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Week 14: Algarve, Portugal

My trip to the Algarve (South of Portugal) was the most fun and relaxing trip ever! My friend from home, Alex came to visit me for two weeks and we ventured off to the Algarve for five days. This has been a place that I’ve wanted to visit ever since seeing Mimi Ikonn’s Lagos trip

It was so amazing to see Alex and someone from back home. Seeing her made me realise how much I missed all my friends and family. This was our first trip together outside of Canada and it was so lovely. 
The planning for the trip went very smoothly. We booked local buses from Lisbon to Lagos, Lagos to Albufeira, and Albufeira back to Lisbon. The bus company we used was called EVA Transport; you can purchase your tickets online through their affiliate company RegioJet or in person at their ticket booth. In terms of accommodation, we stayed at the Olive Hostel in Lagos and Rich & Poor Hostel in Albufeira. Both hostels are locally owned, and so very cute to stay in. The owners were very sweet and gave us a lot of recommendations about what to do around the town. Another plus was that the hostel was central to everything. The beach was a short walk that was no longer than 10 minutes for both locations. 

Lagos – 21st -23rd 
We stayed in Lagos for three nights and it was enough time for us, however, you can definitely stay longer and do more activities. April surprisingly is still very chilly to go down south. When we first arrived the weather was a high of 24 degrees and it was super windy, so going to the beach was not in the picture. Therefore on the first day, we just walked around the town and got acquainted with it very quickly. I mean...kind of, we found ourselves walking around in circles a lot haha. 
One cool restaurant we found, which was only 30 secs away from our hostel was this Mexican bistro called The Green Room. This place served all your Mexican favourites. I highly recommend it if you’re ever in town. Both their food and drinks were brilliant and it’s all priced reasonably. We ordered their chimichanga (so good), which is a deep fried burrito and fish tacos. 

We also went for all you can eat sushi for one of our dinners. I was craving it so badly…the cool thing about Portugal is that they actually have good sushi (as they're a port country and is close to the sea, so blessed for that). We went to this all you can eat place called Osaka.
The next day we went to the beach!! The happiest place on earth, well at least for me. Portugal is fortunate to have so many beaches along its coast and we were able to discover all the beaches in Lagos from up high through a hike and from down by the shore. We started at the Batata beach and then worked our way west all the way towards Farol de Ponta da Piedade/Lagos and the lighthouse. Near the (second) beach, Praia do Pinhao, we found a cave-like area in which you have to climb in, and it had an opening to the shore. It was super cool to experience it. My favourite beach was Praia do Camilo, even though you had to climb up and down so many stairs. All along the coast, there are also secret beaches, which you can only get by water. We didn’t get the chance to do this (the waves were too strong, sadly), but I would highly recommend it! You can do this by booking a kayak tour or a boat tour to discover the caves and private beaches. 
My favourite part of this visit was definitely doing the hike and seeing such amazing scenery everywhere I turn. Literally, top views! I really felt at ease with myself and had no care about anything really. That's what I love about discovering nature and the world, you are away from the hustle and bustle, and you're just discovering what the world has to offer. Away from your problems, and your thoughts. It was such a nice change to the typical city trips that I’ve experience during my exchange travels. It was definitely a nice change after a hectic 13-day Easter trip haha. 
Another awesome thing about visiting and exploring small towns such as Lagos is how easy it is to make friends and meet new people. Alex and I met so many cool people on this trip. Rather it was from meeting another traveller at the restaurant, people at the hostel, or making new friends at the beach. For example, during our visit to the beach, a group of guys asked us to take a picture for us and we ended up spending the evening with them. One of them was from Lagos, and they showed us another beach, called Praia de Porto Mos. There, we watched the sunset and also picked fruits/nuts right from the trees. It was a really fun time. I really enjoyed my time in Lagos and will definitely be coming back to discover more of this place! 

Albufeira – 24th -25th 
We were to supposed to stay in Albufeira for two nights but it was cut short to only one. So in total, we had two days and one night in Albufeira. A lot of people say that this city is very touristy and you do not get the authentic local feel. It is true. They had an escalator built for you to go down to the beach. However, I still did enjoy walking around and experiencing it. If you want to find a place where you can lounge on the beach during the day and go out and party at night, then Albufeira is a perfect place for you. For their nightlife, they have a strip of bars and clubs that you can experience. Even on a Monday night, it was fun. 
In Albufeira, we stayed in Old Town near the beach Praia do Peneco. For our first dinner, we got cataplana by the seaside and it was mouthwatering. Cataplana is a famous seafood dish in Portugal, similar to paella but without any rice in it. The fish we had in ours was so fresh it melted in my mouth.... Overall, I loved the Algarve. I wish I had more time so I can truly discover Lagos through boat and also the small towns around it such as Luz, Sagres and Portimao. I guess I'll just have to come back and I definitely will be in the future. 

Thanks for a great time Algarve. 

And thanks for reading, 
Sam

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