Category Archives: Travel with Katie

Every adventure I have whether on day trips around the UK to amazing experiences abroad.

Yoga in Bulgaria & Yoga Thoughts

yoga in Shpika, Bulgaria
It’s been a short while since I’ve posted anything on this blog that is yoga related and about my own personal yoga journey. I felt like I just wanted to share with you a few photos from my time in Bulgaria practicing some yoga whilst we were on day trips as well as some thoughts and life reflections I have already been discussing with my partner. First of all, I don’t know if you have noticed but I am a lot calmer than I used to be. In previous posts and in articles I was a woman ablaze with anger seeking justice and respect for my life choices whilst encouraging others to stand up for what they believe in too. But now I am beginning to see the fruits of my labour and people can see all my hard work is slowly paying off, the critics have nothing to be critical about and so I am left in peace to do what I want and it feels marvelous to explore my life without feeling weighed down by judgement. I personally detest unwanted meddling masked as advice, I enjoy constructive feedback when I ask the person I feel is appropriate for the advice but other than that I’m extremely headstrong and will reject opinions I never wanted in the first place, which can make me appear rude and abrupt to the person who is rudely telling me how to live my life (without my consent) Oh the Irony!

I personally don’t understand the need to be negative and critical of others, to me its a waste of good energy and really emphasizes how mean an individual is at their core and then I question why that person ended up like this? A kind of bitter resentment for their own life that they have to crap on other’s choices and journeys?
traveling yogi, Buzludzha

“…Even Patanjali understood that the human brain does not compute negative instructions or negativity in general and so in his teachings of the yoga sutras he doesn’t bother with any form of negativity at all. In the world we live in, there is a huge emphasis on criticism, but yoga and yoga philosophy does not bother with that and Patanjali’s yoga sutras has a complete lack of negative construction because he believed in the power of building people up, not knocking them down. The Yoga Sutras encourage us to have awareness, be mindful and allow ourselves to deploy energy and resources skillfully. The Yamas and Niyamas are active principles that can help us in our daily life to foster harmony, cohesion and integration in all we do…”– James Boag, Spectrum Magazine 2017.

So with that in mind, my partner and I have been discussing the near future together (no we are not engaged). We love traveling, he loves working on his travel photography and videography and I want to have the freedom to teach wherever I want, I don’t want to be confined to work like the part time retail job I have now, it’s suffocating me, one work colleague once said to me “You are not like the rest of us, you can’t live in a cage”. I’ve made the decision to go and do a 200hr yoga teacher training with either Samma Karuna in Koh Phangan Thailand because they offer a discount on the training if you do a month of seva yoga with a charity associated with them or Sadhana yoga school in Bali because they offer scholarships to those with low incomes (and I fall in that category) and then eventually go on to specialize in Yin Yoga and Thai Yoga Massage. This will be a slow process because I really don’t earn much, but I have hope, patience and an Oxen-like determination.
dancer pose shipka church, Bulgaria

People can criticize me all they want for my decision, I am OK with it now, I realize their negativity is deep rooted and a projection of their own ideas of how the world works, it’s their illusion. I also choose to be positive & proactive because I know I have good intentions and I am a humanitarian, this decision to do these trainings goes beyond myself, I can’t be an activist who is part of the global change if I am stuck serving selfish consumers throwing tantrums because the product they want is not in stock, if I stayed in that reality for the sake of comfort, pleasing the critics and money; my soul’s purpose will be wasted. Something bigger than me is gently pushing me to do great things, to teach others there is more to life than the lies the media spoon feeds us, to be of service in schools, youth centres, refugee camps, homeless shelters and perhaps even the NHS? I have so much to offer because I have a big heart, pure intentions and now I acknowledge my self worth so I am actively giving myself the unconditional love I deserve and as my Nanna used to say “You can’t love others until you love yourself first.”

Everything I have done up to this point has been with love. I created this blog from the ground up out of love for many things, I worked my butt off in a part time retail job to fund my studies and training so I can have skills and build a career I love, I’ve saved money in order to travel, not for the sake of holidays but to learn about other cultures, I’ve written articles for the love of writing and sharing knowledge and I am now teaching workshops because I love helping people and being a bridge who can guide them to love themselves and I want to continue being a vessel of love and grow as a person in order to cultivate more love to share and if critics have a problem with that I’m just going to carry on being me, that’s all I can do to counteract the pessimism. And I will go on proving that living a life of love and integrity feels far better than living a gloomy life of resentment, jealousy, boredom and cynicism.
yoga Bulgaria, wanderlust, tefl teacher

So right now in my life I can now say with pride that I am a fully qualified TEFL tutor specializing in teaching English to young learners as well as Teaching English online and I am also a kids YogaDance teacher, with skills in leading arts & craft sessions too. In a few weeks time I will be a Teen yoga teacher also, I have worked so hard to get to this point in my life and the next step is bringing it all together and being given the opportunity to work abroad. If a language school, summer camp or family retreat centre/studio/tour company in Bulgaria are interested in hiring me please visit my contact page or email me.
I am also interested in working in Cyprus (because I have lived there before), Greece, Spain, Portugal, Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam and Bali.
I am well traveled, please take a look at my TripAdvisor page to see I have bundles of Wanderlust.
Otherwise you can follow me on my facebook page or Instagram.
yoga teacher, traveling yoga teacher, tefl teacher

I Dream of a Place…

Bulgaria, living abroad, dreaming
Being back from Bulgaria and reflecting on all the traveling I’ve done these past few years has really made me think clearly about the life I want. I know most people come back from holiday with the blues and the stress of going back to work but my sadness runs much deeper. I genuinely dislike coming back to the UK and its because I know in my heart I do not belong in that culture at this time in my life, maybe I’ll feel settled in Britain in the later years?

The moment I woke up the first morning in Bulgaria and I felt the warmth of the sun kiss my skin, the freshness of water melon upon my lips and the creak of the old wooden floorboard upon my bare feet, I was in heaven. I felt alive.
There is a deep yearning within me that wishes to live in a place that has a gentle atmosphere to its way of living, with a soft spiritual undertone. I dream of a place where I live in a simple abode near the sea or surrounded by never-ending woodland on the fringe of a small town. Of I place where I wake up and I don’t feel cold or damp and constantly need to wear slippers to keep my toes warm. Of a place that actually smells and sounds delicious.
I dream of a place where the fireflies sparkle at night and the wolves howl at the moon from a distance. Where the crickets sing and I watch bumblebees leisurely slurp nectar from flowers.

Whenever I go on a trip, it’s not just to relax and forget my stresses back in the UK, Jon & I actually research the country and it’s towns we visit to see if it could be called home? We even look at what properties are available in local estate agents and we weigh up the pros and cons of the location’s lifestyle, so far we’ve both agreed that Pokhara, Nepal is our favourite location to possibly live, in the future. I know people who live abroad and (for example) teach English online to earn money, who run tours and workshops, one friend on a whim went to work in a yoga studio in Portugal for a year and before that she was teaching SUP Yoga in Australia. I have read an article of a man leaving behind his horrible job as electrician for street lights in which he’d spend the cold winter months in rain jackets fixing lampposts on a meager wage to now running his own small boat cruises in Spain and being financially comfortable. The concept of having a job and working is changing and many jobs can be done wherever in the world. I know graphic designers who work from home, as do HR business assistants and even beauty therapists who’ve converted a room in their house into a small salon/therapy room. So, ‘home’ as well as ‘work’ can be ANYWHERE you want it to be!

The realization that living abroad is actually a possibility for me makes me happy. I just need to do my Teen yoga teacher training this August and get a few belly dance and kids yoga classes done to boost my resume then I think I need to take the risk. I want to experience drinking coconut milk from an actual coconut, to wade in the sea with manta rays, to learn new tribal dances from the locals, to slowly learn their language and read a book on a hammock right on the beach as I eat healthy, locally grown produce. To sit on the beach and not feel a chill in the air, to see the sea shimmer Bioluminescent waves created by blue algae and to be greeted by hummingbirds or exotic looking parrots on my balcony in the mornings would just be pure bliss to me.

To also be in a place that doesn’t treat me like a weirdo for my spirituality. Bali for example has this beautiful, feminine spirituality in its culture. They have small temples in their gardens dedicated to spirit guardians of the home and you have to honour them with flowers and food. How beautiful is that? I want to be in a place where I’m treated like I’m normal for talking about the chakras, moon blessings and dream interpretations.

I don’t need a big fancy house that’s worth a lot of money when I die or a luxury car and a massive paycheck every month. I just want to enjoy what I do (most of the time- no job is perfect), be financially comfortable, live simply and humbly, be as Eco-friendly as possible, travel as much as I can and love every moment that I’m alive and experiencing amazing things.

I dream of teaching English perhaps in a local Thai school as well as teach belly dance and yoga classes or retreats on the side.
Jon dreams of working on his travel photography, create videos of his explorations and perhaps run photography tours around the country we have chosen to settle in whilst continuing his freelance work as a commercial photographer for brands. And we don’t have to do any of this in the UK.

My mum always says “What is meant for you, will never go past you.”
So we shall see if we can manifest this life for ourselves, even if it’s only short lived, I’d love to be able to say “I did that.” and one day tell stories to my Grandchildren of all my adventures!

Portugal, the Algarve: Lagos

Lagos
we stayed over night in a hotel in Portimao instead of heading back to Faro so that we could catch an hour long train journey to Lagos. The main reason we wanted to venture here was for the cliff side walk which makes this part of Portugal famous. The coastlines here are breathtaking and another destination to put on your bucket list.
Lagos is probably our favourite place during our stay and we both said we could live here, although we have no idea what the high season is like however it did appear less commercialized than Portimao.

Lagos town has quaint shops and your usual souvenir stores alongside cobbled streets and beautiful architecture, it had a sleepier aura than the high rise resort complexes of Portimao. First we ventured to a local fish market to see the locals doing what they do best. The Portuguese are renowned fishermen throughout history, hence the reason why so much of their murals depict sea goddesses and mermaids on stone walls and I am pretty sure they have their fair share of pirate tales too!
Lagos is a harbour town so there are all kinds of fish on the menus of all restaurants, we stepped into a local fish market and found it intriguing because there was an array of fish, squid, crab and octopus plus this is their livelihood and it’s good to be involved in another culture somehow, it was also great for Jon’s photography, capturing a small glimpse into how people live in a different culture.

visit Lagos

attractions in Lagos

the beauty of Lagos

After a spot of lunch in the town square we ventured to the coastal walk. This walk takes about four hours and takes you along a coastal path to view the beautiful rock formations looking out to sea. Very similar tour to the cave tour in Portimao, only this time it’s on land and on foot.

This walk is great for advanced trekkers and beginners alike, children can do this walk and if you have a dog, bring him along too! I will mention though, sometimes there are steps and uphill walking so if you struggle with leg, knee or back problems do some more research before you decide on this walk. It is reasonably gentle but it does take you away from civilization at times so do carry snacks and water as well as sun lotion. There are pit stops in between where you can buy refreshments or stop at a restaurant for a hearty meal.

things to do in the Algarve

Algarve sight seeing

Algarve holidays

coastal walks in Lagos

rock formations in Lagos


The cliff walk known as the Ponta da Piedade is a must for every visitor of the algarve and one of the most frequented hotspots in this area. the best time to go there is in the early morning or in the late afternoon for the sunset. This is an easy walkable path between the big rocks which bring you down winding pathways to breathtaking coves, grottos and beaches peppered with golden rock formations and the crystal blue sea. The panoramic view is extraordinary so brilliant for photography enthusiasts. This coastline feels very exotic and tropical, you’d think you are in the Maldives. Organised boat trips are available in lagos a few kilometers from Ponte da Piedade, the price depends on the season and the number of people in one boat though. Jon and I did this walk on foot as we are avid walkers anyway, since the weather is glorious it made sense to be in the fresh air and take a leisurely stroll along the footpaths as the sun slowly set.

Portugal

mini break in Portugal

mini break in the Algarve


Even in December this place is stunning, although very early in the morning there was a huge down pour and thunderstorm we very nearly cancelled coming to Lagos because I had accidentally left my rain coat back in the hotel in Faro with my main backpack. After an hour of breakfast and a cup of tea, the storm cleared and by 10am all the clouds disappeared to make way for the sunshine. You wouldn’t think it ever rained would you? Unlike the UK which remains damp hours after a rain storm, the Algarve was warm and dry within an hour.

We walked the entire point along the cliff top paths, including going down to all of the beaches on the east side that we could. One of them (possibly Praia Camilo) has 233 steps down to get to the beach (and 233 steps back up!) At the point itself, go down the stairs to see the rock formations. I think “in season”, there may be boats that load up here to take you on a tour, but in mid-December, it was deserted, with just a few other walkers like us.
On the east side of the point, there are stunning views of the Lagos Bay and as far as the Cape Carvoeiro lighthouse. On the west side, you can see the beach at Porto do Mos, and the cliffs and bays to Praia de Luz and beyond.

coastal walking in the Algarve


As stated earlier, Lagos is a firm favourite and we would venture back here to do the coastal walk again perhaps when the weather is hotter, going to the Algarve in December does have its merits in that we pretty much had most places to ourselves (bar the locals) however we only had some kind of warmth from the sun between 11am and 4pm, sunrise and sunset was a tad chilly, but bearable if you take a jumper and raincoat. I would like to revisit this place during the summer so that I can enjoy walking around in my summer dresses, harem pants and bikini.
There are other parts of the Algarve yet to be explored and it is a destination I do hope to go back to, perhaps run a yoga and belly dance retreat there? Who knows? All I do know is that the Algarve took my breath away!
This concludes my time in the Algarve,
to see the other destinations we visited click on the links below:
One day in Faro & chapel of bones
One day at the Pink Palace
One day in Portimao

Here are a few other destinations you might like to read about:
16 days in Morocco
10 days in Croatia & Montenegro
21 days in Nepal
5 days in Budapest & Vienna

Portugal, the Algarve: Portimão

Portimao
To have a whole day in Portimao (during winter with less hours of sun) we were up very early to catch the first morning train. I think we were up at 6am to be at the station by 6:30am and on the train at 6:45am. We decided to book an overnight stay in an apartment in Portimao since we planned to visit Lagos for our last day and so it saved us from going back to Faro only to board an even longer train journey to Lagos. Getting on a train in Portugal is very easy, much like the UK, you just turn up and buy a ticket.

We arrived in Portimao at about 9am which is perfect timing since all the businesses were getting ready for the day. We opted to find our hotel first in order to leave some of our things in our room. We were a little bit disappointed with the weather because rain was to be expected and I forgot to bring my rain coat. From sunrise until 11am I was cold and felt a bit damp but I didn’t let it bother me too much since how many people have opportunities like this, to travel and enjoy another culture? The weather was expected to clear up later in the day and Jon bought me a breakfast burger to cheer me up!

algarve

Portugal

visit the algarve

visit Portugal

holiday in Portimao

holiday in Portugal

holiday in the Algarve
Walking around the main city centre and the promenade, Portimao felt like a ghost town, not only because of the weather so the locals weren’t out but also because there were no tourists. The shops were geared up for the tourists with souvenirs galore but it was just too blustery and wet to want to sight see. We did venture into a beautiful church, largely to have some warmth but also because in this part of Portimao there isn’t much to do or see.
The main reason why we were in Portimao is for the boat tour to see the caves, so we ventured back to the promenade by 10am and a thought struck me: “Jon, the weather is bad, it’s December, it’s the off season and it’s deserted, do you think maybe tour companies won’t be operating this time of year?” Jon replied “Fuck….We’ve come all this way for nothing, there is literally nothing else to do in Portimao, the caves are the main attraction.”

For some weird reason though, Jon decided this wasn’t it, it can’t be the end! He made me walk along a dirt track route just off the main road to get to another part of Portimao. By this point the rain cleared and it was getting hot so I took my woolly jumper off. After about 45 minutes of walking we came to another dock which looked more glamorous, which included stunning boats and cute cuboid holiday apartments which then opened up to a huge white sand beach, hotel complexes and resorts! Whoa! I was so happy I skipped like a lamb onto the sand. This, is what we wanted to see in Portimao! The typical postcard photo of sun, sand and sea. I was just so happy to feel the warmth on my skin and to play in the sand.

Algarve tours

Algarve holidays

visiting the Algarve

beaches of the Algarve

beaches in Portugal
Nearly all the tour huts were closed up and our hearts sank, however walking closer to them, by some miracle we saw one was open! The owner was nowhere to be seen yet he’d left a leaflet stating his next tour would be in an hour up a river to visit a local village, our hearts sank again because we wanted to see the caves! Jon plucked up the courage to ring the owner to inquire about a cave tour and because we were the only tourists around that day, the captain cancelled the village tour and was willing to take us to the caves! It was our own private tour!

This is probably not the best time to go see the caves, with it being winter over here (although much more pleasant weather than the UK), the sea was very chaotic and we went as the tide was getting higher. It was our only option since rain was expected later in the afternoon. Even though it was a bit choppy, captain Miguel told us it was still safe to visit the caves, however later in the day would have been dangerous. So we took a chance because we might never come back here again. Life jackets on and a safety talk from Miguel and we were off!


Our entire tour took about 3 hours and because we were the only tourists that day he did take us to other caves not usually on the itinerary partially because with only two people on board (and no kids) he could take us where he pleased and partially he probably felt bad for us because of the weather and wanted us to have a special experience regardless. During the summer months the seas are a lot calmer and tour companies offer full day trips with lunch included or afternoon trips that last about 4 hours long so do research what you’d prefer on your tour.

Due to the weather being choppy and high tide approaching, we were unable to go right inside some of the caves as we didnt want our boat to crash into the craggy rocks and there were moments where I wondered if our captain should have taken us out or not since our boat was being thrown from one wave to another, it wasn’t sailing it was bouncing on the rolling water! I thought “Any minute now this boat is going to capsize and I don’t fancy being pulled out to sea!” However the caves we did get to visit were awe inspiring and our captain mentioned how he used to spend evenings in them with his friends when he was a kid, I was envious that he had such a free childhood, all I had was a local park and sofas I’d turn into forts but to live in a place where nature provides havens for children to explore sounds like a dream.


The caves are made of sandstone and are easily corroded by the sea, you can see pockmarks from the salt erosion making the surfaces look like sponge. The rocks also change colour depending on the light. At times they look golden, then brown, grey, orange or slightly red, it really is beautiful to see up close.
There are some caves with small sandy coves on them, tourists are not allowed to leave their boats to venture on the sands for environmental and safety reasons, you have to remain on your boat at all times which is a shame for Jon as he wanted to snap some beautiful photography.

Benagil sea cave exploration is a little hidden gem in the Algarve and also includes a lovely fish restaurant during the high season once your tour has finished which has been highly recommended by other tourists for a spot of lunch.
We’ve never been on a sea cave tour so this was a highlight of our little holiday and we were so glad we were able to do it even though it seemed fate was against us, by some magic we found the main beach and Miguel happened to be working that day. I highly recommend his tours, visit his facebook page here: Allarade
Jon read somewhere that visiting these caves was a top attraction to see before you die so it feels great to actually see and tick it off our bucket list. It really is a magical thing to see, even on a day with changeable weather, the caves were still glorious!


For us, Portimao is not a favourite place in the Algarve because the huge hotel complexes ruin it however it’s stunning beach and cave tours make up for the overt tourism and I do highly recommend you include a cave tour whilst on your holiday in this part of Portugal. I’d say perhaps stay in Faro or Lagos as your main base but head out to Portimao for a day trip if you prefer quieter holidays. We were lucky that we went in the off season because we had the beach (and boat) all to ourselves, but I don’t want to imagine how horrible Portimao looks during peak season with huge herds of sun burnt tourists and their bratty children clogging up the beach but then that might be someone else’s idea of a great holiday? If you like package, all inclusive holidays where you spend your days lounging on the beach every day then Portimao is for you but if you are a culture vulture like me and you happen to be based in Portimao there are hidden gems in neighbouring areas like quaint fishing villages and walking tours available too but we didn’t have time to explore further afield. Portimao can be lovely if you go during the shoulder seasons (late spring or early autumn).

Missed other write ups about the Algarve? Visit them here:
Faro and the chapel of bones
The Pink Palace

If you wish to read about other travel destinations, click on the links below.
Morocco for 16 days
Croatia/Montenegro for 10 days
Hungary/Vienna for 5 days
Nepal for 21 days
The UK wherever whenever day trips.

Portugal: The Algarve, Pousada Palacio de Estoi

the pink palace Estoi
We very nearly didn’t go here because even though it had rave reviews, Jon took one look at the site via google results and thought “why would I want to just see this building and there isn’t much to see in the local village either.” On the second day of Faro we knew we were to spend our third day in Portimao and our fourth day in Lagos but couldn’t really think of anything to do in the present moment. After doing a bit of shopping in Faro for his mum’s birthday present we decided to venture to the Pink Palace in Estoi as something to do and to pass the time. It did not disappoint and in fact surprised us. It is actually a very interesting place to visit and is now one of my top attractions I recommend you see when traveling. The photos on the internet do not do it justice, it’s a really unusual palace now turned hotel and if you are a lover of that Greco-roman mythology and style, then you’ll fall in love with this place because it is swimming in statues of mermaids, goddess depictions and mosaics, it even houses a shrine dedicated to Venus (goddess of love) and Diana (goddess of the moon and hunting). The hotel has one grand room and main garden open to the public, the rest of it’s quarters are private unless you want to pay a fee to stay there.

pink palace, Portugal

visit Portugal

things to see in the Algarve

things to do in the Algarve

Portuguese

Portugal holiday

holiday in Portugal

visit the pink palace

Pousada Palacio
We went to the Pink Palace just before sunset, arriving at the main entrance at about 3pm, as tourists we could just walk straight through the main reception, the staff there are pleasant and very helpful. The pink palace was built by an Algarvian Aristocrat in 1840, in Esto which is a small village east of Faro. It takes about 15 minutes by taxi to get here and a little longer by local bus. For ages this beautiful building seemed destined to fall to ruin however in 2009 it was restored to its former glory as a luxury, historical hotel. It is extremely popular for weddings and honeymoons.

I’m not usually a fan of the colour pink however it brings out that romantic, renaissance feeling with this elegant building. It feels like the creator was in touch with their feminine and even spiritual side and perhaps like many world heritage buildings it was built as a dedication to a woman he loves? The soft pink hues, the sensual statues, the curves of building, feels like it was made with love.

beautiful rococo style

goddess Aphrodite

mermaid statues

goddess Venus

erotic art

erotic paintings

Portuguese art

Algarve holiday

mini break in the Algarve

Pousada Palacio de Estoi
The palace was begun in the Rococo style, funded by gold from Brazil – then part of Portugal’s empire. Some of the other rooms were added later, and have a little less elegance (but not a lot less!). During the 18th century it was the summer showpiece palace for the Royal Family, and so was built to impress. Unlike Versailles, it has a lot of the original furniture in suit.

The palace is not well known, but it is a gem. We were here during the off season in December so it was wonderfully deserted with the exception of a few business men. It is free to enter the grounds open to the public and there is also a bar and restaurant if you fancied splashing your cash on lunch and a light beverage.


My favorite part of this place was the secret shrine, hidden slightly underneath the hotel. You have to walk through the main garden, down some steps and walk a little bit down a large drive-way flanked by trees only to turn back to face the hotel to see the shrine being enveloped by the stairs you’ve walked down. It wasn’t something mentioned when we did research on the internet so it was a wonderful to discover this gem as I am really fascinated by the gods and goddesses of ancient mythology. Upon entering you see a water fountain and water pouring out of Pan’s mouth. It feels like a womb space, surrounded by cave-like rock formations, hand painted tiles and statues of Diana and Venus on either side of you. It felt like I had gone back in time and that I had stumbled upon a very mystical place. I dropped a penny in the fountain and made a wish to the universe.
Another favourite part of the pink palace was the little, naughty summer cottage in the far right of the garden. It’s a very bright and airy space possibly used to shade yourself from the midday heat with your love. The paintings on the walls are erotic with humans embracing animals, fauns looking up ladies dresses and couples kissing. Anybody who knows me, knows I adore researching erotica through out history, it was my main theme at university and I love classy, erotic art and photography. It was a lovely little shock to finish the exploration of the Pousada Palacio.


Pousada Palacio is a place of beauty and prestige. It was particularly magnificent during sunset because the orange rays seems to make the pink hues glow with a loving radiance. This palace was definitely a devotion to love and sensuality and it makes sense if it was inspired by Venus (the goddess of love) and also to the wild sensuality of the sea, and with mermaids and fish painted everywhere. I’d visit here again, it took my breath away, I’d get married here!

If you missed my Faro write up, click here.
If you wish to read about other travel destinations, click on the links below.
Morocco for 16 days
Croatia/Montenegro for 10 days
Hungary/Vienna for 5 days
Nepal for 21 days
The UK wherever whenever day trips.