Encamp & Grandvalira

The longest cable car in Europe starts at Encamp and ends at Solanelles in the Grandvalira ski resort. The cable car is 6 km long and takes you from point A to B in just 18 minutes with a stop in between for some more panoramic views.

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Encamp

Encamp is located just 5kms from Andorra-la-Vella and Escaldes-Engordany, the main urban shopping area and I took L2 from the city centre to Encamp that took only 10-15 minutes and drops you right in front of the cable car. Encamp itself is quite small and is a little sleepy but it is at such an angle you get to see the sunlight in the morning. If you are a skiing enthusiast this will open the world with the largest ski slopes in the whole if South Europe and Pyranees mountains.

The bus dropped me in front of Funicamp cable car station and I bought the tickets which were roughly €12 return without skiing. The station is well equipped with lockers, WiFi and 8 levels of parking and the day I went was quiet so no long queues.

Funicamp

The cable car is just as exciting as the views on the top. I waited for 5 minutes and managed to get on a cable car alone and then the journey began. It takes you through thick forests up to where the snow sporadically appears to thickly covered snowy mountains. The climb up is quite vertical and at times you feel like you could touch the tree tops but obviously its quite far below. You can see the beautiful valleys of Andorra below at at 25 km/h it is quite calm and serene.

You will reach the first stop which has a restaurant and a viewing area but I didn’t bother stepping out because I was hungry and more interested in eating on the top.

On the way back I took a hyper lapse video of the journey, it is below, enjoy the views..

     

Solanelles (GrandValira)

Finally I reached the top after 15-20 minutes from the start of my journey and 30-40 minutes from my residence which is pretty impressive considering how far off it is.

The views on the top are just breathtaking, I popped into the skiing school and the cafeteria next to it and ordered my awesome four cheese sandwich and cappuccino. The food was good but the view was just breathtaking. You can see vast valleys, snow clad mountains and luckily it was quite sunny on the day so the views were even better.

The skiing resort is absolutely stunning, if you love skiing you can get more detailed information here.  I saw a lot of people skiing in different directions and there were two or three different chair and standing lifts to bring them back up to the top.

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I walked slightly up to the top of the mountain in the middle and saw the beauty of this tiny country in a single glance. You cannot stop yourself from falling in love with the stunning views. I made my way down after a couple of hours of roaming around, soaking up some sun. (Don’t forget to put some sunscreen on, sun that high up is very harmful for your skin).

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I managed to get back on the cable car alone and finally reached encamp and headed back to Andorra le Vella to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in Caldea..

Porto

Porto the city of bridges and unofficial capital of North is very much a city in its own right and the reason I says this is because I thought of it as a subdued-to-the-capital, characterless second biggest city in Portugal and while I thought of Portugal as a small country and Lisbon was an eye opener enough, Porto really exceeded all expectations.

It’s a beautiful city with a lot to offer apart from the bridges alone and you can guess that from some of the people it has hosted over the years, J. K. Rowling being my favourite one and if you are a Harty Potter fan Porto is a must see city because you will see a lot of it in the movies and books from the student uniform of University of Porto to the grand staircase of Livraria Lello.

The most interesting fact about Porto which I found on day 1 from the guide was that the city ends at Douro river and across the river is a different city altogether called Vila Nova de Gaia (or Gaia in short and even though there is no real distinction and the public transport run across both cities like one the administrations are different and based on that both cities claim they hold the record of possessing 6 bridges unless it comes to paying for their maintenance 😉

All Things Porto

Well the very first thing you should know is the name Porto is the English version of Oporto and the locals consider it the wrong pronunciation so if you see Oporto everywhere you know why that is. The name means The Port and comes from the ancient times when Porto used to be an ancient outpost of Roman empire.

Food  –  Porto has its own food which is quite different from the food int he south. The city has an extensive range of places to choose from from Modern, contemporary places to traditional 100’s of years old restaurants that are still local favourites. I tried a few places around and just loved the food so a few suggestions are here.

Now the most famous area for food is Rua da Picaria which isn’t very close to the centre and has some amazing restaurants, cafes and bars with a great vibe especially for evenings. And you cannot just forget about Francesinha which is a big spicy meat and cheese and sausage sandwich that will make you drool. Funny story behind its conception though because it was invented in 1960’s by a French emigrant who came to live in Porto. His name was Daniel da Silva and he was not happy with the length of Porto girls skirts and closed collar shirts so he invented Francesinha because the spices made them sweat and they opened their collars to get some fresh air; perversion finally gave something good to the world..

Another local speciality is tripe which is too gruesome for me to eat so I didn’t bother. The story behind this comes from old times when the king sent some expeditions abroad and locals were so hopeful of their succes that they used to load all the good meat on to the boats and they were left with tripes and left overs.

Accommodation –  I stayed near Aliados station in a hotel which I didn’t like and I would suggest you to get a place around the same area but through Airbnb. The buildings are quite grand, this being the centre of the city.

Free Walking Tour –  The Free Walking Tour that I joined was probably the most disappointing one of my whole Travelling life. Not only did the guide not introduce the city as the whole the tour could have finished much earlier if they didn’t keep mentioning the pub crawl and other tours and this was not the first day only, it continued on the second day as well, I’d suggest trying another company.

Salazar – Salazar had a profound impact on Portugal after his 36 years of reign but you can see it much deeper in Porto than Lisbon or Faro. His name will spring up again and again so I’d recommend a quick read about him.

Harry Potter References – J. K. Rowling lived in Porto for a few years before she was famous and you can see the influence Porto had on Harry Potter series. The grand staircase from Lello Book shop to the students from University of Porto and their uniforms will remind you of this place and not to forget Cafe Majestic which inspired interior for some grand themes in the books. If you are a Harry Potter fan, Porto is a must visit.

Gay Porto – Porto is still quite conservative when it comes to gay life and the gay circle is small with a few bars around “Galaria de Paris,” called The Galleries. Most of the gay bars are located here.The area is quite dead during the day but it comes alive at night and by night I mean after 10 because in Portugal people get done with dinner at that time and clubs generally open after 12am and stay open till sunrise. I only went to Cafe Lusitano and Zoom and loved them. Cafe Lusitano has an amazing hip retro decor and it is a converted warehouse. A few other famous bars are Pride, Syndikato & Labirintho.

Now when it comes to Grindr and guys, the reaction was fairly mixed, even though Porto is a big city the general focus on “muscles” is not overpowering and people will still meet you for coffee without asking your dick size but at the same time guys don’t like showing their faces which is frustrating because I wanted to spend less time on Grindr and more in the city but guys are generally good looking and nice.

Porto Card – Porto Card is the tourist card for Porto which gives you access to public transport and discounted or free entry to monuments and museums and you can buy it here. To be honest I didn’t think I needed it so I didn’t bother and bought the transport pass only which is quite handy and for longer distances I stuck to uber which is quite readily available in the city.

Day 1

Allies Avenue –> Sao Bento Train Station –> Church of Ildefonso –> Se do Porto –> Ponte Luis I –> Ribeira –> Funicular dos Guindais –> The Galleries

Avenida dos Aliados (Avenue of Allies) – The main square in Porto is right in front of this avenue with Clerigos Church on one side and Sao bento station on the end of other side, this avenue is the heartbeat of city. You will not only come here again and again it is also where most of the stuff happens from celebrations to protests and everything in the middle and not t forget it is a tour starting point.

I was saying very close to the square in a hotel and after a delicious quick breakfast of Pasteis de nata and coffee I walked off to catch the tour and the first impression of the city from the avenue was just gorgeous with Tony white puffy clouds hovering in the blue sky in the backdrop of beautiful Baroque style buildings and the City hall in the middle…

Praca da Liberdade (Liberty Square) is on the opposite end on city hall with a statue of King Peter IV and this is where we started our tour with a little history of the city. Most of the buildings here are either high end hotels, banks and an ‘Imperial’ McDonald’s. It is the most beautiful McDonald’s EVER with its beautiful chandeliers and art deco stained glass windows, don’t forget to pop in..

Sao Bento Train Station – The greatest treasure of Porto lies in this beautiful train station, perhaps the most beautiful station in the whole world with over 20,000 gems. The station is fully functional and has trains coming and going but that’s not why it is called the treasure, the reason is the amazing 20,000 ‘Azulejo’ tiles that cover the walls and make the scenes from Portugal’s history. The work is so detailed it blows your mind completely and you are left wondering how the artist painted these scenes with such detailed and transformed them into ceramic tiles.

You need a few minutes to soak these beautiful art pieces in before moving on. The walk from Liberty Square to the station has a road (beginning of Rua Da Madeira or Rua de Sa da Bandeira, I don’t remember exactly) that is called the ‘Road of illegitimate children’ because of all the corpses burried under the road from the shenanigans of clergy and nuns 😉

Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso (Church of Ildefonso) – Once done admiring the beauty of train station, a small walk away is the Church of Ildefonso. Made in Baroque style it has a touch of Porto with the beautiful white and blue tiles on its facade. The space around it also gives you a different perspective compared to the rest of churches crammed between massive buildings throughout the city. The sleek look is also quite appealing, another must visit…

Se do Porto (Porto Cathedral) – The walk from Ildefonso church to Porto cathedral is uphill and you will get to see the Sao Joao National Thetre as well which is quite grand. The walk will take you around some derelict looking buildings in need of repairs but a little further the road opens up and the area around the Porto Cathedral becomes open.

the cathedral is grand but boring and mundane especially compared to the ‘palace’ of the Bishop. The Romanesque facade lacks any decor and the interior is barely fitting for its size. The courtyard outside provides a good view though and the really beautiful spires outside in the courtyard turned out to be the death poles because that’s where they used to hang people for heresy and blasphemy, I didn’t dare touch them after the guide revealed it laughingly…

Ribeira do Porto – The walk from the cathedral down to the oldest and still functional district of Ribeira is the best part of the whole trip. The streets get narrower with eash turn and the slope makes the views amazing. the people who still live here do not shy away from tourists and you can see them living their life to fullest with laundry freely hanging on wires and children running around and neighbours communicating across windows so close they can touch each other.

I love getting lost in these old neighbourhoods because they are like time capsules, you discover things you would nowhere in the modern parts of the city and the people who shaped the future as we see today originate from these areas. I love the air of slight nostalgia that circulates the winding streets with the small shops and ageing residents..

Don’t forget to try the chocolate cake from Cozinha Doce which is surprisingly finger licking good with oozing chocolate and I said surprisingly because I expected something more ‘Portuguese’ than a chocolate cake from a home run small bakery with an adorable grandma figure, this is why I love travelling..

By the time you get to the Port you will see a lot of options to eat, drink and chill out and I spent the whole evening there with some tour mates including dinner which is amazing when the lights on the city are turned on and the sun is setting on this beautiful city.

Ponte Luis 1 (Luis I Bridge) – You will climb down the stairs through Ribeira district and finally on to this bridge famous for its name as well its wrong association with Gustave Eiffel. This Double Decker metallic giant was engineered by Theophile Seyrig who was a student of Eiffel and the reason it was associated with Eiffel was his signature style, one people go to see and take pictures with in Paris (The Eiffel Tower in case you haven’t guessed it).

The bridge is beautifully lit at night and is a major tourist attraction. On the lower deck you will see some children jumping in the river, crazy enough but they do it if you pay them so please don’t pay any kids on the bridge at all!!!

The official name of the bridge is Dome Ponte Luis I but it is called Ponte Luis I and there is a story behind it as well. Dom is added as a sign of respect in Portuguese and the bridge was associated with King Luis I who failed to show up after making peole wait for hours on the inauguration ceremony and the people decided to drop the ‘Dom’, still a good outcome compared to what it could have been if Twitter was around 😉

The bridge at night..

During the day..

 

Funicular dos Guindais – After a chilled out Shisha at the river bank I took this magical little ride that is almost vertical and I have only seen this in Porto. Quaite a fun experience that takes you back up to Batalha from where you can take metro or walk back to the city centre..

The Galleries – This is a small area and a lot of gay bars are here. The area starts crowding up after 11pm and like typical Portuguese custom, everyone is out on streets drinking and having fun. Most of the clubs open after 12 or 1pm and are open till sunrise so don’t go early. It has a great psoitive vibe and people are really friendly. I had a really great night..

Day 2

Day 2 is more about relaxing and good food to get some much deserved after a long day of exploration on day 1.

Cafe Majestic –> Liveraria Lello –> University of Porto  –> Church of Carmo –> Praia do Molhe (Beach)

Cafe Majestic – I woke up with the plan to enjoy a full breakfast at Cafe Majestic, which is famous not only for its beautiful interior and its contributions to the history of Porto. Another claim to fame for this cafe is J.K.Rowling used to sit here and write Harry potter during her stay in Porto and you can clearly see the resemblence of the movie’s interior in the cafe.

All that aside it is seriously expensive and it is a mission to get a table for food. I ended up just enjoying an espresso which arrived in 20 minutes and grabbed some Pasteis de nada from a bakery nearby and headed to the other side to see the other two important influencers of Harry Potter series..

Liveraria Lello – The grand stair case inside this beautiful and really old bookshop is the reason for its fame. After word got out the staircase in Hogwarts was designed keeping this one in mind people flocked to the shop and it got so bad the shop wasn’t seeling any books despite hundreds of visitors so the management decided to put a ticket to see the interior which you can get a reduction for in the price if you buy a book.

It is a beautiful shop regardless of its reason for fame and a few minutes of peace and silence on the top floor reading area will open up a few ideas in your brain too, who knows..

Igreja do Carmo (Church of Carmo) & University of Porto – A few meteres from the lello bookshop is the University of Porto which has an impressive mammoth of a building and a very beautiful presence. The Hogwarts uniforms werebased on the Graduation gowns for this university and that day they had a fair going on outsideabout social media so I didn’t bother going in besides the building opposite was more interesting for other reasons..

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At first glance this looks like one church but actually these are two churches, the one on the right is relatively newer one. The story behind is quite funny actually. It is not allowed for two churches to share a wall in Portugal and I’m assuming in the whole catholic world. The bishop from the left church was fired from his job for reasons unknown and he got really angry and vowed to build a better and more beautiful church at the same spot.

He was quite cleer and to avoid the issue of churches sharing a wall he built his house between two churches so if you look closely, the two windows are of his house and he finally did build a more beautiful and elegant church and diverted the crowds to his church, a total win win..

After a bit of Harry Potter fanship, I was ready to get some food and rest on the beach so I headed to get the Tram number 1. This tram starts its journey near the St. francis church in Ribeira district and the closest station to this is Sao Bento which is a bit of a walk or you can take Uber like I did.

According to Porto Transport website “Infante-Passeio Alegre”, follows the river Douro to reach Foz do Douro. This trip in an authentic charming tram is full of romance and a great way to discover in passing the Solar do vinho do porto (the wine institute), the Museo Carro Electrico and some splendid buildings and landscapes. A tram comes along every twenty minutes or so and they run between 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon.”

The tram in short has spectacular views and takes you along the river all the way to the beach and at the fraction of a price of taxis. It is a really amazing experience, one I am really glad I didn’t miss..

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Praia do Molhe – A little walk from Passeio Alegre stop where the tram route ends, the beaches start and start they do, one after another, one more awesome than last and while you do not get vast sandy beaches like the South, the rocks provide a different view altogether.

I had made a reservation for Cafeina recommended by a friend and I loved the food especially because I was very hungry after the tour and it was holiday and why not! (whoever needs a reason to eat good food?) .

Rubbing my tummy I walked to Molhe beach which was my favourite after walking a few and the ice cream guy let me use his deck chair as there are no sunbeds to rent on any of these beaches which is a bit crap so do take your beach towels if you head for a beach in Porto. After some quick splish splash I set myself on the beach with my headphones in, licking away my ice cream enjoying the sun and not caring about the world at all.

Rua da Picaria – After about 4 hours it started to get slightly colder and I wrapped up my picnic to head out to Rua da Picaria or Picaria Street which has all the new experimental hip restaurants and has a very Shoreditch-vibe but without all the hipsters and their non conformist conformity. The street is behind thecity hall and I’d recommend walking there because the night views of Aliados Avenue and city hall are awesome. I hadn’t made a reservation and ended up eating some random place which was still quite good and made a reservation for an early lunch for next day at Cruel which was amazing. People in Porto generally like staying on the streets than in the bars and restaurants and it was the same here. I met a couple of girls and spent quite some time with them, everyone seemed really chilled with a goof vibe and you feel right at home.

Food options here are plenty and you will find something of your taste for sure and best part is, it won’t break your bank, what a blessing!

Day 3

Victory Point –> Clerigos Church and Tower –> Church of Sao Francisco –> Stock Exchange Palace –> Duoro River –> Gaia –> Porto do Ferreira

Miradouro da Vitoria (Victory Point) – Technically not a public spot, this is one of the most amazing stop, one you shouldn’t miss. You will get a great panoramic view of both the cities; Porto and Gaia especially for sunsets and evening times. The place is quite run down so bring a blanket, a coffee flask and some food for a quick picnic or a breakfast in my case. It will blow your mind.

p.s It is private property but there’s a sign that allows tourists inside so take full advantage…

Igreja e Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos Church and Tower) – Wherever you go in Porto you will see the Clerigos Tower be it Luis I bridge or Picaria street. It is not only tall and famous, it is also very well loved and most locals will speak of with great fondness..

I walked from the victory point to the tower and decided to go on top of the tower first and then see the church which was a good idea because to get to the top requires a lot of energy due to the steps and the church provides some welcome relief later.

I divided my visit in three places; the first one was the beautiful double staircase in front of the church which has a presence of its own, the tower which is at the back of church and is also built in the same style as the church and the last part is the church itself which is built in Baroque style.

The tower will provide you amazing views of the whole city in each direction and the day I went, it was nice and warm with a slight breeze which made the city feel even more beautiful. Going up I was excited about the views so I didn’t feel it much though you will sweat a lot in summer but afterwards coming down step by step you will feel the height and gravity but I ignored it because it was compensated for by the views and the satisfaction and obviously I’d spent the whole of yesterday relaxing on the beach..

The church inside is more simple than I had anticipated but the altar was still impressive with the most amazing colour scheme I’ve seen in most churches. Instead of a blend it was quite uniform which gave it a distinct elegance.

Church of Sao Francisco – A small walk down from Clerigos church and tower brought me to the most exciting monument for Porto, Sao Francisco church. Before leaving my bestie laughed about bringing some of the gold back from Portugal which they took from Brazil (She’s Brazillian) and this is one place you can recover a lot from. The church looks quite ordinary from outside and its Gothic exterior is quite unassuming but buy the ticket and step inside and you will be awe struck. Photography is strictly prohibited but the guard let em take a few when I told him about my fascinations with churches but strictly without flash (as if I’d want to damage this beauty in any way).

The interior is Baroque with every single inch covered in beautiful wooden carving which is covered in gold leaf. It is said the church holds roughly 400KG of gold which doesn’t seem far off considering how intricate and detailed the work is.

I spent a lot of time sitting and admiring different sides, the morning light entering the church and the lack of tourists and I could spend a lot more time there if it weren’t for my tour for Bolsa palace. If you get a chance to see only 1 place in Porto, make it this church, it is absolutely breathtaking.

Palacio do Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace) – The former stock exchange building is located next to the church of Sao Francisco and demands a lot of appreciation. Embark on a 90 minutes tour and the guide will show you where the stock exchange used to operate and other grand room likes Arab room which has a decor that will make you glitter with the decor inside. It is currently used to receive head of states and other dignitaries. The building also houses the flags of all nations Portugal trades with.

Unfortunately I lost all the pictures from my visit so I have added some from google. It is a must visit and I’d recommend booking the tour in advance which is a little long but the facts are still very significant to just visit the building for a few minutes..

Douro River – Porto is located on the estuary of this beautiful river and the views from both sides; Porto and Gaia are amazing especially at night, I would highly recommend a dinner at Roberta and watching the sunset here. There’s even a shisha lounge and most places have outdoor seating.

Cable Car & Ribeira do Gaia – Once you cross the Ponte Luios I bridge you will find the cable car starting point next to Jardim do Moro metro station. The return ticket was €9 and there is hardly any waiting time even though it was evening and things were getting more exciting. The ride to Gaia on the other side of the journey is less than 10 minutes and you get to see the views from both sides, it is quite exciting and recommended..

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The riverfront from Gaia side is equally stunning if not more honestly and I just loved sitting there watching the ships go by, people crawling up and down Porto on the other side and counting my blessings. The views change when the sun goes down and you see the lights being turned on one by one on the hill, its a beautiful view that looks even better with a few sips of Port wine 😉

Porto do Ferreira – Once you reach the other side in Gaia there are plenty of wineries that are focussed on Port wine but the reason I chose this one is because it has the same name as my bestie’s last name, they are all pretty similar and the brand association is more around the processing and not its production.

Port wine is not really produced here, it is made upstream where the grapes are grown and brought here once fermentation has started. The huge barrels hold hundreds of tons of wine and depending on the type, it is processed separately. Generally Port wine has two main types; the reductive aged Port wines that have no exposure to air because they are aged in glassand are smoother with deeper colour, the other type is oxidative aged Port wines which are aged in wooden barrels. These are more viscous and have lighter colours.

You need to go with a tour and the guide explained the process from start to the very end with some tasting at the end and the whole process is interesting and it is amazing how much time and effort goes into making something that you drink without much thought. The tour lasted about an hour and was quite informative and at €10 with three taster glasses, totally worth it. The best part was the sun setting on Porto when I was coming out which I loved on the banks of Douro, happy times!!!

Faro

Faroooooo; I’ll never forget Faro because of the missed train, wrong bus and finally getting there at 4am. The train I had to take from Lisbon to Faro was the last one for the day and I missed it, took a bus which I was supposed to change somewhere and ended up stranded at 11pm in Lagoa and had to take a taxi from Lagoa to Faro paying €90, an eventful evening overall!!!

This beautiful little city is at the capital of Algarve and while it doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of bigger cities like Lisbon and Porto it has its own serenity and calm charm which is perfect if you want to relax between two city trips which is exactly what I did.

Faro has its own airport which is extremely convenient and in terms of size even though it is a regional capital it is quite small with the city divided into the old city which has the Faro Cathedral and museum as well as restaurants with cobbled narrow streets and beautiful houses. Then there is city centre with more touristy stuff but the small pockets within city centre are really beautiful and calm and finally the new part of the city which has a lot of students due to university and local residents. The beaches in Faro are golden sand and the water is generally colder due to Pacific but since I went in June it was quite cosy. The beaches also lie at a little distance from the city whether you want to head to Faro beach or the deserted Island beach.

I would recommend staying in the city centre because it is not only convenient it is also functional and you will can easily walk to the old city, bus station (next to hotel Eva on the marina) for the beach and airport and the Harbour area for ferry to deserted island and other tours and trips. If you plan to head to Algarve the buses and trains go from city centre..

Food – Food in Faro is really good with a lot of options and the best part is the price, it is simply amazing. You can try traditional dishes and some contemporary food along with fast food and not to forget bar food. I would recommend trying a few of the places for sure, the link is here.

The Gay side of Faro – While there is no specific Gay bars and clubs in Faro the gay scene is quite small but the guys are generally good looking and very friendly. Grindr is teeming with guys but most locals still don’t like showing their face openly and you will find it a little more frustrating than big cities but I generally loved the atmosphere and met a few guys who showed me around…

Day 1

Faro City Centre –> Igreja da Misericórdia –> Old Town –> Faro Cathedral –> Municipal Museum

Faro City Centre – The city centre is small and you can see it all in an hour or two easily but it is still very functional and no matter what you need from beach towels, sunscreen, electricity adapters, sim cards to branded shoes and jewelry, you name it they have it..

Walk around and you will find a lot of small enclosed squares with loads of trees which are especially fun in the evenings when sun is going down and the heat is dissipating. The city centre has a lot of restaurants, bars and cafes and if you are looking for tours and excursions you will conveniently find a few travel agents.

I just loved the older part of it with abandoned old houses and graffiti that looks eccentric and different in white washed houses and cobbled streets..

Igreja da Misericórdia – Walking from the City centre to the Old town you will come across this beautiful church. Like most buildings in Faro it is relatively simple when it comes to facade and surprisingly small and simple indoors but the real beauty lies in how it changes colour with different types of light throughout the day. While the day light makes it look rather dull, the vening light has the completely opposite effect and at night the glow is completely different..

Old Town – The Old town of Faro is old in every sense of the word. It isn’t actively used anymore other than the cathedral, museum and restaurants and of course a few houses. The entrance is not very far from the City Centre and comes from Roman times especially the arch is really beautiful..

You can roam around and see the whole Old Town in an hour after which it gets a bit mundane but I just loved roaming around because I love getting lost in narrow streets and also because my obsession with beautiful doors was deeply satisfied with some doors so beautiful I just wanted to take them with me..

 

Igreja Da Sa De Faro – The main cathedral of Faro is located at the edge of City centre and at the start of Old Town. The cathedral is quite simple from outside and though the facade is supposed to look grand it has a sense of laziness about it. the interior however, is just stunning. It has been beautifully decorated and well worth a visit.

After spending some time inside the next step id to climb the bell tower which has access through narrow stairs but the view on top is totally worth it. You can see a tree top view of the whole old town and it is stunning with the sea in the back ground..

The Bell Tower and Views from Top..

The Interior of the church..

Municipal Museum of Faro –  While the museum located right next door to the Faro cathedral is not world famous, the courtyard of this beautiful building is very soothing. The roof is made with clay tiles and when wet with water, it gives a beautiful smell like the scent of wet earth after a long dry period. I didn’t bother with much of the exhibits but there is a recital that happens a few times a day which is absolutely amazing and highly recommended. The beautiful arches will just make you fall in love with this simple museum..

Day 2

Faro City Centre –> Faro Beach

Bus station – You can take a bus from the city centre to the beach which runs pretty much every hour but the schedule varies throughout the day and the first thing to get hold of is the bus time table. I arrived quite late after a heavy breakfast only to find out the next bus was in 90 minutes…

Faro Beach –  The beach is roughly 30 minutes on the bus from the city centre and is quite big. There are plenty of options to eat and chill with a few restaurants and bars blurting loud music and drinks but a little further down the area is quieter and with umbrellas already there you just need a beach towel, sun screen and music.

There is a centre where you can get kayaks on really cheap rates but those are not for the open sea and the sports centre also offers other activites and excursions ut I think you need to book in advance. The beach area is quite well developed with most facilities and good food options. I spend most of the day there and in the evening headed back to the town to get some food and head to some bar to enjopy the vibe.


Day 3

Faro City Centre –> Deserted Island –> Faro City Centre –> Airport

Ilha Deserta (Ilha da Barreta) and Beach –  Barreta island or Ilha Baretta or Ilha Deserta is an island not so far from Faro city centre and you can take a ferry or speed boat a few times a day to get there. According to the ferry websiteFaro departures are at 10:00, 13:15 and 16:45 and the return from Ilha Deserta are at 12:45, 14:30, 16:00 and 17:30 (always check local listing for seasonal variations).

As the name suggests, it actually is deserted and no one lives on the island which makes it amazing. The day I went there we were only 4 people on the beach with a few more in the only restaurant on the island.

While a few different tours are available I would recommend taking a ferry from Porta Nova Pier to the island and spend time relaxing or walking around. the water here is quite calm and the beach is perfectly golden. I just put some music on and went to sleep, a perfectly relaxing day with no one around with a few tripsto the restaurant to get drinks etc.

 

Airport – The Airport is roughly 20 minutes from the city and the busses are the same as the one’s that take you from City Centre to Faro beach. The airport is modern and surprisingly big compared to the size of town but it serves the whole Algarve region and the tourist traffic is ever growing.

Budva & Sveti Stefan

Budva is an amazing town with everything you need from Casinos to hotels to good night life and not to forget beaches and sun. The moment you see the town from the top of mountains you get an amazing feeling. We drove from Podgorica Airport to Budva which took roughly 1 hour but the drive was scenic and the plenty of stop to make to feel the raw energy of this beautiful country.

We got an apartment through Airbnb which was near Jadranski Put which is the main street that goes through Budva. It was close to the beach and Stari Grad, the old town.

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View from balcony

Ricardo Glava and Stari Grad

The old town of Budva or Stari Grad is a labyrinth of small stone streets, small and well put together houses, restaurants, cafes and loads of tour operators, churches and tourists. The only locals you will find here are the ones who work in the shops or restaurants…

The churches are small and beautiful and the simplistic look makes them very elegant, something that the massive cathedrals lack mostly…

We headed to Ricardo Glava with our beach towels excited to splash some water and get some sun (honestly London can make you crazy like that even at the end of November where you feel like you haven’t had sun in 7 years). The beach was small and the water was not very clear but the sun and drinks totally made up for other things.

We headed on foot to Porto restaurant which was highly recommended by our host through the cobbled streets of Stari Grad and after a massive seafood platter and seafood risotto dinner we decided to head home for some rest.

The walk home was lazy and nice and we spotted a shisha place to sit with blankets and chill with some green tea, shisha, detox juice and a few games of cards. What an amazing end to the day…

Mogren Beach

Mogren beach lies right next to Ricardo Glava beach and a small path leads you to this beautiful sandy beach which itself is divided into Mogren 1 and Mogren 2. Now unlike almost all beaches in Montenegro this is relatively sandy beach and you will find a lot of people here; clear water, sand and proximity to city centre being the reasons so plan carefully…

Oh.. oh.. oh before I forget don’t forget to say hello to the ballet dancer statue on the way to Mogren. There’s a few stories about her; one around her death by drowning, another about how she appeared to sailors and saved their lives and one more about her being really beautiful and artist being in love with her. Whatever the real reason she is famous and deserves a good selfie or a photo 😉

It’s a beautiful beach though and we spent almost a full day there after a heavy full breakfast and a massage at the Mogren Hotel by amazing Diana. (My legs still thank you Diana)…

On the top

The way to Kotor bay is loaded with amazing views especially this restaurant we stopped at for breakfast. The views are really amazing with amazing blue water, perfect green mountains and beaches all over the place. It’s also the better side because just after a few minutes you’re on top whereas if you’re coming from East side it’s either flat or too high for you to actually have a clear idea about the place.

On the way back in the evening, we loved the view from same spot which was for the whole city and especially Sveti Stefan which glows like a gem in a very distinguished manner, breathtaking!!!

Przno & Sveti Stefan 

On the day we went to Sveti Stefan our host recommended parking the car in Przno and walking from przno beach to Sveti Stefan and oh lord, was she right!

We parked the car at Przno and went downstairs to the beach to begin a 2km walking trails through forest and beach and sun, natural beauty just thrown at you at every turn and the best part was when we first had a glimpse of Sveti Stefan.. it just appeared after a turn between the trees like a calendar picture, absolutely amazing.

The slightly sad part is that most beaches here are exclusive including the first beach after you reach there which costs €80 for an umbrella and 2 sun beds or you could get the same thing a few meters away on the south side of beach for €20, you choose.. (that’s how they keep the beach exclusive to hotel guests).

Unfortunately you can only go inside Sveti Stefan if you have a room reservation which was around €900 a night in November when I randomly checked… it is a stunning sight though and the south side beach is quite stunning with clear water and who doesn’t like good pictures with exclusive resorts in the background 😉

Lucice Beach

The last beach we covered after Sveti Stefan was Lucice to watch the sunset on the recommendation of Tourism office. (This was the only useful piece of info we got throughout our stay from tourism offices, they were generally unaware of most things even in the immediate vicinity)…

I took a timelapse of the sunset which I am very proud of because the sunset was absolutely beautiful and we just sat in trance watching the sun going down with such utter serenity, I felt like I didn’t want anything else in my life at that point, I’ll never forget it…

Nightlife and food

Nightlife in Budva is centred around the Slovenian beach where you will find plenty of beach clubs and bars. Since we went at the end of season the places weren’t exceptionally busy and we were generously given free drinks to balanace foreigners with locals. We spent a night in Ambiatique club on the beach and absolutely loved the vibe and music which was very upbeat, unfortunately the music turned more and more Serbian as the night went along and we left around 1.. it was a fun night though..

I couldn’t find any dedicated gay bars or clubs in Budva and there weren’t many guys around on Grindr either but I was fine with that because most of the guys there were blissfully ignorant of the modern day physique complexes and 6pack abs pressure and fairly average looking…

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Astoria and our last night..

For our final night we decided to bid farewell to Montenegro in style and go for dinner at the beach to Astoria at the corner of Stari Grad. The food was great and especially the fresh grilled fish and seafood risotto still make me lick my lips, the fat child inside me slept very happy that night… the food was roughly €20 each (insane right?)

To finish it off we decided to go for a couple of card games and shisha at Babaluu. The manager was nice enough to send us some complimentary detox juices when we weren’t allowed to play cards (and he was good looking for a change..).

We loved every minute of Budva and highly recommend it for a great end of season visit so pack your bags and book your flights today…