27 Jun Goodbye Portugal! Where are we off to next?
I can feel the familiar itch of excitement that only a new adventure brings. This weekend we’re saying ‘Goodbye Portugal’ and moving on. So where are we off to next? Here’s the lowdown on our plans for the rest of the year, which include a South Africa road trip, vegan campout, housesitting in London and possibly (fingers crossed!) a trip to India.
After our Easter break to the stunning Douro Valley, the last couple of months in Portugal have been beautiful weather-wise. This is the Algarve I’ve been waiting for: long days of sunshine, beach walks and afternoon swims in the pool. We’re finally seeing the benefit of our cold apartment and have enjoyed lounging in the garden and revisiting some of our favourite Algarve places in summery weather. We’ll definitely be leaving on a high note but I won’t be particularly sad to say goodbye.
Goodbye Portugal! What we learned from living in the Algarve
Portugal is a beautiful country and while I’ve enjoyed our adventures here, particularly in Porto and the central region, we’ve discovered that life in the Algarve just isn’t right for us. Practically, I can blame that on the cold, damp winters, living in an area surrounded by rich expats and soulless golf courses and struggling to save money because the living costs are so high (more on that in a future post). It’s more complicated than that though. You know there are some places you just instantly feel at home in yet you can’t put your finger on why? Well, the Algarve just isn’t one of them for me.
I don’t regret moving here though and I think it’s always worth giving new experiences a shot. If we’d been too scared to leap into the unknown, we never would have left the UK to travel in the first place. On a positive note, Andrew has enjoyed teaching here, we finally had time to redesign this blog and I got into a routine with my freelance work. Being close to the UK has also meant we can host friends and family here and were able to return to the UK for Christmas. Overall, this experiment with life in Portugal has helped us figure out where we go from here, so what have we learned?
The big take away for me is that we need to be based in a city. I love travelling in isolated places, be it the stark Himalayas, Asian jungles or South American salt flats, but living in the middle of nowhere for a prolonged length of time doesn’t work for me, especially because I work alone at home. I need the intensity of movement and people, the cultural sights and events and a diverse mix of people. Looking back on it, my happiest times have been living in big metropolises, be it London, Hanoi, Chiang Mai or even briefer stints in places like Prague.
Stopping still here has also given us time to grapple with the age-old question: what do we want our future to look like? As always, the answer is forever changing as we move through life. What we do know is that Andrew wants to carry on teaching while I write from home and we want a base in a city we love. We still want travel to be a part of our lives but with the current state of the environment, we also need to reduce the amount of flights we take. We don’t have all the answers yet (will we ever!?) but we do have a plan for the rest of the year.
Travel plans for the rest of 2019
On Sunday we will finally leave the Algarve, heading north in the midst of a European heat wave in a car with no air-con. It’s going to be a long, hot couple of days driving through Spain and France. However, we will be stopping for two nights in Paris, a city I’ve yet to visit, before we catch a ferry back to the UK. Paris is one of my biggest European travel oversights and I’m excited to spend some time exploring this iconic city.
After a few days in the UK, we’re jetting off to a completely new destination: South Africa. We’ll be spending a few days in Cape Town visiting famous sites like Table Mountain and Robben Island before driving the coastal Garden Route east to Port Elizabeth. Along the way, we plan to explore national parks and do some whale watching, as well as take a self-drive safari at Addo Elephant National Park. We’ve kept a few days free at the end of our trip for some additional safaris or to explore further. If you have any recommendations for places to see, please let us know in the comments below.
At the beginning of August, we’ll arrive back in the UK for our usual summer catch-up and will actually be returning to Portugal for a week-long holiday with Andrew’s family. We’re super-excited to be attending the UK vegan campout in Nottinghamshire at the end of the month, which will be packed with amazing speakers, activism workshops and of course, incredible vegan food!
Autumn will see us back in London, where we’re currently booking up house sits to see us through until the end of November. We’re looking at this as a transition period, with Andrew supply teaching and looking for a permanent job to start next year. It’s been so long since we lived in London and the whole country is in such a mess, so I really have no idea how easy it’ll be to integrate back into UK life. House and pet sitting will give us a chance to test the waters though, save some money and look at potential areas to live.
Nothing is set in stone, but we’re really hoping we can make things work and build a UK base for ourselves. However, we still want travel to be a big part of our lives and with that in mind, we’re planning to head to India in late November/early December. We’ve never been and are initially planning a month-long trip in the north of the country. There’s a lot to plan.
I’ll keep you posted with how things go but for now, I hope you have a great summer. What have you got planned? Let me know in the comments below.
PattiPosted at 14:21h, 27 June
Another chapter. So excited for you! I’m looking forward to following this new adventure(s) and hopefully, our paths will cross again sooner than later. Safe travels!
AmyPosted at 09:01h, 28 June
Thanks Patti – hope our paths cross too! We’re super excited for this new chapter.
Kate GreenPosted at 21:56h, 27 June
Great to hear updates and good luck. We did the Garden Route a couple of years ago and it was amazing. Addo was so much fun but we had a local driver for our family and I think we saw more. We hired her (full guide) through the guest house we stayed at in Cochester — addogatewaylodge.co.za. I have info in my blog. So great stay there then we went along to Knysna and stayed in a gorgeous place up in the mountains. Onward to Wilderness which we loved — great hiking etc. Again some links in the blog. Such a memorable 5 weeks in country. Have fun and reach out if anymore questions.
AmyPosted at 09:02h, 28 June
Hi Kate, sounds like you had an amazing trip and thanks for tips. We’re so looking forward to Addo, we thought we might do a guided safari on one of our spare days too, so we’ll bare that in mind. Knysna sounds amazing, definitely stopping there and Wilderness – I’ll check out your posts!
RhondaPosted at 04:25h, 28 June
Exciting stuff! We know you’ll adore Paris and South Africa and, oh my word, India!!! So amazing. So challenging. Can’t wait to see how it goes
AmyPosted at 09:03h, 28 June
Thanks Rhonda, it’s taken us many years to work up to India but I think we’re ready for it now 🙂
Alyson LongPosted at 08:18h, 28 June
No Plans At All.
And that feels bad. After 6 years away, 7 months back “home” I’m struggling. We’ve had a nice enough time, done a lot of scuba diving, hosted some Couchsurfers which kind of helps keep the travel vibe going and of course D and I had a short trip to KL, Borneo and Thailand, but I’m plotting my escape! We now have a cat and a snake, so all 4 of us won’t be travelling together often, I might go solo, I might take 1 child – but I’m getting out of here!
Love your plans, some interesting trips in there.
I hate the Australian climate, a bit of cold and damp sounds pretty good to me!
AmyPosted at 09:07h, 28 June
Hi Alyson, I know the feeling, I’ve had a tough time staying still here in Portugal too, especially over the winter. Solo travel is a great plan, I’m thinking of that too for when/if Andrew starts teaching full-time again in the UK and I need to escape in the bleak winter. Sounds like we’re both going through a lifestyle adjustment period.
Gilda BaxterPosted at 20:37h, 29 June
Amy, how fantastic that you and Andrew are again re-inventing yourselves and going back to where it all started….London. Like you I prefer city life as opposed to small towns or countryside, there is more to do, see and enjoy. I will be keen to hear all about your trip to South Africa, a country I wish to visit in the near future. I hope your trip back to the UK goes well and the heatwave does not get too bad.
AmyPosted at 10:10h, 07 July
Hi Gilda, sounds like we share a love for London 🙂 Thanks for the well-wishes, we’re just preparing for SA now. Hope you guys are having a great time in Sweden! x
Steve BergerPosted at 07:08h, 30 June
And your new adventure begins. So exciting and I imagine a bit scary. We feel exactly the same as you about having a home base around a large city and loving to travel – everywhere.
The only game park we’ve been to in South Africa was Kruger and we loved it. We rented a car in Johannesburg and drove to Kruger and spent 5 nights – 3 just south of the park and 2 nights in. We enjoyed staying outside better. The self-drive aspect is fantastic and much better than having to take the tour vehicles like we did in Kenya. We also did a quick trip to Victoria Falls before flying to Capetown and renting a car again. The drive down south from there is amazing.
You asked for our plans so….
In Aug/Sept we head to Ireland and Great Britain, in Nov/Dec it’s Antarctica, Patagonia and Paraguay and in April – July of 2020 it’s Sri Lanka, southern India, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Brunei and Japan. Of course we all know that “Man plans, God laughs”.
Be well, enjoy each other.
AmyPosted at 10:09h, 07 July
Hi Steve, great to hear from you. Love your SA itinerary. Unfortunately, we won’t make it to Kruger, but we’re excited about the self-drive safari at Addo! Wow, you have some great travel plans coming up, so much to look forwards to, Antarctica really is going to be the trip of a lifetime. Nepal and Tibet too – incredible. Enjoy and happy travels.
Melanie MilesPosted at 23:57h, 15 July
Good luck for this next step, We’re hoping to retire in the next few years and I’ve always wanted to live (for a while) in the UK, so I’ll be interested to hear how you find it after being away so long. I’ve found I’m a city person too – while I like a quiet home base, I’m not big on isolation, even the suburbs of Sydney is a bit insular for me! Take care.
AmyPosted at 15:06h, 29 July
Hi Melanie, thanks for the luck, we might need it with everything that’s going on politically and with Brexit at the moment! I’ll definitely keep you updated on the transition, glad to hear that you’re another city fiend! Great to be near Sydney though 🙂 I’m guessing you’d love living in London too, hope to see you there 🙂
Louisa KlimentosPosted at 11:47h, 19 July
Great post and look forward to reading your future adventures You are both doing so well love Louisa
AmyPosted at 15:07h, 29 July
Thanks Louisa, great to hear from you and I hope you’re doing well x
Louisa KlimentosPosted at 11:56h, 19 July
I look forward to you visiting South Africa and India Best of luck with your adventures love Louisa
AmyPosted at 15:08h, 29 July
Thanks Louisa, we’re having a great time in South Africa at the moment – more coming soon!