Saturday, August 15, 2015

Travel | Vigo & Lisbon

Maybe a little later than I had hoped but as promised in my P&O Ventura Mediterranean Cruise post I will be posting about all of the different port of calls that I was lucky enough to visit! The first two stops for the cruise were Vigo in Spain and Lisbon in Portugal, I actually visited these two places on the first cruise I ever went on, but from knowing what we had done before we made an effort to find and explore new places. Lisbon & Vigo are both cities rife with history and culture, and perhaps a place you wouldn't think of normally visiting, I think they would make such great city breaks and I would love to go back to Lisbon for longer. At each port of call the time you get in the place varies, it could be anything from 4 hours to the whole day, usually by lunch time the heat has got the better of us and we head back to the ship for lunch. But it really is amazing how much you can see in the short period of time. This isn't an exhaustive guide of what I got up to, but more of a brief insight into these gorgeous cities!
 After a day at sea we arrived in a rather cloudy Vigo, I swear it happens every year that I go on holiday and the nicest week of the year arrives in the UK, typical hey? Anyway, the port of Vigo is right by the town so it's so easy to get off and explore.
 Like anywhere, we always head straight to the shops! It's your typical European city with Zaras, H&M and Stradivarius shops around every corner.
 After mooching round the shops for a bit we went on a walk to El Castro Citadel which offers great sea views, a garden setting and ruins from a pre-Roman settlement. We visited here the first time we came to Vigo but the views were so great that we had to venture up there again.
 The views and garden area are so pretty, and it was actually really peaceful when we got to the top, there is usually lots of coach tours around this part. After being around people on the cruise 24/7 it was nice to get some peace and tranquility for a short while.
 You could see our cruise ship from the top and the surrounding views were spectacular, the walk really was worth it, sort of glad the weather was cloudy as it would have been too hot else.
 After exploring we headed back down to the town square. Some of the buildings are so old and quaint but they really do add so much character to the city.
Funny how I found a Sephora store right next to the port? Definitely had my priorities right here! I wore the comfiest dress for travelling, this striped number is from Hollister and I  lived in it for day trips and going down to the pool. After spending our morning traipsing around Vigo we headed back to the ship for lunch and relaxation!
The next day we arrived in beautiful Lisbon! It was also my mums birthday, so after opening cards and presents and a big birthday breakfast we got off the ship to explore. The port is not close to the centre at all, and we had to take a short coach ride in to reach the town which can be annoying if there is a wait on coaches.
 Pastel de nata is Lisbons local speciality, which in English is custard tarts! The bakeries are lined with these delicious looking tarts as well as many other delicacies. I remember seeing these the last time I had visited and regretted not trying one!
Like Vigo, the streets are lined with shops, as well as the more expensive stores. Slightly more choice than Vigo and my delight when I found a H&M home was clear, I literally love this store so much and wish there were more in the UK. I left with lots of pretty kitchen and home things, including an adorable silver pineapple which you can store things in. You really cannot take me anywhere without buying anything, oops!
 After some shopping we started to head down towards the sea and away from the town.
 The square in Lisbon is called Praca do Comercio which has been claimed as being one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, and you can see why with it's incredibly clean and fresh looking architecture and its lovely view which opens out onto the Tagus river.
 Trams are still one of the quickest ways to get around the city, albeit very old fashioned. I love seeing trams when I'm on holiday as it's like nothing we would ever see in some places in the UK. In this respect the place is quite similar to Helsinki, with old buildings, narrow streets and trams.
 There was a cute yellow tram around every corner.
 There was some kind of upcoming festival in the city which is why there were brightly coloured garlands draped along all of the back streets in the town to peoples houses.
 On our way up to the castle we took in more great views and admired the sea view, this was the new Royal Caribbean Cruise ship called The Anthem, which by the way looks amazing, maybe next year?
 It really is the smallest things that I love about exploring new places, it's the tiny back streets, filled with cute and quaint houses and things off the beaten track that I love the most about travelling. 
 After reaching the castle it was time for something to eat...
 Coffee & Pastel De Nata - perfect! 
 Seriously, imagine what heaven is like and you'll know how this custard tart tasted. The view was phenomenal and the custard tarts were packed full of yummy sweet custard, I wish I could have brought a box of these home. If you do anything in Lisbon, you need to try one of these. I actually saw the other day a cafe just selling these opened up in Covent Garden so I will definitely have to pay it a visit next time I'm in London!
 After our yummy custard tarts we well and truly walked them off by heading back down into the town and to the cruise ship.
What I love about visiting places like this is that they aren't places that would scream out to me for taking a week or 2 week holiday. Cruises allow you to discover places that you wouldn't normally go to, and those few hours you spend there really do give you an idea if you want to go back and explore the place more. That speaks for itself as that is why I'm heading back to Mykonos on Friday for a week, after visiting there on a cruise last year I completely fell in love with the island and I am so excited to go back for more, and of course I will be taking as many photos as I can to get some posts up for when I am back!

On a side note, thank you to you all for still staying and reading my blog,finding time to blog at the moment is a logistical nightmare but here I am awake at 6am on a weekend (stupid body clock!) and thought this was the best way to spend my time! Anyway, I hope everyone is well and is having a fabulous summer, I cant wait to start reading all your blogs again so do leave your links below for me to have a read!


What do you think of Vigo and Lisbon? Would you visit these cities, or have you been before?

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

P&O Ventura Mediterranean Cruise | Travel

P&O-Ventura
Woah it feels like a lifetime since I last posted on here, as you can imagine life never stops when you work full time, exercise and have to enjoy your general life, so a break has very much been needed - but don't worry I will be back posting more regularly from now on! But as you may have guessed, I've recently been on a 2 week P&O Mediterranean cruise. There was never a moments thought about whether I would post about it or not as I love writing travel/lifestyle posts a lot! Anyway, if you've been following my blog for the last 2 years, I went on my first cruise 2 years ago, loved it and have been going on cruise holidays ever since. I have never sailed with a cruise company more than once yet as I like to see what other firms have to offer, we have been with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises before which I absolutely loved, so lets see what P&O cruises had to offer...
P&O-Ventura
The first time sailing with a British company was a pleasant change, we departed from Southampton on the Sunday on what was a gloomy & rainy day, rooms are usually ready from 2pm onwards so until they you unfortunately have to lug your bags and dress covers everywhere, but this is the same case on every cruise ship, as it's such a tight turnaround with the previous passengers getting off. The cruise was for 2 weeks and the port of calls were Vigo, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Monte Carlo, Corsica, Livorno (Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome) and Cadiz. Some really great destinations, three that I hadn't been to before, so I was very excited!
P&O-Ventura
This was the great British sailaway from Corsica, everyone had a Brtish flag and there were lots of famous songs to sing along too. I kinda wish we had this as we departed Southampton or Gibraltar, but nevertheless it was a fun afternoon in the sun!
P&O-Ventura
P&O-Ventura
I apologise for the poor quality in some of these photos before we proceed, I have a mixture between my canon, Iphone and digital camera, what a nightmare! Anyway - we had an inside cabin which means there's no windows, these are usually a lot cheaper than those with a balcony and they are a great choice if you don't mind. I barely spend any time in the room apart from sleeping so it's a no brainer really, it would be nice to sit out on the balcony in the evening though and get some air if the ships particularly rocky - luckily I wasn't sea sick this time! Anyway, the room itself was perfect, the bathroom wasn't as big as other ships but there was nice touches like a chocolate every night, biscuits, sweets (always food) and the occasional towel animal like the ones below. This type of thing is always a welcome sight after heading back from a late show!
P&O-Ventura
P&O-Ventura
P&O-Ventura
But, the walk in wardrobe was definitely a game changer..As any girl can vouch, a walk in wardrobe is 'goals'!
P&O-Ventura
The ship had 5 pools - all of similar size. To be honest I never think much of the pools on cruise ships as they really are just a pool you can dip in to cool off. They are always packed with kids too and the main laguna pool was shut most days - I guess you can imagine why when so many kids are using it every day... Being an ex lifeguard I unfortunately know the type of things that happen in pools causing them to close, so I avoided them at all costs after this. 
P&O-VenturaP&O-Ventura
P&O-Ventura
P&O-Ventura
Getting a sunbed on a cruise ship is like looking for a needle in a haystack but I didn't struggle on Ventura at all, and spent quite a lot of times on the highest deck soaking up the sun and reading a book - is anything better than that? Utter bliss!
P&O-Ventura
There was a spa on the ship which offered your bog standard beauty & hair treatments and massages, a nice luxurious thing to enjoy on the ship but the treatments do come at a cost!
P&O-Ventura
P&O-Ventura
P&O-Ventura
I was really pleased with the gym facilities and it was almost always quiet, I came in here mostly on sea days to fill the time up. They had a great selection of machines and a massive mat area with everything you need for a good workout. So much food was consumed on the cruise that the gym was all but a necessity.
P&O-Ventura
There were various bars around the ship that held films, talks, singers and demonstrations every day, I particularly like the tamarind club great which had Moroccan tendencies, the decor was so pretty!
P&O-Ventura
P&O-Ventura
They also put on a tropical night which was really fun, we had leis waiting for us in the dining room that evening and all the waiters were dressed in Hawaiian shirts. We then headed out for a deck party with lots of music and dancing!
P&O-Ventura
P&O-VenturaP&O-Ventura
Heading to the theatre on the ship in the evenings is my favourite thing after a late sitting at dinner. There were different shows each night, including singers comedians and their in house production theatre, it was their first time performing on our cruise and they were absolutely fantastic - I really could not fault their shows and their routines were flawless! The shows really do make the holiday that bit more special. Now we're getting to the good part...
P&O-Ventura
THE FOOD! You will board the cruise as a passenger and leave as cargo, FACT! The weight gain is an added extra to your overall cruise experience and one you don't miss out on. There is food available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there is no start or finish. You feel hungry you eat, you don't feel hungry you eat. More times than not you just force yourself to eat because it's there, I almost couldn't remember what hunger felt like by the second week but it was great! The food is always my favourite part of the cruise, after the ports of call of course... The buffet restaurant was called the waterside but there was also a slightly smaller one called the Beach house. Both buffets served the same food but I would say the beach house was like an overfill one, it was usually much quieter and so cramped when queuing up to get food that I tried to avoid it at all costs. The selection of food was always good, but the breakfasts did get repetitive, the past 2 ships I have sailed with I would say had a much better selection.
P&O-Ventura
P&O-Ventura
Can you believe I've never had breakfast in bed before? This had to do be done on one of the at sea days, now finally ticked off my bucket list!
P&O-Ventura
The choice of cakes at lunch and afternoon tea were great, this carrot cake was a favourite! They also had a chocoholics afternoon tea where you guessed it, everything was chocolate themed and there was a massive chocolate fountain with lots of delicious fruits to dip, eyes bigger than my belly definitely springs to mind here.
P&O-Ventura
There was even a costa coffee at sea! You had to pay an additional charge to eat/drink here - there was enough food on offer already so we didn't eat here.
P&O-Ventura
The evening dining at Baytree was my favourite without a doubt - we opted for the late sitting at 8:30pm. This was the first year that we had to share a table with another family, full with dread at the thought of the first night, this quickly subsided and we got to make really good friends with the other family -  I actually think I enjoyed it more sharing with another family, getting out of your comfort zone really just might surprise you!
A big shout out to our waiters Bijesh and Angelo - who looks like Marvin from JLS by the way! They were brilliant and looked after us like royalty, they always do on cruise ships. The choice of food was much more traditional than other ships which I liked, with a choice of 4 courses, plus tea/coffee, cheese and crackers and additional cakes/chocolates, there really was no shortage of food. I tried a lot of new foods too which I wouldn't normally do at home as I am annoyingly fussy. But the highlight had to be the desserts, how good do these look?!
P&O-Ventura
R-L Meringue Swan, bakewell tart, Chocolate fondant, Baked Alaska
These were my select favourite desserts of the cruise, they were all absolutely divine though! I'm still in awe at the meringue swan - so cute!
P&O-Ventura
On the last day we were given a cruise log, documenting all the port of calls, the distance travelled and a little bit about each place. It's such a lovely thing to look back on and always remember - this was a really nice touch that we didn't have on other cruises. Our waiters also handed us a similar packet filled with all of the delicious menus from the 2 weeks- a gentle reminder just how much we really had eaten on the cruise.
P&O-Ventura
Home and back to work (boo!) but never forgotten! I had a really great cruise with P&O cruises despite my little niggles with the ship, but overall I really enjoyed sailing with P&O Ventura and the destinations were a great mix, as I've said before there really is nothing better than waking up in a different and exciting country each day. The possibilities with cruises are endless and I doubt it will be long until I'm back for more! Stay tuned for posts on my cruise outfits and travel diaries of all the lovely places I visited in the next couple of weeks! I hope you all have a great weekend!

Have you been on a cruise before? Would you like to go on a cruise? Are you going on holiday this year?

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