alicekatex | travel and lifestyle♡

Travel and lifestyle blog. Used to do beauty and throw some in for good measure now and again.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Lisbon | A guide and why you should visit!



A few weeks ago, I went on a city break to Lisbon in Portugal with my friend. We had a great time and I would recommend it as a city break for all ages and tastes!
There are various areas in the city; apart from the centre, the most famous areas are Bairro Alto, Alfama and Belem.

Things to do

Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto is great for tapas bars, nightlife and cute brunch places. The vibe is very young and fun, however we didn't visit during the weekend, so we didn't go clubbing. Despite this, we went for tapas and drinks. We also went to Park rooftop bar which is a must-visit for a fab sunset view.


There is literally something for everyone, whether you require a quiet drink or a party.
Another view (didnt get a photo, sorry!) was the Miradouro view. We didn't see it anywhere on the internet, but as it was so close to our Air BnB, we accidentally bumped into it. There was such an amazing atmosphere. It's full of young people who bring their own drinks and relax watching the sunset.
I am unsure what this view is called, but it appears on many postcards from Lisbon. You can pay to take a ride in the tram that takes you up this steep hill, if you're feeling lazy.


Alfama
Alfama is great for just wandering around the streets and climbing (many of the) hills! The castle is near here which is one of the biggest tourist attractions. It is a very quiet, peaceful place. As you head on over here, be sure to stop at the famous Castelo de S Jorge. There is a secret elevador (lift) next to the Pingo Doce supermarket that takes you up there. We sat and had a glass of wine and an ice cream overlooking the beautiful city, at the Restaurante Zambeze Gastronomia.

Central
I don't think this area has a specific name (correct me if I am wrong!), but I am referring to the area near the 'Praca de Comercio' (Commercial square). Many of the free walking tours show you around this area, giving you the historical information of the city's squares and monuments. I think walking tours are such a great, efficient way of seeing a city! These tours introduce you to other tours you can do; of other places such as Alfama and Belem, as well as tapas tours and bar crawls.
The central area is also where the popular chain shops lie, if you're after a bit of retail therapy. This area also holds the Time Out market (more in the food section)
If it is views you are after, you can go up the Santa Justa lift. This links different levels of the city and a top tip is to reach it from the Carmo Archaelogical Museum (church ruins). You get most of the way up, great views and it is FREE! Most people queue at the bottom and pay to go to the top, but this is really not necessary!


Belem
You can take the number 15 tram to Belem (although we got offered a $5 each tuk tuk which in hindsight we should've taken as the tram was rather busy and sweaty!) You must be careful of pick pocketers on these trams - so we were told by locals and online.
As we got off the tram, we walked through the beautiful gardens past the gorgeous monastery! It was such a sunny day too which always makes a difference.
 

Me wandering through the beautiful gardens in Belem, near the monastrey








We then made our way to the famous Belem tower.
The tower is beautiful and it is so relaxing to sit by the water. It is rather busy, but despite this, it makes a great photo!






We then headed to the famous Pastéis de Belem for one of Portugal's famous custard tarts.
Half way between the centre and Belem, where the famous San Francisco style bridge lies, is a place called LX factory. It is an old factory converted into a complex of shops and restaurants. It isn't really a tourist place - it's full of young locals. We walked about 2 miles from Belem to the LX factory which showed the local side of Lisbon: the small shops etc. Locals seemed to stare at the two of us walking along in our skirts when in reality it wasn't that hot. (Cringe!)




We then went to chill back on the Urban beach in the centre, enjoying the sunshine with a fresh lemonade from a stand.


Food

Lisbon is known for its fresh fish and Portugese tapas. In addition to the authentic restaurants and tapas places, there is also modern western restaurants and cafes (especially for brunch!)
We were in Lisbon for 3 nights and this is where we went:
On the first night, we went to a restaurant called Pharmacia, which had amazing food. It was more on the pricier side for Lisbon, but if you compared it to London, it would not seem expensive.

On the second night, we went to Time out market. The Timeout market showcases the best food in Lisbon from various eateries across the city. It is great because you can get a little bit of everything from each stall. For example, I had a fresh juice from one stall, a few little fishcakes from the other, some spiced wedges from another stall and a pastel de nata from another. If you are more into meat and cheese, your choices would be a lot more wild than mine.
On the final night, we ate in a Portugese tapas restaurant, one of the most famous ones actually, called Alto do Bairro (in Bairro Alto, shock). We had chicken skewers, grilled prawns and a vegetarian quasedilla. They are small plates, which is very popular in the Iberian region, and so so cheap! I couldn't believe you could get olives for £1.50!! (the small pleasures)

Brunch at Café Boavida
Brunch at The Mill in Bairro Alto
 

Accommodation
There are various hotels across the city, but we stayed in an Air bnb in Bairro Alto. It was so central that, apart from Belem, we didn't have to get transport when exploring the city, as we could just walk everywhere.
I would say the best locations to stay in are Bairro Alto, the centre (Praca Do Comercio, for reference) or Alfama. Bairro Alto is probably more appropriate for a younger crowd as it can be noisy.

Flights
From the UK, flights to Lisbon are so regular. You can go from most airports in the UK and fly with plenty of airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, British Airways,
To get the best deals, I always go on Skyscanner You can see which days are cheaper to travel on and how long it will take to get there.
We flew with Ryanair and paid about £100 for return flights. It could have been cheaper if I wasn't so extra with priority tickets and front row seats, and if we didn't have to go on the specific dates that we did.
The flight only takes 2 and a half hours, so I feel Lisbon would be great for a weekend break!
You may even catch a gorgeous view of the Isle of Wight like this:


No filter!!

Let me know if you enjoyed this post and if you plan to go  have you been?
Feel free to check out my other travel posts from the travel drop down menu at the top of my blog.

Lots of love,

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Thursday, 26 April 2018

Cyprus

Just after my break up, I got away to Cyprus with my mum and sister. It was a much needed break and I had a lovely time. I briefly mentioned it in my last post - Finding myself (life update) & a reflection on 2017 - but I love to do a single post for each trip I have been on as it is like a diary for me; something great to look back on in the future.

I had never been to Cyprus before and I expected it to be the same as Greece (which I have visited a few times before). However, I did find it slightly different - much cleaner than I expected and the sunsets and scenery were beyond stunning!!
I stayed at the 5* Olympic Lagoon Resort in Paphos. It was a beautiful all-inclusive hotel with a la carte restaurants; ideal for a relaxation holiday.
Despite this, I dragged my mum and sister to the Paphos Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed in 1980. This includes sites and monuments from prehistoric times to the Middle ages, while most date to the Roman period. There are marvellous mosaic floors of Roman villas and other important monuments, such as the Asklipieion, the Odeion, the Agora, the "Saranta Kolones" (Forty Columns) Fortress, the "Limeniotissa" Ruins of early Christian Basilica and the "Tombs of the Kings".







Back at the hotel, this is me and my sister posing in the pool...



This is me and my sister posing in our bikinis on the beach. I find that there is something so good about looking out to sea, breathing in the fresh air, enjoying the views and really just soaking up life.



The view from breakfast was just so relaxing...



And a holiday post wouldn't be complete without a sunset...




Have you been to Cyprus? Or are you Cypriat?! I would love to go back, so let me know what else I could explore there!



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Sunday, 31 December 2017

Finding Myself (Life Update) & A reflection on 2017

I cannot believe the lack of posts this year (a total of 1!) but if you read that post, you may see why. 2017 has been a hard year for me; as well as dealing with the loss of my dad, I also broke up with my boyfriend of almost 4 years. Through all of this darkness, I am retaining hope for the new year as I feel like I am really discovering who I am as a person (I know this sounds so wishy washy but it is true!!)

When people say 'What is your passion in life?', I always feel like I don't know how to respond. I always feel like I don't know what my passion is. However, each time I am some place new, I really embrace my surroundings and appreciate the smallest things, even in places most people would find boring. I always feel a deep urge to document my trip through photographs and to tell those around me about my experiences. I think I get this inspiration from travel vloggers such as Funforlouis (I am loving his world flight series at the moment). There, it becomes clear to me what my true passion is. I would love to be able to document my travels and travel for a living, but I know how competitive that market is and as an accountant, it isn't really feasible. So, for now, I will write this blog as a side project to my job and travel as and when I can.

Here is a round up of my 2017 (all photos taken on iPhone so not the greatest quality; will be sure to get my professional camera out in 2018!):
Earlier in the year, I visited the south coast of England. I had a great time and thought these little beach huts were real authentic!
A day out to Cambridge: it was way more beautiful than I expected.
Despite living in London, its sights never cease to amaze me. I constantly find myself taking pictures of the monumental sights it has to offer.


Working on clients near the sights is always good fun.
Walking to work with a  view of Canary Wharf was always a beauty (until I move house)

Walking home over London Bridge with a  great view of the River Thames and Tower Bridge.

Winter Wonderland is a must during the winter period.


BANKSY's work appeared at the Barbican, super close to my workplace.


The year also consisted of good food. This is Tart in Clapham and they do amazing tarts/quiches. This is the smoked salmon and pea one.

Just after my break up, I got away to Cyprus with my mum and my sister. It was a much needed relaxing break. Nothing makes me happier than the sunshine.

I visited the archaeological park in Paphos which are ancient ruins that form a major part of greek and roman history. Its sites and monuments date from prehistoric times through the Middle Ages.



A holiday wouldn't be a holiday without a bikini snap and a dip in the pool.
Beach times are the best

Who doesn't love a good dip in the pool
There are not many views that get better than the sunset over the ocean.
At the end of October, I visited Edinburgh for work. I honestly did not realise how beautiful this city was, so taking pictures in my free time was a must!!

The view from my hotel room window

Me in the Harry Potter Shop - Search Museum Context UK... Near the Grassmarket.
The castle at nighttime looks like something out of a movie

A rare thing for me... a selfie
November time is my birthday. I went for a lovely night out in London and finished up in the Sky bar. I recommend the sky garden as the 360 degree views of London are epic (and it is free to go up there for those of you on a budget!)


Me at the sky bar (The Shard in the background)
On Christmas Eve, me and my sister went to York which is really near my hometown. I have hardly been to this town despite living so close, which is strange as it is such a tourist hotspot!

Me by York Minster
The bustling streets of York


YORKSHIRE PUDDING WRAP (Not a very professional photo to put on the blog but as you can imagine, I am very excited by this as a Yorkshire girl) 
I obviously did many other things in 2017 but these were some of the moments I managed to document. This year I aim to document more and I hope to see you in the new year for lots of fun, laughter and travels!

Lots of love

Alice

xxx
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