Our opinions soon changed. Within 24 hours the spacious and modern hotel proved to be a not only extremely luxurious but it was the ideal location to totally wind down and relax. The numerous seating areas all over the ground floor made it possible to totally seclude yourself from the rest of the guests and dive into a good book.

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The Oitavos Hotel, Cascais

 

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The Oitavos Infinity Pool

The Rooms: 

The rooms were as I described the lobby, they were huge with high ceilings, big windows and modern cube style decor. The rooms had large balconies and a ‘sitting room’ area with a couch and a television. For those who like baths you will not find many like the ones in the Oitavos hotel. I will say you would want to be comfortable around the people you are going with because there is merely a screen of glass between the main room, the shower and the toilet.

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The Bedroom at The Oitavos Hotel
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The Bathroom at The Oitavos Hotel

The Food: 

This hotel was luxurious in every sense of the word, the buffet breakfast had a wide range of options, everyone could find something they loved. There were 4 types of dining the hotel offered throughout the day. There was a pool bar open during lunch hours which served small ‘Tapa’ style plates. There was a bar menu inside which also included some tapas as well as a selection of sandwiches, they served food from this menu until 11pm. The main restaurant was open for both lunch and dinner with totally different menus. The main restaurant was the most sophisticated out of the three. They also had a Sushi bar that was open from Wednesday through to Sunday in the evenings. The hotel had loads of options for food but they took advantage of the fact the hotel was remote. The food was good but it wasn’t cheap, if you are sitting around by the pool all day and don’t want to eat in the hotel is it a decent walk to any other restaurant and there is no supermarket within a 30 minute walk of the place (as far as I am aware anyway). I will be doing a post on where to eat in the surrounding areas in my next blog post so keep an eye out for that.

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The famous Custard Tarts @ the breakfast buffet
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Dessert @ the Main restaurant
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Club Sandwich from the Bar menu

The Facilities: 

Some of the facilities that can be found at the Oitavos Hotel include; an outdoor swimming pool, snooker table, numerous televisions on the ground floor, a spa with numerous treatments available, Balneotherapy area (sauna, steam room & indoor swimming pool) which you can pay for access to (it is nice but not with 25euro pp per day in my opinion), a small gym and complimentary shuttle to Cascais and the beach at set times throughout the day. There is a sport centre up the road from the hotel with a large gym, tennis courts and squash courts. The hotel staff can bring you there in a golf buggy free of charge. There is a bike rental facility within the hotel and a small clothes shop where they try to sell you sun cream from 40 euro …. I would advise you to bring your own.

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The Oitavos Pool Area
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Sauna in the Balneotherapy

Near the hotel: 

Guincho Beach, this is one of the nicest beaches I have ever been on, stretching close to a mile in length and about 200 metres in width you will find a nice private spot even on the busiest of days. The beach is home to many surf schools and when the wind picks up in the afternoon (which it does, usually around 3pm) the kite surfers are out providing entertainment to all the beach goers.

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The gorgeous Guincho Beach

Casa do Guia, is a little courtyard that is located around a 30 min walk from the hotel. It has a few little cafes, restaurants and some little boutiques.

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Casa do Guia, Cascais

Cascais, the ‘centre’ of the city is only a short 10-minute drive in the hotel shuttle or a 6-euro taxi from The Oitavos Hotel. Cascais has loads of shops, restaurants, cafés and bars creating a great buzz around Cascais in the evening. There is a train station right in the centre of Cascais which goes into Lisbon every 20 mins. Train tickets are only 2-euro per person each way. The train takes around 40 minutes and is a great way to see the Portuguese coastline. I will be writing a post on my day in Lisbon over the next week so keep an eye out for that.

Our problem with the hotel:

Although we all really enjoyed our stay at The Oitavos Hotel we had a bit of a problem with the standard of the service during our first few days staying at the hotel. The staff were slow, always forgot at least one part of our order and weren’t very attentive. It wasn’t like they didn’t have enough staff, they were just standing around chatting. When you are paying 5 star prices you expect 5-star service and that is not what we got the first few days of our holiday. We were all getting to the end of our patience when, one morning around half way through our holiday we walked down to breakfast and there seemed to be a lot more guests. We presumed that the service would get worse, but in fact it got better. With more guests the staff had to work harder and as a result were more attentive. For the rest of our holiday the service stayed at that standard, which was great but this shouldn’t even be a problem in the first place. It really took away from the stunning hotel and relaxing atmosphere.

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The Outdoor and Pool area at The Oitavos Hotel

Overall, we really enjoyed our stay in The Oitavos Hotel, it was a real pity about the service. I hope this post have been able help you. Keep an eye out for my next blog posts on ‘Where to eat in Cascais’ & ‘One day in Lisbon’.

The Girl on the Go xx

 

 

 

Where you Should be Eating in Fuengirola, Spain

It is easy to fall into tourist traps and get ripped off on the Costa Del Sol if you don’t know where to go. I am lucky enough that the few times I have visited Fuengirola I have been with people who have holidayed in Fuengirola their whole lives and appreciate good food as much as I do. Hopefully I will be able to pass on their wisdom and recommendations in this article, helping you make the most of your stay and leaving with a belly full of the best food fuengirola has to offer.

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Bikini Beach, Fuengirola

La Pergola, Italian – Love getting twice the taste for half the price? The Pergola is the place for you. This quaint and cosy spot will have you licking your lips when you get a whiff of the doughy smells as you walk through the door. Their menu includes a wide range of salads, pasta, pizza and different meats. Their friendly staff make you feel as though you have stepped into an old friend’s home.

Find more on their website.

My ‘Pergola’ Top Pick:

Mejicanna Pizza: Chilli Con Carne on a pizza – Where Italian meets Mexican *drools*

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The Pergola, Fuengirola

 

Picoteo/ Casa Colon, Tapas – You can’t come to Spain without dipping into the Spanish tapas culture. Tapas are small Spanish savoury dishes which can be combined to create a full meal. Tapas were traditionally served in bars to accompany drinks but have now developed into their own cuisine. I have two favorite tapas restaurants which are convienetly beside eachother in a buzzy square, that is filled with street performers and little children running around in the summer months.  They are called ‘Picoteo’ and ‘Casa Colon’. You can book the Picoteo but not Casa Colon, for this reason we usually end up going to the Picoteo as there is generally a big group of us. If you have a party between 2 & 4 it probably won’t be as hard to get a table in Casa Colon, generally there is a 30 mins – 1 hour wait. There are loads of bars in the area where you can have a drink while waiting. Both restaurants are very similar just with slight differences in their menus. The tapas range in prices but they are bigger than traditional tapas. They are almost all like starter portions, perfect for sharing. Each person will probably eat between 2&3 dishes each. Find more on their websites – Picoteo & Casa Colon.

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Picoteo, Fuengirola

My ‘Picoteo’ Top Picks:

‘Crispy Shrimp Tempura with Spicy and Creamy sauce’,

‘Hot goat’s cheese salad with Almonds, Bacon, Raisins & Balsamic’

& ‘Crunchy Burgos black pudding with apple puree’.

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Black Pudding, Edamame & Spring Rolls @ Picoteo
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Picoteo Square

Tanicós, Finer Dining – If this restaurant was set in the same square as the ‘Picoteo’ and ‘Casa Colon’ it would be my absolute favourite restaurant ever. Unfortunately ‘Tanicós’ is more of  a ‘winter’ restaurant. It is indoors, highly air conditioned and a bit outside the main, buzzy area of Fuengirola.  You know it’s a good sign when you are the only group speaking English in the place. Tanicós doesn’t come alive until at least 9pm, so stroll on down and sit in the bar area before you go to your table. The food is honestly to die for and I spend all year looking forward to getting back and indulging in their magnificent dishes. It isn’t the chepaest restaurant but I promise you it is worth the few extra euros. This is a place not to be missed. Find more on their website.

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Head Waiter at Tanicós, Carlos, Killing it as usual

My ‘Tanicós’ Top Picks:

Starters:

Oxtail Pasties (My Favourite starter),

Sautéed black noodles with mushrooms, prawns and scallops

Main Course:

T-Bone for 2 – they used to serve this on a stone to cook yourself but had to discontinue it for safety reasons. They will still do it for you but cook it in the kitchen to your liking, which actually tasted almost better than when cooking it yourself. This is the most amazing meat I have ever eaten and I would strongly advise going for this option.

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T-Bone for 2, cooked rare

Dessert: 

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White Chocolate Soup with Orange Sponge Cake and Forest Fruit – Tanicós

Dry Martini, Gin Bar – Gin is all the trend at the moment, Dry Martini Fuengirola is leading the way with an extensive gin menu and perfect setting. It is a great spot to go and grab a drink before dinner with two central locations in Fuengirola, you are sure to be eating near one of them. I will add like most great spanish things, nothing is done in a hurry so leave yourself a good bit of time for your chalice of gin to be brought and constructed in front of you.

My ‘Dry Martini’ Top Picks

Martin Millar & Schweppes Light

or Brockmans (Raspberry flavour) & Schweppes Light.

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Gins at Dry Martini, Fuengirola

Fuengirola is total heaven for foodies if you are eating in the right places. Hopefully you will love Fuengirola and all of the food it has to offer as much as I do.

If you enjoyed this post and want to be kept up to date with all of my foodie adventures be sure to sign up for email updates at the end of this page.

Thanks for reading and see you in the next one,

The Girl on the Go xx

Inter-railing – Where I stayed and what I thought

Going Inter-railing this summer, but unsure where to stay? Here is a list of the places that I went to and where I stayed. Hopefully this information will make booking your accommodation a bit easier.

1. Netherlands, Amsterdam – ‘Hotel Van Gogh’

Cost per night: 37 euro/night pp. in July – room sleeps 6 (bunkbeds)

Location: Right beside the tram stop, which is a short 10 min tram ride to Vondelpark and the red light district. The Van Gogh Museum, the I am Amsterdam sign and the Rijksmuseum were a 3 minute walk away from the hostel.

Overall Impression: The place was really clean, and our rooms had a private bathroom. The place felt more like a hotel rather than a hostel. We all loved that we were right beside the tram so it was easy to get around.

Cooking facilities: No cooking facilities but you could pay for breakfast

Website: http://www.hotelvangogh.nl

2. Germany, Berlin – ‘The Generator’

Cost per night: 40 euro/night pp. in July – rooms slept 6 (bunkbed)

Location: Most of the clubs we went to were quite spread out so we always got a taxi but we were never that far away from them, and there was a underground train stop just beside the hostel.

Overall Impression: It was really clean and modern. It was more simple than Hotel Van Gogh but the rooms were probably a bit more spacious. There is a little courtyard with a bar which you can stay in until 12 (I think).

Cooking facilities: No, but you could pay for breakfast or there was a small café in front of the hostel that did sandwiches, soups and fries.

Website: https://generatorhostels.com/destinations/berlin/mitte?lang=en-GB

3. Czech Republic, Prague – ‘Old Town Square Apartments’

Cost per night: 27 euro/night pp. in July – apartments slept 6 (3 double beds)

Location: Was a short 5 minute walk from the Old Town Square, which was filled with restaurants, food carts, street performers and walking tours.

Overall Impression: The apartment I stayed in was really nice, it had three double beds a kitchen, big bathroom and a sitting area. However, my building didn’t have an elevator and we were on the second floor. So another reason that I would recommend a rucksack over a suitcase, for more tips on what to bring check out Interrailing – What to bring?. I really loved Prague despite the terrible weather when we were there. It should be a must on your trip.

Cooking Facilities: Yes, the apartment was fitted with a full kitchen and washing machines.

Website: http://www.old-town-square-apartments.com

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Prague from beer garden

4. Hungary, Budapest – ‘Pal’s Hotel and Apartments’

Cost per night: 21 euro/night pp. in July – apartment slept 6 or 8 people (all single beds)

Location: These apartments were in a great location, right beside the Szent István Basilica. Which was pretty central.

Overall Impression: DO NOT STAY HERE! We were staying on the 4th floor I think, and we came home one day to see that our apartment had been broken into. If it was someone who wasn’t staying in the hostel or apartments they would have had to walk past reception on the 3rd floor to get to our room. We demanded a refund and found an Airbnb elsewhere. The staff weren’t very helpful in dealing with the situation.

Cooking Facilities: Yes, there were cooking facilities. All of the apartments had their own kitchen.

Website: http://palshostel.com

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Széchenyi Lánchíd

5. Italy, Venice – Airbnb Apartment

Cost per night: 30 euro/night pp. in July (2 bedroom – 4 people)

Location: A two minute walk from Piazza San Marco. I couldn’t believe we found somewhere so cheap that was so central.

Overall Impression: Loved the accommodation we had a little kitchen which we made our breakfast in which was good for saving money. The people who owned the apartment came and met us at the main ferry stop and helped us with our luggage.  I couldn’t find the exact apartment on Airbnb to be able to link it, but we found loads of cheap places that looked lovely.

Cooking Facilities: Yes, we had a small kitchen in the apartment.

Website: https://www.airbnb.ca

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6. Slovenia, Lake Bled – ‘Hostel Bled Vila Viktorija’

Cost per night: 20 euro/night pp. in July – rooms slept 6 or 8 (bunkbeds)

Location: Perfect Location, just on the lake and a short 5 min walk to the main ‘town’ where you found all of the bars and a grocery store.

Overall Impression: This place was like a big house, my group of friends stayed in one room of 6 and another of 8. The room of 8 had their own bathroom, but the rooms of six had a bathroom across the hall way which was pretty much private but didn’t make a difference to us. This place offered Yoga on I think it was Monday nights and they had an ice-cream fridge and you could order coffees and sandwiches.

Cooking Facilities: Yes, there were cooking facilities in the basement of the house. Not the most glam kitchen but was perfectly clean and did the job.

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Lake Bell, Slovenia

Note: They only take cash, there is an ATM beside the supermarket just down the road.

After reflecting with all of my friends we all agreed that the apartments were a lot better than the hostels. Even though they were sometimes a bit more expensive, you end up saving a good bit of money when you can cook some of your meals, rather than having to eat out all of the time. If you have any more questions about Inter-railing or the accommodation feel free to comment.

Enjoy your trip!

The Girl on the Go xx

 

 

Mykonos – What you need to know before going

Booked your trip to Mykonos? Don’t know what to expect? Well here are a few tips that might help. Do bare in mind I was in Mykonos on a family holiday, so if you’re looking to hear about the night-life, unfortunately, you won’t find it here

Transport 1.0: There are little to no taxis on the island, so the ones that are around are madly expensive therefore I would try to avoid where possible. Our resort sent someone to come and collect us from the airport. It might be a good idea to contact your resort before you arrive and see if they provide a transfer.

Will you like it?: If you don’t like beaches, cancel your trip immediately. If you love beaches like me, change your flight to stay a week longer! The island is full of the most amazing beaches with white sand and crystal clear sea.

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Super Paradise beach

Where I stayed and why?: We stayed in Ornos, and I couldn’t recommend it more. It is a short but scenic drive along the coast of the island to Mykonos town. Ornos itself still has a really nice buzz about it and some cool beach clubs (usually really busy) and really nice restaurants close by. Although staying in Mykonos town seems like a good idea it usually gets very busy in the summer months with people getting off cruise ships to explore the city so I think you would be better to stay a bit outside the centre of Mykonos town.

Mykonos town and what it has to offer: Make sure you leave at LEAST one night to go into Mykonos town to eat and look around – it’s a lot bigger than you would think. We went in on 3 different nights and I still felt as though there were many things that  I didn’t see. If you like shopping in both little boutiques and for designer brands you will love Mykonos town. However, it is one of the most uncommercialised places I’ve ever been. All of the shops are in the most gorgeous white washed buildings so you can shop without losing the authenticity.

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Mykonos town

Transport 2.0: Most people rent quad bikes and little jeeps to get around the island, we got a little jeep for the 5 of us and I don’t think it was that expensive. The island is so small it is a short one hour drive to get all the way to the other side. I will warn you, the Greek people think the rules of the road are a loose concept, so do be careful and be expecting anything to happen. This meant we were able to go to a different beach nearly every day – I would highly recommend trying to go to at least two beaches during your stay. They are amazing.

DONUTS: Get a Nutella donut from the donut man that walks along the beach.

Weather and what to expect: I was in Mykonos at the end of June and around mid-day, the temperatures would soar. I love the heat and even I struggled with it, so if you are going to rent a sun bed in one of the beach clubs make sure there is an option to get into the shade and get a drink to cool down.

Food and drink, my favorites: If you are looking for a nice place to have dinner and have a drink I have two places for you. They aren’t exactly cheap but with spectacular food and drink and views that are even better they are definitely worth it.

  1. HippieFish – located in Agios Ioannis (Shirley Valentine beach)
  2. Any of the bars in ‘Little Venice’ in Mykonos town. Can’t remember the exact name of the one I went to but they all have outdoor terraces similar to the one pictured.

Note: Finally, the airport is tiny with one shop to buy spirits and some souvenirs so don’t leave gift shopping until last minute.

Have an amazing time and make the most of the laid back Greek culture! Until next time.

The Girl on the Go xx