Eating my way through Lisbon, Portugal

Heyo!
Well, I’m in love with Lisbon.
I know I fall in love with every city I visit, but this is the real deal! I’ve walked around tons (check out this post), and I’ve managed to see quite a bit.
But, more on all of the sites later!
First, I want to tell you about the food!
Traditional Portuguese Meal

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Bacalhau à Brás is a dish composed of shredded salted cod (bacalhau), onions and thinly chopped (matchstick sized) fried potatoes in a bound of scrambled eggs and garnished with black olives. Verdict: pretty good! My friend, who has eaten it before, said that it wasn’t the best, so I’m going to go out for cod again.

Above is buttered toast with a pumpkin jam. Oh-my-goodness! Delicious! The jam was sweet and spicy, similar to a chai tea. Yummy! We had this at a really cool spot: Lost In Esplanada. It had an awesome view, and really awesome decor.

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Looks awesome, eh?
Next we headed to the Noobai Cafe. This was tucked away beside an alternative viewpoint. We just had a cafe, but the menu looked delicious! Vegetarian options available.

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So far so good?
Now, are you ready!?
I found a store that sells VEGAN products! Woo!
It’s called Celeiro Dieta, and it is a chain in Lisbon (maybe Portugal?). I was so excited!

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Are you excited for me!? Faux-meat products, quinoa and chocolate soy milk!
It was right across from El Corte Ingles so I went there as well and surprise, they also have vegan products! I preferred the smaller store myself (they had a cafe too!), but it’s good to know that Ingles has some options too.

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PS–the terra chips in the photo above are so yummy! You can buy them in Canada 🙂
And there you have it! That’s been my food adventures so far! Today I’m off to Belem to try some of their famous pastry! Jealous? 😉

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Food in Seville and Cadiz, Spain

Hola!
I have a few good posts coming in the next few days about Granada, including a trip to a vegetarian restaurant! Yay! But, due to a lack of power sources, and Internet connection, it’s going to take a while to get it all online. With 11% remaining on my battery I’m hoping I can quivkly write about tge food I had while I was in Seville and Cadiz.
I was sick of tapas by the time I got to Seville. Usually deep-fried or consisting of cheese, vegetarian or seafood based tapas left a lot to be desired. Having a week in Seville, I decided to utilize the kitchen at the hostel and make some of my own meals and also go exploring for some not-so-Spanish cuisine.
Vegan in Seville is a post I wrote about a vegan bakery in Seville! This adorable place also had a menu (which I regretfully did not try).
Sandwiches
I wrote a post about some good ideas for meals to cook while abroad. For solo meals, sandwiches were the easiest and also the most inexpensive; 6 euros worth of ingredients was enough for 4 sandwiches at least.

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If you head to larger supermarkets, hummus is pretty easy to find. Also, roasted red peppers are inexpensive and will last you a week. Add a side of fresh fruit or mixed nuts and you’re good to go!

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Lucky me, the Festival if Nations was happening during my time in Seville, so I was able to enjoy some Indian food as well as some Thai food! I had a pakora from India which was delicious, while my Thai dish was bland.

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Then, in Cadiz, I stopped at a restaurant beside the beach. I’m not too sure of the name (sorry!) but the food was pretty good, and I only spent 7 euros on a salmon salad, a tostada and a bottle of water!

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But my favourite find in Seville (after the vegan bakery) was Rayas.

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GELATO! And it was only a 2 minute walk from the hostel! Thankfully I found this my last night, otherwise I would’ve eaten here every night! It was delicious! Seriously, give it a try!

How to make friends while abroad: The art of stalking

Hola!
It’s been 3 weeks since I started my journey in Europe.
Three weeks since I got on a plane to Dublin.
Three weeks since I said goodbye to everyone and everything I knew.
Three weeks since I started my bravest adventure to date.
When I told people I was traveling to Europe for three months, the first question was always ‘with who?’
‘No one,’ I would say and immediately their eyes would widen and they would say ‘you’re brave!’
Sure, I have spent a fair amount of time alone in a foreign country. Sometimes I have to stay in a hotel so meeting people is close to impossible, and no, I’m not brave in those moments. In those moments I am a pathetic, sobbing mess who calls her mom.
But, the majority of my trip I haven’t been alone. As all travelers will tell you: you will make friends!
I’ll admit, thanks to some awesome grandfatherly advice, I’ve always been pretty good at making friends. And no, it’s not because I have some really cool attribute; it’s quite the opposite actually: I am awkward and love to tell my most embarrassing moments to people as a way to break the ice.
But, not everyone is ‘brave’ enough to approach a stranger and propose friendship. And, to be fair, sometimes you just don’t know how to say ‘can we be friends’ without sounding like a crazy person.
But, after awkwardly approaching a group of women on the terrace a couple nights ago and saying ‘oh hey, can I sit here?’ and sitting with them without waiting for a response, I realized that everyone secretly wants to talk to each other while traveling.
So, I did some ‘research’ and talked with my new friends about how they have made travel companions in the past.
How to make friends while abroad
1. Say hello. It really is that simple. Of course, don’t say hello to someone as they’re about to use the toilet; pick the proper moment. The common area in a hostel is ideal, or if you happen to be in the room at the same time, a polite smile and hello can go a long way. It’s not a guarantee, but using the simple hello method at a hostel has worked for me 95% of the time, thwarted only because of a language barrier.
2. Go on a free walking tour. They have these in the majority of major European cities now. It’s perfect because the crowd is generally young (18-26) and they usually offer tickets to a pub crawl that night. I’m not saying that you have to drink to make friends, but bonding while drinking a pint is always easy. You already have something in common: booze!
3. Stalking. Okay, wait, I don’t mean follow someone around while dressed in a black-trench-coat. No, this trick I learned from a frequent traveler (one who I will not name), and her story seemed to resonate with everyone. It goes like this: you’ve arrived at a hostel, are feeling lonely, and 4 hours have passed since you’ve interacted with anyone. You’ve missed the free tour for the day, and the girl you approached in the kitchen didn’t speak a word of English. Damn. You’re lying in your bed, feeling pretty defeated, and thinking of what type of fun you can have alone on a Friday night in Madrid. Then, you hear it. It’s barely audible, but your ears are sure: it’s English. ‘Hey, where can I buy some beer to drink on the terrace?’. This is your moment. You can either remain lying on your uncomfortable bunk-bed or run out there and say hello. But wait, you can’t just sprint out to the reception and blurt hello. No, you’re a normal person who follows acceptable social norms. Okay, solution: walk out to the reception (casually) and ask the reception ‘hey, I was wondering where I may be able to find some beer?’. Now, assuming the English guy standing next to you also follows basic social-norms he should invite you along.
‘We’re looking for the same thing’ he says with a smile. Damn, no invite. Okay, be brave: ‘no way! Is it cool if I tag along with you to grab some?’
‘Sure!’
Bam! This guy thinks it’s all his idea to have you tag along with him and his hot Australian buddies, but you can give yourself an internal high-five for manipulating the situation to your advantage!
And yes, this is a true story.
4. When all else fails, just remind yourself that you’re in Europe. Spending a night alone isn’t a great option every night, but heading to a cafe or a pub solo and grabbing a drink in Europe is a cool story, with or without people. You will remember it fondly and say to people: ‘this one night, while alone in Europe…’ and no matter what you did, it already sounds awesome.

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The best part about friends abroad is learning about their culture, a few words in their native language and you may increase the amount of Facebook friends you have. And, if you really hit-it-off you may get yourself an invite to their home. So, even after your adventure you have the opportunity to visit France, Portugal, Brazil, Italy, Spain, the UK and maybe Australia. You may even host someone yourself.
So, what are you waiting for!? Go say hello!

Packing for 3 months in Europe

So I spent the better part of the past two-days either packing or visiting. Packing isn’t difficult, it’s just draining.

When I looked down at the pile of clothes I made, it just didn’t seem like enough. I found myself thinking “Hm, well I guess I could pack one more shirt just in case…” but then the traveller inside me would scream “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!”.

I’ve never really been known as a light packer. Don’t get me wrong, after all the cross-country moves I’ve done I’ve gotten better, but this was a challenge. I used to pack a 50 pound bag for a one-week trip to see my Dad. He would always look at me like I was crazy, and he was right: I barely touched more than half the things in my suit case.

Anyways, I’m just estimating, but I am 95% certain the bag weighs less than 25 pounds. Is that good in “backpacker-travel” standards? I don’t really know–but I can pick my bag up with one arm no-problem, so I think that’s a good sign!

What I Packed

Clothing:

  • 4 tank tops (1 “dressier”)
  • 3 T-shirts (long and short-sleeved)
  • 1 pair shorts
  • 1 summer-dress
  • 2 Merino Wool sweaters
  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 light, 1 dark)
  • 1 zip-away type pants
  • 1 pair of lu lu lemons (guilty pleasure)
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 “nice” sweater
  • 2 bras
  • underwear/socks (obviously!)
  • PJs (shorts and a long t-shirt)
  • 1 bathing suit

Tioletries:

  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Razor
  • DRY conditioner/shampoo (Lush Cosmetics)
  • Small bottle Body-wash
  • 1 bottle spray leave-in-conditioner (I NEED IT!)
  • bandaids/polysporine (I’m really clumsy)
  • Hair elastics/bobby-pins
  • Make-up  Absolutely NOT!
  • baby-wipes (in a baggy–great for washing your face)
  • Vanilla spray (I have to smell good if I’m going to make friends)
  • Deodorant
  • Lady-stuff
  • Q-tips (a few in a baggy)
  • Vitamins/meds

Other Stuff:

  • Fluff-book (Thanks Heather for the Harlequin Romance)
  • iPod/iPhone and ear-phones (and charger)
  • ear-plugs
  • Towel/blanket
  • Flip-flops (for the showers)
  • Pillow-case (recommended by Heather-It’s always a comfort knowing what your head is laying on)
  • Sandals (small, cheap ones, for going out)
  • Walking shoes (wearing on the plane)
  • Camera and charger
  • Adaptor
  • Journal/pen
  • Spork
  • Bounce dryer sheets (make my smelly-stuff smell good)
  • Lock
  • Plastic bags (put away dirty-laundry/anything wet)
  • Sandwich bags (so many uses)
  • 1 water-bottle (the deflatable kind)

The obvious essentials:

  • Passport
  • photo-copies of my documents (a couple hidden in my carry-on and my bag as well as one I left at home)
  • Eurail Pass
  • Confirmation numbers
  • Address for my hostel

I’m pretty sure that’s it. The list may seem long, but once it’s all compacted in your bag, it’s not. I put a lot of my things in small plastic-bags (sandwich bags) and then put them all in one large zip-loc bag so it’s easy to dig out every night at the hostel.

Of the above items I packed the following in my carry-on:

  • 1 pair of underwear
  • iPhone/iPod/chargers/adaptor
  • The obvious essentials
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 flannel blanket (not in my list of things, only because it was given to me by a very friendly west-jet employee my last flight home, so I plan on only keeping it for the flight).
  • My book

And there you have it! I think it’s a fairly good list of things, and if I arrive and go “Sh*t, I should have packed _____” or “Fack, I wish I didn’t even bother packing _____”, I’ll let you know!

P.S. I AM SO EXCITED!

Eurail Pass – What a headache!

The countdown is on! Only ten days until I start my 3-month journey.

I’m not a procrastinator, but I waited longer than I should have to purchase my Eurorail Pass.

Why? Because it’s not as easy as the online-world makes it sound! Seriously, what is simple about picking a pass? Okay, I admit, if I had an itinerary in mind, I’m sure buying a pass would be simple. BUT, I am going with NO plan.

I’ve been on a few sites, including Rick Steves, for advice, but couldn’t really decide on the best course of action.

So, I headed onto the Eurail site and started comparing prices. Are you ready?

(Note: These are youth prices).

Eurail Global Pass: 10 days in 2 months – $548

Eurail Select Pass: 8 days in 2 months (3 countries) – $384

Eurail Regional Pass: 8 days in 2 months (France-Spain) – $364

Eurail One Country Pass: 8 days in 2 months (Spain) – $384

Alright. Do you see what I see? Let me break it down for you.

Why not the Global Pass?

I am going to be in Europe for a total of 3 months. A 3-month unlimited pass (not shows) is over $1000! No thank-you! I only plan on visiting 4-5 countries max, and the countries I am going to be in aren’t connected as well as Eastern Europe. Sure, if I were going to be in Eastern Europe,  a global pass may have made sense. But, Ireland I plan on traveling via bus or one-way train tickets. France I only plan on traveling through, and maybe stopping for a night or two. Portugal is also a country not that well-connected via the rail network. Global pass (for me) is out!

One Country Pass – I think not!

I think this is fairly self-explanatory: why would I pay the same for a one-country pass (same amount of days) as I would for a regional?!

Regional vs Select Pass

I wasn’t sure if I was going to travel in France. I may decide to fly instead from London to Spain (<$40), but I don’t know. But I figured for an extra $20 I’ll have peace-of-mind. That’s the same for portugal: I’ve tried looking online for tips on getting around this small country, but haven’t really stumbled on much. A friend of mine who visits there frequently told me that the bus system is the best option. But, if I decide to train into Lisbon for a few nights, nothing is stopping me. Also, what if I decide to do the Mediterranean tour in France and over to Italy? The options!

Cost: $401 (including shipping and insurance) for the regional pass.

I chose France, Spain and Portugal.

How did you decide on the amount of days?

This was a tough decision. Do I choose 7 days in 2 months or 10 days? I opted for 8 because I figure I will be spending a lot of time in certain areas. I love to stay in one place for an “extended” period of time (more than 3 days) to really soak in the culture. Honestly, it was a total guess as to how many days I might need. I’ll be kicking myself if I realize I need more.

So, for those of you looking into buying a Eurail Pass, I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s easy. It’s not! Even if you have an itinerary, spending a lump-sum like this is never easy to do, and what happens if your plans change? Do yourself a favour, and RESEARCH. I wish I would have seriously looked into this a lot sooner.

Instamoments – #yeg, #yyc, #yba

This gallery contains 18 photos.

27 Days! I’m freaking out a lil’ bit. As you all know I have made plans to move back to Ontario and yet these plans have been thwarted by what we’ll refer to as insanity. Don’t worry. I am not … Continue reading

Traveling Europe: What to buy

Oh Pinterest, I love you.

What a genius idea: your “favourites toolbar” now viewable with pictures and you can share it with your friends!

Well, Europe is only 10 weeks away!

  • 10 weeks left to save my $10,000
  • 10 weeks to find someone to sublet
  • 10 weeks to pack for my move to Ontario
  • 10 weeks to buy my gear for Europe

Might I add, 10 weeks is also the approximate length of time I’ll be spending in Europe…

So, what does Pinterest have to do with this?

Well, I’ve started a “list” of clothing/gear I think I might need! Okay, so you may not be as excited as I am, but I have spent hours compiling the list! My hope is that by the end I’ll have a fairly exhaustive list that I can share with other aspiring travelers!

Okay, to take a look at my list so far click here. Now, some of the items on the list so far I don’t need as my good friend Ashley has offered to hook me up with some supplies 🙂

Here are a few items that I know I want to buy:

MEC Timeless Knickers – $35

These look so comfortable! I don’t want to be wearing lu lu’s everywhere, so these look like a great alternative. The reviews were all positive, saying they were very comfortable! Perfect for flights and long train/car rides. Also, only $35!

MEC Twirl Dress – Wrinkle Resistant! – $39

Chances are I’ll head out to some nicer restaurants from time-to-time, or out for bevvies with fellow travelers, so a dress is a must. I want something that is wrinkle resistant (check) and that can be dressed up or down (check).

MEC Merino lightweight Hoodie – $75

I love wearing hoodies! It’s nice to have the option to take it on or off, which is important when you’re out and about all day. Also, this is made of Merino Wool, which whisks away moisture! It’s the most expensive item on this list, but I also think it’s the most important.

MEC Leena Top – $23

I really like the style of this top! I just can’t decide if cotton is the best choice of fabric?

Convertible Pants – Eddie Bauer $70

I’ve read on a few forums that convertible pants are ideal while trekking around. I don’t really like the style, or color, of these though.

MEC Travel Pouch – $8-$12

All 25 reviews were positive for this pouch, so I’m saying this is a must-have.
And at this cost, who could resist?

And there you have it, a short list of the things I want to bring with me on my trip.