Tag Archives: history

Lagos, Portugal

Our Portugal itinerary was super packed but everyone who knows me can testify it’s a normal vacationing for me. It was not easy but I was able to squeeze a one night trip to Lagos (Lagos – pronounced La-goosh in Portuguese) in Algarve (the southernmost region of Portugal, known for its amazing beaches). We started our day super early (6:00 am) and took a train from Lisbon Oriente to Lagos.

(Oriente train station)

It was pretty ride and it took us about 3 hours to reach Tunes station where we had to switch trains. We waited for about 30-40 minutes for our next train which was very slow by the way (took another hour or so). Finally we reached our final destination – beautiful Lagos. Be prepared the train station is somewhat small and there were no taxis available nor were we able to locate any Ubers. We dragged our enormous amounts of luggage to the main road and I was lucky enough to spot a taxi. So if you can plan ahead for your pick up I suggest you do that.

We stayed at Aqualuz Suite Hotel and we loved the location as you could walk everywhere and the pool area was nice, the staff was very friendly and accommodating (we checked in early and checked out late without paying extra). But the way it was built it reminded us some sort of maze or labyrinth- let’s just say it took us forever to find exit.

https://www.aqualuzlagos.com/en/hotel-overview.html

After we dropped our luggage we had no time to waste and proceeded to the nearest beach – which happened to be Praia Donna Ana (about 15 minutes walking from our hotel). On the way to the beach we stopped for lunch – I highly recommend the rooftop restaurant at Carvi Beach Hotel. We grabbed table outside and just enjoyed the views. Our server was super nice and we really liked our food.

https://www.facebook.com/CarviAlgarve/

After we had lunch we walked down to the beach – so just to let you know most of the beaches we went had tremendous amounts of stairs. Praia Donna Ana happened to have only 100 steps down and it was very intimate and not too big of a beach. We walked around and snapped some photos. I can’t even describe the beauty of that place – I felt like we stepped into a paradise.

After our visit to the beach we decided to explore the town itself. Lagos is a small city so you can walk pretty much anywhere, just prepare to wear comfortable shoes as some of the roads were either up or down the hills. We made our way through winding streets covered in mosaic to a marina. I wish I had enough time to do some gifts and souvenir shopping because they had market filled with local vendors.

We grabbed a coffee and a glass of wine at the main square, its a little charming square with lots of cafes and the sculpture of the Boy King (Dom Sebastiao) in the middle of it.  That evening we had dinner at the restaurant inside of our resort as we all felt the sunburnt and tired (but definitely satisfied).

Next morning my husband and I woke up very early as we planned to have a mini photo shoot on the beach. While our teenager enjoyed his nice sleeping in we were walking down to Praia Donna Ana. What a beautiful and amazing surprise it was when we learned that we were the only ones at the beach. There was not even one foot print on the sand and the entire beach was our playground.

Later that morning all three of us decided to explore another nearby beach. We walked for about 30-40 minutes until we reached Praia do Camilo. This beach is very secluded, if you travel by car there is nice parking lot. We were blown away by the beauty of this beach – we probably stood a good 10-15 minutes on the top of the cliff just eyeing the surroundings. Water looked crystal clear and numerous grottoes made that place look absolutely magical. I should also mention that the entire time both of my men seriously were contemplating to alter the rest of our trip and just stay in Lagos till the end of our vacation.

We heard that Praia do Camilo is one of the best beaches in Lagos for snorkeling (maybe one summer when the waters warm enough we can do that). Ok let’s talk about the access to the beach. I consider myself very physically fit person whose gym routine consists of mandatory 20 minutes stair-master warm up however… these were some extremely challenging-stairs. It definitely was a good morning exercise to go up and down these steps.

Highly suggested place for lunch was the restaurant Camilo, it’s famous for its fresh fish and it’s right off the entrance to the beach. It was a bit early in the morning when we explored so the restaurant was unfortunately closed.

http://restaurantecamilo.pt/en/

That afternoon we decided to grab some snacks, cold drinks and enjoy the beach so we went back to the closest to our resort beach – Praia Donna Ana and had absolutely amazing afternoon.

Things to enjoy in Lagos:

Take a stroll along a coastline of Lagos, there are many paths with absolutely gorgeous views.

Go into old town and enjoy walk through small cobblestone streets. During our walk we stumbled upon The Castle of Lagos, also known as Castelo dos Governadores (The Governors Castle) and Moorish walls that are going back to the 16th century.

Wander through endless shops, restaurants and bars or simply sip some sangrias or wine and people watch. Few interesting facts: alcohol was cheaper then water and servers would bring you some small dishes before you even get a chance to look at the menu and leave them at your table. We learned that they are not free and you will be charged for them so if you are on the budget make sure you tell the server at the beginning you do not want them.

(One of the fun bars in Lagos)

You can wander through many vendor tents at a marketplace near marina and get souvenirs or gifts made by locals.

Walk down to the main beach in the downtown area (Praia da Batata) – it is absolutely beautiful. On your way there is the historic beachfront fortress of Ponta da Bandeira, it was used to guard Lagos by protecting the river from attack.

I cant believe we only stayed one night in this absolutely stunning place but we are coming back!!!! As we drove away from this magical place, we all felt sad. We definitely found our little paradise! If you traveling to Portugal then Lagos is a must-visit!!! I would love to hear your stories.

If you want to fly out from Lagos you have to make your way to Faro airport which is about an hour away by taxi but you can take train or bus as well – airport has plenty connections.

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Reasons Why I Fell In Love with Europe…..

I can honestly say that it was love from first sight! The first day when we arrived to Amsterdam and the taxi took us to our little apartment I couldn’t stop looking out of the taxi window. I loved everything from the little streets, charming houses, museums, street markets, cozy coffee shops by the canals….. Amsterdam was our starting point where we spent few days and then took a train to go to Paris where we spent 5 beautiful nights. After Paris everything went way too fast and I felt at times that my head was quickly spinning from all the beautiful places we visited. There was Venice, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Rome, Vatican City, Madrid, Toledo, Segovia and Barcelona….. and each place took my breath away. So what exactly made me fall in love with Europe?

History

Europe has an endless amount of history, art, architecture … I was fortunate to visit some of the most amazing sights filled with very historically important art exhibits. I loved Louvre and gardens of Versailles in Paris, I admire Michelangelo’s David at Accademia Gallery in Florence, the ceiling painted by Michelangelo at Sistine Chapel in Vatican City was something from out of this world and Sagrada Familia in Barcelona left me speechless. There are so much more to it – there is no end!

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Food

Food is absolutely exquisite in Europe! I am actually extremely mad at myself for only taking couple photos of the food. It was hard to worry about photos when beautifully decorated plates were placed in front of you. Here are my recommendations of what you should try when in Europe:

Paris – chocolate croissant with coffee.

Spain – jamón ibérico which is a type of cured ham.

Italy – gelato and risotto (eat these separately…haha). If you ever in Venice visit Osteria Ai Do Gobbi. My husband had seafood risotto and he claims it was his best meal ever, I had pasta with black truffles which was very delicious.

Netherlands – besides my favorite Gouda cheese you should try traditional Dutch appeltaart (apple pie) and coffee which is amazingly tasty there.

Obviously these are not the only deliciousness you can try in Europe – there are so much more but these dishes hold a special place in my heart or stomach. 

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Wine

Europeans take their love for wine very serious! No meals should be eaten without a glass of wine. I loved how easy it was buying alcohol in Europe – there was no designated stores and you didn’t have to break your wallet when purchasing it. A bottle of water or a bottle of wine in some restaurants were almost the same price!!! So many times I thought I was ordering a glass of wine when the waiter would bring the whole bottle (I think the cheapest bottle in the restaurant that I paid for was 3 euros which is $3.35 considering current exchange rate). Europeans do not realize how lucky they are!! 

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Trains

One amazing thing about Europe is that you can visit as many countries as you want all by just taking a train. European trains are nothing like the ones we have in US it’s like something from the movie Fast & Furious. European trains were taking us to the beautiful places at the speed of 300 km per hour (which is equivalent to about 186 miles per hour) and did I mention that my eyes were always glued to the windows you just can’t stop soaking up all the scenery.

Outdoors

No need for cardio at the gym – prepare yourself for walking, stairs climbing and if you decide to do some shopping then you going to be doing all that with hands full of bags! During our trip we climbed so many stairs and so many domes at times we had to stop to catch our breath. If you do not like to walk or climb stairs than your days in Europe would be definitely exhausting. We had an app that would tell us how many steps we made and the average would be 25-30K a day with at least 40 flights of stairs (we climbed it all from tower of Notre Dame to tower of The Alcazar of Segovia). I was really on the mission to see everything possible in the time frame we had.

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Back to the question why I fell in love with Europe! Maybe it’s the fact that you can visit all these completely different places with different languages, culture, food, history just by taking a short ride by train? Or maybe it’s the feeling you get wandering through museums, cathedrals or parks with your love one holding hands of absolute serenity and piece?  Or that deep feeling that comes and absolutely blows your mind that some people are so fortunate to live among the most historical remnants like Roman Forum or Colosseum, living inside of walls of Lucca that goes back to 200 A.C. or seeing Sagrada Familia from the window of your apartment?

Everyone has a bucket list – the things you want to do before you die. I believe that by traveling to Europe my list got shortened by half! The sharing kiss on the top of the Eiffel Tower, holding hands riding a gondola in Venice, climbing the tower of Notre Dame, wonder inside of Rome’s Colosseum, “holding” leaning tower of Pisa, say a prayer inside of Segrada Familia, take a picture with Michelangelo’s David or silly selfie with Mona Lisa in the background……. My trip to Europe was full of those dreamed moments that I always thought about!My friends and family know about my passion and love for traveling and I am so glad to share it with my husband.  

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