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Monday, 4 November 2019

Croatia Travels - Podstrana Split & Hvar


Last summer Martijn and I went to Croatia for the last two weeks of our summer travels and absolutely loved it. We did have to do it on a very tight budget as per but because everywhere we went was so beautiful the basic accommodation did us just fine for getting some sleep...we never stopped exploring. This year My Mam surprised me with a family holiday to Croatia at the very end of August to celebrate my Masters and the trip was just perfection! Of course, because it was a family trip the accommodation was a lot more luxurious so this post will give those of you with more of a budget some inspiration on potential places to stay etc.

Once we arrived to Split airport we took an Uber to our hotel in Podstrana which was around a thirty-minute drive from the airport. Do be warned the taxis right outside the airport arrivals do charge a lot more so Uber is 100% the way to go. We spent six nights in Podstrana, one on the island of Hvar and back to Split for our last night. Below I will go through each place with more info on each :) 

PODSTRANA



ACCOMMODATION

For our first six nights of the trip, we stayed in Podstrana at Hotel Eden, Podstrana. We had breakfast and dinner in the hotel restaurant every day so we really used this time to completely relax and enjoy family time. If you are booking Hotel Eden I would highly recommend requesting a room in the new part, it was just perfect and a couple of steps from the water. The hotel service is based on a personal approach and you can really see that from the second you arrive which we loved! The staff could not have been more accommodating throughout our stay and the view from the pool was out of this world which you will see in the pictures. I also can't mention the hotel without talking about the sunsets we experienced every night, they were INCREDIBLE!

FOOD & DRINKS

Like I said we used our time in Podstrana to completely unwind so a lot of our meals were at the hotel restaurant and bar, however, we did venture down at night to some of the bars in the area.
  • Gooshter beach club - More of a high-end spot that serves food & drinks. They serve a good G&T which is very important ;)
  • Lifes a beach cocktail bar and bistro - A nice cocktail spot a five-minute walk from the hotel that overlooks the water.

THE AREA 

You really are spoilt for choice staying in Podstrana. Our hotel was twenty metres from the beach, and a twenty-minute Uber to Split which is where we also took our ferry to the island of Hvar. Ubers are so reasonable so you can take one in and out of Split as much as you like but we only went into Split for a day trip. Our hotel offered the most incredible views of the Adriatic sea and the Dalmatian islands which just made the hotel that extra bit special.








SPLIT


ACCOMMODATION

For one of our days in Podstrana, we took a day trip into Split but went back to our hotel that evening, however, for our last night of the trip once we came back from Hvar we stayed in Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Split as a treat and WOW my Mam did really good with this one! The hotel did kindly give us an upgrade in exchange for some content however, even our original room was just beautiful! Our room was the premium suite with terrace sea view and wow! The hotel could not have impressed us anymore and was the definition of a treat. As you will see from the pictures below not only was our room incredible but the breakfast, pool and overall grounds were just perfect with Split city centre only three kilometres away. Our booking was made through Booking.com but you can also book directly with the hotel on their website here

FOOD & DRINKS
  • Cool down with an ice cream from Gelateria Emiliana - So delicious!
  • You can check out my post Croatia Travels Budget Edition from last years trip for more on Split.
  • Lunch with a view at Vidilica - I also went here with Martijn last year and loved it! It is for the view but 100% worth walking up even for a drink. We grabbed a bite to eat and relaxed after a lot of walking.

THE AREA 

Like I said we only spent one day in Split on this trip but because I had been there for two nights last year I was able to play tour guide which was great. The city is beautiful and 100% worth a visit but you don't necessarily need days to see it. Staying in Podstrana 100% gave us the best of both worlds. On our last night in The Radisson Blu, we had dinner in the hotel and enjoyed a drink on our terrace to wrap up the trip but the hotel was only a three euro Uber for anyone wanting to experience nightlife in the city. You can check out my Croatia blog post from last year for more recommendations and a little more info on what Split has to offer. 
















HVAR


GETTING THERE

A lot of people want to go out to the islands but don't know how easy it is to get there. On our day trip to Split, we went to the ticket office at the harbour to check out times and ticket availability which I highly recommend doing especially in peak season. We booked tickets in advance with Jadrolinija which is a public ferry that brings you from Split harbour to Hvar town. You can also book tickets to other parts of Hvar like Stari Grad which is what we did last year but as our accommodation was in Hvar town we went straight there. Tickets to Hvar town were fifteen euro per person each way and the journey was only an hour which was great.

ACCOMMODATION

We stayed in Hvar for one night and our hotel could not have been any more perfect. We stayed at the Heritage Hotel Dea, Hvar however, if you are looking for a room for three people I would recommend checking out Boutique Room Kaliopi, Hvar directly which is also owned by the hotel. This place could not have been any more perfect both service and location-wise, 10/10 from me.

FOOD & DRINKS

There are obviously so many amazing places to visit for food & drinks on the island but some of the spots we got to visit in the 24 hours we were there really impressed us.
  • Breakfast at Dea Hvar Restaurant - We actually had breakfast included in our booking at the hotel restaurant & it was delish!
  • The most perfect dinner at Park Restaurant - This is a must in my opinion if you are visiting the island. It is definitely more on the pricey side but the three of us loved it..really special.
  • The best atmosphere, cocktails & live music at Central Park Club We had the best night here, just a couple of steps down from the restaurant.
  • A quick stop at Icy Bar - A fab ice cream & smoothie spot before hopping on the ferry back to Split.

THE AREA 

I could not recommend Hvar enough! I have stayed in both Stari Grad and Hvar town and loved both so much. I would recommend staying in Hvar town if you are looking for more to do at night and still pay Stari Grad a visit during the day but that really depends on what you are looking for. 














As my last trip to Croatia was on a very tight budget I am aware a lot of the accommodation options would not have been for everyone. I really hope this post gave some more inspiration for those of you with a bit more to spend. An incredible holiday that I was grateful to spend with my family.

Until next time, 
Éadaoin 
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Sunday, 22 September 2019

Exploring Portugal - Lisbon, Cascais & Sintra


I am back with yet another travel post and this one has been highly requested. If you follow the Fashion Aid Instagram you would have seen myself and Martijn went away in the middle of August to Portugal. The holiday was incredible from start to finish and because I documented it over on Instagram so many of you wanted to know the details so here they are :)
In the past, we liked to be a little spontaneous with our travels, however, because we only had 10 days this year I made sure to pre-book everything bar our last night to make sure we could relax as much as possible. Once we flew into Lisbon airport we took public transport to our first stop which was Cascais. You can take an Uber but as we were on a budget we took the metro route which was perfect and only around two euro each. After six days in Cascais, we went onto Sintra and finally finished up with a city trip to Lisbon. I couldn't recommend all three places enough but below I will run through each destination in a lot more detail.
LISBON


ACCOMMODATION

We actually only slept in Lisbon for one night at the very end of our trip but we did manage to pay the city a visit during our time in Cascais also. As our flight back home was at 6am from Lisbon airport we only needed somewhere really cheap to sleep for a couple of hours. I booked an Airbnb and I have to say it was perfect for anyone needing somewhere affordable to stay in Lisbon. Our host was so accommodating and really friendly! Of course, there are so many luxurious hotels to choose from but for what we needed this was perfect! Like always I have linked my Airbnb discount below for anyone who does not already have an account (Click for discount).

FOOD & DRINKS

  • Brunch at Dear Breakfast - The definition of an Insta friendly brekkie/brunch spot but the food really is as good as it looks! It can have a bit of a queue but so worth the wait.
  • Drinks with a view at Park Bar A slightly tricky one to find but a MUST for rooftop drinks with an incredible view. We ended up staying here for hours!
  • Topo Chiado I absolutely loved this rooftop bar & I know a lot of people do. They also served food which looked delicious but we went onto the next spot for dinner.
  • Local style tapas at Casa do Alentejo - My good friend who happens to be Portuguese met us for our last day/night and brought us to this incredible local spot in the city. We sat in a little outdoor area and had fab local tapas. There is also a more formal restaurant upstairs but we were happy with the casual setting to have a chat and nibbles.
  • A wander around Time Out Market - Such a cool spot with so many different food options. We went to Confraria SUSHI and loved the poke bowls.
  • Cool off with a drink at Portas Do Sol A really nice food & drink spot for a picturesque view of the city. We just stopped there for a drink during the day to take a break from the heat.
  • Finally, you NEED to try a Pastel de Nata at Manteigaria in Baixa Chiado...you will thank me for this one.

THE AREA 

Lisbon is just one of those cities that has so much to offer. It seems impossible to be bored and for the time we had there we filled with incredible places to eat, drink and explore. Just to note for anyone looking to head to one of our next destinations (Cascais & Sintra) but don't have the option to stay over do not let that stop you! Both Cascais and Sintra are really close to Lisbon and can be reached on public transport for really cheap.














CASCAIS 


ACCOMMODATION

Cascais is home to some incredible high-end resorts and can be known as a luxury area, therefore, it can be slightly harder to find something if you are on a budget. I did find an Airbnb a little out of the city which was perfect for our stay. It is important to note if you do go with this option you either need a car or be prepared to spend five euro on an Uber in each time. We had no problem with this but you do need to be aware of it especially if you are not renting a car like us. Our host was incredible and couldn't do enough for us throughout our stay in Cascais.

FOOD & DRINKS 


  • Dinner at Hífen - I have to say I just loved this place! It is extremely popular in the summer months so if you can I would make a reservation. The vibe, food, and cocktails were so all so nice, highly recommend!
  • Grab a quick bite at Capitan Wrap - This place was so cute on one of the little streets in Cascais. They made really nice wraps and was very affordable if you are looking for something to grab and go.
  • Live music and a good G&T at O'Neills Irish bar - I may be biased but the atmosphere at night was the best in the city + they make a good G&T!
  • Dinner with a view at Casa da Guia - We walked from the city center to Casa da Guia and not only are the views incredible on the way but the actual place itself offers the most picturesque views. We treated ourselves to dinner and wine at Grelhas restaurant and soaked it all up.
  • Pizza at Caffé Italia - We actually went here twice during our stay in Cascais and really liked it! Good value and nice Italian food but do note it can be very busy during the summer months.
  • Bar da Praia - We popped in here with our friends for a drink before heading to Lisbon and the service was really nice. We didn't have a proper meal but such a handy spot if you are having a beach day.
  • Maria Pia - We did hear the actual seafood restaurant is incredible but we just went to the casual part for a quick bite and drink in the sun. Perfect for an affordable lunch and the views were fab!
  • An ice cream voted the best of the best from Santini ice cream parlor, Cascais...this is really a must if you are in the area.
THE AREA

Martijn and I really wanted a relaxing holiday with an element of exploring so we kicked off the trip with six nights in Cascais. This was perfect for us to have time to explore the area, pop into Lisbon and also have time to just relax at the beach. 
  • We took the train right from Cascais train station to Lisbon and it was perfect! You can of course also get an Uber which we did coming home one night but it is around the thirty euro mark.
  • Walk along the coast to Boca do Inferno and enjoy the views! This is a really popular spot and is essentially a collapsed cave. You can continue from here to get to Casa da Guia which I already mentioned.
  • Cascais has such a fab coastline with a number of popular beaches. We didn't wander too far to relax and soak up the weather but there are a number of beaches in the area.

















SINTRA


ACCOMMODATION

We booked Lanui Guest House, Sintra which location wise was absolutely perfect however my expectations were a little too high if I am honest because the online reviews were so good! It is definitely on the basic side in terms of the rooms or maybe we were just unlucky with our booking however the price and location are hard to beat in Sintra.

FOOD & DRINKS

  • A drink with a view at Sintra terrace tapas and bar - We actually stumbled across this place when we were out for a walk and the views were so nice we stayed and had a drink.
  • The best in town Café Saudade - We absolutely loved this spot and couldn't recommend it enough. We went every day for brunch/lunch before exploring the area. They had the most incredible pastries and their staff were so friendly which just added to the experience.
  • Santo Bife, Sintra - We had dinner here on our first night and loved it! 
  • Dinner at Incomum by Louis Santos - This may have been our best meal on the whole trip! The food and service was top class. Definitely more on the pricey side but so worth it. We rang and reserved a table a few hours prior because it is so well known.
  • Tapas at Tascantiga - We ended the trip with a meal at Tascantiga and it certainly didn't disappoint. They had something for everyone and the food was delicious.

THE AREA

You don't necessarily need to stay in Sintra in order to tick it off your list properly especially if you are staying somewhere like Cascais or Lisbon. We really wanted to take our time and decided to stay for three nights. I would say two nights is plenty but it really depends on what you want to see and the time you have overall. We got everything done in two so we used the third day to explore a little outside. Sintra really is like a fairytale and is just as beautiful as it looks on Instagram which is not the case for a lot of places.
  • Pena National Palace was just incredible and something I was really excited to see! The visibility on the day we went wasn't great but it didn't take away from how impressive the palace and grounds are. You can get your tickets when you get there + an Uber up was only around five euro.
  • We also made sure to visit Quinta de Regaleira which was also very impressive. When you arrive make sure to scan the QR code and order your tickets online, this just allows you to skip all of the crazy ques.
  • We went to Cabo da Roca with two of our friends in their rented car which was such a treat however you can easily take the bus or an Uber. Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of mainland Europe. It is very windy so bring a jumper ;)
  • I have to say Praia da Ursa was my favourite thing to see, I was just blown away. It is a hidden beach which isn't the easiest to get to but the walk down is so worth it. The definition of a hidden gem and one of the nicest beaches I have ever seen especially in Europe.
  • Once we left Pena palace we made our way to Castle of the Moors which is only a five-minute walk away. Once we got up to the top we were advised not to pay as the visibility was so bad but we did walk around the grounds and made our way back by foot to the center so no need for an Uber back.
  • If you are paying Sintra a visit even just for the day you won't miss Sintra's National Palace which is right in the historic town center.





















We couldn't have been happier with how this trip went! I really hope it gave you all some tips for your upcoming trips to Portugal or some inspiration to get booking :)

Until next time,
Éadaoin
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