Lisbon's Best Beaches

Perfect for nature lovers and surfers

Summer is over, right? Not everywhere. One of the best perks of planning a trip to Lisbon is its proximity to the beach. And the beaches are more or less dreamy like you want them to be, not crowded and perfect for nature lovers and surfers. Those individual stretches of white sand and Atlantic coastline with diverse cafes and bars, located close enough to see the sunset from the dinner table. 

 Surfers waiting for the perfect wave in Caparica 

Surfers waiting for the perfect wave in Caparica 

 

Caparica in Portugal: A unique location for a peaceful getaway

Caparica is only 15 minutes from the Center of Lisbon or the Airport. The best time to visit this area is the late summer or during the autumn. The temperatures are still hot and you will have most of the peaceful scenery for yourself. 
The proximity to the City allows you to swirl into the busy nightlife or the daily bustle of a Capital whenever you feel like ditching the nature and feel the buzz of the city life.

 

 Peaceful tranquility at the beach during the afternoon hours

Peaceful tranquility at the beach during the afternoon hours

Perks of the beach-getaway 

Starting from Caparica, there are more coastlines as far as the eye can see. There are also treasure troves if hidden coastlines that are rarely visited by tourists, especially during the off seasons. Dramatic waves and steady winds make the whole coast a haven for surfers from all over Europe. 

 The famous path into the ocean in Caparica

The famous path into the ocean in Caparica

Accommodation in and around Caparica 

You can be sure to get fresh seafood, delicious green wine which is unique to this region and the best views of the beaches from the restaurants.
If you are looking for a great accommodation I would suggest to stay in Caparica as hotels and accommodation are far cheaper, and secondly who wouldn't wanna wake up and have the ocean as a backdrop? 

Not the first time in Amsterdam

What to expect when visiting your favorite place again

Going back to places we love can be tricky and wonderful at the same time. The joyful anticipation is very high when we think we know what to expect from a place and we can already make plans what to see, where to go again and where to eat. 

We might even have made some friendly connections there so when visiting again we can meet old friends we didn't see for a long time to show us around one more time. 

On the other hand, revisiting of a place we love can bear some hidden obstacles. We come with a certain assumption in mind, an expectation to be amazed as at the first time. This can be tricky as the first visit to a new place is most of the times AMAZING as we don't have any real comparison yet. 

 

Why my visit to a favorite place turned out different

Visiting the same place during a cold weather period is like seeing a new place all over again. My last time in Amsterdam was in July, the temperature hit the 30 degree mark and I connected the Dutch capital with summer, warm evenings sitting outside and endless green parks. 

 

Therefore my mindset was already in a different place when I got back to Amsterdam last weekend in October. And I could not hide some feeling of being disappointed. Disappointed because it was already dark outside after 7 pm, because I had to wear a jacket a big scarf when going outside and because I couldn't just sit on the ground next to the river because I would freeze my ass off. 

Netherless I started to appreciate the other Amsterdam. The autumn Amsterdam. I was digging into the sweets and treats, the rustic and homely pubs and bars- they remind me almost of a living room and the freshness of the city on a Sunday morning. 

Have you ever been to a City you did visit several times in the past with certain expectations? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Best places to escape the hustle in Toronto

When I travel I love to have a mix of excitement and relaxation. I tend to be in really busy places and getting into a mode that lets me thrive while being surrounded by people. But on the other hand, I love to relax and get myself into more spacious environments to rewind for a  couple of hours.

 

Hamilton 

A smaller city, but full of history. Hamilton is located in between Toronto and the Mississauga falls. Don't just drive by, wander down those little streets and see what this place has to offer. 

hamilton

 

 

Lakeshore

Lake Ontario is massive. I spent so much time at the Lakeshore that I don't even remember which part was the best corner. If you go there on time you can even find a place to have a BBQ by the water.

 Lakeshore

Lakeshore

 

 

Toronto Island

The upgrade of the Lakeshore experience. You need to take a ferry to get to the island. What you get are sandy beaches, big waves and a great park to stroll around. See more of Toronto Island and how to get there in my vlog.

 Toronto Islands in Septemeber

Toronto Islands in Septemeber

 

 

Downtown on a weekday 

you can escape the hustle even in downtown. I went there on a Tuesday evening around 10 pm and it was empty! Perfect time to take landscape photography.

 Downtown Toronto. 

Downtown Toronto. 

I spent 7 hours in Chicago by myself. That's what happened

 

What to do during a 7-hour layover in Chicago?

I need to save when it comes to plane tickets. And I like to explore. So when I see a ticket that is almost 200GBP cheaper just because I have to wait somewhere for a few hours... I will take it. And use the time to discover the city. 

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How do you get around without knowing the city?

I arrived at the airport and I was utterly unprepared. Honestly, I did not even know in what state I was until I saw all the "Welcome to Illinois" signs. I felt a little bit lost because I did not make up any plans what I want to see or how I will spent my layover. 

Luckily I downloaded the app TripScout on my phone before leaving and an offline tourist map with all the famous sights, subway stations and streets for Downtown Chicago. The app really helped me to get around and localise myself when I was getting lost in the streets a couple of times. And the best, it shows you where to find the food you are looking for.  

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What to do in Chicago for a half day?

After a bumpy 40-minutes train ride from the airport to downtown I decided to walk around in the area first. I didn't really plan where to go yet as I just wanted to get inspired by what I see without having a fixed destinations. But walking with a macbook, a dslr, tripod and objectives over one shoulder can make you tired. Especially at 30 degrees and a restless 8 hour flight. I decided to take it eady and to see the parks and lakes of the city. From the centre it is only a 10 minute walk to the lakeshore. But somewhere talking about in my vlog! 

 

 

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How much time do I need?  

I would recommend to use a layover to discover a new city if you have at least 2 -3 hours at the actual area. You need to calculate the time you need to get through security (Usually takes longer when you are in the US). Check if you have to collect your bags and check them in again, because that will take some time, too. Do you need cash or can you pay everywhere with your credit card? And plan at least one hour buffer time for the way back to the airport. Be suse you don't want to be that person that misses their connection flight because you took the subway back to the airport, but in the wrong direction and now you lost 40 minutes. 

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Taking good pictures while travelling solo // layover 101

I felt a little restricted while walking through the city because I was carrying this big, heavy bag. And I didn't use my camera for any pictures. All I used was my iPhone. And at one point a selfie stick. And I asked random people to take scenic Instagram pictures of me from very specific angles. Sometimes it worked and I got dreamy results like this one below :)  

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Is it not easier just to wait in the airport?  

YES! It is definitely easier but why go the easy way? If you have the chance to visit a city you would not see normally and you got the opportunity of a layover, treat it like a privilege. And apps like TripScout can help you to enjoy your self-organised trip without depending on any tour guide. You can eat overpriced airport food later!    

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Let me know what you think? Are layover worth it? Do you prefer waiting st the airport and do you have any recommendations what to do with the heavy hand luggage ?  

Have a great day!  

 

Travel: A quick guide to Amsterdam

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Hey, 
this is another travel series! I hope you love short-trips because this one will take you to the City of Amsterdam! 
When thinking about Amsterdam I personally think about the great weather, bicycles, tulips, coffee shops and the most relaxed people who I ever met in a Capital. 

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I had the opportunity to stay in Amsterdam for a few days and I will tell you more about my stay in the next blog post! Here, I am going to give you an overview of the best places to visit when you only have a short weekend in Amsterdam.  

How to discover Amsterdam by Boat


Jump in one of the many boats and take a tour through the canals! You will see landmarks and details of the City you didn't see before!

amsterdam canal

Take a walk over the Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam


If you love flowers this market is for you! But even those who don't want to carry a bag of flower bulbs home will enjoy the scent, the atmosphere and the experience of the flower market

flowermarket in amsterdam

 

Discover the Night-life


As a bloody fellow from London, I always assume I have seen it all. But the Night Life in Amsterdam is amazing. It is vibrant, diverse and very relaxed at the same time. There is so much going on, even on the streets. 

amsterdam at night

 

How to get to the beach from Amsterdam

 

The best, if you want you can be at the beach in only 25 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal. And I am not talking about an overcrowded city beach. Zandvoort is not only the place of my childhood, as I spent there most summers with my family when I was little, it has a white sandy beach with so much space to run and enjoy the beach in an active way!

the beach of amsterdam
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Being in Barcelona, or how travelling makes you feel like a 10-year old 

It took me almost three years to visit the Tower of London. A spooky tourist attraction which reminds people of the medieval dark times of the City. I had the chance to see this place for all these years since I came to London and I never did it. Always had an excuse. Little Lea would have just had her way and go. On her first day, she would have curiously discovered this overcrowded place. 
Here are just a few reasons why travel can trick your brain to make you feel like a child again, and actually happy. 

Same old, same old

On a normal day to day basis, there is rarely an occasion where we break out of the daily routine. We walk or drive a certain way to work every day. We drink our coffee in our favourite coffee shop. We go to the same store. Buy the same food and see the same people. There is nothing wrong with routine but on the other hand, we do not discover the full potential of the place we live in.  While on a journey or travelling, we allow ourselves to learn and to be impressed by the many things we see. 

 The world is a playground:)

The world is a playground:)

The world is a playground

When we travel, we feel like children because we love to discover, play and see the world fearlessly. Everything seems to be like the next adventure that waits to be discovered. We do not separate ourselves from the environment, we want to connect to people. Speaking a few words in a foreign language and then be proud to order food while the waiter repeatedly says „I speak English too, no problem." No, we insist of showing of the five words we learnt because we want to connect. 


We allow ourselves to be impressed again  

Nobody ever said: "Macchu Pichu. Phew, that's just stones and some grass. I have that in my backyard.“ We are impressed by things that are new to us and from a different culture. Even when we travel in our own country the grass in the holiday destinations seems to be greener.  As a Londoner, I have to live with the stereotype that we are impressed by nothing. Somebody could juggle with some kittens, knives and ice-cream in front of us in the tube and we don’t even raise our head. Yes, in London you see everything and you are never impressed by anything. But when leaving the usual habitat, we blossom up and we allow ourselves to be impressed by the little things again. 

 Climbing in a hole: Not pretty. Not grown up. But 100% fun 

Climbing in a hole: Not pretty. Not grown up. But 100% fun 


Being mindful  


When children play, they only play. When the run, the run. When they eat a messy cone of ice cream, they solely to that in that very moment.
On an everyday basis, most adults developed a more or less addictive relationship with their electronic devices and especially with their phones. I personally feel incomplete, almost showing significant withdrawal symptoms when I step out and I forgot my phone at home. A phone is the best distraction from being mindful. Just letting five minutes pass without checking, updating or socialising with somebody on your phone is a challenge for the modern adult. When travelling, we still document our adventures, but we are more selective in which moments we just keep completely to ourselves by enjoying the very moment. 

That's why travel makes us feel like a child again.  
It makes us feel like a child again in terms of being fearless, adventurous and full of living fully in the moment.  

Beachify your life: 5 secret beaches you have to visit

If there is something I love most about travelling than that's the fact that I always have to visit at least one beach in a country. I am a beach person. I love the sand, the sound of the waves, the salty air and the stillness just right before the sun goes does and almost falls into the ocean. 

Natural beaches

Yes, as you might have guessed I am not a fan of overcrowded part beaches. I prefer the stillness and the unbeatable comfort and luxury of an almost empty beach.
P.S. The beaches are not listed in a particular order.

1. Cuba: Beaches close to  Rio Tao  

Cubas most famous white sandy beaches are in Varadero. But if you like the adventure and a bicycle ride to a completely empty wild beach you have to go east.  About 10 miles from Baracoa, close to the river Tao you will find incredible wild and mysterious beaches. The sand is dark brown, almost black and you will feel like you are in the jungle. 

 Sunburnt but relaxed. This beach is too unreal 

Sunburnt but relaxed. This beach is too unreal 

 Space and silence

Space and silence


2. Jamaica:  Treasure Beach and Starve Gut Bay

One of the best and most tranquil beaches with the comfort of plenty of private guesthouse and lodges. The perfect trip for ecotourism and sustainable tourism in Jamaica. 

 Treasure Beach

Treasure Beach

 Silent beaches are just a few miles away from Treasure Beach

Silent beaches are just a few miles away from Treasure Beach

3. South Africa: Llandudno and Cape Penisula

The ocean looks extremely beautiful but the temperatures suggest to stay outside of the cold Atlantic during the most times of the year. But still, if you are into surfing, the beaches of the Cape Penisula will provide you with everything you need: Wind, Space and great waves. 

 Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise

4. Cape Verde: Sal

A beach that is not always empty, but its local charm and laid back atmosphere make up for that. You can watch fisherman coming home with their daily catch, schoolchildren jumping into the waves after a long day. 

 

5. Kenya: Mombasa 

White, sandy long beaches with not too many people can be found outside of the tourist areas of Mombasa Beach. Take a cab to the next beach and enjoy a dip in the warm, tropic ocean. Also perfect for snorkelling!

 White sandy beaches and crystal clear blue water

White sandy beaches and crystal clear blue water


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Lea

A paradise in the Atlanic Ocean

Not many people have heard about a small string of islands off the north-west coast of Africa.
Cape Verde is rarely known but everybody who has been there once wants to come back to its sunsets and incredible volcanic landscape.

sal street

Sal, one of the islands rewards visitors with powdery white sand beaches and one of the most welcoming and beautiful people.

I had the opportunity to stay at the Hotel Odjo d'Agua in Sal. The small hotel is the perfect base point for excursions on the island.

Hotel Odjo d'Aguahas a unique African charm. The decoration, food and the carefully selected music paying in the hallways made this hotel experience excellent.

One of the highlights is the breakfast. Sitting on a terrace next to the ocean and watching the waves passing by while enjoying a hot coffee.

The time here ticks slower, evenings pass by and the sun falls into the ocean. The catch of the day has been prepared for dinner and yes- this place really exists.

Flights to Sal go weekly or daily from main airports in Europe.

 

Why you should travel to Cuba now. Updated 2018

Everybody is talking about Cuba right now. This season more and more people are going to visit Cuba. The Cuba so many people love might be changing drastically in the next years. And probably the main reason why everybody is going now!

 Nature in Central Cuba

Nature in Central Cuba

Cuba is changing now more than ever. My love for this special island in the Caribbean doesn’t come from anywhere. I have always been dreaming about going to Cuba and to see what is behind the romanticised socialist dream. Between then and my final decision to study at the University of Havana for almost a year I had to get over quite a few obstacles but it was definitely worth it.

How did I get there?

Studying in Cuba wasn’t that easy as I expected. I remember that the attempts of making contact with my University were quite bumpy. Emails which never got a reply, expensive phone calls to dead ends and the language barrier made it difficult to get the essential information to make my decision. I know these circumstances have improved over the past few years and thanks to a broader internet connection on the island, it is easier to stay connected and find resources online.

 

When going for a vacation the restrictions and barriers are almost not there. Just book a flight and having a valid passport might be enough. You should also consider booking a place for the first few nights to stay. Good and affordable accommodations can be found on Airbnb.

 

How to get to Cuba

Best connections are offered to the capital Havana, sometimes cheaper options are displayed to Varadero or Holguin, if you can save more than 100$ on the plane ticket book the ticket to the smaller city, a bus trip to the capital is never more than 50$ and gives you the opportunity to see some other areas of the country right from the start.


 

What did I expect?

I didn’t expect the Cuban social revolution cliché with Rum, Salsa and Tobacco. But to my surprise, that is a lot of what I saw, mainly in tourist areas.

In my imagination, I was thinking it might be similar to Mexico or the Dominican Republic as I have visited those countries before and my perception of Latin and Caribbean countries was shaped by that experiences. But Cuba was a whole new experience. If you plan to leave your resort and get out there you can discover a completely different environment. Check out my previous blog post on how to discover Cuba!

 

What did I actually experience?

Experience is always subjective and therefore I can only talk for myself. Being an international student in Cuba is a unique experience with many ups and downs. There was always this fine line between me having the time of my life and getting frustrated over the daily struggles of bureaucracy. Cuba is the land of hospitality. People are always friendly, trying to help you, guide you and teach you. Protective and jovial, outgoing and full of creativity… that is how I would describe Cuba in on long sentence. See more about my experience being an international student in Cuba here.

 

Why is now the time to go to Cuba?

Every travel guide points Cuba out as the new „go-to" destination.  Cuba is very safe, especially for female traveller, still quite inexpensive and has good weather for the whole year. And as there are a lot of positive sides to this newly advanced tourism, it will change the landscape of this island immensely.  The new Cuba will be vibrant, colourful, amazing and unique, exactly as the old one but just a little bit different.


Update from 2018: Cubas tourism is more saturated and prices tend to rise. If possible avoid extreme touristy areas and visit smaller cities that like Holguin, Santa Clara, Guantanamo and Cienfuegos. 

 

6 Things you need to see in Florida

Florida. That's the state of white sandy beaches, pink flamingos, beach beauties and alligators. The excitement I felt going to Florida was like a long kept image about an almost fairy tale place came true.

 



My first trip to Florida was also my second trip to the United States. I still had my Big Apple mindset when boarding but I was soon teached otherwise. Florida's diverse and unique culture should not be compared to anywhere else. Expect Culture, Art, Nature and Adventure- the Sunshine state has it all!

 

FIRST STOP: MIAMI

First place to go and where most people will start is Miami. This vibrant city is a heaven for sun lovers, beachbabes and artistic people. Park somewhere outside of the city and take the public transport (which is cheap and reliable) or an UBER to get into the city center.

 PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN MIAMI

PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN MIAMI

From the center you can easily hop into the next bus to get to the well known street art capital of Florida: Wynwood. I wouldn't recommend walking because we tried to walk from the city center to Wynwood via Google Maps and got totally lost, just to take the bus in the end for five minutes again! #touristnotonfleek


Wynwood emerged to a creative space for street artist from the City. There is art on almost every wall outside  plus you can also visit the galleries in the same area. Walking around there takes a few hours and is the perfect afternoon activity.

 Who is who?

Who is who?

 #freethenipple

#freethenipple

NEXT STOP: Little Havana

Buenas Dias, and welcome to the little Havana. I felt like I am back on a holiday in Cuba and the Spanish language was predominantly spoken. Check out the food, drink a Cuban coffee and watch the famous domino players in the park. 

 Snapper, plantain, yuca (yam) and rice

Snapper, plantain, yuca (yam) and rice

KEYS

Charged from the sun and you want to keep this Latin vibe so jump in the car and drive down to the Keys. It's a trip of a few hours but I would say it is definitely worth it. The closer you will get to the Caribbean islands, the more the Cuban and South American vibe will be present.

 

 Great highway over the ocean goes straight down to the keys.

Great highway over the ocean goes straight down to the keys.


The Keys are a really tourist attraction and people from all over the world come to this remote land strip to relax and sunbath. The atmosphere is chilled, relaxed and mellow. The freshest seafood can be found here and fresh coconuts are sold on the streets. It feels like you are almost on a Caribbean island, but wait, we are still in the US.

 Sombrero Beach 

Sombrero Beach 

After sunbathing at the Keys and City shopping in Miami, there is also the other side of Florida. The everglades, always green, wild and full of animals.

The highway takes you straight into the wild. Natural paths for hikers are located all over the and you can just stop and start your hike there.

I couldn't believe how many alligators I saw just swimming around everywhere. Keep your distance to these wild animals, especially when you see baby alligators because the mother will try to scare away everybody who comes too close to her babies!

The natural wetlands in Florida are an amazing place and every nature lover (ME!) will love this peaceful and mystic place. The preservation of the wildlife and the different animal species is the focus of various wildlife foundations in Florida. 

Last stop: West Coast. The west coast is the Uptown of Florida, heading west through the everglades you should check out Naples. The city with various beaches, gulf clubs and fancy restaurants will leave a big impression on you with its sunshine boulevards.

 Private beach: Turtle beach 

Private beach: Turtle beach 

 Environmental protection is a big think in Florida. 

Environmental protection is a big think in Florida. 

What is your experience? Have you ever been to Florida and what did you see there? Let  me know subscribe to stay tuned to the newest updates:)

Photography series: Rasta Village

Beautiful images captured from my adventure in the Blue Mountains.

Where is it?

Remotely in the Blue Mountains, not to far away from the capital of Jamaica, Kingston 

What to expect?

This unique place is well hidden, no travel guide will inform you about this little place on earth. It's hard to get there but when travelers arrive in the village, they are warmly welcomed by the community.  You can stay overnight or just hang out for a few hours there, it is important to respect their religious rules regarding praying, church and gender roles while staying there. 

How to get there?

 

Take the public transport to Papine Square. You can get there with a minibus or just by taking a cab. From there ask for the next minibus to Redlight. From this small village in the blue mountains you can either walk or (better option) take a cab. You need to point out that you want to go to the Rastafarian mountain village and the driver will drive as close as possible to the village, you will still end up to walk the last 25- 45 minutes straight up the hill, but it will be definitely worth it. 

 

When we arrived there, a traditional prayer service was just about to take place and we had the chance to experience this unique cultural event in person. 

 

5 signs you are in Cuba

5 signs you are in Cuba

Quite stereotypical for Cuba, but it is really one of the first thing every visitor recognizes. These pre revolutionary cars are still shining, polished and driving hundreds of people around every day.  And not only the cars are old, also trains, trucks and everything that has to do with transportation will make you realize how creative cubans are to keep old things in a very good condition.

AddiTravels: Guantánamo

AddiTravels: Guantánamo

After  months of traveling I passed every possible feeling. From excitement, anticipation, anger, frustration, love, fear, stress, exhausted,lucky,  annoyed to thankful. But the hardest feeling I kept in my mind was a big question mark about my coming and going feeling of happiness.