A post two years in the making

Brené Brown talks a lot about being vulnerable and open-hearted. It’s an essential practice to cultivate when you want to make “daring greatly” a part of who you are and how you show up in the world.

I couldn’t agree more. See, this post (and the trip I took that inspired it) has really been two years in the making.

For the past two years, there has been a lot of loss and upheaval in my life. Through it all, I’ve shown up and held my business down. But, I want to be vulnerable with you, Reader, and tell you: it hasn’t been easy. And I am burnt out.

Maybe you’ve had this feeling before. Maybe you’re going through it now. If you are, I want to tell you something:
You are not alone. And, there is a way “out” — the way out is through.

For me, getting through it meant taking a solo trip.

Usually, people reach out when their nerves and heart is as frayed as mine. But, I thought, let’s flip the script. I actually just want to be quiet and alone. There’s a weird avoidance going on in our culture to being “alone” — apparently, it’s painful and you want to avoid it at all costs.

Untrue. There’s a difference between being isolated (which is unhealthy) and reveling in quiet solitude. My trip to Portugal is about the latter… Needless to say, I learned some life lessons and had a few days of essential quiet time.

While I’ve been to Toronto a few times, hopping “across the pond,” as they call it, felt way more transformative. After a while, North American cities tend to blur together. But Europe…well Europe is different and distinctive and I craved a change of scenery. And man, oh man, did I get it!

Solo travel means, among other things, the freedom to have my own schedule. I woke up when I wanted and went where my heart took me. (The only tough part about being alone was opening a bottle of wine, which I don’t normally do.) Aside from that, I was able to do everything I wanted with ease. It was glorious!

My destination was the Algarve region of Portugal, which is in the south. I first landed in Lisbon with a long layover, so I popped out of the airport for a few hours to walk around and experience the city. I took the metro to one part of town to find a vegan restaurant. It was closed when I arrived, so I wandered around the busy streets for a bit, and found this gorgeous scene.

I became obsessed with that purple tree, which I found everywhere!

After a delicious lunch, back to the airport for my flight south to find my Airbnb in Olhão.

Olhão is a little fishing town, which was perfect. I had learned a little Portuguese, but there were enough tourists that everyone spoke English.

From Olhão, I could go anywhere I wanted. I took a ferry out to the beach on Armona Island. One day, I took the train to Portimão to go kayaking in sea caves!

A few years ago, I went kayaking in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was a magical, life-changing experience, so I made sure to find another opportunity to kayak on open water. This kayaking trip in Portugal was so fun! The guides hooked up all the kayakers in a long train of boats and towed us out of the harbor. I was in the back and got splashed and bounced around like a kid on an inner tube behind a speed boat, but I loved every minute of it!

At night, I would make my pasta dinner with fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market, and eat dinner on my balcony.

Then, I would stroll through the streets, looking at the shops and listening to music pour out of bars. I stopped and had a good chat with the moon (more about that soon).

Follow me on Instagram @terramilo for more pics of this amazing adventure.

Would I travel alone again? Yes! (In fact, I might just say, it’s the only way to travel :p) Would you? Share your solo travel stories with me in the comments below.