Many people get excited about the end of the year because of the holidays, the time off, the food, and seeing family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, all of that is awesome (duh), but another tradition I get excited about around this time is seeing the next year’s “where to travel” lists, the pinnacle, of course, being the NY Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2018.” Yes, I was one of the 9,000 people to apply for the job of visiting and writing about each of the 52 places over the upcoming year. I didn’t get it.
I don’t think I’ve ever spent less time planning for a trip as I did when I traveled to Lagos in the Algarve solo after spending time with my family in Ireland. It wasn’t until a week before I left home that I finally booked my flights and Airbnb in Lagos and that’s because before it was a trip to Portugal, it was a trip to Scotland, then a trip to Wales, and then a trip to Norway. I’m so glad that none of the other trips ended up working out and that I settled on a few days in Lagos. But trust me, I was not “settling” at all. Lagos is an incredibly beautiful destination with a party vibe that reminded me of a fun Jersey Shore resort (think Sea Isle City) except with charming centuries-old buildings and winding, cobblestone streets. Here’s what I recommend doing on your own trip to Lagos:
The summer always flew by when I was working full-time because I never got as much sun as I needed while stewing away in my cubicle. I didn’t think the summer would pass so quickly when I was just working part-time, but, man. I mean, I’ve done a lot this summer, that’s for sure, but I initially expected to be back in the city by the fall and, well, it’s basically here.
If you’d asked me last year what my favorite country to visit was, I’d have said Portugal for sure. This year, I’ve spent so much time traveling that it’s a harder question to answer, but when I arrived in Goa, India, I was excited to see how much it reminded me of Portugal. I had no idea before I flew in that Goa was a Portuguese colony until as recently as 1961, but it was easy to see similarities once I learned this.
So many of us call ourselves explorers. But we depend on Google Maps, Rick Steves, GPS, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. The explorers who set off from the coast of Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries had none of those resources and accomplished so much more than finding the most delicious sandwich in New Orleans or the greatest bar in Manhattan.
It seems that I make resolutions on a weekly basis. Because I am ridiculously hard on myself (as even my Fluent City French teacher pointed out during my third class), I’m always picking things out that I should do better and things I should stop doing. “Always be a work in progress” has been a quote on my Facebook profile since college. But last year for my *official* 2015 resolution, I chose something that wouldn’t make me feel bad about myself and wouldn’t make me question my past mistakes. The resolution, the goal, was to explore 15 new places during the year of ’15.
When my sister, Katie, and I went to Porto, Portugal in March (while I was still 29), I knew I was going to have to suck it up and try port wine because that’s what you do in Porto. You travel across the river to the town of Vila Nova de Gaia and have a tasting at one or more of the 17 port wine manufacturers located there. We’d been on the river by boat the day before so we chose to walk across one of the seven bridges that mornin
A definite highlight of our time in Porto was our experience with Taste Porto Food Tours. Andre, our amazing guide, not only showed us around the best eateries and gave us the best food in Porto, he also gave us a tour of the city, language, culture, and the history. Andre took us to the best views, the trendiest ‘hoods, and pointed out his five favorite tiles in Porto along the way to our tasting locations.
While we were eating dinner our first night in Porto, my sister asked me what my favorite thing about Lisbon had been. Without a beat, I said, “the color yellow.” I saw yellow everywhere I looked in Lisbon and it seemed to me a pretty unique trait for a city. If you don’t believe me that it was everywhere, just read on.