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Travel inspiration,  Travel stories

Travel stories from 2018

Last year was a pretty busy year! No, I don´t mean a lot of travelling, I mean a lot of work and investments for this blog! Although staying mostly local here in Porto, I did get a chance to follow my adventurous spirit.

Travelling is not only good experiences. Actually, it is mostly very hectic and challenging situations. Us, bloggers, make your life easier, by creating guides, preparing lists and tips for any destination, udget or travelling style.

Behind all the beautiful travel pictures and guides there´s always something hidden “behind the scenes”. These are experiences that create lasting memories and make you a real traveller, not just a regular tourist. For the past 3 years, I have been with Joana, my Portuguese girl, who has been fearlessly following all my crazy ideas!

My cute and courageous portuguese girl and travel buddy

Nerve-wracking thriller in Serra da Estrela

This story started with a winter trip to Serra da Estrela – the highest mountain range in Continental Portugal. It is located in the central region, with the highest point Torre reaching 1993m. The second day we decided to drive to the top. We didn´t have the equipment to ski but we thought it would be nice to see the view from the top.

Part 1

Loop after loop, we were slowly approaching the top of the mountain. The weather was nothing like we expected, the roads were slippery and we could bearly see the road in front of us. The sun was setting down, just like our hopes to see anything from the top, but we continued the ride up. During the last 200m a pale silhouette of Torre crept out of the thick air.

Torre, serra da estrela, Portugal
Torre on a sunny day

Yeay! we shouted at loud. Finally!

In the midst of the strapping wind and ice hard snow, there was a little warm mountain hut to hide in and purchase some local products. It started to get dark but we did´t want to go home yet. So we took a different way and headed to Manteigas. (although 30km doesn´t seem a lot, in Serra da Estreala every trip takes two times longer)

Part 2

We reached Manteigas, it was pitch dark with a couple of build in road lights. We slowed down, turned on the google GPS and switched the headlights to the maximum. I don´t recall what happened next, I only remember seeing my girlfriend glued to the steering wheel, racing through the darkness – no living creature besides a rat crossing the street in front of us. Dead silence. My palms were getting wet. It was so nerve-wracking, that both of us were visualising the worst-case scenarios. How we ended up on this road? Where do we go next? Will we run out of gas? We had taken the wrong way but kept on going although we felt it was wrong.

Somehow we found the way out, fortunately, the road led to the next one, which led to the next until we saw a sign leading to our town. Pfeuuu..that was adrenaline shot, the worst experience in my life!

Funny how I always manage to get into trouble and find the way out. I must have born in lucky shirt.

Almost missed a flight

This is a long story, this time I got myself into this because I tried to save some a bit of cash on the flight which almost cost me the whole trip.

In short – I booked two separate Ryanair flights with 50 min layover in Brussels. Yes, I know, impossible. Every minute counted. We needed to exit the gate, go again through the baggage and passport control. Besides, Ryanair was having many strikes at that period, giving me additional stress. But everything turned out smoothly – with a few extra moves, I secured myself a really quick transfer in Brussels.

Read more: 50 min connecting flight how to catch it

Awesome couch-surfing experience in Croatia

I continue believing in the couch-surfing community. It is the best, way to get to know the place you are visiting, saves you a bunch of cash and can be the start of a beautiful friendship. Dragan, the host in Split offered us a room for 4 nights. We felt welcome and connected immediately. With couch-surfing, you need to trust your guts. Hands down, Dragan was an excellent host and we had a lot of fun together. (Once again, you are welcome to Porto) I am planning to write a post about couch-surfing, stay tuned!

Croatia, Split

Vintage hikers beating the amateurs

Omis, peak Kula near Spli, Croatia
Our new friend

This was embarrassing. We were hiking up a pretty steep ascent in Omis, near Split. Exhausted and out of breath, with no water left and about to give up, a couple in their fifties passed us. We looked at each other and found the inner strength to continue the hike. We couldn’t let the old couple reach the top first! (It was really hot and we were wearing bikini tops, like complete beginners). We reached the mountain hut and saw the exact same couple having some rest. We decided to follow their example.

With empty bottles, we sat down. The man approached us an offered some water. We were really grateful for the kind gesture but didn´t want to accept it. But he insisted and took our bottle to refill with a freshwater source inside the hut.

So smart, we thought, we have so much to learn.

Then we started chatting, exchanged some food and left first to do the last 30 min trail section. Shortly after we had reached the summit, the couple was there and we continued the trail back together. We barely kept up with their speed!

Read more: Trekking in Omiska Dinara, peak Kula, Croatia

A rescue story

Almost at the end of the hike in Paklenica NP, we found a little bird struggling on the ground. It had a broken wing. We picked it up and carried until the park rangers. With a pitty look on ranger´s face, he took the bird and put him in a paper bag. Read the whole story here.

Travel Croatia
Spring is in the air!
Read more: 7 day Croatia itinerary for nature lovers

An epic shot from a road trip

While searching for a beach to camp, we found this deserted nudist beach near Nazare. This post was so popular in my Instagram that it deserves a spot in the list.

Read more:Road trip: in search of secret beaches near Lisbon

A romantic trip to Douro valley

Douro region was always on my list. I normally don´t follow the traditional toursit footsteps, but this was a birthday present to my girlfriend. So finally, in early October, we spent 4 wonderful days enjoying one of Portugal´s most beautiful landscapes and did some typical tourist activities, like wine tasting, visiting wine factories, museums, basically getting to know Portugal´s cultural heritage.

Visiting London

On my way back to Porto, the last weekend of 2018 I passed in London. I had always avoided UK for one silly reason – the prices. However, I was surprised that even there you can travel on a budget, of course, I am not talking about public transports :D. London is such a vibrant city, I am happy I have finally seen it.

I wish everyone many new adventures for 2019. Don´t be scared to take some risks and try new things, because that´s how you are creating unforgettable travel stories!

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