Dom Luis Bridge by night in Porto, Portugal

Europe update: tech troubles and leaving Portugal

We’re off again! As you’re reading this post, we’re in the midst of another mammoth 2,000-mile journey, this time from Portugal to Prague. This week we’re driving through France and Germany via Neuschwanstein Castle, then spending a few days in Slovenia before we head to Prague. Despite these exciting adventures, I feel a twinge of sadness about leaving Portugal, a country where I’ve felt welcomed and largely at peace, well, minus some technical troubles.

The Riva, Porto, Portugal

The Riva in Porto

Europe update and Portugal recap

So, what have we been up to during our six-week stint in Portugal? After finishing our most incredible house-sit to date in the Algarve, we drove north to the Portuguese capital Lisbon. We spent three all-too-brief days wandering the city’s steep streets and wide squares while dodging trams and tour groups. One afternoon we took a train to the ancient town of Sintra, where the hilltops are decorated with yellow palaces and stone castles.

Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace, Sintra

Back in the capital, we got ourselves a Lisbon Card and rode the Santa Justa Elevator to get views over the red rooftops of the city, climbed to the top of the fortress-like Torre de Belem and visited the ornate (but tourist packed) Belem monastery. We also learnt about the city’s history at the Lisbon Story Museum. Did you know that a huge earthquake and tsunami, followed by devastating fires, flattened Lisbon in 1755?

View over Lisbon at sunset from the Bairro Alto area

Lisbon at sunset

On our final night, we had dinner at a vegan restaurant (our vegan diet is faring pretty well in Portugal, by the way) with my brother and his partner who were fresh, or rather bandaged and slightly battered, from completing their Spanish Camino. While we listened to their stories of bed-bug-ridden hostels, blisters and the colourful cast of trekkers they met along the way, we sipped beer in the Barrio Alto area and watched the sunset.

Andrew and I with my brother and his partner in the Bairro Alto area of Lisbon

Lisbon catch up with my brother Ben and his partner Ru

The remainder of our time in Portugal has been spent in Grijo, a tiny village about 20-minutes’ drive from Porto. While we’ve been in our Airbnb apartment working a lot, we’ve also found time to fall in love with Porto, a unique city filled with tiled churches and grand cathedrals. Porto sits in a valley next to the Douro River that snakes off as far as the eye can see in each direction, bisected by huge steel bridges. Restaurants and an assortment of colourful buildings line the Riva, while seagulls swoop above.

Dom Luis Bridge by night in Porto, Portugal

Porto by night

Our friends Patti and Abi from One Road at a Time are currently based in Porto and have been showing us around, so it’s been great to catch up with them. We’ve also taken trips to our closest town Espinho, where a long wooden boardwalk stretches along the coast and the waves are violent and crashing, perfect for surfers and body boarders.

Andrew and I with Patti and Abi in Porto

With Patti and Abi in Porto

One Sunday we visited the Passadicos do Paiva, where we trekked 10 miles through a deep, jagged, pine-tree-covered gorge. During our last week in Portugal we squeezed in visits to picturesque, medieval towns such as Aveiro, Braga and Guimaraes.

Sao Gualter Church in Guimaraes, Portugal

Church in Guimaraes

Tech troubles and blogging woes

Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to writing up posts about any of these trips or our time in Amsterdam yet. There are several reasons for this and the first is a good one because it involves being distracted by healthy volumes of freelance work, which is extremely welcome after a slow July and August. However, the second reason is in no way welcome at all and has caused us so much frustration and sleeplessness: we’ve had chronic tech troubles with this site.

Boardwalk and beach at Espinho, Portugal

Espinho, our local beach

Now, I hardly ever blog about blogging because it makes for pretty dull reading, even if you happen to be a blogger yourself. However, to give you some idea of what’s been plaguing us, it involves SSL certificates and a terrible web host, a switch to an even worse web host who shut down our site for CPU overuse twice (I’m talking about Bluehost and Siteground, in case you’re wondering), as well as a struggle to find a good web developer who wasn’t booked up with clients and finally, a switch to a third host.

The steep boardwalk at Passadicos do Paiva in Portugal

The Passadicos do Paiva

All these problems have hit us hard during our time in Portugal, to the point where the blog became a source of constant background anxiety and I could hardly bring myself to look at it, or our plummeting stats. Thankfully, after investing in a good web developer our problems are – hopefully – fixed and we can start to recover from the damage and tackle our backlog of posts. Blogging can finally become fun again.

Huge Braga sign in Braga, Portugal

As with all trials in life, large and small (and yes, I realise that my blogging woes are extremely small-fry in a world full of never-ending clusterfucks), you learn a lot from them. These particular trials have taught us that firstly, if you don’t understand something, you need to ask for help. Know what cron jobs, CPUs or robots.txt files are? Neither did we, so we asked around to find a good web developer who we could hire. Secondly, don’t give up. Not ever. Even when you feel like chucking your laptop off the balcony – everything is fixable.

Medieval church in Braga

Sightseeing in Braga

Our 2018 plans

So, rant over, let’s get back to what we’re all here for – travel! I’m talking specifically about our 2018 plans, which are as yet unmade. Despite constantly Googling flight prices, drawing spider diagrams and asking bloggers/travellers we know for advice, we still have no concrete onward plans for January, which is less than eight weeks away.

Andrew is searching and applying for teaching jobs all over the world at the moment so a lot depends on the results of that search, but we’re also hoping that the answers will come to us organically. Peru, Mexico, the USA, settling in Portugal – they’re all options. Either way, we have a self-imposed deadline of December 1st to figure something out, so we’ll let you know what we decide.

europe update- leaving Portugal

Pin Me For Later!

As always, thanks for reading, especially since this was such a random, hodgepodge update. Feel free to share any thoughts you have on Portugal, blog troubles or 2018 travel plans in the comments below, we love hearing from you.

  • Finding Beyond
    Posted at 10:12h, 11 November Reply

    Ohh guys so sorry to hear about your blog issues. Siteground have shut us down twice for the same reason! Who are you with now? We hope it’s plane sailing for you from now on. It’s all so frustrating when things like that happen.

    Great news about the freelance work though. That must be a huge weight of your minds.

    Cannot believe it’s been 6 weeks since you left the UK!! How quick is time going!! And you’ve scared me saying January is only 8 weeks away!!!! Another year down.

    You both look really happy in your photos and hope you enjoy Germany and Prague as much as you did Portugual.

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:09h, 11 November Reply

      Omg, sorry to hear that you guys have suffered with Siteground too, since it happened to us we’ve been researching and have heard that so many other people have had the same problem too. We are now with Cloudways, a host that was recommended to us by several web developers and so far things are good, you pay monthly too and can cancel anytime. Yep, the freelance work is ok at the moment, but obviously you never know what’s around the corner 🙂 Yes, we loved Portugal and are really thinking that it would be a great place to put down roots in Europe one day. I can’t believe six weeks have gone by either, 2018 is almost upon us! Hope you guys are well and we look forward to seeing how your plans unfold for 2018 too x

      • Finding Beyond
        Posted at 10:36h, 17 November Reply

        That seems a really good deal that you pay monthly so can cancel a year time. Fingers crossed all goes well and you won’t have any other options.

        Portugual would be a great place to settle. It’s definitely on our radar aswell. It has so much going for it.

        • Amy
          Posted at 09:30h, 18 November Reply

          So far so good, I’ll let you know if things change though. We’re already missing the warm climes of Portugal! x

  • Patti
    Posted at 11:51h, 11 November Reply

    It feels out of place knowing that you’re not across the river! It was wonderful to spend so much time together, definitely happy times!

    Looking forward to hearing what 2018 will bring.

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:10h, 11 November Reply

      I know! I can’t believe how fast our time in Porto went by, it was great to hang out with you guys though and I’m hoping we’ll see you at some point in 2018 if plans work out 🙂

  • Shane
    Posted at 13:12h, 11 November Reply

    Glad to hear that your tech woes have been sorted. It’s never much fun needing the help of the tech guy, only to remember the tech guy is you! We’ll be in the same boat in January too, needing to decide where to go next. We’re all very lucky to have such choices.

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:11h, 11 November Reply

      You’re totally right Shane, we are so fortunate to have these choices in life. I’m looking forward to see what you guys get up to next year, enjoy Chiang Mai in the meantime.

  • Gilda Baxter
    Posted at 17:57h, 11 November Reply

    Wow… another 2,000 miles of road ahead …you are certainly making good use of your new car? I am so glad to hear you have enjoyed your time in Portugal, although I have only been to the Algarve, it is a country that I definitely want to explore more in the future. How lovely to meet up with Patti and Abi in Porto, let them show you around? Also catching up with your brother and his partner was no doubt great fun 🙂 Tech problems are very distressing indeed, I would not have a clue what to do. I use Bluehost…so now you got me worried 🙁 But glad to hear that it’s all fixed now. I will be looking forward to what plans you have for 2018…very exciting.

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:16h, 11 November Reply

      Hi Gilda, yes the poor car has been taking the strain! We loved Portugal and have been thinking a lot about whether we’d be able to return there to build a base one day (Brexit depending). I’m sure you’d love it too. Yes, it was great to see Patti and Abi, since they know the city pretty well and are currently living in the thick of it whilst we were a 20-minute drive from town we were grateful to have them share their experiences with us and show us the best spots so we could maximise our day trips in Porto. Yuck, the tech problems are terrible. Don’t worry too much about Bluehost, if things are ticking along ok for you there that’s great, when it comes time to renew though it might be good to assess other options. If you ever need a good web developer, we finally found one so we can always pass his details onto you 🙂

  • Louisa Klimentos
    Posted at 09:02h, 15 November Reply

    Portugal has a tree ,where the timber is turned into corks for alcahol is a lovely country and i am glad you enjoyed it I am glad you found a better web host .Keep on travelling ,love louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 17:10h, 15 November Reply

      Hi Louisa, yes! We saw some of those trees. We loved Portugal and definitely want to return 🙂

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