Lovely Algarve, Portugal

Lovely Algarve, Portugal

We recently had a very relaxing 1-week holiday in lovely Portugal. For the sake of posterity and for whoever is planning to go there in the future, here is our experience, along with a few tips and service references!

Our Itinerary

9th of August

  • Fly out from London

10th of August

  • Had our brekkie in Faro at Entao – I had a vegetable toast
  • Walked around Faro’s amazing pedestrian streets
  • Discovered restaurants, pop-ups and gelato places – we both had so much to eat!! I was jumping around like a 5-year old for finding all kinds of places serving fruits, veggies and sorbets

 

 

 

11th of August

  • Took an organised boat trip tour to Ihla Deserta and Ihla Culatra
  • In the afternoon, we headed towads what we thought was Ihla Terra Estreita, but we got lost on the way #touristsgetlost
  • Had dinner in Faro

 

12th of August

  • Woke up super late and decided to just go out for lunch in Faro – we ended up at The Woods for salads (defo not a recommend because of their constant state of confusion about what you ordered)
  • We wanted to buy our highway tolls card, but Sat everything was closed (tips alert!)
  • Decided to head towards Sagres, but we realized it was not worth all the way, so we decided to just stay in Albufeira where we discovered Praia de Falesia – amazing!

13th of August

  • This time we did our research – to read, Angel did his research – and we went again for Terra Estreita
  • We were successful in finding the ferry onboarding point – this time!

14th of August

  • Drove towards Sagres
  • Spent the afternoon at Praia Beliche
  • For the sunset, we headed to the Cabo de Sao Vicente, but it proved to be too cold and windy to wait for 2 hrs for the sun to set (I chickened out despite having received a knitted jumper as a gift from my lovely boyfriend)
  • We then changed locations to Fortaleza de Sagres, where this time I held my head high – or waited in the car haha – to eventually witness one of the most amazing sunsets ever
  • Had a reservation for dinner at Mum’s, best, tastiest, most presentable vegan food I had in a while
  • Because it was way too late to head back to Faro and we had a tour planned early morning, we decided to stay overnight in Lagos and found a quirky hostel at its heart, at Orange3 Hostel
View from Cabo Sao Vicente

15th of August

  • We had an amazing kayak tour through the caves of Lagos
  • Spent the rest of the day on Praia Dona Ana, I think both of ours favorite
Best dinner at Mum’s

16th of August

  • Relaxing time in Faro in the morning and pack up for flight back
  • Fly back to London

Useful tips and tricks

Tip #1 Rent a car!

There are trains – and seemingly a bus coach station – but I think while we travelled the roads of Algarve, we didn’t see one bus or any sign of public transport. From what I read before going, inter-city buses run maybe every hour. We thought we don’t want to waste our time waiting for public transport. Plus, there are only so many places you can reach by bus (and foot). Algarve has tens, if not hundreds, of beaches which are reachable only by car.

As a side note, renting a car is actually quite cheap. We paid only 120 euros for our hire, for a 7-day period (!!).

Parking is also quite easy to find and in some cases it’s free of charge. The streets are not that high in traffic even at “rush hour” because… #relaxedlife! You can even use an app (Telpark) to buy your parking slots if you need to and it’s about 0.20 euros per 30 mins.

Tip #2 Get your pre-paid highway toll card

And make sure you do so before the weekend. You can get it from different points, but I think the most reliable ones are the post office services. However, they are open only during week days.

Tip #3 There are toll-free roads

If you don’t want to pay the highways tolls or you simply couldn’t buy the card (like our case), then you can travel places on national toll-free roads. They are not high-speed roads, but they’ll get you anyware. Just make sure you use the “Avoid tolls” setting on your GPS.

Tip #4 Book your dinners ahead

The Algarve is packed with tourists and so are their restaurants. If you want to eat at the best places, then don’t expect to walk in and find a seat just like that. However, you can book your table quite easily either through phone or simply by walking in the day before.

Tip #5 Relax

Don’t expect to find loads of places open at the early hours of the morning serving breakfast and coffee. It’s not London, ok? These are relaxed people, enjoying their late evenings, they wake up late, they might open late (or not open at all in some cases in spite of their official opening time), they take mid-day siestas and they take their time in most of their daily activities. It takes a few days to get used to this rhythm, but once you do, your up for a great holiday!

Useful Information and references

Below, some of the services and hires we used for our trip, including good restaurants:

Accomodation
 
Faro: Cristina’s Room on AirBnb (312 euros)

Lagos: Orange3 Hostel (56 euros)

 Car Hire
Luzcar, we had a Nissan Micra with AC (120 euro)
Adventure Companies
Kayak Trip in Lagos: Days of Adventure

Boat trip in Faro: Estreia da Ria Formosa

Restaurants
Faro
The Wood’s

Portas de Sao Pedro

Lagos
Casa Do Prego
 Sagres
 Mum’s

 

For the final word…

And because I leave all the nice things for the end, what better conclusion to this post than a slideshow of some of our pics and short movies on this vacation.

Faro August 2017

A one week holiday to Faro in pictures and clips.

 

 

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Cluj-Napoca places to see, (vegan) foods to eat

Cluj-Napoca places to see, (vegan) foods to eat

Recently visited Cluj for a few days. Among some of the things I did over there:

  • Saw Vlad’s newly acquired SocialBee office
  • Discovered a few new vegan options (below)
  • Visited Jazz in the Park market (I didn’t make it for the jazz nights though)
  • Did some more work on KnowYourMenu
  • Went to Belis, Fantanele Dam and Tarnita Dam (amazing places for a picnic!)
  • Met a lot of my home city friends
  • Played with my GoPro even some more 🙂 (“practice” video below 😛 )

Where can you decently have a meal if you are a vegan in Cluj?

Going out…

Samsara FoodHouse

Although I didn’t get to eat there this time, I’ve been told by a trusted vegan friend (yes, there are more like me where I come from 😀 ) that these guys have mean vegan options.

Grande Pizza

I was told from trusted sources that the chef over there is trained in vegan, raw cooking. And oh my god, she is! I had their lentil wraps and their home-made guacamole. Perfect mixes of everything.

Marty Restaurants

These guys are very interesting. Sometimes they surprise you with amazing foods and then the next moment they might disappoint you with their cooking methods or with their serving speed. I guess it depends on which restaurant you go to or what time of the day. However, they have this new “Vegelicious” menu and some of the stuff in there could be vegan (especially if you insist they cook it right with the waiter). However, you can’t go wrong with their hummus or their salads.

Eating in…

There are more and more stores that serve vegan products. One that has particularly impressed me is the Natur Bio store, which you can find for example at the entrance of the Cora supermarket, but most probably it’s in the Iulius shopping center as well.

Now I’ll leave you to my newly created video. Excuse the lack of any good content, it is just a goofy reminder of my days over there and test of my iMovie skills.

Cluj Napoca July 2017

A one week trip to Cluj Napoca. Lots of fooling around and classic music.

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Highlights from the city of cheese and wine

Highlights from the city of cheese and wine

Did I escape to Paris last weekend for a very romantic trip? You bet I did!

In words

We managed to see the following:

  • Eiffel Tower – you can buy tickets from there and take the stairs, they will get you to the top
  • Louvre Museum – take the Nintendos 3D for guiding!
  • Several parks
  • Sacre Coer (excuse the spelling)
  • Monmartre
  • Moulin Rouge
  • A boat trip on the Senne river
  • Notre Dame cathedral
  • Senne river banks

Impressions

  • People working in services – waiters, over-the-counter sellers – need to improve their attitudes. A little more smiling and politeness always help 😛
  • It’s an amazing city, lots of landmarks and it’s always nice losing (and finding) yourself on the streets
  • People seem way more relaxed than in London. They seem to not be in a hurry anywhere, they enjoy their lunch breaks by the river or their evenings having picnics or playing guitars on the banks of Senne.
  • It smells 😀 . It was really hot during our stay, so that might have made things worse. But, it smells like piss on some streets and as everywhere, people do forget to use deodorants. Just sayin’.
  • Window shades are everywhere and I know why! It’s because they make your room pitch dark even during daytime and you sleep like a baby. Definitely something I will have in my future house by the beach. (with the dog and the Mustang)
  • The boat trip is a great way to explore the city on water. They do like to build a lot of landmarks next to the river, so seeing the Eiffel tower from that perspective adds the cherry on top of any Paris trip. Especially if the weather is nice and you catch a seat on the top deck.
  • Oh..and last, but most endearing, birds eat from the palm of your hand (in Paris haha). Once you establish the trust element, you’re in for a little surprise birdie shamelessly eating the nacho bits in your palm.

Tips!

For the Eiffel Tower, you can buy stair tickets to the second floor and then buy tickets to the top from that level. We suspect it gets you to the summit faster.

At the Louvre Museum, they offer Nintendos 3D for guidance. Besides the very amazing digital mapi, these devices already contain a few pre-configured tours. One of them is a super-fast tour (Masterpiece Tour) which basically takes you to the most important/most visited pieces of the museum. The technology is amazing. You benefit from GPS-like guidance through the museum and the English touring.

A train ticket from the airport to the city will literally take you to any point in the city. Even if you switch from the train to the metro. Not sure exactly how long that will keep you going, but it does the job.

We found the most amazing airbnb host: Chambre Privée aux Portes de Paris. It’s a definite recommend and something I will consider for the future.

In pictures

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You have the right to know…

You have the right to know…

Just wanted to talk about an issue I had the other day.

So you guys all know I am working on my business. One big part of my validation is talking to restaurants. Now that involves talking to servers, receptionists and a lot of the times directly to managers. Depending on how much of a “fuss” I make, I can easily reach the manager of the restaurant. By the way, that is a HUGE tip for anyone else looking into talking to managers directly. Just say you have a severe allergy. In some places, it’s a matter of seconds for a manager to show up haha.

Anyway, getting back on the subject, I go to this place (no name, but big chain), walk in, I am greeted by their receptionist. I explain I want to talk about their allergy menu, that I am setting up a business and all that jazz. Eventually, I ask about their allergy menu/matrix. I am told they don’t have it online (which I guess is a choice), but, also, to my surprise, I am told they can’t show it to me. “Why?”, I ask, “I believe it’s actually required by law to be given information on 14 allergens in your dishes”. Then she changes her mind and says “Well, we can show it to you, but you can’t take pictures..”. Again, I am confused and this time a bit intrigued about what they might be hiding. “It’s because you already told us you are starting a business and you might be stealing…” and she continued, but I didn’t listen haha. I realized there might have been a misunderstanding in her thinking I am going to launch a restaurant and steal recipes (?). Anyway, I recompose, start over, smile nicely and explain that I would recommend their dishes to people who are avoiding allergens and that I only desire to see how their allergy matrix looks like. Well, do you think I got more credibility the second time? Hahaha. Thanked everyone politely and left thinking that next time I will visit the chain and do my customer routine, instead.

So, a couple of problems here (if not more).

  1. From 13 December 2014, the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No. 1169/2011 requires food businesses to provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged, in for example catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars. To everyone. Whether they have an allergy or not. And whether they are starting a business or not 😀 . So why play difficult?
  2. Boy, do some people who suffer from severe allergies have problems out there! I mean, I am living a vegan lifestyle for health reasons. Menus have adjusted for us here and there. And hey, I’ve probably had my fair share of fries cooked in meat. But we don’t die. Suffering from stomach aches after having been promised something doesn’t have gluten by a server who acts difficult is not fun at all.
  3. She had issues with me being a business or working for a business. This is more of a confusion for me and it’s not the first time I’m experiencing this. Why do some people have a problem supporting small businesses? I’ve noticed some people turn away the second they hear it’s a business research or promotion. That small/large business might be something that is going to help you, as a customer or as a business. We’re all working together. If they are trying to address a problem you have, why not support them? Because they will be making money out of it? So what is the problem with that? Why don’t you start your own thing addressing the same problem and make money yourself? Or why don’t you join me? 🙂 (As a side note, no small business or startup is really making any money. at least not in that phase where we knock at your door to ask about your wellbeing haha).

Anyway, that is another interesting experience in the life of a “wantrepreneur”. Might not mean anything to you or it might mean the world if you are experiencing the above on a daily basis. But hey, that is why I started www.knowyourmenu.com. Good to be confirmed every day that you are fighting the same battle as the people you are working for.

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Coldplay, Vienna, 2017

Coldplay, Vienna, 2017

Coldplay. For the second time seeing their concert 🙂

Coldplay Vienna 2017

More: Website: www.inquisitiveclaudia.com

 

Coldplay Vienna 2017

More: Website: www.inquisitiveclaudia.com

 

Coldplay Vienna 2017

More: Website: www.inquisitiveclaudia.com

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