I’m mixing up the order of my posts a little bit because I want to bring you hot off the press content, in addition to wrapping up travel tales that took place last October that I still haven’t gotten around to posting!! I am slightly less ashamed to tell you about our trip to Portugal, because it took place in the beginning of June :) So here are some slightly more timely photos from last month, when Kai and I traveled to Portugal for Kira and Fabian’s wedding!
I was beyond excited for so many things about this trip. Firstly, Kai and I had booked a week of camping on the back of the wedding, so I had a solid 10 days off of work. I also had a work trip to Porto the following week, which meant I would be in Portugal for almost three weeks! I was so excited for sunshine, quality time with Kai, exploring the Algarve for the first time, calling a camper van home, traveling to Porto for the UEFA Nations League Finals for work, and above all, Kira and Fabian’s wedding celebration!
About a year ago, Kira asked me to be in her bridal party, and I was so surprised and honored. I value Kira’s friendship so much, and was SO stoked to be asked to stand by her side on her wedding day :) So as you can imagine, I was bursting with excitement and counting down the days until her big day!
Kai and I flew into Faro on a Wednesday night. We caught a 6pm flight from Amsterdam, which meant that we landed in Portugal around 8pm, and we somehow managed to collect our luggage and car at the airport and arrive in Tavira for dinner by 8.30pm – an early meal time by Portuguese standards but just in time to save our rumbling stomachs!We walked around, feeling cheesy and in love – this would be our only solo vacation as an engaged couple!! We strolled along the main drag, past buskers and a friendly array of restaurants, but turned off the main road in hopes of finding somewhere more ‘local’ to eat at.That’s when we spotted the most gorgeous terrace – drooping greenery, colorful bursts of red, pink, and purple, and a small bamboo table and rattan lamp that completed the dreamy garden vibe! We peaked inside the adjoining door, happy to find that this beaconing terrace did indeed belong to a restaurant! However, it went directly into the kitchen – we had found and totally fallen for the staff’s hang out area! Still on our ‘just arrived on vacation’ high, we asked the server if we could sit out back. He said but of course! and pored us a glass of wine while we waited for the chef to arrive. Vacation mode activated!
A later Google search would reveal that we were at Rive Gauche, a lovely restaurant highly tutted on TripAdvisor for great food and friendly service! I am such a planner, so it is rare that I simply follow an unknown path and wind up dining. But this spot was stellar and definitely convinced me it’s OK to let go of the plan every once in a while ;)At 9pm sharp, we put in our dinner order. I had melon and prosciutto as a starter, and tuna tataki with crispy pan fried potatoes as a main. Can you believe this beautifully cooked plate of seafood was only €14?! The prices in Portugal are so reasonably, especially for seafood :) I love this country!!We somehow managed to finish every bite – it was a fantastic meal with my favorite company under the stars :)
The walk back to our car was also incredibly romantic, with flowing plants and glowing street light making the winding Portuguese side streets look like a movie set!We arrived at the hotel around 10pm, and who were the first people we bumped into?! Fabian, Kira, and her parents in the lobby! Up until that point it had felt like just another Kai and Ali adventure (and don’t get me wrong – these are the best!!) but when we saw Kira and Fabian, the wedding weekend excitement truly started to kick in!! We checked into our room and fell sound asleep – despite the fact that it wasn’t very late, flying had made us feel pretty beat and we had a big day on Thursday!
We woke up the next morning to realize the bride and groom had left the sweetest favor in our room – how beautiful (and delectable!) do these Portuguese tile cookie look?! The day started with a very sweet (first) breakfast :)Our home for the week was Ozadi Tavira Hotel, which had pretty white rooms, a great lunch menu complete with burgers and ceviches, and a pool with an abundance of blooming flowers! We were in wedding weekend heaven!Following our cookie feast, we head to the hotel’s rooftop for some proper food. Watermelon and eggs for me, and allllll the Portuguese pastries for him ;) We wanted to properly fill up before setting out on the day’s adventure – Kira and Fabian had booked a boat for the wedding guests who were already in town! I’m very proud to say that boat planning was actually one of my bridesmaid duties. Kira had asked me to find a fun activity to do with the the wedding guests who were in town on Thursday. I looked into a few different activities, and in the end, an afternoon of sailing around Faro would give us the opportunity to relax, sightsee, and island hop, which sounded idyllic! Thankfully, the weather cooperated and we had blue skies and seas for our boating adventure!We cruised around for a few hours, drinking beer in the sunshine and taking in the scenery.Our first stop of the day was Ilha Do Farol, which was bursting with color. The turquoise sea hues reminded me so much of Mallorca, while the nautical colored fishing boats were reminiscent of Maine.There main draw on the island was a tall, stoic light house. However, the beaches were also incredible and the small, residential paths were lovely to stroll along.We had just enough time to grab a popsicle and walk to the lighthouse, ogling pristine white and pastel colored houses along the way. And of course, stopping for some photos with the bride before departing! Our next stop was Ilha da Fuzeta where we had lunch. After the previous night’s tuna tataki, I was looking forward to seeing what other lush seafood dishes Portugal had to offer.
First, octopus salad and small, sweet prawns were brought to the table for sharing.We each ordered something fresh off of the daily menu, which was popped on a huge grill outside and was charred to perfection in a mix of lemon, butter, and herbs.After the boat, Kai and I returned to Tavira to stroll along the city’s lovely streets in daylight. There are so many wonderful local artisan shops – definitely check out Casa das Portas and Karisma if you’re a fan of Portuguese ceramics and other crafts!That evening, Kai and I had dinner at Come na Gaveta with our friend Erin and her parents. I didn’t snap any photos, but we had some AMAZING Portuguese treats, served in the form of tapas. The octopus balls were stellar, the tuna tartare was to die for, and all of the deserts were well worth feeling stuffed to the brim!
After dinner, we met up with the wedding crew at Santa Lucia Sports Bar. It was a small, unassuming brown pub, but was a great spot to casually met friends who were trickling into town! We didn’t stay out too late, but the drinks were STRONG, and I think we were all feeling a little extra giddy by the time we caught cabs home!!The next day started slow. The bride and groom had arranged yoga at the hotel, which Kai and I passed on in favor of sleeping in! I then had to fulfill my bridesmaid duties and attend the wedding rehearsal :) Leading up to the wedding, Kira had talked about her venue so much, and I loved getting a sneak peek before everyone else and seeing it in person for the first time!! It was so lush and vibrant, with orchards, farm animals, and a huge old barn for the reception – it was a fun morning, and I really enjoyed spending time with just the bridal party for the first time as well!
After the rehearsal, we had a quick lunch by the pool. That afternoon Kira had planned a beach day, so food was a quick pit stop before we hopped back in the car and set out for the sea!I should tell you now that this was no ordinary ‘day before the wedding’ – it was also Kai’s 28th birthday!! So I was stoked that despite all of the wedding madness, I got to spend some quality time with bae at the beach, which is one of our favorite things to do together :DWe had all planned to meet at Praia do Barril, which turned out to be an adventure in itself! In a Whatsapp group with the bridesmaids, one of the girls mentioned that to get to the beach, you had to park the car, walk across a bridge, and then take a train to the beach. I thought it was a type-o, but no, there really was a small train available for those who didn’t want to walk two miles to the beach!So first we walked . . . Then we trained . . . And then we arrived at the beach! We spent the afternoon sipping rose, playing paddle ball, and hanging with friends in the sun! Even though Kai didn’t get to pick what we did that day, I’m pretty sure he would tell you that it was an ideal way to spend the first day of a new year of life!So even though this post is about Kira’s wedding, it’s a little bit for Kai too ;)
We wrapped up the day at the beach as the sun was setting. Kira and Fabian had planned a dinner for all of the wedding guests, so we scurried back to the hotel to change and then had a cozy BBQ celebration on the water!I don’t have any more photos from the wedding or our time in Tavira, as I was on bridesmaid duty . . . so here are some gorgeous snaps of the wedding day from fotolux, Kira’s photography team!
Whew!! What an amazing start to such a fun adventure!! I can’t wait to share the rest of our Portugal photos, but I can honestly tell you that these ones are by far the BEST ones from the trip :D I am so blessed to have such amazing friends, and ones who also love to travel at that!! Stay tuned for more Portuguese adventures, coming soon!