We’re off again! As you’re reading this post, we’re in the midst of another mammoth 2,000-mile journey, this time from Portugal to Prague. This week we’re driving through France and Germany via Neuschwanstein Castle, then spending a few days in Slovenia before we head to Prague. Despite these exciting adventures, I feel a twinge of sadness about leaving Portugal, a country where I’ve felt welcomed and largely at peace, well, minus some technical troubles.
Europe update and Portugal recap
So, what have we been up to during our six-week stint in Portugal? After finishing our most incredible house-sit to date in the Algarve, we drove north to the Portuguese capital Lisbon. We spent three all-too-brief days wandering the city’s steep streets and wide squares while dodging trams and tour groups. One afternoon we took a train to the ancient town of Sintra, where the hilltops are decorated with yellow palaces and stone castles.
Back in the capital, we got ourselves a Lisbon Card and rode the Santa Justa Elevator to get views over the red rooftops of the city, climbed to the top of the fortress-like Torre de Belem and visited the ornate (but tourist packed) Belem monastery. We also learnt about the city’s history at the Lisbon Story Museum. Did you know that a huge earthquake and tsunami, followed by devastating fires, flattened Lisbon in 1755?
On our final night, we had dinner at a vegan restaurant (our vegan diet is faring pretty well in Portugal, by the way) with my brother and his partner who were fresh, or rather bandaged and slightly battered, from completing their Spanish Camino. While we listened to their stories of bed-bug-ridden hostels, blisters and the colourful cast of trekkers they met along the way, we sipped beer in the Barrio Alto area and watched the sunset.
The remainder of our time in Portugal has been spent in Grijo, a tiny village about 20-minutes’ drive from Porto. While we’ve been in our Airbnb apartment working a lot, we’ve also found time to fall in love with Porto, a unique city filled with tiled churches and grand cathedrals. Porto sits in a valley next to the Douro River that snakes off as far as the eye can see in each direction, bisected by huge steel bridges. Restaurants and an assortment of colourful buildings line the Riva, while seagulls swoop above.
Our friends Patti and Abi from One Road at a Time are currently based in Porto and have been showing us around, so it’s been great to catch up with them. We’ve also taken trips to our closest town Espinho, where a long wooden boardwalk stretches along the coast and the waves are violent and crashing, perfect for surfers and body boarders.
One Sunday we visited the Passadicos do Paiva, where we trekked 10 miles through a deep, jagged, pine-tree-covered gorge. During our last week in Portugal we squeezed in visits to picturesque, medieval towns such as Aveiro, Braga and Guimaraes.
Tech troubles and blogging woes
Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to writing up posts about any of these trips or our time in Amsterdam yet. There are several reasons for this and the first is a good one because it involves being distracted by healthy volumes of freelance work, which is extremely welcome after a slow July and August. However, the second reason is in no way welcome at all and has caused us so much frustration and sleeplessness: we’ve had chronic tech troubles with this site.
Now, I hardly ever blog about blogging because it makes for pretty dull reading, even if you happen to be a blogger yourself. However, to give you some idea of what’s been plaguing us, it involves SSL certificates and a terrible web host, a switch to an even worse web host who shut down our site for CPU overuse twice (I’m talking about Bluehost and Siteground, in case you’re wondering), as well as a struggle to find a good web developer who wasn’t booked up with clients and finally, a switch to a third host.
All these problems have hit us hard during our time in Portugal, to the point where the blog became a source of constant background anxiety and I could hardly bring myself to look at it, or our plummeting stats. Thankfully, after investing in a good web developer our problems are – hopefully – fixed and we can start to recover from the damage and tackle our backlog of posts. Blogging can finally become fun again.
As with all trials in life, large and small (and yes, I realise that my blogging woes are extremely small-fry in a world full of never-ending clusterfucks), you learn a lot from them. These particular trials have taught us that firstly, if you don’t understand something, you need to ask for help. Know what cron jobs, CPUs or robots.txt files are? Neither did we, so we asked around to find a good web developer who we could hire. Secondly, don’t give up. Not ever. Even when you feel like chucking your laptop off the balcony – everything is fixable.
Our 2018 plans
So, rant over, let’s get back to what we’re all here for – travel! I’m talking specifically about our 2018 plans, which are as yet unmade. Despite constantly Googling flight prices, drawing spider diagrams and asking bloggers/travellers we know for advice, we still have no concrete onward plans for January, which is less than eight weeks away.
Andrew is searching and applying for teaching jobs all over the world at the moment so a lot depends on the results of that search, but we’re also hoping that the answers will come to us organically. Peru, Mexico, the USA, settling in Portugal – they’re all options. Either way, we have a self-imposed deadline of December 1st to figure something out, so we’ll let you know what we decide.
Pin Me For Later!
As always, thanks for reading, especially since this was such a random, hodgepodge update. Feel free to share any thoughts you have on Portugal, blog troubles or 2018 travel plans in the comments below, we love hearing from you.