beach

Beaches of Porto

The beaches of Porto remind me of the beaches back home in Australia – particularly from the South Coast (where I come from). The sand beneath my toes and the warmth of the sun was simply amazing!

We caught the bus that goes along the river (sorry I don’t remember the number…) and we made our way to Matosinhos beach. It wasn’t over crowded yet there were quite a few people at the beach. There was a little bit of wind, but the locals had that covered – I noticed that when people first arrived at the beach they would erect “wind stoppers” and sit on one side, brilliant idea! We walked along the coast and we encountered a fishing area – there were loads and loads of restaurants along the street that were barbecuing the seafood. We wanted to get away from the smoke, we finally found a fish restaurant and had one of the best lunches ever! The seafood was amazing: SO FRESH!

The next day my friend wasn’t feeling so well, so I left her at the Airbnb and medicated her and made my way to Sao Bento train station. I bought a ticket Miramar (didn’t cost much and it only took about 20mins to get there!). Miramar was absolutely beautiful!!! The first thing I noticed was a tiny chapel on the beach. People were scattered and this beach wasn’t as busy as the previous day. I settled down and had some lunch that I’d packed. During this time, my feet absolutely burned (it was only 20mins!!!). There were a few cafes and restaurants on the promenade, so if you don’t pack a lunch you can always find food close by….

The beaches of Porto were very beautiful and reminded me of home – too bad my feet got burnt…

 

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Beautiful Èze

On a beautiful Sunday morning, I decided to go to Èze – my Lonely Planet guide said that U2’s Bono owns a villa here, so it had to have a nice view, right…?

I caught the #82 bus from Vauban to Èze village – NOTE: it’s important that you catch the bus to “village” instead of “sur mer” which means beach, otherwise it’s going to be a steep long hike upwards… The bus ride was quite pleasant and only took about 25mins or so. When we arrived, everyone beelined it to the village. I had read that there is a nice garden-like place that you can visit once you reach the highest point. In any case, there is a Tourist Information office which provide you with maps and suggest good places to see whilst in Èze village.

The village was quite small but charming nonetheless. There are alot of artist studios both work on canvas, and clay works – whether it be kitchen plates or pretty decorative tiles. The village has a medieval feel to it, with it’s winding lanes and alleyways. There are a number of nice vantage points that provide a nice view. I somehow managed to find my way to the entrance to the highest point to see this “garden”. I paid the 6EU entrance fee and began to make my way around. The garden is basically a cactus garden – every single possible type of cactus was there…. I made it up to the top and as I looked over at the coastline of Èze, I thought WOW this is truly spectacular, no wonder Bono has a villa around here somewhere…

After exploring the village, I started my walk back down. I had asked the tourist information office if it was possible to hike down all the way to the beach – they said that it was and it would take around 45mins at a steady pace. The hike down was really nice, although at times I thought I was a tad bit crazy as there was no one on the trail for the first 30mins and no cell phone signal! (though it was fine, I was paranoid for no reason!!) The weather was so so good, and I was so glad that I was hiking down and not up! I came across a few people after 30mins who were huffing and puffing – on two occasions I was asked as to how long there was to go (at least thats what I thought they said in French), and with my basic French and some sign language I would tell them that there was still some time to go, wish them “bon chance” and kept on going…

I made it down in exactly 45mins! I didn’t know where the access point to the beach was, but I followed a groups of guys who had just unloaded paddle boarding gear from the car and were in board shorts. I think they knew I was following them but I didn’t care. Turns out I was right, they led me to the seaside – as it was covered in rocks NOT sand. I found myself a nice place to sit and had my packed lunch. I couldn’t resist the amazing turqoise pristine water, so I rolled up my trousers and dipped my feet into the water – oh so nice! but I also cut my toe on the rocks (I HATE ROCKY BEACHES!!). Just chilling by the seaside was so nice, but I could feel my feet burning so I thought I should keep moving (yes I know I should put sunscreen on but I never burn – clearly only in France I burn…)

Next, I walked over to Beaulieu Sur Mer – which was the next beach/bay over. In actual fact, I was going to catch the bus back to Nice, but after waiting 20mins at the stop, I grew impatient and began to walk. And I’m so glad I did. The coastline was absolutely stunning and the sun was shining – loving life! There was a port called “Port de Beaulieu-sur-Mer” that had ALOT of nice yachts! (I have a thing for boat…). I didn’t stay here long, I walked along the harbour and continued walking to the next bay. Oh and the houses that I walked past were absolutely beautiful – I wouldn’t mind a summer villa here…

From Beaulieu sur Mer I walked to Villefranche sur Mer and this was a very busy beach! There were alot of locals here though, unlike the other beaches… The wall was covered in nice pink/purple flowers and the water just looked so inviting! I ended up buying an ice-cream and chillin’ by the water. By this stage, I had walked about 6km, so I thought I should catch the bus back – and given that I knew that bus #100 went along the coast I decided to get to the main road and get on the bus. BIG MISTAKE! the train station was only a short walk from the beach. I even asked the workers there how long it would take me to walk up to the main road, it took AGES! plus the road was all windy and it was a steep ascent! anyway, I managed to get to the main road (eventually) and luckily didn’t wait too long for the bus…

It’s a really nice walk from Èze to Villefranche, particularly because I had the path all to myself… I would definitely recommend it, only thing is to remember to bring water…!

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Beautiful beaches of Lisbon

As an Australian, I really appreciate the coastline of Lisbon – they have actual beaches! not the stoney beaches that I’ve seen in the UK…

And the beaches stretch endlessly – and they are clean! so so beautiful!

The only bad thing that I can say is that I don’t like the development on the beaches ie the stores, cafes, the sun mat hiring places. Beaches should be kept natural – best way to conserve them. I’m so glad that the beaches in Australia don’t have any development on them – I hope it remains like that…

The beaches that we went to were: Estoril and Caparica. Estoril is on the same side of downtown Lisbon whereas Caparica is on the otherside, ie you have to cross the bridge. Both are about 30mins drive from Saldanha and they aren’t over crowded.

The day we went to Caparica, there were a group of kids with bicycles with parachutes attached to the back, where the wind was providing momentum – it looked like so much fun! I walked along this beach, the weather was warm and it reminded me of home…

Seeing this coastline of Lisbon, really makes me want to see the Algarve – which is supposed to be really really nice! Definitely going on the bucket list!

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this is actually a lighthouse (so I'm told...)

this is actually a lighthouse (so I’m told…)

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Caparica

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Seaside escape to Brighton

DISCLAIMER: I am lagging in posting my blogs – so bare with me (am currently in Germany – too much travel!!)

Recently, my friend Amelie who was visiting from Munich Germany and I decided to go on a day trip from Cambridge to Brighton. All in all the journey only took about 2hrs – but as we were profusely catching up, the time just went by….

The seaside was only a short walk from the station – roughly about 10mins. When we arrived at the seaside, I couldn’t help feeling slightly disappointed. You see, I was expecting a nice sandy beach where we could bask in the sun for a few hours, chilling. Instead, the entire beach was ROCKY – not even pebbles, they were rocks! And it actually semi-hurt the bottom my foot (I was wearing thin soled shoes – Toms, but still…). After my initial disappointment, I appreciated the fact that the sun was out, blue skies and I was at the sea! We walked along the shore, occasionally stopping to enjoy the scenery.

We arrived at Brighton Pier – which is basically like a fair/carnival just built on a pier – weird if you ask me… but we still explored the pier, I also thought I’d make use of the workers here and asked them about the “Brighton Beach Huts” – total fail! Whomever I asked had no clue what I was talking about (I’m sure they certainly exist!!)

By this stage we were hungry and decided to go for fish and chips – but we couldn’t find anything close by. We ended up going to a little cafe in the vicinity of the Pavilion. Lunch was followed by exploring the grounds of the Pavilion – such a lovely area with nice gardens.

We decided to also go inside and explore this amazing structure – the exterior had a South Asian design, yet the moment you step into the building it was all Chinese – peculiar but grand! We weren’t allowed to take photos inside – but oh how I wish we were allowed. The interior was designed so spectacularly – every inch totally exaggerated, much to King George’s liking ofcourse… The kitchen was HUGE – what I liked about this kitchen compared to other royal displays was the fact that they had on display ALL the copper pots and pans – the things that were actually used for cooking – as opposed to tea cups and saucers…. We spent about an hour in here – the audio guide was brilliant, although some points could have been alot shorter but its easier to skip…

We then decided to go back to the seaside and go on the Volk’s Electric Train – apparently its the oldest running electric train in the world. So we bought our tickets to the “marina” (mind you we had no idea where this was…) and hopped on the train! The train basically took us to the end of the line, to the “marina” where there were fisherman. Nothing too spectacular to see here – unless you wanted to be at the seaside without all the hundreds of people. We then caught the next train back to the pier.

We each bought gelato and sat on the rocks and enjoyed the moment. We were truly impressed by the amazing weather!

What I found strange is that there was alot of development on the actual seaside itself – lots of shops, kiosks hiring out beach chairs, fish and chips stalls – only to name a few. Back home in Australia, thankfully we don’t have any – well at least none on the south coast. I think the beach and the seaside shouldn’t have development and remain original/natural. We humans tend to spoil wherever we go – tis a sad fact…

I would definitely recommend checking Brighton out – a day trip is surely enough. A must is the Pavilion, it was SPECTACULAR! I would have enjoyed the electric train ride if I were 5 – so you can give that a miss…

 

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Roadtrip: The Great Ocean Road

I have always wanted to drive along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. That part of the country is absolutely stunning! So, during a visit to Melbourne, my friend Brooke and I spontaneously decided to go on a mini road trip! The weather was beautiful, company was great – what more could we ask for? Well, it was the Australia Day long weekend – so ALL the accommodation was completely booked out! Stress levels were on the rise but we both really still wanted to go! So instead of making our cortisol levels sky rocket, we packed the tent and sleeping bags and hoped for the best, so we set out on an adventure…

Our first stop was Bells Beach – where the Ripcurl Pro Surf tournament is held. The view was simply amazing! There were a lot of local surfers, it was nice to see some surfing action whilst we were there. The surf was insane – MASSIVE waves, seeing this made me understand why the best of the best come here to compete….

We then had lunch at Apollo Bay – which was absolutely stunning! This town seemed more touristy, nevertheless, it was still beautiful. There was a main promenade with the beach on one side and shops and cafes on the other. The beach looked really nice and flat. We scored the front yard of a caravan park to put our tent up – sorted =)

We continued along to Lorne – which has a really long jetty that local folk fish from. We walked along the jetty and when we reached the end we were utterly surprised to see SEALS! And there were TWO of them! They were so cute – rolling around in the water. There was a group of local kids jumping off the jetty and climbing back up via the ladder. There was one particular girl who couldn’t bring herself to do it. After many failed attempts, she succumbed to peer pressure and actually jumped off! On our walk back, a small boy was screaming with delight. As I looked over, I noticed that he was happy because of the little fish he had caught. At the end of the jetty there is a nice fish and chip shop – so if you do want to grab a bite to eat, this place looked ok…

Our mission was to get to Cape Otway Lighthouse before it closed. However, en route we saw cars parked on the side of the road and people walking around, pointing up. Let me set the scene: we were in the middle of the bush, in the middle of nowhere. Hence greatly surprised to see random scattered cars parked along the way with people pointing up. Then the penny dropped! Our friends had tipped us off about the wild koalas on the way to Cape Otway – REAL WILD KOALAS! So we parked on the side of the road and also began to hunt for koalas – it was like a game of bingo, as soon as you spotted one you would call out to your friend! As an Australian, I’d never seen a koala out in the wild, so you could imagine my delight when I spotted my first one – I was ECSTATIC!! They were so cute, just chilling in the eucalyptus trees…

We made it to the lighthouse and managed to climb up. The tour guide was very informative and enthusiastic about this particular lighthouse. If memory serves me correct, he mentioned that this was Australia’s oldest lighthouse! All I kept on singing was “have you ever, ever felt like this?” – if you grew up in Australia you will know that this was the opening song from the TV series Round The Twist (the family lived in a lighthouse!). Around the lighthouse grounds were colonial accessories – from houses to anchors…

Our next mission was to get to the 12 Apostles so we could make a timelapse of the sunset and also score some awesome shots…