Praia da Gaivota

Portugal Travel Diary II

As promised I am back for a Sunday post.

Alentejo Wednesday

Quinta do Moinho de VentoAfter a good night sleep we headed to Mabi for breakfast. This is the most popular choice in the area for breakfast and it didn’t disappoint.

To soak up the Sun we picked Almograve and stretched our beach towels at Nossa Senhora beach. The water was cold but still we went in for a little bit. After getting all the Vitamin D we went back to Milfontes for lunch.

Farol Cabo SardaoIn the afternoon we went for a little Instagram mission and visited a lighthouse and another beach. No matter how many times we visit this part of Portugal we always discover something new. The beach was stunning and there was no one else there (check my Instagram for pictures).

Back at our room we showered and got ready to go out for dinner. Even though it is September and midweek the restaurants were packed and we struggled to find a table!

Road Trip Thursday

Heading back North we visited a few beaches on the way and it took us all day to reach home in Ericeira.

PatachoThe first stop was at Patacho beach to check out a shipwreck. We visited Pessegueiro Island beach and a few amazing beaches around Porto Covo including Sao Torpes which is known for its hot waters. The water was not exactly hot but it wasn’t as cold as the other beaches.

 

Comporta Beach

Lunch was in Sines and it was pretty good. Last minute we decided to visit Comporta to enjoy the sunshine. This place is pretty spectacular as the stretch of sand is so long you cannot see where it ends.Cais Palafitico

 

Before getting back on the road home we stopped at “Cais Palafitico” in Carrasqueira to take a few pictures. This is quite a picturesque place and worth a visit if you’re around.

Once we reached Ericeira we were super tired! We showered and enjoyed a lovely homemade meal at my mum’s place before bedtime.

Chilled Friday

We didn’t do much all day. Lunch was at a closeby restaurant and the afternoon was spent sunbathing at home on the terrace.

After a delicious dinner at home we drove to a town nearby to spend time with some friends. It was such a nice chat time flew by and we only got back at around 2am.

Family Saturday

My brother and his girlfriend came round for lunch and we had a lovely time catching up over lunch. It is nice to just talk and have no pressures to do “all the things”. Feels good to just relax and enjoy each others’ company.

Home

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Galé Beach

Portugal Travel Diary I

Thought I would do a different type of post as it is the first time I am away since I launched the blog. I even managed to fit my laptop in my hand luggage just to keep you all updated with new posts on the usual days.

This is what I have been up to so far in Portugal:

Travel Day

Luton Airport Rain Drops and Rainbow

We got delayed at rainy Luton and got to Portugal a bit later than planned ending up only reaching the arrivals’ area around 10pm. It had been a long time since we were in Portugal and the family was waiting for us. Even the dog came to the airport! Once we were all hugged out we walked to the rental car place together. Only to find out that as we were quite late they did not have the car we had picked online. We rented Diesel as we are going to travel a bit and Diesel is cheaper here. But Sixt did not let us down and quickly found a car for us. A black and beautiful Audi A1. I am super happy with this one, it is the first time we rented an Audi.

The drive home was quick and when we got home my mum had dinner almost ready. One of my favourites. Fricassé chicken.

Touristy Sunday roam and exploring an abandoned building

Azenhas do Mar Beach

Sunday started a little blue with us feeling a bit uneasy with the fact that we had no plans and no commitments for the day. Soon we sorted that out by deciding to go for a drive to check out the beaches around Sintra and later going to an abandoned restaurant to take some pictures.

First we went for a walk at Azenhas do Mar beach as this is one of my favourite places around Lisbon.

magoito beach

Afterwards we struggled to find a restaurant that had free tables and allowed dogs. Once we found one (at Praia das Macas) the service was so slow that we waited an hour to get our starters. The food was OK but I would not go back due to the poor service.

No longer starving we headed to Magoito beach. Shockingly I had never been there before. It has the most beautiful views! We soaked in the Sun and got some nice shots before we left.

The golden hour was running out so we rushed to the next photo mission place. The abandoned Panoramic Restaurant in Monsanto. The signs outside warn about entering this place as it is strictly forbidden and doing so could lead to spending 3 months in prison. This is a little scary but seeing some kids inside we did not hesitate in going in too.

Panoramico Monsanto

Everything was pretty clean inside and even though the walls are covered in graffiti the place is really impressive. The views of the city are great too. It is a shame that this place is not open for the public to visit legally.

Sunset at Panoramico de Monsanto

I have to say I was a little scared of getting caught as I am not one to just ignore the law and enter private property without authorization. Because of that we ended up getting out pretty quickly and not getting great shots.

At the end of the day we were exhausted!

Admin Monday

As this was the first working day of our time in Portugal we had already planned to go get our passports renewed. We had a bet on how long the wait would be. The bets were between 30 to 46 minutes but we ended up being called less than a minute after we got there! And were out in less than 10 minutes. Great service too as the guy was in good spirits and did everything so efficiently.

With time to spare we tried to book a haircut. And failed! They were booked up for the whole day already.

Portugalia Steak and Egg

Then we moved on to going to the bank to sort out some paperwork. This took a lot longer than expected and we were super hungry by the end of it. Lunch was at Portugália and it was lovely.

It was super hot outside so we decided to go home to get some rest. Later we went to the private hospital for an orthopedic appointment as I was (and still am) suffering from pain in my right elbow. The diagnostic was elbow tendonitis. I will need to go back for a second appointment next week.

Road Trip to Milfontes Tuesday

Praia da Gale Rocks

The plan was to get up early and make a move but we ended up enjoying breakfast in family instead. Our first stop was Praia da Galé just to take some pictures. The easiest access is via the camping site so we walked through it to reach one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. A few shots after we got out of there and gave a lift to a couple of hitchhikers that were leaving the camping site and were heading South.

Milfontes Beach

After lunch we got back on the road towards Vila Nova de Milfontes. We checked in once we arrived and headed to town to do a little shopping before exploring the local beaches. As it was too windy we didn’t do a lot of sunbathing as there was a lot more of “sandbathing” going on instead.

Even though the Sun was pretty much gone I braved into the cold waters of the swimming pool for a little bit before a hot shower.

Dinner was Pizza and Sangria and we loved it. It is so good to be back to one of our favourite holiday spots in the World.

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my hand luggage

Hand Luggage

Hard to remember the last time I checked in a bag! At first it might seem daunting not being able to take “everything you need” with you. But really it’s not such a big deal and you get better at it.

There are a few pros and cons of travelling with hand luggage only and of course it’s up to you to choose what suits you best.

Pros:

  • You save money as checking in bags can be quite expensive
  • You save time as you can go straight to security and there is no need to wait for that bag to show up at the conveyor belt for endless minutes after a tiring flight
  • No uncertainty regarding possible lost luggage
  • Less bags to carry around
  • Easier to find your stuff as it will all be in one bag (before it is all over the place)
  • Usually no struggle to fit your luggage in the rental car.

Cons:

  • The liquids’ restrictions can be a bit of a pain as you won’t be able to take a lot with you and some products don’t even come in 100ml (or less) bottles
  • The amount of clothes you can take with you is fairly limited
  • Packing can take longer as you need to be more selective with what you are taking with you
  • Not being able to buy stuff when away and bring it back.

Now, a few notes and tips to go on a hand luggage only adventure:

  • If you live in the UK most of your “liquid” necessities will be available at Boots inside the airport after security so you can buy all you need there and take a carrier bag with those on the plane no questions asked
  • Coming back you can always buy gifts or any local treats at the airport. It will be more expensive but not as much as checking in bags
  • Anything you are not sure you are going to need when away and that you can easily buy it there (like an extra jacket) just don’t bother taking it and use it as an excuse to buy something new for yourself. If it doesn’t fit in your hand luggage coming back you can always wear it
  • If you own a big camera you can usually take it with you outside the bag. At least I never had any issues with it
  • And always double-check each airline’s  hand luggage maximum dimensions/weight allowed as you don’t want any unplanned extra charges.
Hope this post was helpful. Whether you do it light like me or you’re taking your closet with you I hope you have the best time! Enjoy travelling!

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view from the office sri lanka

Working in Sri Lanka

Ahead were three weeks of working in Sri Lanka. After the initial shock during the first day or so I quickly adapted to being in Sri Lanka and started to work.

The “call centre” was tiny but was located in the HSBC building in central Colombo which was quite a decent location. And very handy for cash withdrawals.

The journey to work was done by cab and as long as I was not paying attention to the traffic it was all OK. People there drive like maniacs and it can be a bit scary to be inside a car.

In the office I was welcomed like royalty. Everyone was super nice to me and so helpful. We quickly got to work and rushed through the recruitment process. Once that was out of the way I started the classroom training. I was very new to training but still managed to put it all together myself. Gathered ideas I found online and was inspired by the training I got at Vodafone Portugal.

I had a very young crowd to teach about customer services and the product. They were very respectful and generally excited about the new job. We played games, tested their knowledge and training was a breeze.

A memorable day was when one of my trainees showed up with a Portuguese football t-shirt just to impress me. I must say it worked and made me feel even more welcome and appreciated.

Once the lines were open I kept giving them support and over viewing all the operations. Soon I realized the way of working in Sri Lanka was a bit different from the UK one. There was no stress and everyone worked at their own pace. Things were getting done but not at the UK speed. Strangely I adapted very quickly to it. No point in going against it anyway. Their ways were contagious and so was their happiness.

I had my lunch brought to me every day by our tea maker. Yes, there is a person in charge of teas. Usually I ate a box of chicken fried rice or something similar, it was delicious and I think it cost under £2. Conversations at lunch time were the best and I learned a lot about their culture. Even tried to understand cricket, but failed at that.

team lunch sri lanka

Eating pizza in the interview room.

We had a couple of staff issues but nothing major. My journey to work was easy and I had my own cab driver. Days at work were busy but so enjoyable. Later my work hours were adjusted to UK time so my manager would feel a bit more in control of what was happening. That meant I had the mornings free and would get back home around 11pm.

I bonded with most of the “kids” in the team. They made this experience so much better than I could have ever imagined.

To this date I still keep in touch with some of them. And I get the occasional thank you for the training I put together.

group pic in sri lanka

Group picture with some of the “kids”

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Reo on a dragon graffiti

First Photo Shoot

So, out of the blue I was contacted on Instagram and asked if I could do a photo shoot and how much that would be. Honestly, I had never really thought about doing that before so I had no clue about prices or how this things work.

Again I decided to get out of my comfort zone, did my research and said yes.

Because of my lack of experience a lot of research went into this.

  • I researched prices first so I could get that out of the way.
  • After that I looked for any poses that would suit the type of photo shoot I was going to do and created a board for these on Pinterest.
  • Coincidentally I also got invited to a photography meet up the week before so that was the perfect opportunity to practice.
  • To pick the location I used street view on Google Maps a lot and once we decided the final location I went there to look for the best spots (before the day) and marked them on Google maps.
This meant we only needed less than a couple of hours to get about 400 shots in a few different locations around the same area.

On the day I was super nervous as it was my first time and I was scared I would not be able to do a good job. It was the model’s first real photo shoot too but she was amazing at it which made my job much easier.

We walked through the spots I had picked getting all the shots and we had fun in the process too. Once we were done I could not wait to look at the results and start the editing work.

It is still a work in progress as I edit the best shots of the day and send them to her but I am super happy she is pleased with the ones I have sent so far.

This experience made me want to do a lot more of these. Hopefully more opportunities will come in the near future.

A big THANK YOU to my first customer. She was truly amazing and made this experience very enjoyable. You can follow her on Instagram here.

If you wish to know more about booking a photo shoot with me you can contact me via Instagram or via the Facebook page. I will build a portfolio gallery at some point so you have an idea of the type of pictures you can expect from me. If you want something different I am open to discuss any new ideas too.

For my Portuguese readers photo shoots in Portugal will be possible too if arranged for the dates I am there. I will be in Lisbon and Milfontes this month so just ask for dates if interested.

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Sri Lanka home street

Getting to Sri Lanka

We had a couple of big suitcases and a small one with my work stuff in it. Flyers, training material and a laptop.

It was our first long haul flight. 9 hours in a confined space. To be honest it was easier than I expected. The time flew between naps, meals and movies.

Passing immigration was a breeze. I had my visa sorted so no issues there and anyone can get a 30 day visit visa without many questions asked.

The airport is pretty small and walking outside you go through this corridor of shops. Mostly appliances like washing machines and refrigerators. Not your typical airport shops.

Due to the high humidity levels breathing outside was not easy . The weather was hot and sticky.

Once our cab driver found us, or we found him, can’t remember. We got into the car. The drive down to Colombo was long. The traffic was crazy.

We sat mostly speechless just watching the unfamiliar surroundings. Men on bikes with no helmets carrying large objects, the rickshaws zooming past us, army men with automatic guns on the streets, poor housing conditions and so many people.

It was such a culture shock and we hadn’t even step outside for more than a few minutes.

Finding our accommodation was not easy but we got there in the end. My manager’s brother was there waiting for us. We met him and the landlady at the flat. We were staying in a two bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Colombo (the capital).

The payment had to be made in cash. Including the one month deposit required. Over 600 pounds in total. Bills were not included and we had to pay for the bed linen. My manager’s brother bought that for us and we found out later he ripped us off by overcharging for those.

To start things well there was no electricity (quite common in Sri Lanka) and we had no bottled water yet. Because of all the things we had to pay in cash we ended up with barely any money left.

We were tired and hungry. Had no electricity, no water, no food and were in an unknown place so far from home.

I regretted saying yes to working in Sri Lanka immediately! I cried my eyes out.

Afterwards I realised that that was not going to help sort out our problems so we went out to look for food, water and a cash machine.

We struggled to cross the road as no one really stops to let you cross. So we dodged the cars and made it to the shops’ side of the road. We bought some biscuits and bottled water. That was our dinner! We failed to get cash as we didn’t know how to use the cash machine.

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Sri Lanka Train

Saying “YES” to Sri Lanka

There are opportunities that only London would have given me. Going to Sri Lanka was one of those.

I had been living in London for a little while and had started a new job recently. With my old manager but still, a new job.

Travelling was not on the cards when I accepted the job.

At the time I was still very fresh to this thing that is stepping out of my comfort zone. So when I was asked, out of the blue, if I was happy to go to Sri Lanka for work I was a little surprised to say the least.

When I said yes to it, even I was shocked with myself. Not sure what possessed me at the time to say yes. But I did!

It was all very short notice. Next thing I knew I was at the Sri Lankan embassy to get a business visa. I had a special contact to get it done quicker and in no time I had the stamp on my passport. My first one.

I also managed to drag my boyfriend with me as I was too scared to do this by myself. He had no choice really as the flights were my birthday present to him and he was going to celebrate it out there.

The company organised and paid for my flights. My manager sorted out the accommodation which was a bit sketchy (I will cover that in another post) and an airport pickup cab was sorted too.

Before I flew to Sri Lanka I had to plan all the work I had to do there. Which included training and recruiting people to setup a new call centre!

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