Wanderer

I’ve never been a fan of Spain, but Seville, oh!

Ok, nothing against Spain, but I’ve just never liked it. I starve every time I go there because I hate the food, I almost keeled over with shock when I found out that Zara – one of my favourite fashion stores – is Spanish, and the men are just… urgh. It’s not for me. Give me France or Italy any day!

However… when I arrived in Seville. Or rather, not specifically Seville, that was just another Spanish city; beautiful architecture, but then you eat the food and talk to the people and.. it all falls apart. But more specifically, Plaza de Espana. Yes, I know I just said, the architecture is beautiful and then you eat the food and get hit on my slimy men who think they’re god’s gift to woman and it all falls apart, and here I am talking about more architecture.. but hear me out.

Image

I love travelling, but after a while, it becomes a bit repetitive. And I know that I’ve only been travelling this time for a few weeks, and I shouldn’t have hit this point yet, but it’s like, I’ve never refreshed from my last travels, travelling as become such a big part of my life for so long that it’s just become like ‘ok, here we go, life is great’ rather than ‘holy shit everything is so wonderful and magical and wow’ to the point that you’re pretty much high from purchasing a flight ticket or realising that your coach has crossed a border. This time, I’ve been walking around, and yes, it’s all beautiful and exciting, but.. and then I walked into Plaza de Espana, and I suddenly had that wow feeling for the first time in a while.

ImageImage

I could have either ran around photographing every single little detail to give you an idea as to how intricate and beautiful this place is. But that would be insane, so just trust me when I say, visit Seville. I spent about 3 hours there on 3 different days, just sitting, doodling or scribbling down one of my shoot ideas or some other creative fibble-fabble. And, what I loved most about Seville is that yes, it’s touristy, but not too touristy. Plaza de Espana was never crowded with people; not even close. And that’s a nice change from places like, the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum. It’s very peaceful.

Image

And the best part? I met some lovely, lovely people in my hostel, and one of them is going to come and visit me next week.

Image

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Google+ – Pinterest – Polyvore

Standard
The 3 L's

University Exhibition

Exhibition

It’s the end of an era, and we’re all feeling a little sentimental. I simultaneously feel ready to finally leave so many years of studying, ready to spread my wings and throw myself into the world of being an adult… which for me means choosing a rather unconventional, nomadic lifestyle. I’ll become a digital nomad, and I’ll travel, and be happy and free and it’s going to be wonderful. Perhaps one day I’ll come back to ‘the real world’ and commit myself to rent and bills and maybe even a mortgage, but for now, no thank you. It’s possible to earn a living without having a ‘base’ location, and I’ve spoken about this at length over at the other blog.

I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone does with their lives post-university; who will go ahead and become professional photographers, and who will venture instead into other careers – desk jobs, part time jobs, amazing-but-completely-irrelevant-to-photography jobs. We’ve all placed our bets as to who will marry first, who will have a baby first, who will buy a house first, who will move to which country and who will be the most/least successful of us all. From experience, I find that my bets are always wrong, and the person with the ‘firsts’ is always whoever I least suspect. Let’s see, maybe I’ll get a few right this time.

University, you were great… and even when you weren’t, you had a free studio/lighting store, so thanks for that. It really came in handy!

exhibition2

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Google+ – Pinterest – Polyvore

Standard
Wanderer

Lagos Water Sports

This is the main reason that I came to Lagos; the water sports.

Surfing and jet skiing especially. I also tried my hand at water-skiing, but I’m not going to pretend I was any good. In fact, imagine Bambi water-skiing (to my uni friends, that’s Bambi the deer, not Bambi the person… though I imagine Bambi the person would have looked at clumsy just as ridiculous while water-skiing too!) That was me. Bambi on water. Surfing on the other hand, I can do. And jet-skiing.

In fact, the first thing I did on arriving, was head out surfing. Actually no, that’s a lie, I arrived at 1am and so the first thing I did was sleep (this was the night after I’d climbed the mountain-hill to Pena Palace in Sintra), but the first thing I did when I woke up was head out surfing. I almost took my camera, thinking I could ask someone to grab some shots for me. And I regretted leaving it in my locker safe in the hostel… until I heard the cries of a girl who had arrived to hire a board at the exact same time as me. She had bought her camera, her entire handbag in fact, and asked the staff to keep it behind their desk for her, exactly as I would have done. And it was gone within an hour. Some sneaky bugger took it, and so for that reason, while I’m sorry that I don’t have a single photo of me surfing, or (because it spooked me), jet-skiing or bambi-skiing, I’m rather glad, because there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t have any photos anyway – because I wouldn’t have my camera any more.

However, I do have photos of me while I was grotto-exploring and snorkelling.

You see them all over Lagos, people standing around at little advertising tables. Do you want to go dolphin watching? Boat tours, anyone? And – the offer that I accepted: Cave and grotto tours – with snorkelling, miss?

Image

Image

I admit, after two hours in rather rough waters, I did feel somewhat seasick for ten, maybe fifteen minutes. As my bucket list includes things like ‘Sail around the world’, I need to work on that…

So after an hour of looking at the various caves and grottos and being shown ‘the elephant’, ‘the second elephant’, ‘Michael Jackson’s face’ and ‘Titanic and the Iceberg’, we were given the chance to snorkel – definitely the best part of the entire trip!

Image

Image

I couldn’t see a bloody thing (hence I’d given up on wearing the mask by the time someone grabbed my camera for me). But still, having a dip in the sea was lovely in itself. I’m kind of funny about swimming in the sea; if I’m on a beach, I’ll maybe dip my feet, but unless I have a surfboard, I won’t go for a swim. I don’t like seaweed and little fish that swim around your ankles and wading into the water. But when I’m standing on the edge of a boat, and everyone else is tentatively lowering themselves into the water. Fuck it, I jump.
Image

Two hours, including snorkelling and a quick 20 minute trip in a separate speedboat to be given a tour of the harder to reach caves, came to €15 – and I saw another company offering the same for €12, so definitely worth every penny.

Image
Don’t make the same mistake as me though; they promised we would be back for 8.30, and didn’t dock until nearer 9, and silly me had arranged a date with the Brazilian Ice Cream seller from the marine for 9.30… boats are not punctual! And sea-water will leave your hair looking disgusting; and you’ll smell bad. I’ll have to remember that next time.

P.S. yes, I managed to just rush back, fix my hair, and meet Monsieur Ice Cream for our date. Thankfully there was a breeze to dry my hair as I ran/skidded over those damn cobbles!

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Google+ – Pinterest – Polyvore

Standard
Wanderer

Beach Days and Princess Castles

Firstly, sorry for the biggg delay. I’ve had all of my posts ready and waiting, but they just wouldn’t post while I was in Spain! So here they are now in one big fat chunk. Sorry about that.

As I was saying…

12th July:

It’s been a lazy week. There have been a lot of lazy beach days this week. I’m in Lagos, and I think everyone who knows me is surprised to find that I’ve been here for almost a week now. Originally I thought ‘ok, one night, that’s all I’ll be able to handle in Lagos, one night and I’m out’. I’m not a party scene girl, I hate being drunk and worse still, I hate clubbing while sober, which makes it a bit of a lose-lose situation for me. I came to Lagos purely for the scenery and the water-sports. (Ha! If only my old P.E teachers could hear me say that! Emma? Sports? Hell no.)

Image

I can’t say anything here that most people don’t already know, Lagos is full of enough English tourists, everyone knows that it’s incredibly beautiful, to the point that in this week alone I swear I’ve developed arthritis in my shutter finger. I did put the camera away though eventually after I’d fallen over for the thousandth time. What is it with the whole of Portugal choosing the slippiest, shiniest white cobbles for their pavements?! An arthritic finger and bruised bum has definitely been worth it though.

Image

Before arriving here in lovely Lagos, I made a quick day stop in Sintra, having heard so much about it’s stunning princess castles; yet another of the 1000 apparent light bulb moments of inspiration for dear Walt when Disneyland sprung to his mind.

Take my advice. Do not do what I foolishly did and decide to walk to Pena National Palace; the most beautiful of them all (yes, there is more than one Palace in this tiny town!) I was walking for over an hour up long, winding roads. And the palace is atop a very, very high, steep hill. Take the bus, it’s worth every cent of it’s €5 return ticket.

Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who had been silly enough to walk, and I met three girls from New Zealand on my hike. Crazy uphill hikes in 38C heat are always so much easier with company! But again. Worth it.

ImageMy first thought when I caught sight of Pena Palace was honestly ‘I shall bring my sisters here one day’, as soon as they have a passport (small hiccup). It’s the ultimate princess castle.

Image

Once I reached the entrance, I happily paid another €2 for the craziest bus ride of my life. Being English, sometimes I forget that other countries don’t have the same OTT health and safety regulations that smother my country. At Sintra, once every seat of the rickety, vintage-chic bus is full, they just start perching people wherever they can. The passenger seat next to the driver’s had been ripped up, and so I was sitting on the metal bar that was left. A kid sat awkwardly at my feet, and another little boy and his sister, who couldn’t have been older than 14 were seated on the steps at the door – or rather, doorway. There was no door.

Still, the driver was very careful, and was constantly looking back to check on the two kids in the doorway. I don’t know if that should have made me nervous as he therefore only spent about 20% of the time looking at the road, but there you go. Crazy Portuguese bus rides. I found it much too enjoyable, thanks to years being wrapped in cotton wool by England’s health and safety.

Image

ImageI need to go back one day and see the other two castles; The Moors Castle (which is exactly what little English me pictures when you say castle), and Sintra National Palace, which is the easiest to reach, being central in Sintra town, and not atop a hill, but when I arrived it was covered in scaffolding. I could still have gone inside but I’d rather come back one day and be able to see it properly, in all it’s beauty!

One day.

Image

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Google+ – Pinterest – Polyvore

Standard
Wanderer

Sandeman tours and Midnight walks

Image

I think it important that everyone who visits Porto should go on at least one Port cellar tour and tasting. For a start, they are extremely cheap, generally around €5 for a tour and tasting (I believe Taylor’s tour is only €3). I personally went for Sandeman, which seemed to be one of the most popular, but the whole of Gaia’s river front is lined with well known brands; starting with Burmester and Calen as you cross the Ponte de D. Luis I, and ending with Ferreira and Graham’s (and those are just those shown on my map), and if you were to turn off the river front, you would find Taylor, Offley.. I could go on and on.

Of course, I recommend that you only choose a few, or perhaps one or two a day if you seriously like your port… but take it easy, it’s strong stuff at about 20%! And with two or three half glasses per tasting… that wouldn’t end well.

As I said, I chose Sandeman, with it’s €5 tour with two wine tastings. I overheard that for €9 you can taste three types of wine; red, tawny or white, or for €10 you can have three cellar tours (with 2 tastings each); Sandeman, Offley and Ferraria. I think I was mostly drawn to Sandeman because of it’s striking logo; no, it’s not Zorro, he’s called the Don.

Image

Image from here.

The tour took perhaps half an hour, including a ten minute video about the Douro region, where the vineyards are located. The tourguide even dresses as the Don, hence the rather ‘noir’ (according to Matt) photo below:Image

Of course the best part is always the tasting. I’ve never tried Port wine before, and while the  tawny was nice (very rich and fruity), I wouldn’t choose it again and I really couldn’t finish the white, which tasted quite coarse, nutty and spicy. Everyone else enjoyed it though, and I by no means pretend to be some sort of connoisseur.Image

Still, I’m glad that I can now tick it off my travel bucket list, and I learnt something new in the process; firstly, I don’t like port, and secondly, I learnt allll about the port making process, and the difference between the different ageing processes. Useless information no doubt, but I like to learn. Definitely worth €5! And the three cellar tour is definitely worth €10 too!Image

Image

In the evening, I went to see Porto at night with a friend. I admit I haven’t seen much of the city at night before; I’m always too exhausted from walking up and down hill after hill after hill (seriously, I’m a strong walker, despite having broken my foot in April, but those damn hills under the heat of the sun kill me!) I had to see a night time view of the city before I left though, and so me and Phelgo went for one last walk before I left for Lisbon.

Image

This is one of my favourite parts of travelling; the music. All across Europe, everywhere you turn there are people busking (and I am yet to come across a terrible musician *touch wood*), concerts, festivals, musicians entertaining people as they dine. In fact I love buying a meal at the supermarket and then seating myself on a step or bench near a fancy restaurant, the sort with a band or an accordion player. We’re listening to the same beautiful music, but while they are paying at least €20 for a meal, I’ve paid perhaps €5. Sneaky sneaky.

So last night’s walk was no exception; music everywhere. Everyone was laughing, dancing, I mean, it was a friday night, but it was very different to friday nights in England. People go out but there’s no crazy drunks slumped in doorways or lying face first in the street. Everyone just seems so much happier and less ‘I’ll just drown my sorrows and pretend I’m happy’.

Tonight I arrived in Lisbon, and while it hasn’t started amazingly well; taxi drivers running off with my change and hostels losing my reservation, for example, I’m excited to explore a new city in the morning. Let’s just hope the 40C heat doesn’t kill me…

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Google+ – Pinterest – Polyvore

Standard
Wanderer

Portugal is beautiful… if only they could understand a word I say…

I know, I have a bit of a tendency to stammer.. or rather, not quite stammer, but more like stumbling, when I talk it’s like running downhill in flip flops, there’s so much that I want to say, and sooner or later I’m going to fall flat on my face at the bottom of the hill in a muddy pile that was once a sentence. That’s why when I travel I slow down, I take my time, I take off the verbal flip flops and I enunciate. And so when I arrived in Porto I thought, my Portuguese may be pretty much non-existent (despite having read through my phrase book about 50 times!!), but my English-speaking friends will be able to understand me. So, I arrived, and in this one apartment there are my three Portuguese friends, two people from Turkey and there was until yesterday an Italian guy, and I have also been introduced to a third Turkish guy and a girl from Finland. Can any of them understand me? No.

The stumbling stammer has been left behind in England, I’ve never spoken so clearly in my life and still, no one can understand me. It’s pretty frustrating to sit in a room with people from all over Europe, talking easily in broken English between each other and as soon as I ask ‘how are you?’ or ‘how was your day?’…. ‘what did you say?’

I think it’s partly because I say things like ‘gr-arse and ‘b-arth whereas they say ‘gr-ass‘ and ‘b-ath‘, but for the most part… apparently I am just too English. It’s one thing when I can’t join in a conversation because I don’t know the language, which of course is my own fault, but quite another when I can’t join in a conversation because I have the wrong accent.

Strangely, people here always presume that I’m French. I don’t know if it’s the clothes (mostly people ask if I’m French when I wear this skirt) Can’t say that I’m complaining. In fact, early today it took me five minutes to convince an elderly Portuguese woman that I am in fact English, despite my English accent and of course, the fact that I was speaking to her in English. ‘No, no, Français!’ Sure, if you say so.. it’s not an insult so, whatever.

I really have tried to learn at least some Portuguese though, but still after 9 months, I’m still stuck at the basics: hello, please and thank you. My first phrase book wasn’t really helping me though, as it contained such ridiculous phrases such as ‘Please help me, I have lost my pen’, ‘I have ripped my pants’ and ‘I have many diseases’ and in the ‘everyday use’ section, some worrying phrases about rape and murder. Yes, you could argue that these are important phrases, but everyday use? That’s worrying.

I’m sure it’ll just click for me eventually though, especially as here people are so friendly, even when they realise I can’t speak Portuguese, they insist on talking to me all the same, which is nice I suppose. I’m not really used to it yet though, I mean personally, if there is a language barrier, that ends the conversation right there unless I have to continue it, like when I am couchsurfing or if there is something urgent that I can only say in English; ‘your house is on fire’, ‘I am having a heart attack’, ‘a bird has just pooed on your head’ etc. Maybe people think I am lying, or maybe they think that as I am apparently French, I would be able to magically understand Portuguese?

Image

Anyway, on a cheerier note, I’ve fallen a little bit for Portugal again. I realised it while sipping cappuccino on the harbour front in my favourite cafe; it’s unbelievable cheap for a harbour-front cafe, modern and beautiful and yet I’ve never seen it more than half full, which is just perfect. Porto is one of those places when you can just spend hours people watching, and I’ve started to collect interesting characters; Portuguese Sean Penn with a mouth ready for false teeth; a cat with a mouth like Carey Mulligan (as in it looks like a corner of it’s mouth is being pulled up towards the sky with a fish hook); a morbidly obese woman with smiley face shaped sweat patches (and somehow the face had a ketchup nose) on her back; Asian Indiana Jones meets Dame Edna. Everyone has something that they collect when they travel; this is mine, and I’m rather excited to add to it.

I love that Porto has red phone boxes and postboxes like in England. It’s taken me three days to re-notice since September, but there they are, right in Avenida dos Aliados. I love that the metro is 1000x simpler than those in London and Paris, though sometimes I think the simplicity takes the fun out of it somewhat, and I especially love that the metro has air con! Both the stations and the tube itself. London, take note, you may not have Porto’s climate, but for god’s sake, you need air con too! I love Livraria Lello bookshop, which is quite possibly the most beautiful bookshop of all time, though I rather wish they didn’t have a no camera rule… and I also wish they’d allow me to have a shoot there, but alas, no.

Image

Photo from hereImage

Photo from here

I was not at all surprised to learn that JK Rowling once lived in Porto and that this bookshop was a thread of inspiration behind Harry Potter.

I even love the beach, Matosinhos, though generally I am not a beach person. I hated it for a moment when the sand (I swear it wasn’t sand, it was glitter, someone has emptied 100 million pots of gold glitter and called it a beach), almost stripped the flesh from the soles of my feet, but I forgave it. It was my own fault, and I have learnt my lesson; keep the sandals on when it’s 35C+ degrees. The sand will be hot.

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Google+ – Pinterest – Polyvore

Standard
Wanderer

And so it begins…

_MG_9136-edit

Porto. Second city of Portugal after Lisbon, with a population of 238,000, and famous of course for port wine. I’ve been here before; last September, for just a short 4 day trip to end last summer’s adventures. It was a lazy holiday to end the chaos, and I was too poor to do anything much at all, having spent all of my money in Italy and France and the various other countries that I had wandered into last summer. But this time, Porto is the first stop…

I do still love Porto, but that fuzzy haze of last summer has faded; last summer I could compare the row after row of derelict shabby chic buildings to beautiful, crumbling Venice, but now they seem very much apart to me. Maybe the fuzz will be back by morning, and it will turn out that it was just the less than perfect Ryanair flight that has clouded my opinion for now… we’ll see.

_MG_9137-edit

Of course, I feel like I shouldn’t bother to complain about Ryanair; you get what you pay for and for a £50 flight (and 100000000 Ryanair flights under my belt already), I really couldn’t have expected much. It was all very same-same; they don’t even consider opening the gate for boarding until the plane was due for take off, then we are all prodded and poked like bad tempered cattle up the narrow staircase with our as-heavy-as-we-dare case, and into any available seat, while we are then stripped of our luggage and watch cautiously as it is launched from one end of the cabin to the other and following a brief game of catch between crew members during which I swear they earn points as to how many heads they can clobber with each case, it is finally placed in a luggage rack miles away. None of that bothered me in the slightest, I’m more than used to Ryanair’s typical passenger treatment by now, I’ve learnt how to just breeze by, which I think is quite impressive when I’m wearing as many layers as I can get away with without looking like the Michelin Man’s self-combusting wife.

Still, I honestly think I was the cheeriest person on that flight; everyone let the 15 minute delay get to them far too much, or maybe they were just naturally a bad-tempered bunch. Even my meagre lunch of overpriced sweaty cardboard chips and soggy salt which fell in clumps onto my food couldn’t put a damper on my mood. They tasted as if they had been re-heated at least twice. In fact, I’d swear that they had been, as they tasted exactly like a bowl of chips that I ate last year shortly before we caught the freezer out on it’s infamous game of sneak-a-defrost. Sneak-a-defrost was an irritatingly secret game played by the household freezer during which it would switch off just long enough for everything to thaw, and then magically repair itself, leaving us oblivious. They tasted exactly like sneak-a-defrost chips. Still, I’m off on my big adventure, so I can forgive a short delay and a dozen re-heated chips.

_MG_9210-edit

As soon as I stepped from the metro at Sao Bento, I just so happened to bump into an old acquaintance (of sorts), Scary Mary, a local homeless woman who despite a pretty serious limp and her feeble remains of a pair of sandals can chase after you at about 100mph, jingling coins at you and shouting in Portuguese about lord knows what… my bets are she’s either shouting at me about her unfortunate living conditions as one of Porto’s homeless or a detailed fantasy about the various ways she’d like to kill me; batter me to death with the sandal remains. I bet it’s one or the other. If she wasn’t so terrifying, I’d buy her a McDonalds and a coffee, but I just don’t dare to linger when I see her charging towards me, filthy, wild-hair flailing all over the place, even wilder-eyes burning through me, limping away in her shit-stained trousers and those damn sandals scraping across the cobbles. She’s truly terrifying.

_MG_9173-edit

Don’t get me wrong, Porto isn’t all homeless people and crumbling buildings (though sadly 70% of the buildings here are derelict, so I’m told). It’s a beautiful city which is a strange mix of being loud and lively and full of dancing and music and people congregating in squares and at the river to laugh and talk, and equally you can walk down eerily quiet, deserted streets moments later, which is perfect for someone like me; I like my me-time, and I like my space, which of course can be impossible to find when travelling. I find it pretty admirable how happy people are here, despite buildings around them quite literally falling down around them. It’s just one of those infectiously cheery places.

_MG_9166-edit

Tomorrow I will probably head to the beach, and make the most of this lovely 30-35C heat! Are you jealous my lovely friends back home in England? I hope so.

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Google+ – Pinterest – Polyvore

Standard