canary islands travel guide: hike roque nublo and trek around tejeda

We spent much of Thanksgiving in the mountains of Gran Canaria, and it was probably my favorite day in the Canary Islands. We got up early that morning and drove up, up, up until we reached the beginning of the trail. The morning was crisp and a little chilly, but the sun was shining and the air was clean and invigorating.

It took us about 2 hours to get to the top, with frequent stops to take in the breathtaking scenery. At the top, it was clear enough that we could see all the way to the neighboring island, Tenerife.

On our way down the mountainside, we stopped in a tiny town called Tejeda, where we had a delicious lunch with a phenomenal view. We also picked up some freshly made pastries at Dulceria Nublo; the prices are so fair that we bought about 10 different sweet treats to taste. We bought one that had glazed oranges on top and it was pure heaven. 

Afterward, we wandered for a while around the quaint little town. My husband saw signs for a museum, so we followed the signs until we found the most unassuming museum you’ve ever seen. It was a house, white with bright green shutters and doors, and the proprietor was quite the character. He didn’t speak but two words of English, but he more than made up for it in enthusiasm and sound effects.

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The museum largely housed things that other people had deemed “junk”—ancient farming tools, vintage typewriters and Singer sewing machines, and Nazi propaganda. I only wish I had gotten video of this fella in action—words can’t even begin to describe him. It felt like we were stuck in some kind of hokey movie. It was definitely a unique experience.

This was our last full day in Gran Canaria, and my favorite day. The hiking was glorious, the views spectacular, the food incredible, and the weather perfect. Gran Canaria, with its varied landscapes and beaches, is worth a visit, at least once. I don’t feel the need to go back, but I’m glad that we went and experienced it. I think you would be, too.

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Canary Islands Travel Guide | Hike Roque Nublo

Canary Islands Travel Guide | Trek Around Tejeda

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canary islands travel guide: gran canaria beach guide

Beaches were at the forefront of my mind when I was reading up on the Canary Islands. There are tons of them (Gran Canaria is basically the Florida of Europe), but they are all a little bit different. The top five, according to my research, were:

Mogan Beach

Mogan Beach is fondly referred to as “Little Venice” by the locals because it’s tied together by charming little bridges. It’s a little horseshoe of a beach, much smaller than the three above, and part of me wishes we’d gone a little bit earlier in the day to enjoy it rather than saving it for our last night in Gran Canaria. The hubs and I followed some signs that were sprinkled throughout the alleyways off the main drag, all the way to the top of a lookout, which offered spectacular views of the beach and marina as the sun set. Again, the restaurants along the beach mostly offered the same things and catered mostly to tourists, but we couldn’t complain too much (plus I was tipsy on mojitos). Sitting next to us was a Nordic fellow who is essentially a snowbird—he spends half of his time in Norway and the colder months in his condo in Mogan—and to him, that place is paradise. I was only slightly jealous of his condo up in the hills with the rooftop terrace overlooking the water. (Only slightly jealous.)

 

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Agaete Beach

The defining feature of Agaete Beach is the natural tidal pools, about 1 km down from the main beach, that are filled with salt water (I don’t recall seeing the “main beach,” per se, as it was rather boulder-y along the water, but we did walk along a fairly lengthy boardwalk to get there). 

 

It’s not marked very well, and it took us a minute to realize we had actually arrived. The pools are completely natural and are linked by volcanic tubes. We spread out on an even part of what I can only assume is fossilized volcanic ash and sat there for a few hours, just breathing in the fresh air, and, if you were my husband, braving the chilly water for a swim. The ferry to Tenerife is also located in Aegete, if you’d like to skip over to the next island. There’s also an assortment of fresh fish eateries a little further inland.

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Neither the sun nor the wind was cooperating with us that day (HELLO, shadow of my arm!)

Amadores Beach

Umbrellas and lounge chairs dot the Caribbean-like white sand Amadores Beach. Along the boardwalk are tons of bars, shops, and restaurants, mostly catering to tourists, but the view is the perfect accompaniment to some Canarian potatoes or (even better, in my opinion) fried cheese with honey or jam. Amadores Beach is also one of the best places on the island to catch a beautiful sunset. 

Amadores Beach | Gran Canaria | Canary Islands

Maspalomas Beaches

The beaches themselves are surrounded by miles and miles of sand dunes. When we went to Maspalomas, our intent was to check out the dunes rather than the beaches—while we attempted to trek the hot-as-coals dunes in midday, the beaches in the far distance felt like a mirage. If you intend to trek the dunes all the way to the beach, I’d advise going in the morning and bringing lots and lots and lots of water. Wear a hat, wear closed-toed shoes, and slather on that sunscreen! If you would like to skip the dunes and aim straight for Maspalomas beaches, there seems to be plenty of parking!

Canary Islands Travel Tip | Prepare for Maspalomas | Wear closed-toe shoes

Playa de las Canteras

I think the biggest draw for Playa de las Canteras is that it’s great for swimming and snorkeling because it’s protected by a reef (I’ve heard rumors that certain areas aren’t so safe due to sharks—yikes!). There are also plentiful restaurants sprinkled along the boardwalk, so if you’ve got a hankering for a snack, there’s plenty there. It wasn’t my favorite beach in Gran Canaria, but it’s probably a good place to chill beachside with the family.

canary islands travel tip skip las palmas gran canaria playa de las canteras

Have you been to Gran Canaria? If so, what was your favorite beach? Tell me in the comments!

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canary islands travel tip: prepare for maspalomas

One of the best things about Gran Canaria is how varied the landscape is: You’ve got beaches, you’ve got mountains, and you’ve got insane dunes that make you feel like you’re in the Sahara, except you can see the water in the far distance, and it’s not a mirage.

Maspalomas was listed in our loose itinerary as a must-do; I’d already researched it, of course, but when we were renting our car from Hertz, we asked the guy helping us what were the things we couldn’t miss when we were in Gran Canaria. He said: Roque Nublo, Mogan, and Maspalomas.

We had the best of intentions where the Maspalomas dunes were concerned: We were going to get up early on our second morning in Gran Canaria, and we were going to see the dunes before the onslaught of people tarnished the pristine sands with footprint, and we were going to climb the dunes before it got too hot. Canary Islands Travel Tip | Prepare for Maspalomas | Go in the early morning, before the sand gets too hotWell, we did not get up when our alarms went off. We didn’t get up ’til maybe 10 a.m. that day. And by then, the sun was beating down, but we went anyway. The air above the dunes shimmered like it does off of pavement on a 100-degree day. Still, it was a sight to behold, all graceful hills and valleys, with nary a footprint in sight.

In Michigan, we have the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Traverse City, which is in the northwestern part of the state; with those, it’s up up up, you can see a view of the water (if you’re really ambitious, you walk down to the water, but it’s rather steep), and then you go back down down down, and you call it day. IMG_3681.jpgBut Maspalomas is a different beast. The dunes seem to stretch for miles. Instead of essentially being one big sandy hill like the Sleeping Bear Dunes, you go up and down and over and up and down and over again, and you feel like you’re no closer to the taunting, glimmering water in the distance, even after what seems like an eternity.

It also didn’t help that I wasn’t wearing shoes (I had only worn sandals that day, when I really should have probably brought my hiking shoes—that was admittedly stupid of me), so it felt like I was stepping over hot coals the entire time. When the heat became unbearable, I would burrow my feet in the sand until it became a little cooler, and I would just stand there and take it all in while my feet returned to a normal temperature. Then I was bust them out of their sand-cage and would continue on my trek. Canary Islands Travel Tip | Prepare for Maspalomas | Wear closed-toe shoesAnd let me tell you, it really did feel like what I imagine the Sahara desert to feel like. It wasn’t a sweltering day by any means—maybe 75 by the time we reached Maspalomas, but that sun was beating down and the sand just sucked in all of the sun’s rays like a greedy little bastard. I was maybe out there 10 minutes before I was a sweaty, chest-heaving mess. We’d only brought two bottles of water with us, and it was not enough.

The hubs wanted to go all the way to the water (“it’s not that far,” he insisted), but I was that whiny person who said no way, it’s not as close as it seems, and I will hate you if we go all the way there, and then we have to trek all the way back when the sun’s even higher in the sky and the temperature feels like it’s about a thousand degrees, and we’re out of water, and we die of heastroke.

Canary Islands Travel Tip | Prepare for Maspalomas | Brings lots of water with you, because it really does feel like you're in the Sahara
That big white building is where we started. I think this is as far as I got before I decided to turn around. The water appeared to be within reach, but in reality, it was probably several more miles before we would have reached it.

So I headed back to the sanctuary of the closest resort, running as fast as I dared over those dunes, realizing just how incredibly out of shape I really am, and I waited for my heart rate to slowly come back to normal while the hubs played in the sand some more. When he finally emerged from that sandy hell, his legs were darkened and covered in like three layers of sand. He said he ran down one of the bigger dunes and when he looked back, the wind had already covered his tracks so that it looked like he’d never been there, which is kind of crazy and kind of cool. Canary Islands Travel Tip | Prepare for Maspalomas | Maybe do some cardio beforehand ;)Now, I think if we had gotten up early like we’d planned, maybe even at sunrise (I’ve seen pictures of the dunes at sunrise, and it’s freaking beautiful, untouched and perfect), and had we brought about eight gallons of water with us, and had I worn the appropriate footwear, it would have been a much better experience. Don’t make my mistakes, guys; be better prepared then we were.

 

I had seen it recommended that you go at first light, but I wish that I had actually been properly warned that you MUST go at first light, or else your feet will go up in flames and you’ll melt until you’re one with the dunes (I’m exaggerating a little bit of course, but seriously, go first thing in the morning or you’ll be sorry; there—that’s a proper treat—erm, warning.)Canary Islands Travel Tip | Prepare for MaspalomasAll that being said, it was difficult not to be impressed and awed by it all. In those moments when my feet were burrowed in the sand, and I was just standing still and taking it all in, the silence would envelop me, and my mind would quiet for just a few moments, and I felt this fleeting sense of calm and peace.

If you do go to Gran Canaria, I do think it’s worth putting Maspalomas on your MUST DO list—just be prepared!

 

 

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Canary Islands Travel Guide | Prepare for Maspalomas Sand Dunes in Gran Canaria

Canary Islands Travel Tip | Prepare for Maspalomas | Pin for Later

canary islands travel tip: skip las palmas

So apparently Las Palmas is one of the most popular places in Gran Canaria. Blog posts told me so, Lonely Planet told me so, and so I assumed it must be true! They all made it seem like Las Palmas was kind of a big deal. I gotta be honest, though—I don’t really get the appeal. It was probably my least favorite area of the island. It was sort of like LA—kind of dingy, lined with expensive restaurants that seemed to offer subpar food, drunks sleeping it off on the beach behind the bathrooms—you get the picture.

The hubs and I spent the latter half of our first full day in Gran Canaria wandering aimlessly in Las Palmas. The Mercado del Puerto is supposed to be kind of a big deal, so we were interested in checking that out. We walked past it twice before realizing it was literally a courtyard with a few restaurants and a small market, which, unfortunately for us, was closed for the afternoon (“What are we supposed to do for hours each afternoon when all of the establishments are closed for lunch?” we Spoiled Americans exclaim in exasperation!).

canary islands travel tip skip las palmas gran canaria mercado del puerto

Anyway, I don’t know why, but I expected something on a slightly…grander scale, I guess, for a farmer’s market that was labeled a “must-visit.” I guess the thing to do there is tapas-crawling, which probably would have been cool…except, you know, it was closed when we were there (go on, Ashley, keep on beating that dead horse!).

I’d also come across several different people who said La Casa de los Quesos was a MUST. Guys, they have 150 varieties of cheese from mainland Spain and elsewhere! I told my husband, WE NEED TO GO TO THE HOUSE OF CHEESE. The only problem? Again, they didn’t open till 5:30, we were there at 2ish, and so we had several hours to kill. When we finally made it at promptly 5:30, I was more than ready to stuff my face with cheese. Guys, it’s a great place to pick up things for a picnic! That’s what the blogs told me, guys! I was led astray!

canary islands travel tip skip las palmas gran canaria playa de las canteras

The reality was much more disappointing…if they had 150 varieties of cheese, then I’m the Queen of England. The didn’t even have 100 blocks of cheese there. Forreal. They did have an extensive offering of wine, but, sorry, I didn’t go to the House of Cheese for wine. We spent like 5 minutes in there, and that was pushing it. I was so reluctant to believe the House of Cheese was a letdown…but that’s exactly what it was. And we essentially wasted like 2 hours in Las Palmas waiting for it to open. (I know, I know, I hear you playing your tiny violin.)

canary islands travel tip skip las palmas gran canaria playa de las canteras

Okay, so I shouldn’t say we wasted 2 hours. That’s not exactly true. We got some gelato and casually strolled along the Playa de las Canteras boardwalk for a while. I will say there are some very interesting buildings peppered along that stretch of shorefront. The sound of the waves accompanied us as we snapped photos of interesting things we came across—kind of an extension of our morning in Aguimes, except the polar opposite; where Aguimes was nearly silent, Las Palmas was bustling. (Supposedly, this stretch of beach is supposed to be one of the safest for swimming and snorkeling, if you’re into that sort of thing.) The sky turned indigo as we rested on one of the ocean-facing benches that line the boardwalk, and then we headed to the heretofore-named “Epic Fail” that is the House of Cheese.

canary islands travel tip skip las palmas gran canaria playa de las canteras

As part of my research about Gran Canaria, I also compiled a list of must-visit restaurants (I know—shocking!). While we were chilling at Mercado del Puerto with refreshing beverages, I’d set my sights on where we would be going for dinner. I may or may not have mentioned this before, but one of the things I do when I’m planning a trip is to plot all of the points on a Google map; I’ve found that it helps us make decisions on what we should do on a given day, or, as on this day, it helped us determine where we were going to eat dinner: Restaurante El Herreño. Lonely Planet said, “Don’t miss a visit to this atmospheric place with its cavernous dining rooms and well-prepared Canarian dishes at excellent prices. Kick-start your menu with a ración of mojo potatoes and then choose from a menu that reads like a book. The service is zippy and everything is freshly made – and fresh: the market is right across the street.” It sounds fantastic, no? 

Well, let me paint you a word-picture of our journey from Playa de las Canteras to Restaurante El Herreño: Our Tep wireless hotspot decided it didn’t want to work anymore, so getting directions to this place was like pulling teeth; I finally latched on to someone random person’s network in order to put the address into the GPS. We made it to the area with little problem, but once we got there, it was a confusing network of one-way streets with hardly anywhere to park. I think we circled around that joint like 5 times before we finally were able to find a place to park. We follow the blue dot on Google maps to our destination, only to discover that the restaurant was closed. And not just closed for the night—we came to discover it was permanently closed. But, you know, when I looked up this place at 2 o’clock that afternoon, did it say anything about the place being closed? Nope. It told me what time they opened and closed. That’s it. 

So by this point, I won’t sugarcoat it, we were both cranky over driving around in circles and well on our way to Hangry-town. (We kept joking, “This is all part of the experience,” but in the moment…we weren’t that amused. Hangry Ashley and Jeremy are not a good time, let me tell you.) I stood there staring at the “CLOSED” sign for a few minutes with my eyebrows forming question marks before turning my attention to the next restaurant, which is where we ended up eating. Who knows what we would have been willing to eat at that point—we were that hungry.

canary islands travel tip skip las palmas gran canaria restaurante marsala

BUT, the good news was, the restaurant we unwillingly stumbled upon was actually SUPER TASTY: Restaurante Marsala. Fresh bread with some kind of herb-y butter spread and water to start, and suddenly we felt like humans again, hooray! I had the pork tenderloin with fig jam and damn was it yummy! (I would share a picture of it, but I think I devoured it within 5 minutes of the waiter setting it down in front me…)

The restaurant’s location reminded me a little bit of Florence, just in that the wide cobblestoned street wasn’t navigable by car; it was sort of tucked away. We wandered a little farther into the darkness, away from the main road after we ate, curious as to what else was around there. For the most part, it was quiet and still. There was a church there, and I think perhaps a university? It was hard to tell. By then, we were just ready to go back to the hotel.

So I realize I’ve not painted the best picture of Gran Canaria in this post. Let me be clear: We had a perfectly lovely day. Aside from the stress of having unreliable internet and getting lost trying to find food we were desperate for, it was a lovely, aimless day spent in the company of my favorite person in the world. There are absolutely worse things.

But what I wanted to impress upon you with this post is that, in the grand scheme of things, and with all of the different things you can see on Gran Canaria (and there’s a surprising amount of different things to see and do on that little island), Las Palmas is very, very low on my list of must-dos and must-sees in Gran Canaria. If you find yourself with a day and you’ve got nothing to do, sure, check it out, but as you’ll find out in upcoming posts, there are some really cool things to see and do there that are much more worthy of your precious time.

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Canary Islands Travel Guide | Skip Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

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canary islands travel tip: explore the pastel-colored town of aguimes

I approached our trip to the Canary Islands a little differently than I have our other trips: I didn’t do much planning at all. I researched, of course, the best places to go and eat, but we had no specific itinerary: just a list of possible things to do. We looked at the list each night and decided what we do the next day.

On our first full day in Gran Canaria, we went in search of breakfast. I had read about a restaurant called El Populacho, which is on the corner of the main square in Aguimes.

Canary Islands Travel Tip | Aguimes, Gran Canaria

We had some difficulties finding our way around the island. Our WiFi hotspot was spotty and Google maps kept trying to send us down one-way roads in the wrong direction. After much time zigzagging on the mountainside, we finally gave up, parked on a random side-street, and came upon the restaurant quite by mistake.

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It was the first restaurant we came across when we emerged from the alley, and it wasn’t until we were seated and looking at the menu that I realized we were in fact at El Populacho, which gave us a good laugh.

The garbanzada (chickpea stew with bacon) was the recommended dish, but unfortunately, it wasn’t available when we were there, so we instead ordered the very delicious ropa vieja, which we enjoyed with a glass of fresh juice from sidewalk seating. 

Canary Islands Travel Tip | Have lunch at El Populacho in Aguimes, Gran Canaria

After we ate our meal, we merely wandered around Aguimes, which is known for its lovely pastel-colored buildings. 

An artist’s gallery caught our eye. The proprietor and artist-in-residence was originally a lawyer in Italy, who moved to Gran Canaria for a slower and less stressful life. He had a collection of lovely handmade leather products, as well as a selection of little knickknacks and souvenirs made from stones and hemp. The artist was lovely and spoke to us for a while, telling us about his life and his art.

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Afterwards, we merely walked through the narrow streets at a leisurely pace, snapping photos of the beautiful buildings. As I learned in Venice, sometimes the most enjoyable adventures are the leisurely ones where you have no specific thing to see and no specific place to be.

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This morning in Aguimes was no exception. If you love colorful architecture and love wandering charming foreign streets, Aguimes is a lovely way to pass a couple of hours in Gran Canaria.

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Canary Islands Travel Guide | Explore the Pastel-Colored Town of Aguimes on Gran Canaria

canary islands travel tip: check out amadores beach

Hey, guys! Happy New Year! We’ve been consistently in the negative digits here in Michigan, so I figure there’s no time like the present to tell you all about our Thanksgiving trip to the Canary Islands. Ah, how I would love to be there in the sun and surf right about now…

Amadores Beach | Gran Canaria | Canary Islands | Spain
Panoramic view of Amadores Beach in Gran Canaria

One thing about the Canary Islands: We literally felt like the only Americans there. We ran into a couple in Tejeda that sounded like they could be American (or maybe Canadian), but aside from that, we didn’t hear another American accent until we got to the airport to head to Lisbon, which was kind of a weird experience.

Sunset at Amadores Beach | Gran Canaria | Canary Islands | Spain

On our first day in Gran Canaria, determined to head off the jetlag, the hubs and I freshened up and headed to Amadores Beach. It’s one of the more touristy areas of the island, with lots of restaurants lined up along the beach that offer slight variations of the same menu, a hundred different loungers dotting the sand, and kids splashing around in the shallow surf.

Amadores Beach | Gran Canaria | Canary Islands | Spain

We stopped at one of the many beachside restaurants to have small bites and sangria. We tried the infamous papas arrugadas (Canarian wrinkly potatoes). A lot of bloggers raved about the wrinkly potatoes, but I gotta be honest—I don’t know what the draw is. They are literally boiled small potatoes with a sprinkle of sea salt and mojo sauce. A little underwhelming, I’m afraid, for being a local “delicacy.” However, the fried cheese topped with jam was super yummy. And the sangria—well, the sangria really hit the spot.

 

We grabbed some gelato after dinner and it was oh-so refreshing; we ate it leisurely as we strolled along the beach with our feet skimming the chilly water.

Sunset | Amadores Beach | Gran Canaria | Canary Islands | SpainSunset | Amadores Beach | Gran Canaria | Canary Islands | SpainSunset | Amadores Beach | Gran Canaria | Canary Islands | Spain

There’s a rock barrier that juts out into the water, protecting one side of the bay. We found an empty pair of lounge chairs and waited for the sun to set, and it was a lovely ending to our first day in Gran Canaria.

Sunset at Amadores Beach | Gran Canaria | Canary Islands | Spain

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Canary Islands Travel Guide | Check out Amadores Beach, Gran Canaria

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10 things i learned about portugal during our recent trip

The hubs and I went to Portugal on a whim. I came across a deal on Travelzoo for a 7-day trip to the Canary Islands and Lisbon, and I could not pass it up. I had a feeling we would love Portugal, but I had no idea how much we would love it or how freaking fascinating it would be. Here are 10 things I learned about Portugal during our visit:

  1. The Portuguese were among the first to put tiles on the outside of their houses; they did this to protect houses from the humidity, but it soon became a characteristic of the country; “original” Portuguese tiles are blue and white only, but you’ll see tiles of every color throughout the country; the neighborhood of Chiado in Lisbon is well-known for its beautiful tiled houses.

    10 Thing I Learned About Lisbon | The Portuguese were among the first to put tiles on the outside of the house to protect against humidity.
    Libson, Portugal | Beautiful tiled homes are prevalent in the Chaido neighborhood.
  2. 70% of cork is exported from Portugal.
  3. Ian Fleming’s visit to Estoril Casino was the inspiration for 007 and Casino Royale
  4. The Freemasons shaped Porgual into what it is today and still have a major presence in Portugal.
  5. Lisbon had its very own Jack the Ripper; Diogo Alves would loiter on the aqueduct until nightfall, rob those crossing the aqueduct, and then push them to their deaths; he murdered 70 people; his severed head is preserved and on display at the University of Lisbon’s Medical School.

    10 Things I Learned About Portugal | In the late 1800s, they had a serial killer who would rob farmers crossing the aqueduct and then push them off into the depths of the water below.
    Lisbon, Portugal | The aqueduct.
  6. On November 1, 1755, the worst earthquake in Lisbon’s history (seismologists estimate a 9-point magnitude), followed by an enormous tsunami, almost completely destroyed the city, taking approximately 70,000 lives and destroying most of the city; the aqueduct, however, miraculously survived.
  7. Portugal has a bridge similar to the Golden Gate Bridge, which connects Lisbon to Almada and is suspended over the Tagus River; it was designed by the same architect, who designed San Francisco’s famous bridge, but it is longer and shorter; its moniker is the “25 de Abril” to commemorate the Carnation Revolution.
  8. Portugal was the birthplace of some of the world’s first explorers during the 15th and 16th centuries; the Monument of Discoveries in Belem celebrates these early explorations.
  9. The westernmost point in Europe is in Portugal; early explorers thought it truly was the end of the world. 

    10 Things I Learned About Portugal | The westernmost point of Europe is Cabo da Roca, Portugal
    Cabo da Roca, Portugal | The westernmost point of Europe.
  10. Portugal is a very progressive country; they’ve legalized gay marriage (they were the 8th country in the world and the 6th in Europe to do so) and abortion, and they want to legalize marijuana and prostitution as well (so that prostitutes have access to better healthcare).

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10 Interesting Things I Learned About Portugal

i’ve been nominated for the liebster award 2017!

Last week, I was honored to be nominated for not just one but TWO Liebster Awards. Huge thanks to the Wandering Gaels and Creating Katherine for the nominations—you guys made my year!

The Wandering Gaels are two friends who are exploring their heritage by visiting the stomping grounds of their ancestors. Their blog features beautiful landscape shots and hunger-inducing photos of food they’ve eaten along the way. I especially like this post the gaels did on “The Most Haunted Places in Ireland“—so interesting and unique!

Katherine (of Creating Katherine) is originally from the UK but is now an expat living in Rome (I’m so jealous!). She writes about what it’s like to live in Italy, but she also covers a myriad of other topics, like technology and style. I especially like (and agree with) her blog post: “10 Reasons Everybody Should Visit Rome (At Least Once) in Their Life!

What is the Liebster Award?

I will be completely honest with you—I didn’t know what the Liebster Award was until I was nominated. I wouldn’t say it’s an “award,” really, but instead, a recognition that one blogger gives to another blogger who may not have as many viewers as they deserve, which is fabulous.

What are the rules?

The rules for nominating a blogger for a Liebster Award, as outlined by the Global Aussie are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you. (See above! ;))
  2. Display the award on your blog.
  3. Write a post about a blog that is not your own (150-300 words).
  4. Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 blogs who have fewer than 200 followers.
  6. List these rules in your post.
  7. Inform the people/blogs you nominated that they’ve been, well, nominated!

Who is my favorite blogger?

I’m a big fan of World Nate and Intrepid Introvert. I know I’m technically only supposed to write about one blog, but these two are kind of a package deal.

They are a boyfriend-girlfriend team of digital nomads who quit their boring 9-to-5s (Nate was a plumber and Hannah was an accountant in New Zealand) and now they travel the world and make money while doing it!

Nate does blog posts but they’re supplemented by videos, which I find quite enjoyable. Hannah is a self-proclaimed introvert who writes posts about what it’s like for a person who is less-than-outgoing to travel the world—I appreciate her unique approach to travel; she’s really nailed down her niche!

Though Nate and Hannah write about the same experiences on both their blogs, they both bring a unique point of view and an awesome sense of humor to the proceedings.

They also have offered webinars and teaching materials (their Behind Closed Doors program), which gives aspiring digital nomads tips for making money while traveling full-time, including but not limited to growing your online presence using social media.

10 random facts about myself

  1. I had never left the country until 5 years ago (not even Canada, and it’s literally just over the Blue Water Bridge).
  2. In the last 5 years, I have been to 13 different countries.
  3. Of all the countries I’ve been to (so far), Italy is my favorite, but Portugal is coming in at a close second!
  4. I am an avid reader and have read 80 books this year.
  5. “The dream” is to travel more often and blog full-time.
  6. My full-time job is as an Intellectual Property Analyst for an academic publisher (it’s okay if you don’t know what that is; most of my family don’t know what I do, either! ;))
  7. I love to experiment in the kitchen.
  8. I must eat gelato in every country I visit. Gelato is life.
  9. I love cheese. ALL OF THE CHEESE.
  10. I love bicycles, Vespas, owls, and the Eiffel Tower (they are all over my house).

Questions asked by Wandering Gaels

Q: Why did you start your travel blog?

A: When I was younger, I loved to write, but as I grew older I lost the inspiration. I realized the trick is to find something that I’m passionate about—turns out once I did, the act writing was a breeze! My travel blog allows me to combine all of my passions: writing, traveling, and photography.

Q: What is your favorite post that you’ve written, and why?

A: I would say my first post, “How to Plan an Epic Trip in 6 Steps,” simply because it was the beginning of it all. 🙂

Q: Who would you most like to see in an airport, and why?

A: Probably Mindy Kaling, or maybe Ryan Reynolds and/or Blake Lively.

Q: What do you think of selfie sticks?

A: Super annoying, but I can’t deny I’ve found it useful when the hubs and I are traveling and want to take pictures together.

Q: How do you decide where to travel?

A: It varies. For our first trip, I just knew I wanted to see Europe. For our second big trip, I knew which places I wanted to revisit (France and Italy) and decided to go to Spain as well. For my third big trip (which was my mom’s first time in Europe), I decided upon Italy because it’s got the trifecta: it’s beautiful, the people are awesome, and the food is phenom. Our most recent trip started as a “Spain” search and ended up as a Canary Islands/Lisbon trip. I suppose it also depends on when we can go, how much vacation time we have, and what our budget is.

Q: What is the thing you miss most about home while traveling?

A: Easy. Our doggies.

Q: How has travel changed you?

A: It’s definitely made me more adventurous, more open to new places and things. I think it’s made me a more well-rounded person. And I also believe that “wanderlust” is a very real thing and has lived inside me all along; it just wasn’t “awakened” until I went to Europe for my first grand adventure.

Q: Do you have a guilty pleasure while traveling?

A: See above comment about eating gelato every day in every country (sometimes twice a day). Gelato really is life.

Q: What is the number 1 place on your travel bucket list?

A: Australia and New Zealand

Q: What’s your travel style (off the beaten path, popular sites, sand and sun, adventure, nature-lover, etc.)?

A: I like to have a healthy combination of popular sites and off-the-beaten-path things. The popular sites are popular for good reason, right? There’s a reason millions of people flock to them every day. And for a lot of those things, I prefer guided tours; I feel like I get the most out of the experience that way. I like to know the history, the stories behind sites and architecture and towns. But I also make it a point to search “unique” things to see in each place I go to. I’ve found some real gems with those recs.

Q: How do you like to travel? (Solo, in groups, with partner, family, budget or luxury?

A: I don’t love traveling solo. I love traveling with my husband, and I’ve also had a blast going on “girls trips.” I definitely lean toward the “budget” side (this is a blog about how to have affordable adventures, after all), not only because it allows us to travel more, but because the trappings don’t always make the trip for me. We could spend money on top-notch hotels, but unless we’re going to a beach destination or something, we’re not spending a lot of time at the hotel; we’re pretty much just there to sleep and shower. That being said, we still manage to do all the things we want to do and don’t count pennies (for the most part) when we’re traveling.

Questions asked by Creating Catherine

Q: If you had to choose one, which photograph from your travels is your favorite?

A: Holy crap, that’s a really difficult question! Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve got some pretty awesome pics from my travels! 😉 If I had to choose one, I would say this photo of my husband and me in front of the Eiffel Tower, not because it’s a particularly stellar photo, but because it was taken moments after he proposed to me. 🙂

What's my favorite photo from my travels? This one of my husband and me, just after he proposed.

Q: Do you prefer traveling to one destination and immersing yourself into the culture, or hopping from place to place trying to see as much as possible?

A: I try to walk somewhere in between, but more often than not, I’m hopping from place to place. The hubs and I both have full-time jobs, and we’re only afforded so much vacation time every year, so we try to see as much as possible.

Q: What is your number one travel essential? (Aside from necessary sanitary items.)

A: A Wi-Fi hotspot. It is a game-changer. It’s cheaper than using data internationally, and we don’t have to worry about finding an establishment that offers Wi-Fi if we find ourselves desperately in need of it (i.e., for directions or for calling people if we need to).

Q: Tea or Coffee?

A: Definitely tea. Coffee is gross. (I realize I’m in the minority about that, though!)

Q: Which destination has surprised you the most during your travels? Was this surprise good or bad?

A: Probably Lisbon. We had a feeling we would like it, just based on all of the hype it’s been getting in the last few years, but we didn’t expect to love it as much as we do. We can’t wait to go back! I would love to spend a whole week (at least) just exploring Portugal.

20171125_100307

Q: What’s the most unusual dish you have ever eaten?

A: I had to really psych myself up to eat escargot in France and tripe in Italy. I realize that’s probably not super unusual to most of you, but it was certainly unusual to me!

Q: What’s your favorite thing about Christmastime?

A: The lights! And the cookies!

Q: Who do you consider your biggest inspiration?

A: All of you digital nomads and expats. You’re living the dream!

Q: What’s your favorite cocktail?

A: Mojitos!

Q: How would you most like to be remembered?

A: As a generous, loving, adventurous spirit.

Q: Which film can you watch again and again?

A: There are too many to count, but since it’s Christmastime, I’ll go with a holiday movie: “The Holiday.”

My nominees for the Liebster Award (aka the 5 blogs you must check out immediately)

  1. Savvy Roving: Savannah and I have actually crossed paths in college and in the publishing world. Savannah is currently living the dream: she’s living in Italy, bopping around Europe, and she’s writing full-time.
  2. Time Travel Turtle: I was quite shocked to see that this site has fewer than 200 followers! Michael’s website is fantastic. He is a full-time digital nomad who explores touristy things but also features awesome things that are a little more off the beaten path (he hates queues). His homepage features a map that allows you to search by country (which suits my OCD very well)—he has been to 61 countries and has told (so far) 850 stories about his travels.
  3. Oh, the Places I Will Go!: For one thing, I love that her blog title is inspired by Dr. Seuss. I especially like her post “What I Learned from Traveling Around the World.” It gives some great advice, from “It’s OK to Go Back” to “Have an Empty Passport.” I had actually never thought about what would happen if I ran out of pages in my passport. I think what I value most about her blog posts, though, is her honesty: she’s completely transparent about the ups and downs of long-term travel, from how exhausting it can be to how amazing it can be.
  4. Into Foreign Lands: What I love most about Megan’s blog is the way that she writes. Her blogs posts are informative, sure, but above all, it is clear that Megan is a world-class storyteller; her posts read more as short stories (see, for example, her post on traveling solo to South Korea). I was immediately hooked, and you will be, too.
  5. Young Adventuress: I stumbled upon Liz’s blog when I was searching for info on Australia and New Zealand—and I quickly discovered that while that info is uber-helpful, there is so much more to love about Liz’s blog—not the least of which is her sense of humor (she has a whole section on “Where I screwed up big time,” which is hilarious; see her post on getting naked in Istanbul).

And now, my questions for the Liebster award nominees…

  1. What’s your absolute favorite place in the world?
  2. What is your least favorite place that you’ve visited?
  3. What’s the biggest item on your travel bucket list?
  4. What do you love most about traveling?
  5. What’s your favorite book about travel? (It doesn’t have to be a how-to; in fact, I’d prefer if it wasn’t. Are there any books that take place in foreign lands that you love or that inspired you to go to a certain place? I want to know!)
  6. If you had to choose just one picture from your travels, which one is your favorite and why? (Thanks for the question, Wandering Gaels!)
  7. What kind of traveler are you? (Budget or luxury? Indoor or outdoor? Adventure or museum-going?)
  8. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on your travels?
  9. What’s the #1 thing travelers should know about?
  10. What inspires you?

 

16 awesome & unique gift ideas for the globetrotter in your life

To get into the spirit of the holidays, I thought I’d put together a list of awesome gift ideas for the world traveler in your life. (This list can also be subtly known as ‘a list of awesome gifts for Ashley—wink, wink.) But seriously, this list contains some practical gifts and other thoughtful/unusual gifts you can give this Christmas to your wanderlusting loved ones—or any other time of the year, for that matter! Giving doesn’t have to be limited to Christmas! 😉

Luggage

For the person who carries his life on his back: An antitheft backpack.

It’s water-repellent! It has a built-in charger! It has hidden, zippered compartments! It’ll help you stay organized! And it has “illuminating safety strips” so you don’t, you know, get run over by a car or trampled by a heard of gazelles when you’re journeying across foreign lands!

16 awesome gifts for the globetrotter in your life | antitheft backpack
Source: http://www.myantitheftbackpack.com

Or, for the woman who would like an anti-theft purse: This anti-theft purse from Travelon.

It comes in a variety of colors and two different sizes, the cross-body bucket bag and the smaller messenger bag. They feature locking zipper tags, interior RIFD blocking slots and pockets for money and credit cards, several different compartments including two expandable side pockets for beverages or umbrellas, and slash-resistant straps and bodies. It’s also waterproof, which is a huge plus! Your valuables won’t get drenched if you’re caught in the rain! They’re also pretty good-looking for such a practical and useful travel item!

For the person who could really use a nice carry-on suitcase: An Away carry-on.

If you’re independently wealthy and feel like being generous, gift one of these awesome carry-on bags, which retail at $225 for the carry-on size. Not the cheapest luggage on the market, I’ll grant you that, but people seem to love the things—look at that 4.9 rating! It’s hard-sided so nothing inside gets squished (yet it’s still lightweight), it’s got 360-degree wheels, a built-in combination lock, and a built-in battery so you can charge your phone (the battery is also easy to remove, as airlines like American begin to not accept smart luggage unless the battery can be removed if the bag needs to be checked).

16 awesome gifts for the world traveler in your life | Away Luggage
Source: http://www.awaytravel.com

Organizers

For the person who totes 30 pounds of electronics while they travel: A travel cord roll.

It’ll keep your cords from becoming a jungle, and it rolls up tidily so it doesn’t take up too much room in your luggage. Currently, I use an eyeglass case to hold my various cords while I’m traveling, but this is so much more attractive!

16 awesome gifts for the traveler in your life | Travel cord roll
Source: http://www.uncommongoods.com

For the light packer: A set of packing cubes.

I’ll admit I have not tried these before (though I’ve been tempted to), but a lot of articles I read about light packing list packing cubes such as these as essential to achieving that task. These travel cubes not only help compress your goods but also keeps it all organized so you’re not always rifling through your suitcase trying to find that one thing.

16 awesome gifts for the globetrotter in your life | Packing cubes
Source: http://www.amazon.com

For the person who likes to keep all their important shit together: A leather passport cover and wallet.

Keep all your most important docs, along with your credit cards and money, all in one handy-dandy place. Plus, it’s just so cute and whimsical! And it’s named after Amelia Earhart!

16 awesome gifts for the traveler in your life | Personalized leather passport cover and travel wallet
Source: ShopAlwaysRooney/www.etsy.com

Or, for the person who is paranoid about their information being stolen (and rightfully so): This RFID Blocking Passport Holder and Wallet, available in a variety of colors.

I tend to just carry my money and wallets around in a little coin purse, with the credit cards in one of those RFID-blocking sleeves, but this is just so much more attractive—and I imagine it’s a little more organized than having to root around for stuff in a tiny little coin purse—just sayin’.

16 awesome travel gifts | RFID travel wallet and passport holder
Source: http://www.amazon.com

For the wine lover: Wine Skins.

I once had a bottle of wine break in my suitcase—no lie. It was the white and not the red wine, thank God, but it still sucked to have everything in my suitcase soaked with wine and glass shards, in addition to wasting really good wine! So if you know someone who likes to bring home wine as their favorite souvenir, get them some of these Wine Skins. Not only do they protect the wine bottle from breaking, but also, if the bottle still happens to break despite the bubble wrap, it seals at the bottom so that your wine does not soak all of your clothes—how great is that! Plus, if the worst does happen to you (RIP wine bottle), you can open the Wine Skin and pour the wine through a coffee filter and still drink it! Win-win!

16 awesome travel gifts | Wine Skin, for the winelover in your life!
Source: http://www.wineskin.net

Apparel

For the person who wants everything within easy reach: A sweatshirt or jacket that has 15 “amazing features” (as touted by their website)!

I actually bought my husband the sweatshirt for his birthday in preparation for our Canary Islands/Lisbon trip. I remember seeing the ad for these when they were doing their Kickstarter campaign and thinking to myself, Wow, that’s super cool—but is it really worth $200?! Well, now all of their apparel is on sale, so it’s a much easier pill to swallow. Plus, the hubs loved it—his headphones were easy to reach, there’s a built-in travel pillow that blows up in literally two blows (or maybe three, depending on your lung compacity), a built-in eyemask, a neat passport pocket, a tablet pocket—even a drink pocket!

16 awesome travel gifts | Baubax travel jacket with 15 features!
Source: http://www.baubax.com

For the person who is always vacillating between hot and cold: A blanket scarf.

It’s fashionable, but it also keeps her warm. It can be dressed up or dressed down. It can be worn as a scarf or a wrap if she gets cold, or if she’s, say, going into a church and needs to cover her shoulders, and it’s small and light enough that you can carry it with you in a purse or backpack without it weighing you down—so it’s always handy.

16 awesome travel gifts | Blanket scarf
Source: LovebyLudmila/www.etsy.com

Books

For the traveler who enjoys writing: Leatherbound travel journal.

Who knows, maybe you’ll be a famous writer someday, and when you’re dead, someone will happen across this really awesome leatherbound travel journal and will read about all your awesome adventures (wow, that got dark; I don’t know why, but Hemingway really comes to mind as someone who would have had a leatherbound travel journal). But seriously, if your loved one is one of those lovely travelers who clings to that pen-on-paper feeling, I guarantee you this is a quality and personal gift he or she will love.

16 awesome gifts for globetrotters | Leatherbound travel journal
“I don’t know how to put this but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me. I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” – Ron Burgundy http://www.amazon.com

For the foodie in your life: The The World Atlas of Street Food.

If food is your favorite traveler’s favorite part of traveling and they long for that authentic culinary experience, get them this book. It’ll help them avoid tourist traps, fast-food chains, and less-than-stellar food. Plus, I don’t know about you, but street food has been some of the most delicious food I’ve ever put in my mouth. (Food trucks—how do you do it? What’s your secret? Why is your food so amazing?)

16 awesome travel gifts | World Atlas of Street Food
The World Atlas of Street Food by Sue Quinn & Carol Wilson Source: http://www.amazon.com

For the person who is a nervous poo-er: How to Shit Around the World.

Or, I guess, for the person who wants to stay healthy while they travel. (Mostly, I just appreciate this for its name—it tickles me because I am essentially a 12-year-old boy who thinks poop is hilarious. Or, at least, that’s what got me to click on the link.) It tackles problems like traveler’s diarrhea, unhealthy water, and weird foods, just to name a few (or to name the first three in the TOC, if I’m being honest).

how-to-shit-around-the-world-awesome-travel-gifts
How to Shit Around the World by Dr. Jane Wilson-Howarth Source: http://www.amazon.com

Home Decor

For the person who likes to travel AND decorate:

A world travel poster where you scratch off the places you’ve been, OR this fingerprint world map, which puts kind of a fun spin on a visual representation of all the places you’ve jet-setted to!

One of my favorite (personal) gifts the hubs and I got at our wedding shower was this world map, where we put pins into each country we’ve been to (it’s a little outdated). In case you’re wondering, the heart is somewhere approximating Paris, because that’s where the hubs proposed to me.

where-youve-been-map-awesome-travel-gifts

Anyhow, if you or your loved one are visual people like me, it’s pretty cool to have a visual representation of where you’ve been in the world, and the maps I linked to above are artsy, attractive ways to show folks just how worldly you are!

16 awesome travel gifts | Scratch-off world map
Source: http://www.amazon.com
16 awesome gifts for the world traveller in your life | Thumbprint world map
Source: bleudetoi/www.etsy.com

A custom map of your loved one’s favorite place in the world.

Personally, I love wall art like this—it’s abstract, it’s attractive, but it is still meaningful for the owner or recipient because it represents their happy place. Plus, you can get it in your loved one’s favorite color for an added touch of personalization.

16 awesome travel gifts | Map Art
Source: TheMapCollection/www.etsy.com

Jewelry

Now, this might seem like a weird one, but I for one love unique pieces of jewelry—and if they speak to my love of travel, even better! I came across these when I was browsing on Etsy; they’re all rather unique, which is cool—the chances of someone else you know having it is slim to none (unless you’ve both using this gift guide anyway).

A paper airplane necklace with initial: This one just screams whimsy to me, while the initial makes it a little more personal.

16 awesome travel gifts | Paper airplane necklace with initial
Source: LeBuaJewelrytoo/www.etsy.com

An airplane necklace, gold with cubic zirconia accents: It’s not a stretch to say that airplanes represent global travel, so get this for the girl who loves cute, feminine jewelry and loves adventuring.

16 awesome gifts for the globetrotter in your life | Airplane necklace with cubic zirconia
Source: WanderandLustJewelry/www.etsy.com

These world map earrings. How cute are they?

16 awesome travel gift ideas | World map earrings
Source: Bubblebox/www.etsy.com

Etsy has no shortage of awesome and unique gifts for wanderlusters. Go to their homepage and check out the “Wanderluster” category (see bottom right-hand corner)—it’s where I found most of these jewelry pieces!

16 awesome gifts for wanderlusters | Check out Etsy
Source: http://www.etsy.com

Gift Cards

I know some people are of the belief that gift cards are not personal gifts. I respect that. I do. I’m just not one of those people. If you’re coming up empty on gifts to get your globetrotter, gift cards are a perfectly acceptable option—you can give Airbnb gift cards, or gift cards for their airline of choice, or even those gift cards that are essentially credit cards you can refill because then they can take it on their trip with them—and that, to me, is still a very personal gift, and one the world traveler will certainly appreciate! If your loved one values experience over material objects, short of paying for a trip for them, gift cards are the next best thing!

Got any other awesome travel-related gift ideas? I’d love to hear them! What would you get for the wanderluster in your life? Or what would YOU want for your travels?

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16 Totally Awesome & Unique Gifts for Your Favorite Globetrotter

the pros and cons of booking a trip with travelzoo

In July, I came across an incredible deal on a site called Travelzoo—I can’t remember the specifics anymore, but it was something like $599 for airfare, hotel, and car rental for 5 nights in Italy. It popped up on my Facebook feed, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I sprinted down the stairs to show my husband, and we looked at each other wide-eyed and knew we could not pass up such a good deal.

We were all ready to book; however, as you may know, I had just been in Italy in May, and though I love Italy, I also liked the idea of going somewhere new. The hubs and I had talked not long before about our love for Barcelona and our desire to go back to Spain, so I searched “Spain” on Travelzoo to see what would come up, and I stumbled upon a deal for the Canary Islands and Lisbon. $799 per person for 7 nights in a hotel plus airfare. Did it seem too good to be true? A little. Did we book anyway? Hell yes.

So that is how we came to spend the week of Thanksgiving galavanting around Gran Canaria and Lisbon. Here are the pros and cons of booking the trip with TravelZoo:

The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Think of this as the Sahara desert, except you can see civilization and water (it's not just a mirage!)
Think of this as the Sahara desert, except you can see civilization and water (it’s not just a mirage!) Maspalomas Sand Dunes, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Territory of Spain

 

 

 

Pro: Extremely good bang for our buck.

To put this in perspective: Airfare to Italy alone cost me $800 when I went in May, so the fact that international airfare and hotel were bundled together for the same price was unfathomable.

The pros and and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Pro: It was seriously inexpensive!
Agaete Beach: About 1 km from the main beach you can find tidal pools that are filled with seat water – seriously fun to swim in!

 

Con: Our “discount” tickets meant that our checked luggage was ridiculously expensive.

So, I checked the TAP Portugal website for information on luggage, and all I found were their parameters for carryon luggage (smaller than usual and up to 8 kg in weight). We figured the fee for checked baggage would be somewhere in the $20-$30 range like it would be with other airlines; however, we got an unpleasant surprise when we checked in and they told us our checked bag was going to cost us $90! Thank God we only had one checked bag for both of us! I do wish the fine print on the trip would have warned us that we had discount tickets and thus that the baggage fee would be higher; we would have packed two smaller bags instead of sharing a larger one.

Pro: The trip took us to places we ordinarily might not have considered visiting.

I will admit it took a little convincing on my part to get the hubs on board. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Let’s go to the Canary Islands and Lisbon!

Him: But why? What’s there? I don’t know anything about the Canary Islands or Lisbon!

Me: Me either! That’s the fun of it! We’d be going somewhere completely new and unknown!

Did I win this argument? Not to sound cocky, but of course I did. It’s not the first time I’ve had to convince my husband that a particular trip would be awesome.

Gran Canaria was beautiful. We loved exploring all the little towns. We loved hiking Roque Nublo. We had some seriously good food. (But more on that later.)

The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Con: We couldn't alter how many days we spent in each place. 
From São Jorge Castle (or St. George’s Castle), you can see all of Lisbon from above. Unfortunately, it was rainy/foggy when we were up there, but in my opinion, it’s still a beautiful sight.

And Lisbon…Lisbon was amazing. I really miss it, actually, and really want to go back. Which leads me to…

 

Con: We couldn’t alter how many days we spent in each place.

We were kind of held hostage to the booking agency’s schedule. If we had planned the trip ourselves, we might have spent one less day in Gran Canaria and one more day in Lisbon. Gran Canaria was great and I’m glad that we went, but it’s sort of like Europe’s Florida: It’s where the Brits and the Germans go for sun and fun on the beaches. Lisbon had so much character. I could have walked around that town for ages. (But again…more on that later! ;))

Considering everything, would we book again using Travelzoo?

Yes, I think we would. It was a really inexpensive and fun trip for us.

I’ll admit, you get what you pay for. The hotels we stayed in weren’t anything special, but they were clean, which is all I really need (no bed bugs, please; I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I never want to do it again). We don’t spend a lot of time in our hotel rooms anyway; we’re out on the town all day long and only really need a clean place to sleep and shower. Plus, we’re all about having epic adventures on a budget! Even with the steep checked baggage fee and the car we rented for Gran Canaria, plus our tickets to and from Boston (since that was the trip’s departure city), the trip itself was really inexpensive. I’ll give you a little breakdown of what we spent:

Trip x 2 at $799 pp, including airfare and hotel: $1,598 (+ $180 for checked bag)

Car Rental for 4 days, plus insurance: $120

Tickets to and from Boston x 2 at $91 pp: $182

Travel insurance x 2: $157

Excursions with We Hate Tourism Lisbon for 2: $239.74

Total: $2,476.74

Again, to put this in perspective, when we flew in and out of Paris in 2015, JUST AIRFARE cost $2,738.88. We got all of that for less than just the price of airfare—isn’t that nuts?!

The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Cons: Not enough time in Portugal!
Lighthouse situated at Cabo da Roca, Portugal, the westernmost point of Europe. Early explorers truly thought it was the end of the earth.

 

The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Cons: Not enough time in Portugal!
Cliffside in Cabo da Roca, Portugal. Stunning view. Photos don’t even come close to doing it justice.
The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Cons: Not enough time in Portugal!
They call it “female mouse beach”; it’s one of the premier places to surf in Portugal. We were there on a less-breezy-than-usual day and still the waves were wicked!

Of course, this doesn’t take food and souvenier-buying into consideration. Admittedly, we ate very well during our weeklong sojourn, so we spent a little more on food than we ordinarily might have, but even still, it was 100% worth it. We got to have an awesome adventure, and we didn’t break the bank. I’d say that’s a win-win!

Have you booked a trip using Travelzoo or a similar site? What was your experience? Was it worth it? Did you regret it? What would you change about the trip? Tell me! I want to know!

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