A four day adventure through Portugal

Portugal wasn't on my list until I'd already been traveling a few years, but after my first visit I realized that it was one of my favorites in Western Europe. The buildings in all of the cities are covered in colorful ceramic tiles, the skies are almost always blue and the weather is perfect. The best way I can express my love for this country, which I've traveled to three times, is through photos. 

 One of the castles at Quinta de Regaleira

One of the castles at Quinta de Regaleira

 Make sure nobody else is coming up, as the staircases are narrow!

Make sure nobody else is coming up, as the staircases are narrow!

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 One of my favorite trees inside Quinta da Regaleira, a real-life fairy tale land filled with castles, gardens, and labyrinths. 

One of my favorite trees inside Quinta da Regaleira, a real-life fairy tale land filled with castles, gardens, and labyrinths. 

 We took a detour down a dirt road to get to the lighthouse. I don't think our little Opel Astra was meant to go off-roading!

We took a detour down a dirt road to get to the lighthouse. I don't think our little Opel Astra was meant to go off-roading!

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Cabo da Roca lighthouse.

 Stunning Atlantic coastline. If I didn't know better, I'd think I was on the California Pacific coast.

Stunning Atlantic coastline. If I didn't know better, I'd think I was on the California Pacific coast.

 Sweeping views from the lighthouse

Sweeping views from the lighthouse

 It's a long way down...

It's a long way down...

 As we drove down the road on this misty day to Praia da Adraga, a massive group of school kids ran down beside us on what seemed to be a class trip. The waves were enormous, and therefore not suitable to swim in, but just watching them crash onto the shore was a sight in its own.

As we drove down the road on this misty day to Praia da Adraga, a massive group of school kids ran down beside us on what seemed to be a class trip. The waves were enormous, and therefore not suitable to swim in, but just watching them crash onto the shore was a sight in its own.

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Somewhere in the hills, between sleepy little villages we found this abandoned windmill on the side of the road.

 Ready for some photos shot on film?

Ready for some photos shot on film?

 Lisbon is a labryinth of alleyways

Lisbon is a labryinth of alleyways

 And buildings covered in colorful tiles

And buildings covered in colorful tiles

 My favorite beach, Praia do Magoito. The trek down is absolutely worth it.

My favorite beach, Praia do Magoito. The trek down is absolutely worth it.

 I asked the waiter at the cafe above the beach if I could take a photo of him, but he declined. I took a photo of the delectable apple pastry instead.

I asked the waiter at the cafe above the beach if I could take a photo of him, but he declined. I took a photo of the delectable apple pastry instead.

 Streets of Ericeira, the perfect sized beach town.

Streets of Ericeira, the perfect sized beach town.

 Sometimes sun isn't always necessary to enjoy a beach. Praia da Adraga was stunning to sit at with it's eerie fog and rough waves.

Sometimes sun isn't always necessary to enjoy a beach. Praia da Adraga was stunning to sit at with it's eerie fog and rough waves.

 During one of our days in Lisbon, we ventured out on the commuter ferry to the south bay. There wasn't much in this town, but I got some good photos.

During one of our days in Lisbon, we ventured out on the commuter ferry to the south bay. There wasn't much in this town, but I got some good photos.

 Old lady, probably bored, in Seixal.

Old lady, probably bored, in Seixal.

 Lots of decaying buildings.

Lots of decaying buildings.

 Almoçageme was the perfect place to experience a taste of Portugese village life.

Almoçageme was the perfect place to experience a taste of Portugese village life.

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Our trip started in Lisbon where we stayed at an Airbnb for two nights. We then rented a car and continued on to visit Quinta de Regaliera in Sintra for a few hours. Then we drove through Sintra-Cascais National Park, stopping wherever our hearts desired, including Praia do Magoito, and stayed the night in Ericeira, a photogenic surf town with blue doors and narrow, cobblestone streets. From here we drove down the coast to a quiet village called Almoçageme and checked into our lovely guesthouse called Restaurante Pensão Sisudo, where we ate the most savory meal. From here we drove down the road to (the foggy) Praia da Adraga and later to Cabo de Roca. We had the joy of getting hit in the middle of a busy traffic circle in Cascais on our way back to the airport, so I can't recommend that city. Everything else in Portugal was a joy, and I would definitely return for a fourth time!

Istanbul: the city that stole my heart

Anybody who knows me knows that I LOVE Istanbul. Maybe it's because it was the first place I traveled to on my own, the charm of the Turkish people, the friendly aura of the city, the sound of the simit sellers, the smell of balik ekmek wafting from the restaurants next to the ferry docks, or the fact that you can sail from one continent to another in just twenty minutes, all while admiring the city's historic skyline. In the past three and a half years, I've visited this city eleven times, and each and every time I leave it, my heart aches. Istanbul has belonged to many different civilizations of people over the years, but when I'm there, I feel as if it belongs to me.

And so I present a photo tour of my favorite city east of the Atlantic: Istanbul, Turkey.

 In Istanbul you can move from Asia to Europe in less than a half hour. Here's a shot from the approach into Europe.

In Istanbul you can move from Asia to Europe in less than a half hour. Here's a shot from the approach into Europe.

 A ferry on the Bosphorus letting off some steam.

A ferry on the Bosphorus letting off some steam.

 One of the many mosques of city.

One of the many mosques of city.

 Sunset around the famous, Sultanahmet neighborhood.

Sunset around the famous, Sultanahmet neighborhood.

 Another day at the docks.

Another day at the docks.

 Fener/Balat is one of Istanbul's more conservative areas, also filled with colorful houses.

Fener/Balat is one of Istanbul's more conservative areas, also filled with colorful houses.

  Looking into a school house in Balat.

 Looking into a school house in Balat.

 Even the doors and windows are splashed with color.

Even the doors and windows are splashed with color.

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 This past summer my friend, mom and I stayed at a very unique, restored, old house in Fener called  The Turquoise House .

This past summer my friend, mom and I stayed at a very unique, restored, old house in Fener called The Turquoise House.

 Whether it be lunch, breakfast, or dinner, ekemek (bread) is an important part of every Turkish meal.

Whether it be lunch, breakfast, or dinner, ekemek (bread) is an important part of every Turkish meal.

 This ancient city is filled with ancient wooden houses.

This ancient city is filled with ancient wooden houses.

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 A nice Turkish man giving me the evil eye to ward away bad spirits! Just kidding.

A nice Turkish man giving me the evil eye to ward away bad spirits! Just kidding.

 Not sure how this car even got here. Spotted in Beyoğlu.

Not sure how this car even got here. Spotted in Beyoğlu.

 Haircut time in Fener.

Haircut time in Fener.

 Pharmacy man.

Pharmacy man.

 A sad, abandoned simit stand in the backstreets of Kadiköy.

A sad, abandoned simit stand in the backstreets of Kadiköy.

 I don't know how the men in Istanbul make money when all they seem to do is sit on these miniature stools and drink tea all day!

I don't know how the men in Istanbul make money when all they seem to do is sit on these miniature stools and drink tea all day!

 Sultanahmet mosque on a quiet winter night.

Sultanahmet mosque on a quiet winter night.

 Strolling the Sultanahment neighborhood in January.

Strolling the Sultanahment neighborhood in January.

 A summer sunset on the ferry from Asia to Europe.

A summer sunset on the ferry from Asia to Europe.

 Rooftop view looking across the Bosphorus from Kadikoy, my favorite neighborhood on the Asian side.

Rooftop view looking across the Bosphorus from Kadikoy, my favorite neighborhood on the Asian side.

 Back in Europe in Ortaköy, a neighborhood next to the Bosphorus Bridge.

Back in Europe in Ortaköy, a neighborhood next to the Bosphorus Bridge.

 Glass blower in Ortaköy.

Glass blower in Ortaköy.

 The ice cream men, all selling the same product, ready to pounce on unsuspecting tourists looking for a sweet treat.

The ice cream men, all selling the same product, ready to pounce on unsuspecting tourists looking for a sweet treat.

 A typical scene at a doner place in the Galata neighborhood.

A typical scene at a doner place in the Galata neighborhood.

 Amateur street art in Beşiktaş, a neighborhood popular for university students and young people. 

Amateur street art in Beşiktaş, a neighborhood popular for university students and young people. 

 Three and a half years ago nothing was in this neighborhood. Now Karaköy is filled with dozens of cafes in a 4 block radius, all of which are always busy.

Three and a half years ago nothing was in this neighborhood. Now Karaköy is filled with dozens of cafes in a 4 block radius, all of which are always busy.

 A strange scene of dilapidated can and tea makers in Kadiköy.

A strange scene of dilapidated can and tea makers in Kadiköy.

 There is also a plethora of coffee shops over in Kadiköy.

There is also a plethora of coffee shops over in Kadiköy.

 A strawberry smoothie at the cafe downstairs from  World House Hostel  in Galata, where I stayed for several nights this summer.

A strawberry smoothie at the cafe downstairs from World House Hostel in Galata, where I stayed for several nights this summer.

 Balloon dark game set up on the Moda Seaside pathway in Kadiköy.

Balloon dark game set up on the Moda Seaside pathway in Kadiköy.

 The old Haydarpa şa  train station, where the national rail lines terminated up until its closing in 2012.

The old Haydarpaşa train station, where the national rail lines terminated up until its closing in 2012.

 Don't let this photo deceive you, the ferries are normally packed to the brim.

Don't let this photo deceive you, the ferries are normally packed to the brim.

 Does the beauty of a large stone building ever make you cry? Oh, that's just me.

Does the beauty of a large stone building ever make you cry? Oh, that's just me.

 After eleven trips to Istanbul, I finally made it to the top of the Galata Tower.

After eleven trips to Istanbul, I finally made it to the top of the Galata Tower.

 The views were magnificent! 

The views were magnificent! 

 I love looking down at life below. Nobody ever notices you watching from so high above them.

I love looking down at life below. Nobody ever notices you watching from so high above them.

 The cafe at the top of the tower. Make sure to go before noon to avoid the crowds.

The cafe at the top of the tower. Make sure to go before noon to avoid the crowds.

 This man was sitting under the tower all morning.

This man was sitting under the tower all morning.

 Another great vantage point of my favorite building in Istanbul.

Another great vantage point of my favorite building in Istanbul.

 One last ferry shot, coming into Karaköy on the European side.

One last ferry shot, coming into Karaköy on the European side.

For more info on what to do in Istanbul, check out my 36 hours in Istanbul post. But, hopefully you choose to stay longer in this magnificent city!