My Trip to Portugal: Missed Flight and No Accommodation

RomanRoams travel blog, cliff in Portugal

Me sitting on the cliff in Algarve, Portugal tripHaving visited Aveiro and Porto, I wanted to explore some more of Portugal, so I decided to go to Lisbon and Algarve for the Easter Holidays. As always, the trip turned out to be very adventurous…

Here, I will tell you about my Portugal trip, how I planned it and how adventurous and fun (as always) it turned out. In May, I want to visit some more places in Portugal and then write the whole travel guide with an itinerary.

So, let’s start.

Being a time-management enthusiast, I used to plan every hour of each trip to see the most. This made me always hurry and feel under time pressure going from one attraction to another. It allowed to visit many places in a short time, but I didn’t enjoy it that much.

That is why, I started making more spontaneous trips, diving into the local culture and feeling like living in the place that I visit, not just being a regular tourist. I still use some tricks to explore the most without an exact plan (you can find these tips and tricks from my post on how to travel the world cheaper and better).

Similar was the trip to Portugal. Even despite some mishaps, I truly loved the time spent there and didn’t want to come back…

Planning the Easter Trip to Portugal

About a month before the Easter, I had an idea to visit Porto, Lisbon and explore the south coast of Algarve (South Portugal) by car. Unfortunately, most of my friends here already had plans for the Easter holidays, so I just waited a little and thought to make it on my own (traveling alone sometimes is even better than with friends).

Just over a week before Easter, some other friends proposed me exactly the same trip. Of course, I agreed. An interesting thing was that we were going to travel separately, and meet in Algarve. I wanted to spend some days in Lisbon, another guy first went to Seville, one more guy wanted to spend just 1 day in Lisbon and then rent a car there and go to Algarve, while the girls went directly to the south of Portugal.

I booked a bus to Porto, a flight to Lisbon 1 hour after, and a hostel in Lisbon for 4 nights. Only 2 days before arriving to Algarve, we decided to meet in Lagos, and booked a hostel there. The rest of the trip we wanted just to travel by car and in the evening pick some accommodation near the place that we liked.

However, not everything went according to the plan…

Beginning of Adventures

I had to take the bus from Vigo (Spain) at 7 pm, arrive at the airport in Porto at 7:45pm (with the 1-hour time difference), and the flight to Lisbon around nine. So, I had to be in Lisbon at 10, and check in at the hostel in half an hour. After, I was thinking of going out in Lisbon.

Same day, there was a festival in the university campus in Vigo. The campus is situated outside of the city, and it takes about 30 minutes by bus from my home to go there. As I’m the person that cannot miss any event, I prefer to sleep less just to attend them all.

Festival at the Vigo university campus
Vigo University Festival

I was thinking of taking my travel backpack with me, and then arrive directly at the bus station to go to Porto, but decided to come back home before it, as I live not far from the station. After 3 hours on the festival, it was time to leave, and I took a bus with other guys that I knew. I didn’t check the bus number, as I thought that all busses from the campus go to the square near my home. This one didn’t…

It took about 45 minutes to get to the place about 15 minutes away from my home. I quickly went home, grabbed my backpack and went to the bus station. I was expecting to be late, so even though it was just 2 minutes (which is not regarded as being late in Spain), the bus already left. I went to the information desk and was simply expecting the confirmation of what I already accepted ‘Lo siento, el autobús ya se fue’.

So, with the bus, I also missed the flight. I didn’t worry much about it, as the total cost of them was about 25 euros (still more than a return flight to Valencia for 12!). So, I went back home, had a nap and woke up about 9. There were some people in our living room playing cards, so I joined them. Then I went out in Vigo.

Finally, in Portugal

Boats on the Douro river in Porto

After 2 hours of sleep, I took the morning bus at 8. Not completely sober and still sleepy, I almost got off at the Porto airport, although I was planning to take a bus or a blablacar. Already being sure that this time I got to Porto, I found a ride in the evening. Although, I was in Porto for the 6th time, It was fine for me to spend some time there.

I finished my impressions of Porto by some areas on the north that I haven’t visited before, the luxury looking McDonald’s and some tasty dishes that I haven’t tried during my previous visits. One of them was Fransesinha, a piece of bread that you almost don’t notice under thick layers of steak, ham, egg, cheese, and all covered by tomato-beer sauce.

Francecinha, traditional dish from Porto

After all that, I went to the meeting place with my Blablacar driver. Actually, it was a district with many universities and dormitories. I actually met one of the guys, who was driving in the car, not the driver himself. His name was Daniel. He showed me his campus and a room, where they play music, prepare for some performances and organize events.

A bit later, the guy with the car came to us, and we picked two other girls in Porto (one of which actually posted the ride on Blablacar), and we went to Lisbon. Interesting thing was that we all were 21 years old. We had a great time. I learned some Portuguese with them, we also had snacks and wine.

Somewhere on the middle of the way, the car started behaving weirdly and we stopped at some gas station not willing to ride it anymore. While our driver was calling the insurance company trying to solve the problem although it was Friday midnight, Daniel (who was very sociable, and could make friends everywhere), talked to the cashier like they knew each other for years, and asked about things to do in the town, where we stopped. There was actually nothing to do there, especially at midnight.

After that, Daniel started talking to a guy who looked like a homeless, but he was actually an artist (I know, he could be both, but he was just an artist). He took us to his place, which was just 2 minutes away from the gas station, and showed his paintings.

When we came back to the gas station, the problem with the car was already solved. The insurance company was going to bring the car back to Porto and pay for a taxi to Lisbon for us.

Finally, we arrived at Lisbon around 1:30am, about 5 hours later than we expected, but it was a great trip!

Watch the video of my trip below:

Trip to Portugal: Algarve and Lisbon

Exploring Lisbon

street in Lisbon

Finally, I had 1 day less to explore Lisbon, but just Saturday and Sunday were enough to see the most of it.

On the first day, I didn’t plan anything, but just walked down to the city center, crossed the most central streets and main squares. In terms of attractions, I saw 50% of them in the first 3 hours. Later, I met the guys from Blablacar, and we went to the hill with the cathedral and some great views of the city.Cathedral in Lisbon, Portugal trip

Musicians on the viewpoint in Lisbon

Using Couchsurfing Hangouts, I met one Venezuelan guy in the evening. He knew another Venezuelan working in a nice Latino dance bar. We stayed there until 4 am with Latin American girls and two Portuguese guys.

Sitting on the viewpoint terrace in Lisbon

On the second day, I went to two other viewpoints, some nice areas outside of the main touristic streets, and took a tram to Belem, with its monuments, monastery and a tower. It took about 30 minutes from the center of Lisbon, so there were less tourists there.

Check this guide to LX Factory, one of the lesser known attractions of Lisbon.

Colonizers monument in Belem, Lisbon

Monastery in Belem, Lisbon

Belem Tower in Lisbon, Portugal trip

I stayed near the tower of Belem until the sunset, and then went back to the old town. After some walk, I used the Couchsurfing app again, and met an American guy in an Irish pub (before, he used to work in an Irish pub in Munich for 7 years, so I was surprised by his choice).

Next morning, I left for Lagos.

I missed Sintra in this trip, but you can visit it, and here you can find out how to get to Sintra from Lisbon.

Arriving to Lagos

Hostel inside yard in Lagos, Portugal

After a 4-hour bus ride, I arrived to Lagos on the south of Portugal. Our hostel was close to the bus station. So, 10 minutes after arrival, I’ve already checked in at the reception of Orange 3 Hostel.

The place looked great! For 13 euros, we had a beautiful inside yard, a rooftop terrace, and even a breakfast. Moreover, the hostel was located close to the ‘city’ center. If you’re planning to visit Lagos, I highly recommend you staying there. You can book a room using the field below:
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At the hostel, I met the guy who just arrived from Seville. Well, he also had some adventures…

His bus from Seville to Lagos stopped at a gas station close to Huelva, a town near Portuguese border. They had a 10-minutes break to buy something or go to the bathroom. After 5 minutes, my friend wanted to come back to the bus, but realized that it already left…

So, he stayed in Huelva for a night and took the first bus to Lagos in the morning. Even with changed plans, we arrived at the hostel almost at the same time.

Beaches and Cliffs of Algarve

Ponte Piedade cliffs and a bay, Algarve, Portugal trip

I’m not a fan of lazy vacations on the beach, but Algarve is definitely a place to go for it. We visited five towns in Algarve, but the south coast of Portugal is the reason, why you should come there, rather than the towns.

The next three days, we were riding a car from one beach to another. While the girls were getting suntanned, we were exploring some caves, cliffs and isolated beaches getting down by steep rocks. You can check some pictures below.

Me on an isolated beach in Algarve
This small dot is me ?

Water in the cave in Algarve

Santa Maria ship in Algarve

Going down the rocks in Algarve

Forest path during road trip in Algarve

Some places weren’t that safe to climb, but it was great. I had a lot of scratches from climbing all over my body, but I regarded them my souvenirs rather than some magnets and other useless stuff that I never buy.

According to the most influential travel resources, many beaches in Algarve appear in the lists of the best ones in Europe. I understand, why. It is not about the sand color, or its quality, but the surrounding scenery, bays and cliffs, color of water and amazing forms of the rocks created by nature.

We tried to visit the best places, trying to avoid the crowds of tourists at the same time.

As we were there in the end of March, which is low season, it wasn’t a very difficult task.

Best Beaches in Algarve

One of the best beaches in Algarve

After visiting many different beaches and in Algarve, here are the best ones that you should go to:

  • Praia do Vau, close to Portimao
  • Praia Dona Ana and other Beaches near Farol da Ponta da Piedade
  • Praia dos Tres Irmaos

And some other places that I couldn’t find on the map ?

Common Dinners and Relaxing Hostels

The four people I was traveling with were Germans. Not trying to be very stereotypical, they had everything thought out. We were visiting supermarkets on our way every day, and before starting to buy something, we were deciding on what we should make for dinner, breakfast and lunch. Then everybody got instructions on what he should buy, and we were ready in 5 minutes.

Every evening, we were making some really good food. Not local, but good. We had pasta vegetables and tomato sauce, rice curry with chicken and pineapple, veggie burgers (better than most meaty ones that I tried)…

Below are the pictures of some of them (sorry for the quality, pics taken from my phone).

Veggie burger in the hostel in Faro
Veggie burger
Wine in the Lagos hostel
Wine and pasta with vegetables

The last hostel, where we stayed in Faro, also had a rooftop terrace. It was called Hostellicious, and its great advantage was being new. So, the staff was glad to help us with anything for good reviews: they recommended best places to go and even lent us a grill. So, we had a nice picnic on the rooftop with grilled meat, vegetables and a (not grilled) salad.

Picnic on the hostel rooftop in Faro
Picnic with grill on the rooftop of our hostel in Faro

Another remarkable place that I would like to mention is the Armona Island close to Faro. This island looks like a skansen with many houses, where supposedly the locals live, but almost no locals. We decided that they are probably vacation houses of some Portuguese or  foreigners working elsewhere.

Beach in Armona island, Portugal trip

There, we rented kayaks for two hours and explored some small canals and bays of the island.

Adventures in Porto

On Friday, it was time to go back to Porto and then Vigo the next day. I didn’t want to leave the warm south for rainy north, but I had no choice.

In Porto, I didn’t book in advance any place to stay, as I wanted to try the last minute booking that I already did once in Porto (January of the same year), and then a place in a hostel cost me just 7 euros per night with breakfast.

But, this time was different…

As it was the period of vacations, all hostels in Porto were fully booked. I checked AirBnB, Booking.com and HostelWorld – nothing. Also, I didn’t have any mobile internet anymore, so the last moment I could surely get WiFi was the Porto airport. Not a problem for me, I still had many options for this night:

  • I texted the Portuguese guys from Blablacar, as they already came back to Porto.
  • I checked Couchsurfing events this evening, and there was one big event with over 30 people attending.
  • I searched for places to leave my luggage. One of them was close to the Pilot design hostel where I stayed before, so I could find it without a map.
  • I looked for the best hostels for solo travelers in Porto to leave my bag, go out with the others until the morning, and then just go directly to the airport, where my bus departed.
  • I found the closest metro station to the best of them (Yes! Porto Hostel), remembered its name and took a screenshot just in case.

I did all this in the airport of Faro, in half an hour just before my flight. When I arrived to Porto, Daniel (from Blablacar) replied and said that they will go to the center later.

So, my plan was to:

  • Go to the metro station close to the Yes Hostel, go to this hostel, ask if they have free places (I didn’t hope much on that), otherwise if they organize a pub crawl or any other events in the hostel, and ask if I can leave my bag there.
  • If not, I would go to my previous hostel (Pilot) and try the same there.
  • Otherwise, leave my bag in the luggage storage close to it and go for the Couchsurfing event.
  • If the guys from there didn’t go out, I’d meet my Portuguese friends somewhere in the center.
  • In the worst case, I’d just go to the airport and stay there until my bus arrives.

So, even without any accommodation, I woudn’t have to spend any time on the street.

Moreover, the first option worked out. I mean, not staying there, as the hostel was full, but going for a pub crawl with them.

It was fun. I came back to the hostel around 5 am, the guy from the reception started talking to me. It was his last day, so he was telling me his plans for the next week. Later, the two Chileans that were with me on the pub crawl came and told the story about a guy in the last bar who didn’t want them to pay for their drinks showing his knife under the jacket, as he thought that they were some ‘Chilean gangsters’, and that’s the way they go to bars.

Still exited, they were telling some stories for another hour. Later, it was time for the receptionist to clean the hostel, and I even helped him to bring some stuff. I left at 7 am wishing him good luck with his endeavor, and went to the airport for my bus.

It was a great trip to Portugal. I’d love to come back to Algarve and visit some other parts of the country that I missed. If you liked this story, you will definitely like the one about my adventures in Valencia.

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