7 days on The Rock

7 days on The Rock

Gibraltar never really surfaced on my travel radar till one of my friends went there a few years ago and came back shouting you have to go to Gibraltar, it’s amazing!

Even then, I was a bit reserved about it, mainly because I’m not a 100% beach holiday person. I like soft adventure and activities but also there weren’t direct flights from where I live. So, once a flight came up and the cabin fever in me had risen to a reasonably high level, I hit the book now button and I jetted off.

  • Gibraltar has the only wild monkey population in the whole of Europe.
  • 12% of its economy comes from gambling.
  • It has the only airport in the world where the runway has a pedestrian and car crossing, and the runway extends into the sea on a piece of reclaimed land. Definitely not one for nervous flyers!
  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married there.
  • There is 29Km of roads in Gibraltar. You can actually walk the whole length of Gibraltar in an hour.
  • The tunnels of Gibraltar that run inside The Rock are 55Km long, which’s twice the length of the road network.
  • Despite its size, it has a world heritage site; Gorham’s cave. It is said to be one of the last habitations of the Neanderthals.
  • Gibraltar has appeared in 2 James Bond movies; You only live twice and The living daylights
  • It has a giant floating hotel; the five-star superyacht hotel Sunborn Gibraltar is a seven-deck, 465ft cruise ship. The Telegraph describes it as “cruise ship meets Bulgari hotel”.

To say it’s lush and luxurious is an understatement.

I obviously had to try said hotel when I visited Gibraltar.

You can see more of the Sunborn Gibraltar hotel here.

Language

The offical language is English. The original language is Llanito, a mix of Spanish, and North African.

Currency

Gibraltar Pound, but many places take the British Sterling Pound as well. the conversion rate is negligible.

Trasnport

Gibraltar is a small territory, walking is the best way to explore the area however taxis and buses are available as well as car rental.

What to do in 7 days on The Rock?

You are probably wondering man, that’s too small of a place what am I going to do there.

I’ve put together for you a list of activities and a sample seven-day itinerary that you can try out.

Best time to visit

All year round! with 300 days of sun you can't go wrong on timing.

COVID tests

At the time of publishing Gibraltar is on the Green list for UK citizens, please always refer to the government website for updates.

Activities

There is a wide range of activities you can do, Im sure we can find something that would suit every level of fitness. Do get in touch by clicking this text and we can sort you out with more ideas.

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Long weekend in Lisbon and Sintra

Long weekend in Lisbon and Sintra

Let’s get those bags packed and head out once again to see the world! 

I’m so excited, I hope you are too. Maybe you’ve been looking at your wishlist and not knowing where to head first. Maybe the excitement of the travel bans lifting got you all worked up and you can’t pick a spot. 

Don’t worry I’ve got you covered. 

Lisbon and Sintra are two beautiful spots that you can visit over a long weekend. 

Check out here where to go, what to do, and some cool places to eat at as well.

1- The vintage tram 28 (Martim Moniz to Campo de Ourique)

You must have seen pictures of the tram carts dotted around social media and the internet. A quaint yellow tram that screeches and rattles through the narrow streets of the city. It passes through the popular tourist districts of Graca, Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela.

Many consider it a highlight of visiting Lisbon.

It’s worth exploring for a few stops, the whole length of the ride is very long especially if you take it back towards your starting point (which is likely to be the city center).

We took this on the evening of our arrival day for the whole round trip. It’s used as a mode of public transport as well as being a tourist attraction so expect it to be crammed at peak times.

2- Belem Tower: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Erected on the northern bank of the Tagus river to protect the city. It’s very close to the Jerónimos Monastery. You can climb all the way to the top and have lovely views of the river and the surrounding city. Photos in the tower or of the tower are really good for those Instamoments if that’s what floats your boat, I do recommend taking the time to visit it in spite of that.

3- Monument to the Discoveries

a 52-meter tall monument built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, who discovered the Azores, Madeira, and Cape Verde.

You can go up to the observation deck and have a panoramic view of the surroundings and a view over the Belem tower.

4- Jerónimos Monastery

A beautiful ornate monastery, built in the 1500s as a symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth, named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It does look stunning from the outside, although on the itinerary we didn’t manage to go in. It’s on my list for the next time I go to Lisbon.

The monastery is the birthplace of Pastel de Natas, with the monks and nuns using too many egg whites to starch their clothes the leftover egg yolks led to the birth of this delicious pastry. The recipe dates to over 100 years ago.

5- Praça do Comércio

I went in the evening with my friend Nazmaknows, I think it’s much more beautiful at night with all the lights around it. We wandered from there to Santa Justa lift, the alleyways, shops, and squares nearby in the Alfama district.

6- Santa Justa Lift and Miradoura de Santa Luzia viewpoint

We missed the sunset but still, the view from the top was well worth taking the time to witness.

aim to head there at sunset, I am told the view doesn’t disappoint 😉

7- The Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines

Would you like to have a can of sardines with your birth date on it?

If yes, then this is the place for you. You feel like you walked into a circus with music and carousels. The displays are very colorful and it makes a great idea for a unique souvenir. They also have sardine cans marked with dates of historic events.

If you pass by it you should stop and have a bit of a nosey.

8- Monserrate Palace

On our second day, we set off to Sintra.

A charming resort town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains near Lisbon. The forested town used to be a Royal sanctuary.

 

We first headed to Monserrate Palace, an Arab-influenced Moorish Palace. I found it absolutely stunning, a blend of Arab architecture and history weaved with Gothic and Indian styles surrounded by beautiful thick lush green English gardens.

9- Queluz National Palace

A beautiful and elegant Baroque palace partway between Lisbon and Sintra. The palace once served as an official Royal residence.

You can walk around the very impressive throne room where the Royals would have sat to receive their guests and then wander around their private apartments.

It’s not difficult to get lost in the beautifully landscaped surrounding gardens either.

10- Amoreiras Shopping Center

After getting back to Lisbon and getting some kip we headed out to have a wander around the shops and to find something to eat.

It was cold and raining so we decided to go to the mall!

Great shopping spot, with a nice collection of restaurants as well.
It is also home to Lisbon’s best 360 degrees viewpoint!
 

Other things to do in an evening in Lisbon would be to:

– Catch a Fado show, that’s the traditional, emotional, mournful, Portuguese music.

– People watching on the Rossio square. Yes, it’s a thing.

– Explore the nightlife in Barrio Alto.

Food for the soul in Lisbon

Dessert (always comes first)

You can’t go to Portugal and not have Pastel de Natas, now can you?

Manteigaria

Nothing beats the authentic taste that you get at this place. Such flaky crispy and light pastry, full with smooth creamy delightful custard, dressed with sprinkles of icing sugar and cinnamon powder.

I could eat them all day every day!

Pastéis de Belém is another place to try the national pastries. It’s close to the monastery and famed to be using the original recipe. The queue stretches a few meters outside and the service can be very slow.

Meals

Casa de Alentejo

A historic restaurant built as a meeting place for people from Portugal’s historical province Alentejo to meet and cultivate culture.

When you walk in you feel you’ve stepped into a Moorish palace with an impressive courtyard. It’s known for its elegant ballroom which serves as a massive dining room, meeting place, and a stage for many activities. Book ahead of time if you want to dine in the ballroom.

We had dinner there on our first night in the city and the girls gave me a surprise birthday cake! Yes, that was my birthday trip 🙂

I can recommend the fried dogfish and prawn curry!

Copenhagen coffee lab

A charming little cafe tucked away in a side street offering amazing cooked and cold breakfast options, sweet and savory bakes, and top-notch coffees. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Lisbon.

I do recommend their dirty Chai latte 😉

Ena Pai!

A quiet and pretty hotel restaurant with great food and excellent service. I enjoyed the meal so much that I forgot to take a picture, here’s me just wanting to get on with my dessert!

You can check out the restaurant here and the adjacent hotel Dabaixa here.

Nazma was patient enough to take a photo of her veggie platter.

Noori at Amoreiras Shopping Center

This place was quite a treat, serving different sushi combos. Strawberry and cream cheese, apple and prawn, and delicious poke bowls. It was super fresh and super delicious.

Long weekend in Lisbon and Sintra

Snacks

Traditional Codfish cake bar

A very stylish shop in the Alfama district sells traditionally made codfish cakes. You can see them being made while browsing in the shop.

We took the one with the cheese inside. I liked the fishcake but wasn’t too sure about the cheese and fish combo.

Long weekend in Lisbon and Sintra
Long weekend in Lisbon and Sintra

It was one of the very charming city breaks that I have had, being my birthday weekend and with my friend, Nazma definitely made it special.

I would want to visit again, enjoy the city and more of the Pastel de Natas!

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I hope you did because each week I put my heart into making sure you get some good tips so you can rock it in your travels while creating a life you love.

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How to plan a solo trip to China?

How to plan a solo trip to China

No country in my opinion is off-limit for a solo traveler.

You just have to be mindful of the culture and customs for some before you embark on your solo trip. Some can be vastly different from what you are used to and know how to stay safe and healthy is paramount when venturing solo away from home. 

I visited Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai for a 9-day solo trip. 

It was an experience, one that could have been easier for me with a bit of research so I hope you come across this to help you plan and set expectations before you set off. 

How to plan a solo trip to China
How to plan a solo trip to China
How to plan a solo trip to China

Where to stay?

Beijing: Wangfujing (where I stayed), Nanluoguxiang or Houhai, Qianmen, and Xi’dan are all highly recommended.

Xi’an: Xi’an city center, Beilin, Weiyang, Lainhu, Xincheng (where I stayed) are all good areas to look at.

Shanghai: the bund and people’s square (where I stayed), old town, Pudong, and Xintiandi area.

Best time to visit?

Beijing: September and October. May and June with early summer weather are also good choices

Xi’an: Spring (March) to Autumn (November), especially in June, July, August, and September

Shanghai: October to November, Summer months are packed with tourists and the Winter months can get quite chilly.

 

I visited all three cities in March, Beijing was a tad chilly, Xi’an was perfect weather, and Shanghai rained all the time. be mindful of the items you pack according to the time that you visit. 

What every solo traveler should know?

1) Have the address of your hotel/destination printed out in Chinese, it’s also best if you have a common phrases handbook to help you get by.

2) If you haven’t sorted a VPN app on you’re phone prior to arrival then get used to using BING. That is the only English search engine you can access on local WiFi.

When you get a Chinese page on your browser after connecting, type BING in the search box, and then you’ll be able to look for things in your own language English or otherwise.

3) Resist paying anyone standing outside an attraction to be your guide, it might seem like the easy option but you can pick up an audio guide for all major tourist attractions and go at your own pace for a fraction of the price.

4) Don’t carry your passport out and about, I think that applies to any country, to be honest. You’ll be asked frequently for a passport when accessing tourist attractions but you can use your driving license any other form of photo ID.

5) You will lose your personal space! Get used to it!

6) Carry extra hygiene items with you at all times, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, gloves, waste bags, etc.

Food recommendation

Holiland bakery, you must check it out when you're there

Currency

CNY Chinese Yaun Check the rates here

Language

Carry a Chinese phrasebook or an offline translation app

Coming soon

  • How to cover Beijing in two days
  • 10 things to do in Xian
  • Top attractions in Shanghai

Did you get some value from this post?

I hope you did because each week I put my heart into making sure you get some great tips so you can rock it in your travels and business while creating a life you love.

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