Portugal's Algarve: Video Moments

As the weather warms up here for spring in London, we were inspired to finally share more about our trip to Portugal's Algarve last September. It was a vacation filled with beach visits, strolls down cobblestone lanes, and good food. While we mentioned it didn't make the top of our list of places we have been, the Algarve is the spot to go to for some sun and relaxation. We enjoyed ending our 2017 travel season doing just that! If we ever make it back, Lagos or Salema will be calling our names.

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Portugal's Algarve: Barlavento (West)

Six of our 9 days in the Algarve were spent based in the central town of Albufeira. Though large parts of the town are quite modern and decidedly un-Portuguese (e.g., Irish pubs and sports bars), its central location and beautiful beach were factors in our decision to stay there. Luckily, our Airbnb was located in the quiet and traditional area immediately around Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Albufeira, where we spent evenings strolling the streets and walking down to the beach. We also dedicated two days fully as beach days. Our main dinner spot was Ricardo's Pizzaria (spaghetti Bolognese, spaghetti carbonara, ravioli, bruschetta, tiramisu)—also decidedly un-Portuguese!—and we made a few trips in the car out to Pastelaria Riviera for its large collection of cakes, cookies, and other sweet delights.

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Portugal’s Algarve: Sotavento (East)

Portugal’s Algarve region is famous for its long, sandy beaches, dramatic coastal rock formations, and tasty food. Best yet, all of this can be enjoyed at a fraction of the price of nearby Spain, and certainly of France and Italy. The region has largely been developed for and caters to package tourism, especially from northern Europe, and this no doubt detracts from the area’s cultural appeal, but there is enough to see and experience for the Algarve to serve as a relatively inexpensive destination combining lazy beach days with stimulating nature and city adventures. We spent 9 days in the region and will cover our trip in two parts—first, the eastern half (dubbed Sotavento), then the western half (dubbed Barlavento).

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Ireland's Dingle Peninsula: Video Moments

Our three day weekend in Ireland was full of beautiful landscapes. The rocky coast, beaches, and rolling green hills took our breath away. Exploring the Dingle Peninsula was the perfect way to see the country for the first time and inspired us to want to return for more. We enjoy these mini weekends away seeing somewhere new, driving around, immersing ourselves in the natural surroundings, and relaxing. It helps refresh us and brings balance to our lives. A highlight of our weekend in Ireland was showing up at Eask Tower at the end of a day of wandering around. The skies had finally cleared for a bit so we hiked up and looked down on the land around us in awe. That moment sums up how we felt about Ireland for us.

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Three Days On Ireland's Dingle Peninsula

Rico’s 28th birthday brought us to Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula for a three-day weekend in late August. We flew into and out of Shannon, rented a car for the weekend, and stayed at Greenmount House, a short walk from the center of Dingle.

On our drive to and from the peninsula we stopped at a few points in the eastern and northern areas. Fermoyle Strand offered us an excuse to stretch our legs and walk the beach; and as a bonus we got to hang out with some cows near the car park! Brandon Point gave us a good taste of what this area of the world has to offer: dramatic coastal views, serene walking paths, and lots of sheep! We took scenic Conor Pass down toward Dingle, but unfortunately the heavy fog blocked most of the view. The drive out on our final day took us to Minard Castle (which we were only able to appreciate for a moment in the pouring rain) and Inch Beach, where we drove our car onto the beach and braved the wind and rain with a something-less-than-comfortable stroll.

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Hvar, Croatia: Video Moments

I have to admit that it has been tough to recap our trip to Bosnia and Croatia while in the middle of winter. These photos, videos, and stories have me aching to return—to go swimming again and feel the warm sun on our skin. I'm just going to have to close my eyes and pretend until July when we make our way back to Croatia—we just can't get enough! This past trip was the perfect mix. Starting in Bosnia where we learned further about their deep history, visited beautiful mosques and quaint villages then ending in Croatia by sea to swim and wander was perfect. It is a trip that we will never forget!

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Two Weeks In Bosnia & Croatia: Hvar Island

You could spend your whole time on Hvar in Hvar Town, but the island is one of Croatia’s largest and boasts sights of all kinds worth exploring.

For our first venture out of Hvar Town we took advantage of the busses (operated by Čazmatrans) that crisscross the island to get to Stari Grad (literally “Old Town”, as historians believe it’s Croatia’s oldest town). The old town is laced with picturesque cobblestoned lanes and dotted with some interesting sights (the pool and gardens at Tvrdalj Castle—which is more of a villa than a castle—and The Church of St. Peter and Dominican Monastery). We were excited to see that Fig Cafe—a restaurant we first discovered in Hvar Town—had a location in Stari Grad as well and sat down for lunch (burrito, yogurt, granola, fruit).

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Two Weeks In Bosnia & Croatia: Hvar Town

Split is Croatia’s gateway to the country’s many islands, offering ferries of all shapes and sizes to the rocky chunks of land that dot the Adriatic Sea. While we enjoyed our three nights in the city, our end goal was to pick up a ferry to Hvar, one of Croatia’s largest and most populated islands. Friends of ours that had visited Hvar had only good things to say about it, so we went in with fairly high expectations. Within seconds of stepping off the ferry and taking in the view of the bobbing sailboats and yachts in the shimmering sea along the neat cobblestoned promenade up toward the imposing fortress perched on the hill above, we were in love! It is damn near impossible not to immediately fall in love with a place like this. Our Airbnb was a mere minute’s walk to the square and harbor, but tucked just enough away for peace and quiet in the evenings.

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Split & Trogir, Croatia: Video Moments

Hands down, Croatia is one of our favorite places to travel to. It has a beautiful mix of culture and adventure! For our third visit, we decided to spend our time in Split and Hvar (which we will get to soon!). After our time in Bosnia, we took a bus from Mostar to Split to kick off the second half of our trip. While in Split, we enjoyed wandering around the old city, eating delicious food, taking some time to relax at the beach, and going off on a day trip to Trogir. Our time there got us back to remembering why we keep coming back. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, the history and the old architecture surrounds you, and you can't beat being by the sea. It was a wonderful first few days back in Croatia. Next up, we jump on the ferry to finish our two week adventure on the island of Hvar!

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Two Weeks in Bosnia & Croatia: Split and environs

We dropped our car off in Mostar and hopped on an Autopoduzeće Imotskibus bus for the 5-hour ride to Split. (Most car rental agencies won’t allow you to pick up a car in Bosnia or Croatia and drop it off in the other.) The ride went by surprisingly quick, especially on the gorgeous seaside stretch from Makarska. On arrival in Split, we strolled from the bus stop to our Airbnb, walking the Riva Promenade along the way. After recharging with a banana split from BananaSplit in Split, we set off to see what the city had to offer.

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Bosnia: Video Moments

Bosnia is one of the most unique places we have visited so far in our travels. We pushed ourselves to go here to learn more about the history and see a culture that is so different from our own. Stepping foot in the different mosques throughout our stay and listening to our tour guide in Sarajevo gave us a better understanding of life. It is easy to sink into the everyday norms and assume that everyone else's lives are similar—to forget the struggles as they seem so far away, almost unreal. Hearing the stories of the Bosnian people—what they have been through—is eye-opening, especially since it was so current. Places like Bosnia are important to travel to. By visiting, you can see a country that was—not to long ago—torn apart by war, come back together. While it is still not perfect (as we have written about in our other posts from our time there), it is an inspiring example of regaining strength.

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Two Weeks in Bosnia & Croatia: Mostar and environs

After three nights in Sarajevo, we picked up a rental car and hit the road! Our final destination was Mostar, but we had a few stops to make on the way. First was Vrelo Bosne, a nature reserve just 20 minutes outside of Sarajevo at the source of the River Bosna, which gives the country Bosnia its name. A series of paths and bridges guide you through the park; the peacefulness was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city. It wasn’t long after getting back in the car that we were on the scenic road toward Mostar (the M17). It’s hard to describe the drive; it was one of the best we’ve ever done, driving below craggy peaks, winding through lush valleys, passing charming villages, all the while tracing the impossibly blue-green Neretva River. There’s a scenic train ride that follows a similar path, but driving allowed us to stop and take in the views. We stopped for lunch at Vidikovac in Konjic which offered views of the river and the town’s Old Stone Bridge.

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