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.