Montenegro – The Coast – September 2021

After a very enjoyable couple of days in Albania, we returned to Montenegro and found a great, very modern apartment to stay in in Budva. We were able to get a bus straight from Shkoder to Budva which was perfect. Through Old Town Travel it cost £21 for the trip which took 3½ hrs including the border stop. We weren’t held up long at the border, the difference was that on this occasion we had to show proof of our covid vaccine as well as our passport to re-enter. Our arrival into Budva was preceeded by some amazing mountain views along the coastline from the bus so we were excited about the time we had here to explore the area.

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Shkodër, Albania – September 2021

I had set foot in Albania previously, nearly twenty years ago, having a day trip to Saranda and Butrint whilst staying in Corfu, which lies about 6 miles off the coast of Albania. I was happy to return for Carol’s first visit, despite the reputation the country has in some people’s eyes, gained through movies such as Taken, starring Liam Neeson. Personally, I have encountered no trouble at all here. The main appeal for us to visit here was Lake Shkodër, a lake that straddles the Montenegro/Albania border, rather than to head to the capital Tirana.

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Podgorica – Montenegro

We travelled by plane with Ryanair from Barcelona to Podgorica; allegedly Europe’s most boring capital city. We booked Airport Home Radinovic through Booking.Com, and got a lift from the airport to the property, situated in the countryside around 5km from the airport from the host for €5. We asked the host’s son Phillip what there was for us to see in Podgorica and his reply was “Nothing! There is absolutely nothing here that would be of any interest to a tourist” OK, so the rumours we had heard were instantly confirmed by a local, but we still had to see it for ourselves.

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Andorra – August, 2021

We had researched the best way to visit Andorra and it seemed the best way was from Barcelona. A mere 3hr and 18 minutes and 191 km away to be precise. We debated visiting in wintertime, but summer was also supposed to be pretty spectacular and so with a bit of research we booked the 7.40am ALSA bus for €18 each from Barcelona Nord Station arriving into Andorra La Vella at 11.40.

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Barcelona – August 2021

We travelled to Barcelona by plane on a rather uneventful afternoon flight with Vueling; it cost £50 each and took an hour which compared to the alternative of 13 hours on a coach was a no brainer! An easy taxi ride and we arrived at our hotel at 6pm. Nigel had never been here and his main interest was Camp Nou, not my idea of fun but there were a few things I hadn’t checked out on my last visit some 12 years ago so I was excited to be back. Gaudi city here we come!

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Madrid – August, 2021

It took me 56 years to get to Madrid! For a European Capital city relatively close to home, this was a major oversight for me, and a mistake I was keen to rectify. It is a beautiful city and was well worth the wait. Carol had been before for a hen weekend but this would be a different, more cultural break for her. A very long, hot and sweaty 10 hour bus ride through Flixbus for £26 each brought us from Porto to Madrid; this was one trip neither of us were keen to repeat, but we made it.

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Portugal IV – Porto

Porto is a stunningly beautiful city and probably our favourite place we visited in Portugal! We arrived here in all honesty a little blind; our recent itinerary being so full on we hadn’t made time to do our usual thorough research of things to do or places to see, only hearing that it is a beautiful city and this was no exaggeration. We discovered during the taxi ride from the bus station that unfortunately it is as hilly as everywhere else, but Uber was available so that would certainly make our time here a lot easier.

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Portugal III – Nazaré

Have you heard of Nazare? We hadn’t but we both had seen a video on youtube of a surfer who won the 2018 Ride of the Year award there. A flick through our facebook feed showed the most spectacular waves and a guy just a dot in the sheer immenseness of the water but managing to negotiate it with amazing expertise nonetheless. Neither of us are surfers ourselves but we can completely appreciate the skill involved and were in awe of this video we saw. Imagine our excitement when we realised a town near to us was where it was filmed. We had to go and check it out!

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Portugal II – Sintra

When Carol and I see a historical building, be it a castle, a palace, a town hall, a beautiful house, or a bridge, a monument, a statue, actually anything worthy of being photographed, we turn to each other and say “ooh look, there’s a ‘thing'” Sintra is so full of ‘things’ that in my opinion the entire town qualifies as a ‘thing’. We had a couple of recommendations to visit Sintra which is easily accessible from Lisbon for a little day trip so we thought why not!

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Portugal I – Lisbon

Or Lisboa as it is known to the locals. The first thing to say is this place is that it is hilly. Very hilly! Pick a sight to see, get Google maps to show you the way, and before long you work out that you are never far away from a turning that will lead you up a street to rival Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset. Yes, THAT steep! Walking in Lisbon is bloody hard work, just as well then that there alternatives such as trams, buses, an underground train network, and our personal favourites, Uber and scooters 😊

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