Exploring Lisboa

I have to say Lisbon wasn’t on my top places to visit until very recently…mainly when I discovered it was one of the most consistently warm places in Europe and I had a Hen Do to plan! I didn’t think much of it. I just thought of it as “just another city” and oh man, was I wrong! I think I fell in love the second I got a taxi from the airport. I don’t normally get a taxi from the airport but the three bridesmaids were waiting for me to arrive so I wanted to get there ASAP. A quick note on that, if you can book a taxi in advance, I ended up waiting for about 15 minutes. And yes, at this point I realised it would have been quicker to get the metro but we live and learn.20170430_130655.jpgIn the morning, I popped down the road and get some freshly made pastries to take back to the apartment and all the girls. I did take a mini detour as it was so quiet I couldn’t resist seeing the Arco da Rua Augusta and Terreiro do Paço empty! Though it’s beautiful at anytime of day it’s great to see it so early. I would recommend getting up early on one of your days just to see the city in silence – there really is something beautiful about it.IMG-20170502-WA0044I love to walk (something my family still can’t believe having ones loathed it!) so I organised a good walk around the city. Starting at Carmo Convent, which is ruin of a church. Founded in 1389 it was the largest church in Lisbon but in 1755, an earthquake off the coast of Portugal caused significant damage. Today, it is a roofless nave open to the heavens, a gorgeous piece of history. The square on which it looks on to, Largo do Carmo, has some great little bars so we grabbed a seat, quite literally pulling them into the sun and some sangria – after all when in Lisboa… It was lovely just to sit, chat and watch people coming and going, a mixture of tourists and locals. IMG-20170729-WA0019Not long after we headed up to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, the gardens to Palacio Foz. They have the prettiest views! When we arrived there was a little market going on with food, drink and knick-knacks. It was incredibly touristy but still nice to look round and grab some food. It was so cheap! A massive ham and cheese sandwich with a beer for €5! Plus it tasted fantastic!IMG-20170502-WA0036After a nice chilled out lunch looking over Lisbon we headed on to Park Bar…it was pretty cool. Again touristy – but let’s be honest all rooftop bars are but we all still love them. Park is located on top of a multi-story car park. They don’t take reservations and they make it super clear that they don’t!! It was packed but we managed to squeeze onto a table! It overlooks the city, the river and the bell tower of Santa Catarina. It’s safe to say it was pretty spectacular. The booze wasn’t actually too pricey either and guess what, we had sangria!! Have you noticed a pattern here, views and booze.Screenshot_20170729-113747After a while we left to continue walking around the city. It is just beautiful to meander around, to look up, all the different tiles, the different floors, something different on every street. This is why I fell in love. It was genuinely such a gorgeous city. At this point though we realised were reminded as to why Lisbon is known for its seven hills…our calves were definitely feeling it! We headed back to our apartment to relax, shower and play some hen do games. Check out my blog here if you are looking for inspiration on Hen Do Activities. After much squealing, laughing and drinking we headed out. Drinking out was good fun, there is so many places to explore. Head over to FXFactory where there is a lot going on.Screenshot_20170729-113937The following morning a couple of us walked up to Castelo de S. Jorge. A Moorish Castle, approximately 1500 years old, with parts of the structure being built in the 6th Century! Though we didn’t realise you had to pay so we abandoned that and got Pastéis de Nata from Nata Lisboa which I have to say are a must! They were incredible. I want to move to Lisbon just for these!20170430_125626-e1501325157447.jpgJust around the corner from here is the best wine and food tasting! It worked out at about €35 pp. With this you got a bottle of red, white and wait for it…port…between…FOUR people!! Not just the the food was great and the service even better! We were there for about 2 and a half hours just taking it all in.IMG-20170502-WA0069Make sure you check out “Time Out Market”. It opened in May 2014, and has 35 kiosks selling regional specialities, such as Azeitão sheep’s cheese, flowers, Alentejo ham, sardines, wines and chocolates. Grab some food, some souvenirs (note – you can’t take sardines in your hand luggage, apparently they are classed as a liquid!) and take a load off your feet!

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There was still so much to see! I want to head back just to wonder down the small streets, take it all in all over again.

 

 

Planning a Hen Do!

I had the great experience of helping to plan my Big Sister’s Hen Do. I was so excited when she asked me to be her bridesmaid but the thought of planning a Hen Do made me nervous, like really nervous! Who do you invite? What should we do? Where should we go? So this is my mini guide for all those out there having the same stresses as me.


Talk to the Bride

The best place to start is to talk to the Bride – it is her day (or weekend) after all! Find out what she would like and go from there. Some people want a lots of classic hen do things (talking willies everywhere), some people don’t want any of that and other will want a combo of the two. It’s hard when you fall into one category but the Bride another. Obviously bring some of your own personality to it too, otherwise it will end up feeling very forced but not just that you won’t enjoy yourself either. The main thing is though, don’t force the Bride to do anything they won’t like. 


Guest List

Also get the Bride to do up a guest list!! Don’t guess as you never know you might miss someone off or invite someone they aren’t that close to anymore! Either way make sure you get that list very early on. In fact, pester the Bride until you do and don’t start any major planning until you know. If you’ve got a group coming from all over check everywhere flights/trains to that location or make sure people can drive to it. Pick a location and give everyone an idea. We planned for the most number of people but made sure that if X number of people couldn’t make it it would still be affordable for everyone else.


Pick your location

This is hard, but hopefully your Bride will give you an idea of what she wants. My Sister was after sun and relaxation. So as she lives in the UK that meant time to head abroad, as, let’s be honest the UK isn’t the sunniest. We went off to the amazing Lisbon! It was perfect for what we were after, sun, scenery and lots of bars and restaurants to choose from. We were able to get an AirBnB big enough to fit us all in and still have space to hang out and play games. Now that leads me on to the next point…


Games

I was feeling uncomfortable about thinking of games to play – remember it’s my big sister’s hen do, not a friends. I was lucky enough though to be planning with one of her best friends! She came up with some amazing ones, here they are so you don’t have to worry about thinking of things to do:

Pass the Parcel – instead of music you stick an embarrassing story of each guest on the different layers. Whoever has the parcel has to guess who the story is about. It’s a great one to ease people in when not everyone knows each other. They get it right first time they nominate someone to do a shot, get it wrong first time and they have to do one.

Find your Partner – everyone picks a piece of paper out of a bag and they have “position” on and you have to get into them with your male/female counter part. This can cause lots of screaming! Be warned your neighbours might not like this one as we found out!

Build your Willie – you have 2 minutes to make a willie out of play dough. The bride picks her favourite 

Make a Wedding Dress – lots of loo roll is needed for this. Split into teams, pick one person to dress up (one should be the bride!) you have 5 minutes to make the best dress. The game host picks the best one.

For our winners – they nominate a shot

Our losses – got shots


But you don’t have to have alcohol! These games are just as funny sober! 


When we looked for our accommodation we made sure there was a space to play these games. Lots of people just get hotel rooms but this felt much more personal, I would highly recommend getting a house/flat!


Cost

This is a hard one! In groups you are always going to have people on different salaries. Don’t make people feel pressured to come, never ask why when they say they can’t attend. Main thing is plan to a budget and make people aware of that when you start planning. Give a list – flights, accommodation, an activity, food/drink and what you think they will cost. Also some hen groups will pay for the bride…I personally don’t think that’s necessary and thankfully neither did our bride. Ours came to about €240 plus spending money. I didn’t think that was too bad for 3 nights in a different country. 


Activity

It’s great if you can to plan an activity out. We went for wine amd port tasting, we were in Portugal after all. It meant the Bridesmaids could also relax and not worry for a few hours as we were very much in the hands of someone else. It doesn’t have to be very big but try to do something that the Bride has always wanted to do or will just enjoy. If she’s an out doors girl maybe go rock climbing or if she likes to be pampered book nails to be done. Don’t make it an expensive thing, I would aim for around  £30 per person if it’s a full afternoon thing.


Goodie Bags

Now this has become a thing to do recently and I think it’s entirely optional. You should never go expecting a gift bag. And if you do do one, it doesn’t have to have anything expensive in! Plus remember you have to get it all to the location to so try not to get anything too heavy or bulky. I did not take my own advice – I took 13 glasses with Beyoncé quotes on a plane, in my hand luggage! Safe to say I did not have many clothes! Get the transfers from here – bespokebride.com – if you fancy being as crazy as me! 

We then got paracetamol, tic tacs, Bride Tribe transfers and a homemade glass charm! I have to say one of my favourite parts was the Bride Tribe transfers, super simple but brings everyone together. I also advise you take spares just in case anything goes wrong, don’t want one person feeling left out. One of the other bridesmaids also found some fantastic personalised bags too! “Lets Party Bitches” one side and the girls names on the other! It was a great little touch.


Decorations 

I think the more the better – and they don’t have to be expensive. We printed off 80 photos of the bride through the ages and stuck them all up around the flat. Safe to say this was one of the best things we did. All the girls had a great time laughing at them all…

We also got the classic “Team Bride” banner and some colourful pom-poms. Also, it tends to be the case, but a lot of one group will start to get married and have hen dos around the same time. So when packing up, don’t throw them away, up-cycle and give them to the next person planning a hen do! They will appreciate it and it doesn’t feel like a waste of money!


Number One Rule

ENJOY YOURSELF! You’re going to have put a lot of effort into it all and it is a break for you too so make sure you’re having fun!