Olhos de Água and Praia da Falesia

After my relaxing day on Tuesday, yesterday I was back into explorer mode.

This time I decided to head east of the resort, and headed to the beach at Olhos de Agua. Again, I chose to walk, as good old Google maps told me it was only a short walk away.

20 minutes later, I arrived at the beach. Olhos is small fishing town where the local fishermen still pull their boats onto the sand when they arrive back to the shoreline with their fresh catches. It’s a much quieter town than Albufeira, but lovely if you have a young family and aren’t looking for somewhere overly commercial.

As there wasn’t an awful lot to do or see there, I decided to head down onto the beach to see if I could walk round to the next Praia (beach), Praia da Falesia.

(All photos in this post are my own )

If you are lucky enough to get down to the Praias on the Algrave’s south coast when the tide is out, it is really easy to walk from many of the beaches to the next without too many problems, albeit over a few small rocks. However, once the tide comes back in, these parts are pretty much impossible to reach by foot.

Luckily, the tide was out when I arrived in Olhos de Água, leaving a clear path right i round to Praia da Falesia.

As soon as I walked around the corner of the cove onto Praia de Falesia, the view took my breath away. Seeing the vivid orange colours of the cliffs and the distinguishable layers of rock, made my inner geographer do a little back flip of joy!

I must’ve walked down almost the entire stretch of the praia with a massive grin on my face. Every new section of cliff face I came to had something different to offer.

As I continued to walk along the beach, I realised how light and carefree I felt. I felt more relaxed and content than I have done in a long time.

As I walked along, I did a lot of thinking. I started to make a lot of sense out of things on that walk, putting some things into perspective, letting other things go, and thinking about some of the changes I need to make in order to create more happiness and feelings of being carefree, on a more regular basis.

I will share some of my thoughts with you over the coming days, but for now, it’s time to pack and wave goodbye to Portugal as I have a flight back to London to catch tomorrow.

Miss Explorer v Miss Relaxation

Since I arrived in Portugal, I’ve been feeling torn.

My intention was to get away, relax, get some self care points in the bag, and to have some much needed reflection time.

However, my inner explorer keeps trying to lure me away from this.

So, I’ve compromised, alternating each day. A day of exploring, followed by a day of rest and relaxation.

Thankfully the facilities at the hotel are great. With a gym, tennis courts, indoor (heated) and outdoor pools, and a spa, it means that I don’t have to wander too far from my apartment to enjoy some of these little luxuries.

As yesterday was my first proper rest day, I got up, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the restaurant, and then headed back to my apartment to catch up on some blogging (Albufeira was the result!). It was then time to check out the gym facilities.

I don’t think I’ve ever been on holiday and used the gym before, or even taken my gym wear away with me, but as I am becoming more aware of my health, as well as the mental and physical benefits of exercise, I came away with every intention of using the facilities.

Luckily, as with so many other parts to this holiday, I had the gym to myself.

I didn’t go too crazy, as I haven’t used a gym in around 3 years, but managed a good spell on the treadmill, the recumbent exercise bike, as well 3 x 10 reps on the lat pull down machine.

I say I didn’t go crazy, but I managed to work up a really good sweat, and came out of the gym feeling really good.

I had booked in for a full body massage in the spa for 2:30pm, so it was time for a light lunch back at the apartment before heading down to the spa.

I don’t remember the last time I had a full body massage (I normally stick to a deep tissue back massage to sort out the terrible knots I get in my back!), but it was lovely to switch off and relax. I must’ve fallen asleep a couple of times, as I remember dreaming once or twice! My only criticism was that the lady was too gentle. I like someone to really work on my knots when I’m getting a massage. However, it was relaxing, and it was lovely to just lie there and enjoy getting some pampering, breathing in the aromatherapy scents and thinking of little or nothing for 50 minutes.

Once I had finished in the spa, I had just enough time to sit by the pool and read for an hour before heading back inside to get ready for dinner.

It’s very easy on holiday to spend every waking moment on the go, and that’s understandable. Perhaps we spend all year saving for our holiday, and it may be that we only get one a year. However, it’s also really easy to burn yourself out when you go away. The last thing I want to do is go back to work next week feeling as though I’m not rested. I know I haven’t been performing my best since Christmas, and I need to listen to my body and my mind, in order to make sure I’m ready to hit the ground running when I get back.

So as much as my mind keeps trying to lure me into Miss Explorer mode, my body is fighting back and making sure I get lots of rest and self care opportunities too.

Albufeira

Yesterday was my first full day in Portugal. I am staying around 4km outside of old town Albufeira but I was keen to go and see what the town had to offer.

Whilst there were the options of getting a bus from the hotel at 10am, or a local taxi, I decided to walk instead.

I often find that we are so busy focusing on where we want to end up, that we fail to notice what’s on our doorstep, or in the surrounding area (something that can be said in all areas of life, and not just during travel!). Walking gives us a real opportunity to see what’s around.

Having never been abroad in February before, it was hard to know what to expect weather wise, and equally hard knowing what to pack. Whilst the days can be warm in the February sun, the nights can still be quite cold.

The weather was looking great yesterday, so I headed out in a thin jumper, T-shirt and jeans.

The walk into Albufeira isn’t the prettiest, and whilst the road takes you close to the coastline, you can’t see the sea until you reach Albufeira itself.

However, it gave me the opportunity to see where the Albufeira ‘strip’ is (I don’t think it matters where in Europe you are, if you’ve seen one party area, you’ve seen them all!), and to be grateful that I wasn’t spending my week there. Don’t get me wrong, I love a night out, and maybe I’m being very stereotypical here, but they just seem to be tackier versions of the clubs we have back home, with the main aim being to get so drunk you are sick, and to end up in a bed that isn’t your own. Spending all that money doing what you could be doing back home, seems a bit daft to me, or perhaps it’s just me getting old!

It took me around 50 minutes to walk into town, and when I arrived, I wasn’t disappointed.

Albufeira Old Town – all photos in this blog post are my own
Albufeira Old Town
Albufeira Old Town

By this point the weather was really warming up. Off came the jumper, along with thoughts of, why didn’t I pack any lighter trousers!?!

I’ve barely seen a cloud in the sky so far, and when you’re in the sun, even at this time of year, it’s hot enough to make this gingernut start to change colour (of course I mean red rather than a nice glowing golden brown!).

Once I arrived, I decided to take a walk straight up into the old town. It wasn’t quite lunchtime, so I had some time to explore before I needed to start looking for a pit stop. As I walked into the old town, there were signs that read Miradouro, which means viewpoint in English. I began to follow these signs to see where they lead.

Once I reached the Miradouro, there were spectacular views that looked over the bay.

From the Miradouro, I could’ve taken the lift down to the beach. However, I decided to keep walking as I had spotted the signs for the marina ahead.

I was quite conscious as I walked towards the marina that there were fewer tourists along this route. So I made the decision to walk to the next Miradouro and then head back into the old town to find somewhere to grab some lunch.

On my way back, instead of walking through the old town, I headed down to the beach.

The beaches here really are stunning. Everywhere I have been so far has been spotlessly clean. The sands are golden and pebble free, barely a sign of any rubbish or even seaweed lying strewn across the sands.

I wished I had worn my sandals instead of my trusted Nike trainers, so off they came, allowing my feet to breath and to enjoy the feeling of the sand between my toes.

As I got closer to the main hub of restaurants along the seafront, I decided to head off to find somewhere for lunch.

One of the many perks of holidaying in February means that it’s easy to get into restaurants at any time of day! I managed to get a table in the sunshine, in the first restaurant I stumbled upon. After an offer from the waiter to join me for lunch (I turned him down of course, but it was very flattering to get the offer), I settled down to look through the menu choices and to read my book.

Before coming to Portugal, I had read that they are big on their fish, especially sardines. I had never eaten fresh sardines before, but decided to give them a go. I hadn’t expected them to arrive with their heads on, and I had no idea which parts to eat, and what not to eat! But after a quick google, I tucked into them, loving every bite. Afterwards, I washed them down with one of my favourite cocktails, an icy cold Caipirinha.

After lunch, it was time to walk off those sardines with the walk back to my hotel, in time to spend a couple of hours by the pool and finishing the day off nicely in the indoor sun heated pool ☀️

The Simple Act of Showering

It’s funny how sometimes it’s the smallest new tips or habits that can really change how we feel and deal with situations.

For me, being quite newly aware of self-care and wellbeing, I’m constantly learning new methods to try and experiment with.

Some stick, others don’t. But I know my self-care journey is all about working out what works best for me. What helps me to unwind, stay calm, but to also stay focused on chasing my dreams.

This week, my self-care tip of the week is….drum roll please…🥁🥁🥁…a good old shower!

Now, before you think I’m crazy/smelly/massively unhygienic, hear me out.

I shower everyday. I can’t function without having a shower in the morning to set me up for the day. If I don’t shower and wash my hair, I feel uncomfortable, dirty and unable to focus, particularly if I am at work.

In the summer, or when on holiday, I will often shower twice a day.

But, I had never thought about showering twice a day on a normal day.

After reading about the power of the shower at the weekend, it got me thinking.

The idea is not only to wash off the days work, but to help transition the mind from work mode to home mode, in turn, helping the mind and body to relax, and hopefully enabling a more enjoyable evening, and a much better nights sleep.

So I decided to give it a try.

Monday evening, I came home from work, cooked, and then took a shower. The shower felt heavenly after a day in the office. Afterwards I swapped all of the clothes I had been wearing that day (including my underwear and even my socks) for my comfy joggers and a baggy sweatshirt. I still had work to do, but by showering after dinner, I was then focused on only completing work tasks I had to do, without letting it bog me down and/or getting side tracked. I even had time to catch up on some reading before I fell asleep, and slept like a baby.

Last night, I followed a similar ritual, and again, had a really good nights sleep.

Today I finished work a little bit earlier than normal. I had already decided to have a work free evening, after two long working days earlier in the week. As soon as I got home, I showered. After travelling across London today on the underground and buses, I felt particularly grimy. I stood under the shower for ages enjoying the feeling of the water against my skin, washing away the days dirt, and completely freeing my mind of work. I even had a little chuckle to myself over how good it made me feel.

The other thing I am keen to see if it impacts, is the difference in my skin. As an adult, I have often suffered with lousy skin. I never really had problem skin as a teenager, but as soon as I lived with someone who smoked in my 20s, my skin has never been the same since. To cover my bad skin, I wear make up. But by showering when I get home from work, instead of just washing my face before bedtime, I’m not only washing off the grime, but also my make-up. I’m also making sure I don’t reapply my make up again that evening, in the hope that my skin will get a longer period of time to breathe before I reapply my foundation before work the next morning.

So far, although I am aware that showering twice a day is less kind to the environment (I am having a much shorter shower in the evening than I am first thing in the morning), and may impact my water bills, I have noticed real benefits to my wellbeing by showering twice a day. Not only do I feel cleaner, but my mind is also more relaxed in the evenings, and I am sleeping better than I have done for ages.

Have you discovered any new self care tips so far this year?

Self-Care Sunday

After the wobbles of last week, it’s been a beautifully chilled weekend.

Whilst some of the immediate work pressures have been lessened, there is a lot to do over the next few months, with lot’s of evening meetings coming up.

I knew I needed to get some self-care bonus points in the bag to help get me through the next couple of weeks.

The first thing I did this weekend was to get my haircut.

Whilst I’m trying to budget carefully at the moment while I get used to the extra expense of renting the flat on my own, there are some things I’m not prepared to scrimp on.

Getting my haircut at my favourite salon is one of them. It took me ages to find a hairdresser I liked after I moved to London. In fact, half the time I ended up traveling back to Northampton to get my hair cut at the salon around the corner from mum and dads house.

I find some hairdressers so stuffy. I always feel so uncomfortable when the hairdressers are overly manicured and immaculately dressed. Thankfully my hairdresser in London is lovely and normal. We spend most of my appointment chatting about the great outdoors as opposed to gossiping.

I spent Saturday afternoon catching up with some housework and found some time to bake a banana and chocolate chip loaf to put in the freezer, ready to devour next time I have friends or family come to stay.

I woke a few times last night (thanks to my delightful cat who decided to play with her toys right outside my bedroom, and then tried to sit behind my head on my pillow 🙈), and had hoped to sleep in, but my cat was having none of that either.

As if butter wouldn’t melt…

So I decided to get up and make the most of my early start. By 9 o’clock I had my running kit on and was heading out for an early jog. It was so nice to be out and about whilst London was still half asleep. The park was empty except for the odd runner and a few sports teams starting to warm up before kick off. Every time I go out, I’m able to run a bit further, and my body is loving the exercise. I used to convince myself that walking was enough, but I realise now that it’s not. Walkings obviously good for you, but getting my heart racing, breaking out into a sweat and noticing the difference in how my body feels, is fantastic. It’s giving me so much more energy throughout the day, as well as helping me to sleep better.

After my jog, I carried on my workout at home, by cooling down, and lifting some weights. This time last year, I noticed my arms had got really big (and not in a muscly kinda way). That’s when I first realised how much weight I had piled on. Whilst I haven’t lost as much flab from my upper arms as I would like, they are slightly more toned. Hopefully now with jogging and eating better, hopefully it won’t be long until they start to look more how I would like them too.

I’m super pleased that I booked my holiday before Christmas, as this is giving me extra motivation at the moment to keep exercising, knowing its only a few weeks until I fly out to Portugal. On top of that, two of my best friends get married in the first half of the year, a month apart, so with two hen parties and two weddings after my holiday, I’m hoping that will give me the motivation I need to keep me focused on my new eating and exercise regime well into the summer months.

After my workout I decided to get some more self-care in the bank, with some pampering.

My brother always buys me really good beauty products for my birthday and Christmas. A couple of years ago he brought me Ren Flash Rinse 1 minute facial which has become one of my staple beauty products. It is what it says on the tube, a 1 minute facial. So even when time is short, there is no excuse not to treat my skin.

Another great product my brother brought me last Christmas was GlamGlow’s Poutmud fizzy lip exfoliating treatment, which is fantastic at this time of year when the weather and central heating are playing havoc with my lips. Like REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial, it’s really quick to use and leaves lips super smooth.

With my workout and pampering complete, it was time to head off to Westfield to do some much needed pre-holiday shopping. Thankfully, I had some vouchers to use, so I came away with some lovely new holiday clothes without suffering from buyers guilt.

I then made it back home in time to pop outside to my terrace before it got dark, to see what state my plants were in. I love gardening, but as soon as the winter weather creeps in, I tend to neglect my poor plants. But it was lovely to get out there this afternoon to tidy up and deadhead the plants that haven’t realised it’s winter yet. A perfect way to end the afternoon.

So after a topsy turvy week, it’s been a productive weekend, with lot’s of self-care. I’d love to sit here and say I’m ready for that week ahead. Whilst my body maybe, my mind would really like another day or two at home not worrying about work. But at least I’m getting closer to my Algarve Adventure ✈️☀️🏖