An outsiders view ~

Living in London has its perks.

Being a metropolis and a cultural capital of the world, you literally have everything on your doorstep.

You have theaters, shows, museums, endless pop-ups (markets, restaurants, you name it), fairs, celebrations, events, cocktails on some rooftop….

But the thing is, when you actually live here, sometimes you get so caught up in your work life and yourself that you forget this city has all this and more to offer. Yes, London is very cosmopolitan, full of vibrant people and interesting places and activities but from time to time you sort of forget. For example… when do you, that live either on a small town or village or a huge city, go sightseeing? When do you go out, for the sake of it and be a tourist in your own home place?

You are so used to it being there. So close, just outside your door that you take it for granted. And then you stop going to the city center just because technically you can go there any  time you want. However, work is on the other direction, you you just pass by while watching funny videos on Youtube on your commute and it competently passes you by.

 

This happened to me. Like it does to all of us. But then, last week my parents were week. And boy, did I miss my health app to count my steps!

It was fantastic. I forgot what was seeing this city through the eyes of someone that does not live here. My parents, albeit of some age, they are used to travel. They were born in South Africa from Portuguese emigrants. Moved back to Portugal. Their honeymoon was a road-trip through Europe. They didn’t give us a lot of expensive gifts, instead they would take us travelling. Spain, France, Africa, all through Portugal, etc,… So they are more than used to travelling. But still, they were impressed. With the size of the buildings, the size of the city. The amount of bridges. The number of people. The speed of the tube and the number of lines it has.

I forgot how beautiful Southbank is on a sunny afternoon. All the street artists. The music. The street food. The people. The vintage fairs, the shows, the energy, the love I have for it.

Yes, it is hard over here. You work way too many hours, your friends live 1 hour and a half away even though they are in the same city. But then, you have sun over St Pauls and you are in comfy shoes crossing the Millenium Bridge and suddenly, it does not seem so gloomy.

Truth is, I do have a lot to thank for here. And I have to thank my parents for reminding me that.

So go out, explore and fall in love to where you live!

 

Claudia x

My weekend in Rome

That’s right.

About two weeks before my birthday me and my boyfriend were trying to match up our days off – since I had the whole weekend of the 16th of April off.

We kept thinking about places here in UK to go and visit; like Manchester or Liverpool… You know, a weekend away.

Then we saw a fairly cheap price and guess what? Rome was the chosen city!!!

One of his bucket list things to see was the Colosseum. I had been to Rome before and loved it. Win-win!

It was a wonderful weekend full of good food – although I didn’t touch pizza, I am more of a pasta person ahah!

We stayed in a pretty hotel not very central, Eurostars Aeterna. It literally had a bus across the street that would go from there to everywhere; Colosseum, Trastevere, The Vatican…

Trastevere is still my favourite part with the smaller houses but more colourful and all the flowers and the vines and its small restaurants.

Last time I was there I did not visit a couple of things, so this time I took the chance to visit the Sistine Chapel and the Palatine Hills.

Have a look at some pictures and fall in love.

Just like I did.

Claudia x

Reasons to be proud;

The other day as I was walking through London Bridge from the trains to the tube, I kind of glimpsed something that I was not too sure I was seeing right. Not because I couldn’t believe it, but it was sort of rush hour and I just got the last bit. It was the Azores as one of the Top 10 destinations of 2015 by Lonely Planet.

Then, next day or so, in Waterloo, I was on my way to the train and this time I saw it clearly: Porto, as the number 10 on the Lonely Planet top 10.

It was quite cool – I AM FROM PORTO!

But that’s is not all… Azores is an island also part from Portugal. It is beautiful! Especially if you love trekking, boat tours to see the whales. Brilliant food and to die for landscapes.

Unfortunately I was never fast enough to take pictures (and I can’t find any on the internet) of the advertising, so I will post pictures and the list below.

TOP 10 DESTINATIONS as per Lonely Planet:

10 – Porto

Ribeira means in Portuguese "minor river" or a river with little flow of water. It is also a word for the oldest part of Oporto, a place where the city was born and developed due to trade in the river mouth. The district was the scene of fights and sieges. When Napoleon invaded Portugal in the beginning of the XIX century, the stampede of the fleeing population over an old bridge, located where nowadays D. Luis bridge is, made it to collapse, causing many deaths by drowning. Two decades later, civil wars between absolutists and liberals caused a lot of destruction here. Oporto was defending the liberal cause, while Lisbon was absolutist. The center of Porto was under siege in 1832-1833 and many of Ribeira's sites were damaged by war. Nowadays, Ribeira is a tourist area with many bars, touristy restaurants and terraces, particularly in its main square, Praça da Ribeira (picture) It is by the river Douro, close to the lower deck of D. Luis bridge and to the center of Gaia. Thanks to Soulfisher for the text. http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/a1735/44f55/

9 – Tomso, Norway

Tromsø, Norway

8 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

7 – Baku, Azerbaijan

Flame Towers and TV Tower

6 – Piedmont, Italy

Piedmont, Italy

5 – Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia

4 -Malaga, Spain

Málaga, Spain

3 – Azores, Portugal

azores1good

2 – Leipzig, Germany

Leipzig, Germany

1 –  Akureyri, Iceland

Akureyri, Iceland

To be honest, I think there are a lot of beautiful places, and believe me, if I could, you wouldn’t see me in one place for very long.

Happy travels!

Claudia x

Working in Hotels

As some of you know my love for travelling took me to a very -ironically- predictable line of work: hospitality.

It is all I have done all my life. I studied it. I work in a travel agency and managed a hostel while studying and after moving to London found a job in a restaurant and then front desk in hotels – which is where I am building my career.

Since I’ve started something in me started to change. For example:

– if someone looks lost I always go: ‘hello, are you ok, would you like some help getting anywhere?’

– I clean and stack my own plates at restaurants; no, I don’t care how fancy it is, it just happens. One moment I am complimenting the food to my partner, the next I have the salad plate on top of the bread plate which is neatly stacked on top of my main plate which is balanced on the tray or whatever the food comes in. Knife and fork nicely put on top; food mainly in one of the parts. I think people actually are very impressed with this considering how clumsy I am.

– following this, I always move to try and help the waiter picking up the plates just to make it easier on them.

– always tip!

– when doing a favour to someone, I no longer start with ‘you’re welcome!’. No… now I say ‘it’s no problem at all!’

– always open doors and let people through

– developed a poker face towards people that have absolutely no idea what it means working in costumer service; except the famous: the guest is always right! How will you compensate me for raining in London and inconvenience my holiday?’ Excuse me sir, next time give me a quick call and I will have a word with the Weather.

– multi-tasking. I can check two people inn while re-cutting keys, printing emails and looking at the bill of a third.

– saying ‘thank you’, ‘good morning’, ‘have a good day’ is so natural that I don’t even realize what I am doing until the weird neighbour gives me the stinky eye.

– you don’t really care what days you are off. Suddenly Mondays and Tuesdays are even better than weekends because everything is open and you can actually get stuff done! And if there is more than one day together… JACKPOT!

– due to canteen food I can basically eat anything. And I really mean it.

I am sure that all of you have things related to your work that will influence your daily life. However the biggest advice I can give to you hotel-goer is: although front desk cannot control big things, if you are rude to us and ruin our day, we can make your stay very miserable. Yes, you might get an upgrade because you were so mean we just want you to get out of our face, but we won’t want to help you and everything will become an inconvenience. Try and be nice, we will always go out of our way to please and help you. We will even give you free internet or complimentary upgrades!

Remember: if you had been yelled at as soon as you came into work you’d be grumpy too when someone blames you for things like traffic 🙂 happy guests – happy staff – better service!

Happy holidays!

Claudia x

CrowdRoaming

 

unnamedToday I have stumbled across something that I think is really cool. CrowdRoaming.

You know, with all the low cost companies you can fly to a lot of places in a more affordable fashion. The same with Hostels, CouchSurfing and accommodation. But there is one thing we always look for – more everyday due to our addiction to it. That is Wi-Fi. Oh the beauty of free Wi-Fi connection in the hotel. Even if it’s just in the lobby, it is guaranteed you will spend a few minutes there just to upload that awesome picture you just took, or emailing family to let them know you are okay.

Soon, it will be possible to walk around pretty much anywhere and be able to access the internet. The concept is very simple. Most of our contracts include internet. Wether unlimited or a big amount of data allowed, we can all access it in our phones nowadays. Well, the point now is to allow others to use the data that you don’t use and you can spare. This way, your smartphone will basically work as a bundle and anyone – within 50m – will be able to use your phone’s internet. The app runs in the background in order not to spend a lot of our already fragile battery. I think this would be speacially good to have on when you are in train or bus rides, restaurants and bars – as it works depending on the distance you are from the person who is sharing the data, public places will often offer weird and zoned-out connection.

At this point, the app is still in it’s begining, for example, it currently only works in the EU and on my own HTC it says my Android version does not allow me to share my data – although I have unlimited internet and my phone is quite a recent one. So I guess they still have some work to do on it.

 

The CrowdRoaming app is free to download in Google.Play – as it is only available for Android yet.

For more information visit: play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.crowdroaming.app

Either way, I think this is great. I know, we already spend too much time online and traveling is not about being glued to your device. But traveling is also sharing. And come on, I love sharing incredible pictures!

 

 

Claudia

Holidays!

Beach-in-Albufeira-Portugal

Off to Albufeira, Algarve in the south of Portugal for a few days.

Oh, how I miss the sea and some grilled fresh fish!

And I’ll get to be with my friends as they have rented a house there. Lovely!

And you, where are you going, or would like to go, this summer?

 

Claudia