After spending so much of 2017 on my own, I made it a plan in 2018 to build up more of a community in my life again.
I did this in two ways:
- Finding a home base so I didn’t have to live out of a backpack anymore.
- Planning my trips based on which friends I wanted to see and catch up with the most, above seeing as many new countries as possible.
Because I made community such a big focus of 2018, I felt constantly loved, supported, and surrounded by good energy this year.
It was a wonderful year in so many ways. Another year of growth, of nurturing my oldest and newest friendships, and leaning even more into my independence.
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Travel tips for Portugal so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Here are 20 things that surprised me about Portugal!
It’s baffling to me how much of an underrated destination Portugal still is. I only heard countless good things from other travelers before I finally saw it myself, but it still has far less visitors per year than nearby countries, such as Spain, France, and Italy.
Perhaps that’s where its charm lies, however – it’s not overrun by tourism. Although, it’s now starting to get there, with tourists taking over in the summer and swarming to spots like the Algarve, Lisbon, and Porto in recent years.
Because Portugal isn’t at the top of everyone’s list when they visit Europe, I had a narrow view of what to expect from a few select perspectives, all of which said pretty much the same thing: Portugal is the best country in Europe, you’ll never want to leave, etc.
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I arrived back to California a few nights ago and I already feel like a weight has been lifted, as if my shoulders can finally relax from carrying around the backpack that I’ve been living out of for the past 5 and a half years.
Without a doubt, it feels good to be home because I know this is exactly where I want to be right now.
It’s the first time in a long time where I’ve been content to not have any future trips planned at the moment. Mostly, I’m excited that I moved into my new place in San Francisco yesterday and that I’m already starting to set up a more fixed life in the Bay Area.
When I was walking around the city on my first full day back, waves of excitement kept washing over me with the dawning realization that this is my city now. It’s a place that I can start calling home and get to know in a more detailed and nuanced way.
I moved into my sublet on July 1st, signifying the start of my summer and new life in Lisbon. It’s hard to wrap my mind around that only being 4 weeks ago because so much has happened this month.
I’ve settled nicely into my life in Portugal, although I would by lying if I didn’t say that there are quite a few things that have surprised me about this country – both good and bad.
I knew within about 2 weeks of living here that it’s not a place that I’d want to live longterm, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here as a temporary expat.
Just as soon as I started getting used to life in the UK, I found myself on a plane to Portugal mid-month to immerse myself in a new language and culture completely.
You would think after all my years of travel I would have little to no culture shock by now when arriving in new places, but I always forget how challenging the first couple weeks can be in a new country, especially non-English speaking ones, and especially when you plan to live there for awhile (i.e. you’re not just a tourist).
On a whim, I decided to base myself in Porto for a week and a half before my friend Adi from San Francisco arrived at the end of June, and before my sublet started in Lisbon at the beginning of July.
Porto was a good start to my summer in Portugal (partly because it included a lot of wine tasting!), and I’m glad I was able to enjoy a northern city before settling down for awhile in Lisbon.
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My picks for the most peaceful places around London, to find a slice of solitude without ever having to leave the city.
London is a city of many talents. Its draw is its mind-boggling variety – the endless options for restaurants, attractions, bars, and events at any time of the day, week, or year. It’s the epicenter of the UK, and a consistent contender for the most popular city in Europe (a regular battle with Paris for that title most years).
However, the constant hustle and bustle can be as exhausting as it is invigorating. The beeping horns, loud sirens, the pollution, mad drivers that are always in a rush to be somewhere.
It’s hard to find stillness in a city of 8.1 million. And stillness is simply not the vibe of London. Its intoxicating atmosphere is one of constant movement, everyone seems to have a part to play as the Londoner who has places to be and no time to waste.
It’s hard to believe that it was just the beginning of May that I was still stateside. It feels like I’ve been away much longer, mostly because I’ve done a lot in the past few weeks, adventuring to Iceland, Scotland, and England.
The month started with a round of goodbyes in California. I had a night out for my going away drinks in San Francisco, and saw some of my closest California-based friends before I took off for expat life again.
Before the second week of May, I was on a plane with my friend Urvi to explore Iceland for a week. The country was even more awe-inspiring and understated than I thought it would be. It’s a place I could see myself coming back to regularly.
The rest of the month was spent in the UK, in England and Scotland.
You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. // Miriam Adeney
I’m currently on a train in Scotland, rolling through the lush green countryside. There are deep blue-grey lochs on my left and clean white light filtering through the many windows in my car.
This is my life, or at least it has been for the past 5 years. I somehow find myself in the most beautiful places, usually by myself, or all to myself, if you frame it that way.
It’s my 28th birthday this Saturday. The past years have been a whirlwind of travel memories, some of my strongest friendships, losses, and countless new beginnings.
Fun things to do in Budapest, Hungary – from a local perspective.
The Atlas Heart is a place to find the best local experiences in cool cities around the world, and to throw out misconceptions we might have about other cultures. With this in mind, I sometimes seek out other perspectives on this blog to help with a more layered view of the world.
Today, Katie Matthews from ‘Where to Stay in Budapest’ shares her picks for the best local experiences to have in Budapest, Hungary – a city she has been living in for the past 15 months.
My goal in the next year is to travel to a select few places, to see if I could actually set up a base there.
This is what I found in Brussels.
Last year, I wrote a post about how I’m ready to find a home base, where I can have a proper community again and a life that’s not only about travel. I want to be able to have a sense of home to come back to.
I’ve also realized as a writer and entrepreneur, I can’t be a full time traveler and do all the things I want to do for my business. I can’t keep growing at the rate I want, and I no longer want to feel stagnant. Thus, I’m finally ready to find a stable place from which to work remotely and to start setting down some roots.
In being as transparent as possible on this blog, I want to take you along on this journey through a series of posts about finding my idea of home, and what that ends up meaning to me.