Mihaela sitting on a terrace overlooking Lisbon rooftops and the water

Lisbon has always been a place I wanted to visit. I’d heard so much about the good food, the incredible atmosphere, the amazing weather. I feel like our first night in Portugal had a lot of influence on how I felt during the rest of the trip. Some of you may know that we began our journey in Faro, where we stayed for a night. Before getting there, we even contemplated on staying for two nights and I’m so glad we didn’t. We got advice from a group of friends that there wasn’t enough to do for a two night stay. They were right.

Coming to Portugal from Andalucia, which in my opinion is the most beautiful part of Spain, our expectations were high. First of all, the hospitality was incredible. All of the Airbnbs we stayed at were amazing in their own way. Second, there wasn’t a food place that disappointed us. And third, I never for a second felt lonely or scared when I was walking around the streets of Seville. Even when Phoebe was on a work call and I had to be by myself, I still felt very relaxed.

In contrast to that, arriving in Portugal felt somehow disappointing and lonely. Faro was like a ghost town, with barely any people and the majority of shops and restaurants were closed. The only two places you could go to, that seemed nice, were the two hotels by the port. I wanted to pay to use the rooftop pool of one of them and the lady at the reception responded in a very rude way.

The staff at the other hotel were much nicer and showed me their rooftop bar, which had a lovely view, so I did enjoy an Aperol or two there. However, I still had that unpleasant first impression and it stayed with me for the rest of the day. I was extremely excited to be leaving to Lisbon early the next morning. We had a very nice journey on an almost empty coach, where they served coffee and sweet treats. Definitely something National Express and Megabus could learn from, although I no longer use their services.

Arriving in Lisbon was nice. The first thing was to drop our bags at our home for the next three days. We were welcomed by a lovely South African lady, who was the Airbnb concierge, handing us the keys. Everything was great until we found out there was no Wi-Fi, which if we were there on holiday wouldn’t matter. But we explicitly asked the owner if the Wi-Fi was good which he confirmed. That was only the night before we arrived.

 Then we spent the afternoon strolling around the neighbourhood but we were on edge the whole time. We kept going back and forth between the owner and the concierge regarding the Wi-Fi situation. It seemed like there was no solution, so Phoebe and I were left to sort it out by ourselves. The Wi-Fi didn’t really work for the rest of our stay. We ended up asking for our money back and managed to get half of it.

The first night, Phoebe stayed in the flat to work and I went to Praça do Comércio to explore. I got asked about 10 times by random people if I wanted any drugs on the way there. I also went to exchange a small amount of money. The lady in the change bureau told me to be extra careful, walking around with money in my handbag. That obviously made me feel even more unsafe, especially when I was all by myself. After that, I wanted to go to a terrace bar around but there was no obvious place to go. Instead, I just nipped into the nearby Starbucks as that seemed like the safest option. In Lisbon, you have to do a lot of research if you want to end up in the right places.

The next day we went to visit this fish restaurant that eeeeeeveryone was talking about and was all over Instagram. I thought if Lisbon was the best place to eat fish, then this restaurant was the best place in Lisbon to go for it. Disappointed. One more time. Considering that there was a massive queue the previous night. And the wait for a table was an hour and a half. I was expecting to be WOWED. My favourite meal in Lisbon was actually a traditional Chinese meal. Phoebe took me to a sushi place and the owners turned out to be Chinese, so she ordered her favourite dishes. The bill came up to a total of 13 euros and we had a massive amount of food. Definitely more than we could handle. And we eat A LOT.

Things started getting better when we went on a day trip to Sintra. We got an Uber to take us around the palaces. The cost was only 25 euros for the whole day. I can’t even get to central London from where I live for 25 euros! The palaces were all beautiful. Pena Palace was like a Lego town, it reminded me of Super Mario and it was such a fun experience. Monserrate Palace on the other hand was very intricate, much smaller and more like a princess castle. After our little trip around Sintra, we stayed for a meal, which was probably our nicest Portuguese meal. Not going to mention the fact that I got drunk on Sangria and spilled it all over Phoebe’s laptop. So far this had been our best day in Portugal, so I was content.

Our last day in Lisbon was quite emotional. It was also the last day of my trip with Phoebe and she had to continue on her own. That day we went for breakfast to Bairro Alto. A lovely area, where I would have loved to stay. After that we went tram hungting. Followed by a walk to the Urban beach and a few minutes of reflecting on the past ten days. Then an Uber ride to the MAAT museum. A beautiful building with a view of the 25 de Abril Bridge, which I highly recommend visiting. It’s situated in such a nice and chilled area of Lisbon. We had a lovely afternoon strolling around and that was the moment I realised, I actually did like Lisbon and it deserves a second chance.

Have you been to Lisbon and did you like it? What was your favourite part?

Here is a little gallery of iPhone snaps from Portugal.

Follow:

Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I had the best time in Barcelona at the Gran Hotel Havana. If you’re new, please head to my profile and check out my Barcelona highlight to get a visual idea of the experience that me and my friend Phoebe had there. A few people messaged me to say they stayed at this hotel before and they had nothing but positive feedback about it.

Here are some of my thoughts

Firstly, it’s usually not the place that makes you feel welcome but the people. The staff at Gran Hotel Havana were extremely accommodating and no request was too big or too small for them. We instantly felt at home the moment we walked through the door.  

Our room had a perfect view of Barcelona’s Gran Vía from our little balcony. There was an even more spectacular view of the city from the hotel’s rooftop terrace. We enjoyed a cocktail at the rooftop bar by the pool and were lucky to witness the most incredible sunset. During the summer months, they also serve lunch and dinner there. I highly recommend coming here in summer to enjoy some food and drinks with the incredible views.

The decor at the hotel was contemporary and it was obvious that it has been recently renovated. The place is kept to a really high standard. All the rooms are equipped with everything you could possibly need during your stay. Even if anything’s missing, a quick call to reception and the lovely team at Gran Hotel Havana will take care of it.

The bed in our room was huge. I don’t know if it was the fact that I hadn’t slept for about 24 hours and I was extremely tired. Or just that the bed was so incredibly comfortable, but I honestly had the best sleep of my life there. The bathroom was like an entire room of its own. It featured a bathtub, which sadly none of us got to use. We were always in a rush to get somewhere, so shower seemed like a more sensible option. There was plenty of space around the sink for two girls to spread all the makeup and hair styling tools imaginable.

The biggest bonus of Gran Hotel Havana is its location in the most exclusive area of the Eixample neighbourhood. It’s within close proximity to the city’s most luxurious businesses and establishments.  Plaça de Catalunya, which is only a 10min walk from the hotel is regarded as Barcelona’s most central point. It also happens to be a great transport hub for any journey. I took the tube from the airport to Plaça de Catalunya. There’s also an option to take a direct train to Passeig de Gràcia – about a 10min walk from the hotel. Either way, the journey is quick and easy.

The area around the hotel has some amazing restaurants. Me and Phoebe were lucky to discover El Nacional, less than 10 minutes away. Kelsey who recently went to Barcelona, recommended this place but I had no idea it would be so close to us. It’s a gorgeous venue, offering a few different types of cuisines inside. We were on a mission to get paella and we were not disappointed. The service was incredible and don’t even get me started on the interior. I could’ve easily spent a couple of hours just taking photos of every corner there.

We were so lucky to have this place so close by to the hotel because walking back after all that food would have been a challenge if it was any further. In addition to the great area, the comfort and relaxation, the wonderful views from the 4-star superior Gran Hotel Havana, the excellent location will enable you to sightsee at your leisure.

Me and Phoebe walked to places like Parque de la Ciutadella, La Sagrada Familia and Casa Vicens. We even got as far as Park Güell but that was a bit of a push! I’m not sure if I would recommend it. I personally love walking but I know not everyone does. Walking in Barcelona is very easy and fairly straightforward and so is using public transport and taxis. So whatever your preference is, there’s an option for you.

The first time I stayed in Barcelona, it was in a totally different area and I feel like this had a huge impact on the overall experience. Even though we stayed in a 4* hotel with a nice pool, the two places were world apart. I’m so grateful to the Gran Hotel Havana for totally changing my perception of Barcelona and helping me see it with a fresh pair of eyes. We were so lucky to collaborate with the hotel during our stay in Barcelona. It now feels like my little home away from home and if I happen to go to Barcelona again, I’d love to stay there again and be reminder about all the great moments me and Phoebe had.

Follow:

Me and Phoebe had a complementary stay at the Gran Havana Hotel but all opinions in this post are my own.

I’ve mentioned that trip over and over again since it happened in December 2017. It has been a truly unique experience and I’d take any opportunity to relive it. I thought it’s only fair to write a blog post and tell you exactly what happened when me and Phoebe went on a our first trip to Italy together. I also think it’s nice to have it on my blog as a reminder of the magical time we had. It’s one of my favourite stories, so I really appreciate anyone who takes time out of their day to give this a read.


Most of you are probably wondering how can a 3 day trip to Italy be so exciting. You barely have time to see anything. Well, I managed to see three beautiful cities in three days and it was incredible. But most importantly, I had a travel companion who made the journey a lot more fascinating than it would’ve been if I did it with anyone else in the world.

I met Phoebs on Instagram and she messaged me one day to say she’s coming to London and ask for recommendations. I had never spoken to her before but as soon as she messaged, I got back to her saying I’ll take her around to my favourite places when she comes here. We instantly clicked. It was like a love at first ‘type’ and what happened in the days to follow was probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done.

She suggested we should go to Italy together and I had only been there once before. I loved it the first time, so I thought why the hell not! When you’re planning a trip with a complete stranger, there are so many ways things could go wrong but I trusted my instincts. I probably wouldn’t recommend it if someone asks me. But I believe everything happens for a reason. I took that risk and met a friend for life, so I have absolutely no regrets. I would actually regret it more if I said no at the time.

As soon as I met Phoebe the night before our flight, I forgot that she’s a stranger. We both felt like we’ve known each other our entire lives. I’ve never laughed so much with someone I barely know and it was at that moment I realised what soulmate really meant. Looking back now, I remember little details like eating pastries on a train from Venice to Florence,while enjoying the views, or witnessing a beautiful sunrise on a crisp December morning in Venice, running around to find the best spots for a picture before they get crowded with other tourists.

I don’t want to be boring and give you details about every single thing we did. I’m just going to say that having less than 24 hours in a destination challenges you to find and do the things you really want to do. I’m not a huge museum person, I don’t like being indoors and the weather was pretty good even though it was December. So we blended in with the locals, walked around, ate gelato, pizza, pasta, all sorts of sweets, we drank aperols and great wine.

Experiencing the atmosphere in a place, breathing in the air, stopping to look at the sunset, watching how people behave, where they go. That to me is far more valuable than rushing to check all the museums and tick boxes on a list, so I can say to people that I have indeed been inside the Doge’s Palace and loved the ceiling.

Apart from eating and walking around every possible bridge in Venice, we managed to shoot twice and got some amazing images that I’m sharing here with you. We shot once in the afternoon when we arrived and again super early the next morning. Waking up early was key for two reasons. First, there is something truly magical about the beautiful morning light in Venice. And second, seeing Venice without the crowds of tourists is so worth waking up for. I feel like that’s the only time you can truly see the beauty of this place. 

Florence was a totally different experience to Venice. Still super touristy but the relaxed vibe of Tuscany completely transformed the second day of our trip. We had a beautiful balcony with views over Florence. Breakfast in the morning was served at the rooftop restaurant of our hotel. I still remember the crisp fresh air on that rooftop terrace. I had a fragrance called Florence that I wore for the first time when we were there. Every time I wear it now, it reminds me of that morning. We also discovered that Tuscany has some of the best wines in Italy, after spending four hours in a restaurant. The owner had a huge collection. It was very intriguing to find out where he sourced some of the bottles from. 

On the third day, we made our way to Rome. I didn’t get a chance to see much of it as I had to fly back the next morning. I was already feeling extremely tired, so the city definitely deserves a second chance. There’s a lot of walking to be done in Rome. It’s much bigger compared to Venice and Florence. But isn’t walking the best way to discover a new place and feel its vibe? There’s so much to see in Rome. Walking is the best way to experience the buzzing atmosphere of this place.

It’s also very likely that you’ll stop along the way to take photos, because every corner is beautiful. My favourite part of my day in Rome was the meal we had on the last evening. We met with some friends of friends and had dinner in a CAVE. The company was great, food was delicious and again the experience was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. 

There could not have been a better time to put together this blog post than just before heading to Spain for my second trip with Phoebe. Writing about this has made me emotional but excited at the same time. Travelling with someone so open-minded like Phoebe, completely changed the way I think about trips. Taking a risk and packing so many different activities in a short period of time, isn’t necessarily relaxing but it made me appreciate the dynamic of the situation.

I learned a lot about myself as I observed how I respond to challenges. Both me and Phoebe became very organised. On the other hand, we realised that for our second trip, we want to dedicate a bit more time to exploring each place. Sharing the experience with someone like her has made it so special. I’m really looking forward to teaming up with her again for our next adventure.

What was the most memorable trip you went on and who did you go with? I’d love to find out.If you want a chance to have your own memorable holiday experience, I’ve got great news for you!  TravelSupermarket are running a competition on their Instagram page where 3 people can win a holiday voucher worth up to £500 and experience somewhere like this! All you have to do is:

– Follow the @travelsupermarket Instagram account

– On the competition image tell them the destination where you discovered what type of traveller you are

Prizes:

1st prize: £500 holiday voucher

2nd prize: £300 holiday voucher

3rd prize: £200 holiday voucher 

#superyou

Follow:

Before heading off to Granada, all I knew about the place was that temperatures could rise up to 40 degrees in the summer. Little did I know about how much 40 degrees actually is! Granada is situated in southern Spain’s Andalusia region and the climate is very hot and dry. By that I mean my hair was completely dry five minutes after coming out of the shower, no hair dryer involved. To ensure I was minimising my chances of a heat exhaustion , I had to keep in mind a few basics.

STAYING HYDRATED

When travelling to a hot country, my number one priority is to avoid dehydrating and stressing my body. Travelling on its own can have a huge impact on dehydration. Add some heat to the mix and you have a reason enough to consider giving your body maximum hydration. First and foremost, drink your water. I know it sounds obvious but if you wait until you’re thirsty, that means you are already dehydrated. Eating fruits and veggies that contain a high percentage of water is also a big plus. There’s a reason watermelon is called that way you know!

WEARING A LIGHTWEIGHT AND LOOSE FITTED CLOTHING

Linen is a highly absorbent natural fibre. It gives the benefit of keeping you cool in hot weather due to lower thread counts compared to fabrics such as cotton. Linen garments have another great advantage – they remove perspiration from the skin. Linen’s capability of absorbing moisture is a great reason to wear it in the heat. It means you don’t need to worry if your back looks sweaty and feel uncomfortable about it.

ALWAYS APPLYING SPF BEFORE GOING OUT

I’ll tell you a little story. For the past three years I have been unable to go in the sun without wearing 50 SPF. My skin has never been sensitive but I got so badly sunburned. After exposing myself to direct sunlight only having applied tanning oil, my skin got allergic to the sunlight. Every time I tried to sunbathe with an SPF lower than 50, the skin on my arms was getting red and itchy. I hope that’s a reason enough for you to consider bringing that tube of sunscreen with you when you’re escaping to paradise. Wearing SPF on your face and neck will help block UVB rays and prevent from burning, hyperpigmentation, and the damage than can cause skin cancer.

TAKING FREQUENT BREAKS IN THE SHADE TO LET YOUR BODY COOL DOWN

Giving your body a chance to cool down and avoiding sunlight in the afternoon hours can help you survive in the hottest of days. If that’s not possible and a dip in the swimming pool is not an option either, there is another way to cool yourself down. Dabbing water to the body areas where heat tends to gather, and to pressure points will help cool your whole system. I normally press a bottle of ice cold water to the inside of my elbows and it works almost instantly.

What other tips should I add to my list?

Michelle x

Shop the post

Follow:

I’ve always said that the best way to discover new places is to get lost. I’m always curious as to where small roads and tiny streets between buildings may lead.

This time it was in Tenerife we got lost, but don’t worry, it was all intentional. We didn’t know what we were about to discover but we were all pleasantly surprised when we got there. I find the same things happen with life as well. We don’t usually know where our next big step is going to take us but if we’re brave enough to wander into the unkown, the result is always exceptional.

We found ourselves on the bright side. A street with houses coloured in vibrant shades and tones and flowers hanging down the balconies. There it was, some serious competition to the streets of Notting Hill in London, just brighter and even more picturesque. The next street down the road was just as beautiful. My favourite discovery was a bright green garage door that you can see in the photo below.

Let me know in the comments what was the best thing you discovered last time you got lost?

Michelle x

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Follow: