Clink78: The coolest hostel I’ve stayed in my life

Hey!

My purpose with this blog is to guide you when travelling to the places I’ve been to, so despite there are websites and apps to review hostels, I thought that it would be interesting to share my experience at Clink78 with you, because that hostel is something, trust me.

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As I told before, I went to London for a flash birthday trip with my boyfriend. As I was looking for accommodation, and I couldn’t find any cheap hotel deals (does that even exist in London?!),  I heard about Clink78 through a friend that had stayed there.

As soon as I started checking the reviews and Clink’s Instagram and Facebook, I immediately knew I had to stay there. They have such a nice engagement with costumers! They share recommendations and tips for travelling to the cities they’re in and they promote activities on their bar (yeah, they have a bar!) every night.

There are two Clinks in London and both of them are really well located – near King’s Cross Station. I stayed at Clink78, which has some nice markets and restaurants around, which might come in handy.

The hostel is located in an old courthouse – how awesome is that! – and it has some rooms that were adapted to keep the old decoration, so this makes it almost a magical spot. For example, there’s a room to hang out and watch tv or work, with the old tables and sits, which a found very cool and original ! Inside, it had some really cute details, full of lights and colors. Its target is obviously young travelers and that shows – all of us are there to have a good time! There’s a really chill environment all around, even everyone in the staff is super nice and outgoing.

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As I got to the hostel, I got a big welcome from the girl in the reception who was so nice, she even yelled “it’s your birthday!!”, and all the staff in general was very helpful and nice. They even offered coupons for free drinks at the bar (not sure if they still do) to everyone who checked in, and they upgraded mine for any drink I wanted because of my birthday. That is a nice way to win my friendship :p

About the room, they have some pretty cool mixed rooms with capsules and prison cells, but I stayed in a double private room with bathroom. Even though it is a little small, it was enough for the both of us and it was quite simple and functional. The bed was comfortable and there were some shelfs to put our stuff, but it was a shame that there was no “extra” space to put our coats and luggage, like a cabinet or hangers, as we were there only for two nights, it was not a big deal. The bathroom was small as well, but it was really peculiar, it was like a capsule.

Clink offers a regular continental breakfast with coffee, toast , milk, cereal etc, which was plenty for me. It is held in the same area where the bar works at night, but it was perfectly clean and there was a lot of space to sit and hang out.

It is a super cool hostel to stay for a few days, specially because all the staff is so kind and the hostel is really well located. Plus, the Wifi worked really well (which is a miracle in any hostel!)

Lots of Love,

Catarina

 

Oporto Weekend Escape

Hello!

Seeing that I haven’t been to Oporto since I was really small and I didn’t remember anything, I decided to revisit it with my boyfriend. And I’m glad I did.

Even though the city is trending, my expectations were not that high, for some reason I don’t even now why, but boy was I wrong! I adored Oporto, it is such a charming city, people are so nice and it is very much affordable (more than Lisbon!). I spent two days there and it was enough to see the majority of things, but I would definitely come back.

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Guess what I did first? Food of course! Since we arrived at lunch time, and our h
otel was pretty close to Cafe Santiago, one of the best places to eat the famous Francesinha, an original dish from Oporto which I told you about before .

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We then went through Rua de Santa Catarina – if you go there, make  sure you check the notorious Café Majestic, which has a beautiful architecture but is super expensive (3€ for a coffee is a little too much for me). We also tried to go to Bolhão Market but sadly it was closed because it was Saturday afternoon. Usually it is filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, and it has this very typical ladies yelling to costumers to sell.

We walked in the center until we arrived to S. Bento train station, which I know it’s quite an unusual place to see but it is magnificent, its walls are filled with tiles and it’s just amazing.

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From there we headed to Sé do Porto, which has an INCREDIBLE view. believe me , you can see the whole city from there, just stunning. Then we came down to Cais da Ribeira, through the traditional narrow streets that had  clothes hanging, and I just loved it! So typical and charming!

After we arrived to Cais da Ribeira and took a walk along the river,  we were a bit tired so we decided to rest in this awesome bar named Cais that had great and cheap cocktails (totally recommend !). We then went to take a boat ride through Douro River to see the 6 Bridges, which is mandatory in this city. The majority of this trips is sold all across town, you can get many deals and they usually include a Port tasting. We payed 15€ for a 50min ride and a tasting in Gaia (just across the S.Luís Bridge). We went to the Porto Cruz winery, which sadly didn’t had the cellar, but it had a great rooftop with a perfect view over Oporto

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At the end of the day, we went to have dinner is this great restaurant called “Venham Mais 5” (bring me 5 more, in english) which is quite recent and trendy apparently. They are known for their “prego” with queijo da serra, which is a popular portuguese dish, basically it’s bread with (really rare) beef and this one is special because t has one of our most famous cheeses, and it is just heaven! As I’m a sucker for desserts, (#sorrynotsorry) I had to have the special chocolat merengue cake and it’s so perfect!!!

The next morning we went to the place I wanted to go the most in Oporto: Livraria Lello! You might have heard about it. This bookshop is more than a 100 years old and it inspired J.K. Rowling  to write about some scenarios, when she was living in Oporto. I believe that Barnes and Nobles was created due to it. The shop is always full of people, which was a disapointment for me, I mean I knew it was gonna be a lot of people, but I didn’t thought it would be that much… I couldn’t even take a good photo. I advice you to go there either early or very late…

Right next to Livraria Lello, it’s the most obvious and imponent monument in Oporto: Clerigos Tower, it is impressive how big it is! It was considered world patrimony, so do check it out.

After that,  we went to the beautiful Cristal gardens, which are really worth to check out-They have a beautiful lake with swans and you get the most breathtaking view over the Douro river. Really stunning.

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If you are into art, you will want to go to Serralves Museum and Gardens, which is a bit far of the city center, you would have to take transportation but it is a great museum and those gardens are really beautiful. I was suppose to go, but that day was pouring rain so I just gave up. They always have great exhibits

Long story short: Oporto is a beautiful city, a capital of culture, people are super nice and it has great food and drinks. It is totally affordable and I recommend it to everyone. So, GO THERE.

Lots of Love,

Catarina

What the loss of my mother taught me

My mom died suddenly when I was four years old, so Mother’s Day always makes me think a bit about the meaning of life and what we are doing here. I’m sorry this is not travel related, but as I like to think that life is a journey and as I had this subject sitting on my head for days now, I just had to share this with you.

I don’t remember anything from that time, either because I was really small or because it was such a shock for me. People often tell me that we had a great connection, just like every mother and daughter have, but ours was really special. Despite I was just a small child, I remember some moments with her, I remember her voice and I know in my heart she was a wonderful woman and mother. Plus, everybody that knew her tells me that she was super smart, funny and kind.

Even though I truly miss her, this is not a “taboo subject” for me. For being so small, I got used to not having her in my life, but that doesn’t mean I forgot her, no, I think about her every single day. She is my idol, she is my inspiration, she is the woman I aim to become alike. I love when people tell me about her, because I feel I get to know her more, even without seeing her or talking to her.

Luckily my dad met this wonderful woman a few years later, that I consider my mother as well. She raised me with all her love and kindness and I can say, with a 100% sure, that I wouldn’t be who I am today without her. So I want to thank her.

I want to thank her for raising me and teaching me being a woman everyday. I want to thank her for being such a strong and kind woman. I want to thank her for giving me my baby brother, which is one of my favorite people in the world, as is she.

I want to thank to my grandmothers too, as they played a bit of the part of my mother as well. My father’s mom who was the most joyful and sweet woman I ever met and to my mother’s mom who is an amazing and smart woman.

To all four of these woman, I wish you a happy mother’s day and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking care of me, each one of you in different ways. Thank you for inspiring me everyday. I love you all and I’m the luckiest person to have you.

In the end, loosing my mom taught me to value people while they are around, value people who give you love and who are kind to you, because they can disappear at any moment. If you love them, tell them. Spend the most time possible with them.

Believe me, family and friends that love you are a true blessing, so don’t take them for granted.

 

Portugal: Food and Drinks you have to try

Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life and it’s an important part of a country’s culture, so I decided to tell you everything you gotta eat when visiting Portugal. Because here’s a fact: We have amazing food.

For those who don’t know, Portuguese cuisine is knowned for being so delicious and affordable (at least the majority of it) , so here are a few tips of what to eat when visiting Portugal:

Pastel de Nata

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Well, this one was pretty obvious. Pastel de Nata or egg custard tarts if you will, is the most famous sweet in Portugal. The best ones are “Pastéis de Belém”, located in an old caffe in Belem. It goes perfectly with an expresso, believe me.

Bacalhau

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There’s a billion ways you can eat codfish (aka bacalhau): Bacalhau à Brás, Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá, Bacalhau no forno, Bacalhau com natas, Bacalhau à Lagareiro… you get the idea, right? If you want to go Portuguese all the way,  I strongly advise you to try Bacalhau à Lagareiro, it is cooked on the oven and filled with olive oil and garlic. It’s just YUMMI.

Francesinha

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If you like meat, you will love this dish. It is a steak topped with a few types of sausages, bread, cheese, a fried egg and a delicious sauce on top! This dish is typical from Oporto, but you can find it in other places as well.

Cozido à Portuguesa

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Our famous meat stew. This is the dish that we eat when we get our families together on Sunday. It combines differente types of meat, such as: pork, veal and sometime chicken which are all boilled together. It is eaten with various types of portuguese sausages and boiled vegetables.

Arroz de Marisco

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Because Portugal is just by the sea, we have some fresh and great seafood. There’s a lot of dishes, but I would say this one is pretty known and delicious as well 🙂 It means seafood rice, not bad right?

Arroz de Pato

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This dish is very tradicional as well, it is duck rice that goes to the oven to get crunchy on top with chorizo and if you like fruit with your meal, it goes perfectly with orange on the side. Might sound weird, but it’s delicious.

Polvo à Lagareiro

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There it goes, seafood again… This dish is octupus (for those who are thinking that it is disgusting, please taste it, it’s the best thing you’ll eat) on the oven with potatoes with garlic and olive oil. It is to die for.

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Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato

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There it goes, seafood again… It’s fresh and delicious – These are clams with garlic, olive oil, butter and some herbs. It is the best snack. And I dare you not to mix the sauce with bread, it’s impossible not to clean the dish.

Cheese (goat cheese e queijo da serra)

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Well, we have a lot of great cheeses. The ones I advise are: goat cheese, queijo da ilha and queijo da serra. Specially queijo da serra, which is kind of butterish and liquid so you spread it on bread and it’s just heave. Cheese and wine is life, am I right?

Wine

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Let me tell you a thing: We have incredibly affordable wine that is really good. (Although we have some expensive ones too). There is a big slection of wine to choose from: Red, white, Rosé, verde and sparkling. The flavour and aromas difur throughout the region. All worthwild trying. My advice is to take a tour and visit the visit the vinyards and the wineries.

Port

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The taste of love in alcohol form? Yap – Port wine. You probably tried it before, but there’s nothing like going to a tradicional adega and have a tasting session. You will find Porto cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto) and  you can book a tour and get to know why Port wine is so unique.

Ginja

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This drink is liquor of sour cherries, as it turns incredibly sweet. The best one is Ginja de Obidos, which is served in a chocolat cup, so yeah you drink it and then eat the chocolat. Is that anything better? Despite it is original from Obidos, you can find it in Lisbon as well.

So, now if you are now wondering the best places to eat all this food, stay tunned, because I will make another post with several suggestions of where to eat in Lisbon 🙂

Lots of Love,

Catarina

 

Lisbon Travel Guide: the basics

Hello!

As Lisbon has so many things you can see and do, I’ve decided to start this post series: Lisbon Travel Guide!

So, as first a piece, these are the Lisbon basic touristic spots, the “must-see” for every first time visitor.

Baixa-Chiado The whole downtown area is essential to see, if you’re coming to Lisbon. You can start in Rossio and walk through Rua Augusta until Praça do Comércio. If you go up on the Rua Augusta’s arch, you’ll get a stunning view of the square and the river. You should also go to Chiado, and check the St. Justa elevator..

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Electrico 28  This tram is super famous around the world. Even by its own, it’s really nice for a capture, but if you take a ride on, you’ll see Lisbon most incredible sights and buildings.

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Belém  The whole Belém area is impressive: in here you will find a few of our most remarcable monuments. Starting with the biggest, Jeronimos monastary was built in the XVI century and it is enourmosly beautiful. By crossing to the other side of the road, next to the Tagus river is located the Monument to the Discoveries (in portuguese Padrão dos Descobrimentos) build in honor of Henry the Navigator and all the Portuguese dicoveries, not only it is amazing from the outside but you can go up and see the amazing view. If you walk along the river, you will get to the Belem Tower

You’ve probably heard about our famous custard tarts, right? Here is where you can have it, they are called pastéis de belém. You also have the Jeronimos Monastary which enourmously beautiful.

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Alfama This is probably the oldest, most famous and most enchanting neighbourhood in Lisbon. It has incredible views and a charm of its own. This place is also known for Fado music houses, since it comes from here.

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Parque Edward XVII  The view on the top of this park awsome!  You see all the way to the river.

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For me, these are the most touristic spots of Lisbon. Of course there’s plenty more I want to share with you, so stay tuned because this beautiful city has a lot for me to tell you!

 

If you want to check out my travel photos make sure you follow me on instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/the.random.wanderer/

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Lots of Love,

Catarina