Category Archives: #OrangeTravels

#OrangeTravels: Madrid, Spain

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Hola! Enter the world of sangria, tapas, and gypsy pickpockets. After Portugal, I exchanged my “obrigada” for “gracias” and hit up Spain.

I stayed at Las Musas Hostel where for the majority of my 3 day stay, I met and hung out with a bunch of cool hostel folk from all parts of the globe. There was England, Aussie, India , USA, Kiwi, Scotland, and of course, Canadian. We did walking tours, bar crawls, and visited the Egyptian Temple of Debod to see the sunset. I just remember everywhere we went, liquor was the same price of water so I was downing sangria like so.

I was there on a Sunday which meant that the Museum of National Treasures, Renia Sofia had free admission. Booyah! I was travelling on a strict student budget so any means of saving money was taken advantage of.

Honestly, of all the cities I visited, Madrid wasn’t my favourite. It was expensive, not the friendliest, and I felt on-edge the entire time. Our tour guide stressed that gypsy pickpockets were everywhere and work super fast – that didn’t help my anxieties. Don’t take me wrong, it was a beautiful city with plenty to see and do. I was just so heat exhausted that all I wanted to do was sit in the shade and eat a kebab.

After 3 days of wandering around the city and clutching my purse for dear life, I was excited to hop on a bus and head south towards Granada! I had heard so much about that city and it was highly recommended by friends back in Vancouver so it was a no-brainer that I would add it to my itinerary.

Funny thing about travel itineraries, I had one for the first quarter of my trip before I said “fuck it!” and just went wherever I felt like or was recommended by fellow hostel mates. Before I constantly found myself in situations where I had to stay longer than I wanted or leave too early because I had the next flight to catch. People would mention all these amazing cities I never thought of visiting but because I had planned too far in advance, I couldn’t fit it into my itinerary. Finally my “fuck it’s” kicked in and I decided I would only plan no more than 1-2 days in advance to give myself the utmost flexibility possible. Best decision I ever made.

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#OrangeTravels: Porto & Lagos, Portugal

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Porto

My Portugal adventure continues up north in Porto, a beautiful city rich in arts and culture. And on the opposite end in the south, I visited Lagos where it looked like an ordinary beach town during the day (probably cause everyone was hungover) which turned into a crazy party beast at night.

Lagos…

In the southern part of Portugal, you’ll find this little beach town called Lagos. Home to the Algarve, best known for it’s breathtaking cliffs and (nude) beaches. We stayed for 3 days at the Nick’s newly opened G-Spot Hostel, I’m totally biased but if you’re looking for a wild and crazy time, book a bed there!! First night we were there, we went barhopping and from met up with a few of Nick’s old hostel workers and after that, I just remember drinking out of fishbowls and getting annihilated at beer pong.

Second day started with some much needed hangover breakfast at Odeon, best breakfast you can get for 3 Euros! After that, we packed our mini backpacks and headed to the white sand beaches under the cliffs for some R&R. After a nice tan burn, we took off to hike the Algarve. Words can’t even describe how postcard perfect the cliffs were….so just look at the pictures I took and take my word for it.

Porto…

Porto is best known for it’s blue tiles that line the building walls and francesinhas. Think of a ham sandwich, stuffed with beef, covered in cheese, then stack on another meat sandwich, smother with cheese again and finally pour gravy on top. Yea – and that’s just the basic version, you can triple or quadruple stack that bad boy. I know what you’re thinking, “that sounds disgusting delicious”! Of course Nimi and I tried it and and of course we spent the rest of the night in a food coma.

We stayed at Yes! Hostel which I highly recommend. It’s right in the city centre, they have the friendliest staff, and a bed that doesn’t squeak – ahhh yes, that is always a bonus. So after one night’s stay, it was time for us to part ways. She was headed back to Lisbon, while I was off to Madrid to begin the Spanish leg of my journey.

At this point of my trip, I was 4 weeks in and had 8 more to go. But oh man, I was just getting started.

#OrangeTravels: Lisbon, Portugal

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Cabo de RocaI have nothing but love for Portugal. It was by far one of my favourite countries to travel in. My best girlfriend for life, Nimi who was living in Lisbon during the summer showed me around all the local hotspots, festivals, and bar districts. It was seriously the best two and a half weeks of bliss and beaches.

I started off my adventures in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital. I stayed at Nick’s (Nimi’s boyfriend) penthouse apartment that had a killer view of the whole city. One of my favourite memories of that apartment was sitting on the balcony with Nick’s Jungle Juice creation (beer, vodka, sprite, koolaid, orange juice?) and just watched the airplanes come in one by one across the cityscape.

Funny thing about the Portugese, if you want the best view, you gotta work for it. The apartment didn’t have an elevator so on a hot summer afternoon, six floors of narrow winding stairs up to the top meant that you really worked for it.

Lisbon wouldn’t have been the incredible adventure it was if it wasn’t for Nimi being my personal tour guide and Nick for letting me stay at his sweet pad and giving me that authentic, local experience. Obrigada!

What makes Lisbon so beautiful is their love for street art. Where ever we went, there was always be a kickass mural decorating the walls, doors, or even entire buildings. A snapshot of my faves:

But wait, there’s more! The Portuguese adventure continues in Lagos and Porto in the next blog post.

#OrangeTravels: London

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London

From how fast and loud my heart was beating, I swear my airplane seatmate thought I was about to have a heart attack. This was the first European city I’d ever been to and I was doing it solo. Needless to say, I was scared shitless, but it was do or die and I love a good challenge.

I stayed at the Phoenix Hostel for 3 nights, it was located near the Underground and within 20 minute walking distance to the main attractions. Location and price wise, I would say it was pretty decent but facilities wise, it was pretty run down and dirty.

So when I first arrived at the hostel, I realized that I actually had to make friendswith strangers… oh gawd, what was my pitch? How did I look? Clearly I was still in my Vancouver mindset and needed to calm the fuck down. Hostel life took time to get used to but I eventually got a routine down. Meeting people became easier when I finally let my guards down, said ‘yes’ more often, and learned to just go with the flow. Most of the folk you meet at hostels come from really cool backgrounds and are happy to share their crazy travel stories and tips. In my opinion, the hostel you choose can really make or break your experience. If you’re in a crappy location or there’s no social atmosphere, be prepared to spend a lot of time by yourself – which is perfectly fine and I’ve really learned to love and value from this whole trip.

And a crazy thing happened on the first day I went exploring, I ran into an old Starbucks co-worker who had moved there 2 years ago on one of the busiest streets of London, Oxford Street. We totally had a slow stare-down, ‘brains process reality’ moments before we threw out hands in the air and jumped at each other. Seriously, what are the chances?!

K, enough text, let me show you my British adventure!

#OrangeTravels. First Stop: Hong Kong

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Hong KongIn the summer of 2014, I embarked on a 12 week journey to Hong Kong and Europe. In total I traveled to 12 countries and had one of the most liberating and empowering adventures of my life.

My backpack, the Osprey Porter 46 Travel Pack, was small and carry-on sized perfect for budget airplanes like RyanAir that charge extra for checked luggage. This backpack may have been tiny, but with the help of MEC stuff sacks, I was able to pack a butt-load. I was determined to only pack essentials and go by the rule, ‘if I buy something new, I must throw something old out’. Almost everywhere that I went, people commented how small my backpack was, but I mean there was also this thing called laundry and window shopping… I was there to experience, not buy material things. By the end of my trip, I was able to pack:

  • 12 tops, 4 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of leggings, 2 thin jacket shells, 2 skirts, 2 dresses
  • 12 pairs of panties, 6 pairs of socks
  • 2 scarves – not essential, but I couldn’t resist buying them.
  • 2 pairs of sandals, 1 pair of runners (which I wore while on traveling days)
  • Camera + charger, external battery, phone charger
  • Agenda to document the daily happenings
  • 2 month-ish supply of toilettries (lotions, cleansers, shampoo, etc). I just bought more as I needed it
  • 1 pack towel – essential!
  • 1 day backpack, 1 cross-body purse, 1 small clutch
  • A book. Most hostels had book exchanges which was awesome!
  • 20+ postcards
  • Mini flashlight, combination lock
  • Miscellaneous gifts – half pound of coffee, LOTS of chocolate, 3 magnets, 5 keychains, assortment of maps

The original plan for this trip was just Europe, but last minute, I decided to also visit my older sister and her family in Hong Kong for 2 weeks. The past several times I visited, I was always there for maid-of-honour duty for my sister’s wedding so this time I was stoked to just be a tourist. When we weren’t sightseeing places like Big Buddha, Ocean Park, The Peak and Tai O village, we were stuffing our faces with food. Oh my goodness, I miss the food So. Damn. Much.

I love HK, but only for a max period of 2 months. I’m born and raised in Vancouver, BC so I’m spoiled when it comes to nature, clean ocean air, and leg room. Nonetheless, HK is a great vacay spot and while I’ve haven’t been to New York yet, I imagine HK being the Chinese version with more high-rises and higher population density.

Side note: I got sick of the hashtag #OrangeTravels midway through my trip. But dammit, I’m stubborn and like to commit to things. Looks like the hashtag and I are forever committed to each other…