You will be surprised with the amount of times that I was asked if I was crazy when I told people that at the last-minute (2 weeks before) I was going to go on holiday . . . by myself.
My mum was the first to question my sanity, she even tried to sabotage me . . . okay sabotage is a strong word . . . more like gently encourage me to change my mind, cancel that flight and go to see my aunt and uncle for a week in Southeast Asia. Thankfully, the many calls to my aunt went unanswered. And I had already done my research!
It all started when one of my managers had come back from his first solo holiday. Now he is in his (I really wanna say 50’s but I have to remind myself that he is not, and it angers him when I think that he is) 40’s, married with two kids (college and university age) and he had like a week of holiday to use up, but his family couldn’t go with him. So he found a great last-minute all-inclusive deal, waved bye to his family and week on holiday. He said it was one of the best holidays that he has ever had . . . and that I shouldn’t tell his wife that he had said that . . . oops.
Anyway, another person that I work with, asked me what I had planned for my birthday as I had booked 2 weeks off . . . what I usually do . . . sleep late, watch The Wright Stuff, cook and find random things to do on the Time Out website.
“Why don’t you go on holiday?”
There was so many reasons why I didn’t think that I could. Top of the list was;
• It is too late notice for me to beg any of my friends to go with me
• I didn’t know if I could afford it
When I mentioned these perfectly valid reasons
“Why don’t you go on your own?”
Again so really good reasons to add to the “oh hell no!” list, and top of that list was;
• . . . by . . . . my . . . . self
• on . . . my . . . . own
• nobody else with me
• I am not that crazy.
• What kinda crazy person does this?
Turns out . . . I am that kinda crazy person. And why not! Life is too short! The hardest part was completed late last year; get the time off – DONE!
I don’t do working on . . . or around my birthday, so hadn’t gone crazy on using up my holidays before my birthday. And it wouldn’t be that difficult to find a cheap flight and a place to stay . . . right?
After 2 weeks of research and long evenings looking for cheap flights, reasonable hotel room, and countries to go to that I felt I wouldn’t feel too scared to leave the hotel room.
I was not crazy enough to go to a place I have never been before, baby steps was needed for my very first solo trip.
So which country did I go to . . . Lisbon! Don’t laugh!
I know, I have been there before . . . recently in fact. But when I went to Portugal last year, I noticed that there were quite a few women that were there on their own. Most importantly, I felt that Lisbon was safe, and taxis were reasonable priced (massive difference compared to London), so if I got lost, I could get a ride home for price that wouldn’t make me want to cry! Also there was so much that I still wanted to see in Lisbon, I had truly fallen for this city.
I had done a little bit of research into solo travel. And even asked around . . . but was surprise how many of my friends and some members of my family that I had thought had been on holiday alone, actually hadn’t. which to be honest, made me worry of if was a little bit crazy. But the research on some blogs was a great help.
When it came to accommodation, I kinda wanted to try Airbnb and see what all the hype was about. Some of the prices when amazing and much better then many of the hotels. Some of the hotels that I had found had okay rooms . . . but a shared bathroom . . . ew! . . . with Airbnb, not only could I have had my own bathroom, but the entire apartment or house would have been all mine for the 6 day (yes 6 days) that I was there.
But, although I felt brave enough to book a solo trip . . . going on a solo trip and have an empty house/apartment all to myself in a country that I had previously only visited once, didn’t seem like the best idea. So I went the safer and easier route of just booking a hotel. And this way I wouldn’t have to worry about where to get my breakfast.
So in the end I stayed in the same hotel that I had stayed in the last time I was in Lisbon. I already knew the location. I knew it was a short walk to the shops and transport links. And the staff was friendly and the all important bathroom, all to myself!
I am going to skip the boring parts about how to check all the not so small print when flying with a budget airline. I honestly had no idea that you could only have one bag when flying with Easyjet and the annoying extra cost of that. The fun times I had at the airport, spoiler alert, it wasn’t that much fun, not enough shops.
And let go right into the whole holiday . . . it was amazing!
I wish that I had been super organised and created and itinerary for the entire 6 day I was day. But I mostly winged it day by day, doing a little research in the morning of places to visit. There was so much that I wasn’t bored once.
The first day I kinda just walked around with a massive smile on my face because I had actually done it! I had actually booked, and gone on a holiday by myself . . . I think I was little shocked that I had done it. I just wanted to enjoy the local sights and stunning views.
On the second day, I found the beautiful Carmo Convent, just a short 11 minutes walk from my hotel. This was one of the many buildings devastated by an earthquake that happened in 1755 on a holy day, so the convent was obviously filled with people when the earthquake hit and the roof collapsed. But is still stunningly beautiful. Even more so on a rare sunny day, yes . . . rare sunny day.
More or less the whole time that I was in Lisbon, it rained . . . a lot, mostly everyday. I think this was the only time I saw blue skies for the trip.
A short walk from the Carmo Convent, is a great spot for view of the city, it is very hard to not find a great spot that had a great view. But if you go to this convent and walk just behind it, you could save €5 not going up the Santa Justa Lift and still get the same view . . . The thought of “this looks a bit like the back of the Santa Justa Lift” I should have really checked it out rather than going on the Santa Justa Lift a few days later and then realising that the Carmo Convent is just behind the Santa Justa Lift . . . save your self the €5. It could go to food!
On Day 3, I decided that I wanted to go to Cascais, this lovely coastal town that used to be a fisherman’s village. Would have been stunning if it was a gorgeous sunny day with blue skies . . . but it was February . . . so no blue skies . . . or sun. But that didn’t stop me from doing a bit of sight-seeing. So I went to a couple of museums, thinking that all the museums were free entry, due to the information that I found in one of the Lisbon Travel guides that I have brought and from information on the internet. The two that I was able to find, both charged €3 entry fee. Which really isn’t so bad, considering I had paid €11.80 to get into a palace.
The first museum called the Centro Cultural de Cascais that I went to was one of those modern art museums . . . I wasn’t really fond of any of the art work, to be honest. But I had an hour to waste as the museum that I wanted to visit was closed for an hour. So after going to the Centro Cultural de Cascais, there was (thankfully) a little café right next the museum. I thought that I would have a little snack . . . desert mostly with a hot drink. The desert was this chocolate mousse tart, literally the best dessert that I have tasted in a long time, maybe every. I wish I could have had an entire meal there! And I definitely recommended a visit to the café next to the museum. Wish I knew the name of it! I will have to go Cascais again for that restaurant alone.
After I was finished with the best chocolate cake every! I went to the Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães, a museum now, but it was a home for many years. It is stunning, and filled with gorgeous art (the kind of art that I loved to admire) and stunning original furniture. I easily spent over an hour in there just admiring everything in this house. Taking pictures of almost everything.
Unfortunately, the battery for my phone was running low, so I only had enough battery to find one more location to visit so choose the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego. Again from the little research that I had done that morning, I thought that this museum would have been free admittance . . . no . . . and another modern art museum, not really to my taste again. But others might like it. If the weather had been better and the battery on my phone a lot better, I could have easily spent the whole day there and done a lot more, there was so much more to do in Cascais. Will have to save it for the next time I go to Portugal.
Day 4 and 5, I had to go to Sinta! I had already been there last time I went to Lisbon, and had most definitely had visited Pena Palace . . . but I had only been to the outside . . . I had wanted to see the inside, but didn’t bring enough money that time . . . this time I had to get inside and see everything!
It did not disappoint! It was AMAZING! Just completely amazing! The pictures can speak for themselves, but I really loved the walk up to the palace. Yes, the last time I had been there is was beautiful and sunny and the colours of the palace look great against the blue sky. But the mistiness this time looked beautiful! I spent way too long taking pictures of the outside. Don’t ask me how long . . . just long enough.
So I wasn’t done with visiting palaces in Sintra, after the Pena Palace, I went to Palácio Nacional de Sintra. A much easier journey to get to compared to the Pena Palace, but interior is equally as stunning. It was filled with stunning and original furniture and beautiful paintings.
No I didn’t do any clothes shopping, who has time for that in such a gorgeous location, that and once you see one Zara and Pull and Bear, you have seen them all. Plus, my suitcase was too full of all the clothes that I brought . . . and there was the second bag.
One of the last places that I visited while in Sintra was the Palácio De Monserrate. There was many times while I was walking around the gardens of Monserrate . . . when I thought I was completely lost. There was two paths and I must have taken the wrong one. But . . . I wouldn’t have gotten all of these amazing pictures if I had taken the . . . right path.
Once I had finally (I’m thinking at least 30 minutes later . . . or most likely 15 minutes) I found the palace. This little hidden gem of Sintra, might have been my favourite of all the palaces that I went to on this holiday. Yes, it has amazing ceiling and I think this is the only palace that I went to that had its own waterfall! The interior was beautiful. Not really filled with furniture like some of the other palaces, but was still breathtaking. But I think the fact that it isn’t one of those more popular palaces that everyone could get to, I was able to admire everything without bumping into people or felt rushed.
Day 6, the final day of my solo holiday. I wasn’t being, like greedy, or wanted to be extra crazy with booking an extra day for this holiday . . . in all honesty . . . it was cheaper to fly back to the UK on the 6th day then the 5th day.
But, boy was I happy that I got that extra day! And the mornings research that I used just 15 minutes shy of the check out time (yea, I like to live on the wild side!) was not wasted. I used those precious . . . hours . . . to find the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, an amazing museum. A visit to this Museum was perfect for the last day, I had plenty of time to waste and didn’t . . . really, mind the . . . 1 hour walk to it. And it was SO WORTH that 1 hour walk! Thank god, there wasn’t any steps and the hills were fine, you kinda get used to it after a week.
It was filled with SO MUCH history, from coins, rugs, furniture, vases . . . just so much! And I really really have to visit it again! I just kept on taking pictures, even when the battery on my camera was struggling.
So, for my first solo trip, it was amazing, awesome, epic and completely solo and I had a great time . . . is it too soon to plan the next solo trip? Yes to Portugal again, love it. But this time I am thinking of going to Porto . . . and then a couple of days in Lisbon!