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Best Money Card for Travel

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THE BEST MONEY CARD AND APP TO USE ABROAD

Are you fed up of getting charged a small fortune in exchange fees and bank charges when you are traveling? Are you totally confused when it comes to exchange rates, taking money out and using your card abroad? When you travel do you use your card willy nilly (yes, I just said willy nilly) and just accept that you’ll pay your bank a fee every time you do anything?

If you’re anything like I was then you will have answered yes to all of the above. The good news is that it is 2019. Times are changing and we DO NOT need to pay our bank every time we take a trip outside of our own country. Can I get a YEHAAAA?!

Keep on reading to find out how Revolut has changed my travel/money life for the better or skip the chat and get signed up for free right away.

*Some links included in this post are affiliate links. This means if you sign up to Revolut using one of these links I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only include links for products and services I love and use regularly. Using these links helps me to build my small business and maintain this travel blog. Thank you.

When I moved to Portugal 3 years ago I literally had no idea about using my money abroad. I’d already spent 7 years traveling for 4 months every winter but had always resigned myself to the fact that my UK bank would charge me to use my card and withdraw money abroad regardless. When I finally accepted that I would soon be living in a country with a different currency to my current bank account I forced myself to do some proper research. Back then every time I was using my bank card in a country other than the UK I was being charged around £3 to take cash out from an ATM. Not just that but I was being charged some crazy percentage somewhere between 1-5% transaction fee (plus exchange fees) on every single card payment. That is not even funny.

When I started researching I was looking at best UK bank accounts to use my card abroad but I soon realised I was looking for the wrong thing. I soon came across the prepaid app and card REVOLUT and was intrigued to find out more. To be honest I only signed up because it was totally free so worth a shot. It was only once I received it and actually started using it I realised how much of a game-changer it was and still is today.

Heard enough? Sign up to REVOLUT and start saving money now!

Want to find out more? I’ll answer some common questions below.

SO, WHAT IS REVOLUT?

Revolut is an ‘electronic money institution’. I know what you’re probably thinking…what *on earth* is that?! Basically, Revolut it is a prepaid card and app-based account where you can hold and transfer multiple currencies with no fees whatsoever. Yep, using your card to pay and transfer between currencies is totally free. Your Revolut card will be a contactless VISA or MASTERCARD.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

The Revolut app and account is absolutely free to use.  There are no hidden set up costs, fees or monthly payments. The Revolut card usually costs £4.99 postage but you can get it for FREE when you sign-up here.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING REVOLUT?

  • Absolutely zero exchange fees . No poor currency rates. You pay the exact exchange rate that the banks use.

  • You can use your Revolut card for card payments in over 140 countries for FREE.  This means you’ll avoid the usual bank fees of 2.75 – 3% on every transaction.

  • Switch money between 29 currencies easily and instantly for FREE. Use your app to switch money between currencies and hold multiple currencies at a time.

  • £200 FREE monthly withdrawals in 140+ countries and only a 2% fee thereafter. The free limit rises to £400 with the Premium account and £600 with the metal account.

  • You can top up your account by linking to your regular bank account. The minimum top-up amount is £10 and you can top up as little or often as you like.  Topped up too much and don’t need to use it? You can send it back to your usual bank account via a transfer; for free of course!

  • Excellent fraud protection. Each time you use your card Revolut sends a notification to your app so you’ll be able to spot any dodgy activity quickly. Lost your card while traveling? You can block it on the app to stop anyone using it.

  • Transfer money between friends for FREE. Traveling with friends and need to split the bill? You can select the split bill feature and share the cost. Or simply pay a friend back by sending money through the app instantly.

  • Send international payments for FREE. Need to pay for that boat hire in Greece next month? Send them the exact amount in Euros via the app with zero fees.

  • Free budgeting tools. Track and cap your spending directly from the app.

  • Customer trust. The Revolut app is used by 4.5m customers across Europe and Australia. 

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

Ready to get started? Sign up here and get your Revolut card for free, saving you £4.99 on postage fees.

  1. Sign up

  2. Enter your phone number

  3. Download the app.

  4. Order your FREE Revolut card.

WHY DO YOU LOVE REVOLUT SO MUCH?

Quite simply because it has made my life abroad much (much, much, much) easier. Not only that but it has saved me hundreds if not thousands of £’s in fees in the last 3 years.

Since moving to Portugal I have used my Revolut card every single day without fail.

I don’t just use it in Portugal but the UK and whilst traveling too. You can use your Revolut app and card in over 140 countries such as USA, Australia Thailand and Indonesia. Whether you are on a weekend getaway to Paris or a 3 month trek through Asia you can save money using your Revolut card.

I also use my Revolut account for business and make the most of fee-free international payments to countries such as Thailand and USA.

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SOME THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR

Revolut is doing everything right for the user and offers free services and no fees. However many banks and ATM’s will try to find sneaky ways to charge you extra. Always follow these steps when using your card abroad.

  • If a bank asks you if you want to convert with or without a conversion always choose ‘without a conversion’ which will default to your Revolut conversion rate (FREE).

  • Always opt to be charged in the local currency. If you are in Europe use Euros, if you are in Thailand use Thai Bhat and so on. This will stop the bank charging you poor exchange rates.

  • Some ATM machines will try and charge you a fee to use the machine. To avoid this look for local banks to withdraw money rather than ATM’s set up for tourists. Avoid using Tavelex ATM’s as these often charge a exchange fee regardless.


5 places to find good coffee in Lagos, Portugal

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FINDING GOOD COFFEE IN LAGOS

Until a year ago it was almost impossible to find good coffee in the Algarve, let alone Lagos. Yes there was one or two spots where good coffee was served but apart from Casa Mãe, Lagos was pretty barren. I regularly found myself dreaming of trips to Lisbon and Porto (where the speciality coffee business is booming by the way) just to get my hands on the stuff.

Luckily for me my flat white prayers were answered when several new stylish and cool coffee spots opened up over the past 12 months. Scroll down to THE RUN DOWN to start making notes.

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SO . . . WHAT IS ‘GOOD COFFEE’ ?

Of course this question is hugely personal depending on what you look for in your cup of jo. For me good coffee is made from high quality, 100% arabica beans, roasted professionally and made by to a high quality.

And for me the next step up from good coffee is speciality coffee. This is made using speciality or single origin beans by a trained barista; often using special or particular methods. This is coffee I personally can’t make at home. Often found in independent coffee shops and hipster cafes around the world. Speciality coffee variations include Flat white, Piccolo and Cortado – oooh faaaaancy!

The popularity of good coffee and in particular, speciality coffee, has skyrocketed in the last 5-10 years. Many people have favourite coffee shops that serve excellent quality coffee in their hometown. But as its popularity increases more and more people are now searching for good coffee when they travel too. When I start my trip planning one of the first things I research is coffee shops so naturally I have been impatiently waiting for good coffee to arrive in Lagos where we are based.

THE RUN DOWN

In the last year Lagos has cottoned on to the need for good coffee and a number of stylish and cool coffee joints have been popping up all over town. Here is a run down of my favourites. 

A NOTE : All of these spots are regular haunts for me and all serve good coffee. The coffee shops featuring SPECIALITY next to their name serve not only good but EXCELLENT coffee. These places have good coffee knowledge, use only the best quality beans and use specific methods; without a doubt these three are my favourite spots in Lagos to get my caffeine fix. Ok let’s get to it….

ORTA RESTAURANT (CASA MÃE)
(SPECIALITY)


R. do Jogo da Bola 41, 8600-712 Lagos

Open for brunch 8am-1pm daily.

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Orta restaurant is part of the stunning boutique hotel Casa Mãe located in central Lagos. If you are staying in Casa Mãe (lucky you!) you’ll likely dine at Orta during your stay and I have no doubt you’ll be impressed by its seasonal and delicious menu. Luckily for the rest of us, Orta is open to the public and serves an epic brunch complete with excellent speciality coffee. Orta sources it’s coffee beans from Fabrica Coffee Roasters and you’re guaranteed a good cup!

A NOTE : Orta is part of the hotel and although the restaurant openly welcomes non-guests this is more of a breakfast or brunch spot as opposed to a coffee hangout. By all means indulge in their satisfying menu but check out some of the other coffee shops we’ve listed below for a more relaxed vibe.


COFFEE & WAVES
(SPECIALITY)


Tv. do Cotovelo 10, 8600-631 Lagos

Open daily in the summer from 9am -3pm.
Winter times may vary – check their
instagram page.

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A small but friendly coffee shop with a laid back vibe, excellent coffee and tasty loaded toasts. The staff regularly take part in coffee training and are genuinely passionate about what they do. Warning : this place can get super busy but take-away coffees are just as good. Get 25p off when you grab your coffee in a keep cup.


BLACK + WHITE
(SPECIALITY)

R. Cândido dos Reis, 8600-583 Lagos

Mon-Sat: 8am-5pm
Sun: 9am-2pm

 

The newest coffee spot in town but Black + White are already making a name for themselves in the good coffee department. What to expect? Minimal design with all the cliché coffee shop trimmings (I spy Kinfolk and Cereal) but more importantly, superior coffee. These guys source their beans from The Roasting Party and are promising smoothie bowls and all day brunch in the very near future. In all honestly? I’m probably going to be clocking up some hours and caffeine hits in here!

ABIGAIL’S

R. Henrique Correia da Silva 6, 8600-597 Lagos

9am-3pm (closed Tuesdays)

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The sweetest hangout with plenty of seating and gorgeous Lagos views. Abigail’s offers all the usual favourites including cappuccinos and flat whites using Lavazza beans. Their juices and smoothies are top notch and their breakfast menu is well worth shouting about; think breakfast burrito and red velvet beetroot velvet pancakes. Are you drooling yet?


TWIN FIN

R. Gil Vicente 32, 8600-596 Lagos

8:30am – 24:00 daily (summer)

Photo via  @twinfinlagos

Photo via  @twinfinlagos

A ‘surf cafe bar in the heart of Lagos’ Twin Fin’s breezy set-up features plenty of leafy green plants and pleasing decor. There is a wide range of good coffees to choose from including my personal favourite on a hot day; iced coffee with coconut milk. Hungry? Twin Fin specialises in topped waffles – sweet or savoury you decide!


PORTUGUESE COFFEE CULTURE

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The Portuguese have a prominent coffee culture. The locals here drink coffee at all times of day from first thing in the morning to last thing at night. It can sometimes be accompanied by the local spirit Medronho or at the end of a long lunch. The drink of choice is usually an espresso with sugar and it is rare to see milky drinks served anytime except morning. The majority of coffee drunk In Portugal is a dark and bitter blend made from mostly Robusta beans. Its bitter nature means sugar is a necessary sweetener. In fact the word for espresso in the central and southern regions of Portugal is ‘Bica’ an acronym for ‘beba isto com acucar’ which literally means ‘drink this with sugar.’

If you want to live like a local and try some Portuguese coffee for yourself use our language guide below.

HOW TO ORDER COFFEE IN PORTUGAL

Uma Bica (central/south) or Um Café – Espresso.

Café Duplo – Double espresso.

Meia de Leite – Half coffee (espresso), half milk. The closest thing you’ll find to a flat white.

Galão– Milky coffee. The closest thing you’ll find to a latte.

Café pingado – Espresso with a touch of milk (Macchiato).

Abatanado – Large black coffee (Americano).

Save this blog to Pinterest for later using the red pin it button on the image below. Why not check out our Coffee Shops Around The World board for more coffee travel inspiration.

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Check out our Complete Guide to Lagos, Portugal for more cafe, restaurant and bars to add to your travel itinerary.

Good coffee is always on our travel agenda. Some of the coffee experiences we’ve written about include 5 best coffee hangouts in Bangkok , Where to eat and drink in Nusa Lembongan and Lisbon Eats Guide.

Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal

The colourful streets of Lagos town

Does anything beat the endless blue skies of the Algarve? The light is so crisp here that colours are so much more vibrant and welcoming. Recently I have been taking more time to discover the backstreets of Lagos, exploring a new part of the neighbourhood and getting lost in its charm. This week I have fallen in love with shades of lemon yellow, washed out turquoise and Portuguese blue. Here is some recent colour inspiration….

Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal | Soi 55 Travels

Lemon yellow + Turquoise | Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal | Soi 55 Travels

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Peach windows | Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal | Soi 55 Travels8.JPG

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Pink house | Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal | Soi 55 Travels8.JPG

Pink door  | Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal | Soi 55 Travels8.JPG

Turquoise door  | Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal | Soi 55 Travels8.JPG.JPG

Tie dye walls, turquoise door  | Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal | Soi 55 Travels8.JPG

Pink house  | Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal | Soi 55 Travels8.JPG

Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal | Soi 55 Travels8.JPG


Finding colour inspiration in Lagos, Portugal

Heading to Lagos soon? Read our complete guide to Lagos.

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Vejer de la Frontera Travel Guide

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A SHORT GUIDE TO VEJER DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN

Vejer de la Frontera was one of those places I had been wanting to visit for years and years but for some reason (despite several trips to Andalusia) it kept getting pushed to the bottom of the list. This month I was finally able to squeeze in a solo road trip to Cádiz and I made sure Vejer was a non-negotiable stop on my 48 hour itinerary. You’ll be pleased to know Vejer did not disappoint and I have since been coming up with a whole number of reasons why I should be returning to this magical town sooner rather than later. If you have holiday or travel plans in Cádiz, Seville or Malaga I absolutely recommend (at least) a day trip to Vejer de la Frontera. Here is a complete guide for a short trip to one of the prettiest towns in Spain.

*Some links included in this guide are affiliate links. This means if you book through this link I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only include links for products and services I love and use regularly. Using these links helps me to build my small business and maintain this travel blog.

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W H E R E I S V E J E R D E L A F R O N T E R A ?

Located in the Province of Cádiz, south west Andalusia just 10km inland from the Costa de la Luz.



Booking.com

H O W T O G E T T H E R E ?

Vejer is a beautiful 50 minute drive from Cádiz, 1.5 hours from Gibraltar and approximately 2 hours from both Malaga and Seville airports. The hilltop town can also be reached by bus from Cádiz city which runs 5-7 times a day and takes approximately 1.5 hours.

W H E R E T O S T A Y

As I visited Vejer as part of a road trip I stayed an hour away in Puerto de Santa Maria but there a lots of options in the town itself. I spotted some cute and quirky apartments alongside some great guest houses and boutique hotels at booking.com. There are plenty of different options in Vejer de la Frontera but to get the most out of staying look for accommodation close to the central square.



Booking.com

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W H A T T O D O


HANG OUT AT PLAZA DE ESPAÑA

Expect a busy yet delightful vibe at this small, beautiful square. Despite the many tourists snapping away there are still pockets of local life to be seen amongst the crowds – you only have to look for it. It is true what the guidebooks say it really is one of the most wonderful plazas in Spain.

TOP TIP : The Spanish are not known for being early birds. Arrive here first thing and you’ll enjoy the picturesque scene in peace and quiet.

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WEAVE IN + OUT OF THE CITY WALLS

Vejer is one of the funnest towns to walk around (as long as you don’t mind getting lost!). The old city walls blend into the surroundings so unless you are paying close attention is is impossible to tell if you are actually in or out. A series of arches and alleyways will lead you through impossibly white streets with unique views at every turn. Give yourself plenty of time to explore.

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FIND YOUR OWN UNIQUE VIEW

There are some seriously impressive views in Vejer and believe me that white town backdrop never gets old. Whilst your exploring look out for secret terraces and tiny streets and you might just find the perfect picture!

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SHOP FOR MOROCCAN WARES

With its close proximity to Morocco there is an obvious African influence across much of this region of Spain. Amongst the usual ramble of tourist souvenir shops Vejer has some spectacular hidden gems to be found including clothing, jewellery and homewares you’ll definitely want a bigger suitcase for.

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WHERE TO EAT + DRINK

I was pleasantly surprised at how wide a range of bars and restaurants there is in Vejer and the fact there is so many cool spots around every corner is the main reason I want to return and spend a few days. You can expect a mix of cute coffee shops with decent coffee, upmarket tapas restaurants, Moroccan cuisine and most importantly, an impressive number of local-experience bars. There is nothing I love more when traveling than stumbling upon a little bar or cafe filled with locals. It is usually in these spots you will get the most authentic experience of a place and Vejer has lots of these to discover.


TRAFALGAR TAPAS

What better way to enjoy the Plaza de España vibe than people watching with a tapa and an ice cold beer. Trafalgar has a prominent spot right on the square and has plenty of shady tables to enjoy a light lunch from. I choose the Pimientos asados con ventresca (Roasted peppers with red tuna belly) and Hummus de calabaza (Pumpkin hummus) and both were delicious, washed down with a Cruzcampo of course.

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Booking.com


LA PICCOLINA

Just before you reach Plaza de España is the lovely La Piccolina with a sprinkling of outdoor seating and super friendly staff. As I arrived in the morning this was my first stop in Vejer and an alfresco coffee and granola was the perfect start to my day. La Piccolina is also open from 10am-4pm and again for dinner/drinks at 8pm.

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EL CLAUSTRO

I accidentally stumbled across El Claustro as I was leaving town and I am so glad I did. The spacious garden restaurant is decorated in the perfect fusion of Andalusian and Moroccan and has the best views over Vejer from the chilled out terrace. I only stopped in for a coffee but I would 100% go back for food.

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BAR MORILLO

A typical Spanish bar despite being located in a popular tourist area. With wooden stools on both sides of the road all you need to do is decide on whether you want to sip your beverage in the sun or the shade. Pop you head inside and you’ll find locals enjoying a football game on tv or chatting over a beer in a dark but atmospheric den.

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NOW . . . . GO GET LOST!

You know us by now. We love finding these places and writing guides for you to enjoy but don’t forget to venture off on your own too. There are literally dozens of streets to get lost in and a maze of sights and sounds to discover. Let us know what you find!

Have you visited Andalusia before? What were your highlights?


All photos taken by Candice Tomkins and are subject to copyright. Please e-mail us at hello@soi55lifestyle.com if you would like to use any of the images in this guide.


Choosing a Summer Bag

How to choose a natural straw bag for summer | Soi 55

PICK YOUR NEW FAVOURITE WOVEN BAG FOR SUMMER

photo :  @eviejohnstone.stylist

Straw, reed, palm and rattan; all names of materials that appear at that first hint of summer. That first day trip to the beach or afternoon bbq and suddenly you have an urge to shop everything natural! With an overwhelming number of straw bags on the market and a responsibility we all have to choose sustainably how can you pick the perfect bag for summer?


DO YOUR RESEARCH

There are so many different styles of straw summer bags out there. From simple handwoven baskets to coconut smoked rattan to big throw-it-all-in baskets. Try mentally styling each style with your summer/holiday wardrobe and imagine all the places you’ll be taking it in the sunshine. Create a Pinterest board of all your favourites and enjoy the process of picking the perfect bag for you. Once you have one in mind it’s time to learn about the story behind it. Who made your bag and where was it made? It is taking time to learn these important but beautiful details that will make you love your choice even more.

CHOOSE SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS

When picking a ‘straw’ bag look for sustainable materials that have been sourced responsibly. When talking about a ‘straw’ bag it may seem like it is a silly question to ask but check that it has actually been made from a natural material and not plastic.

 

SUPPORT TRADITIONAL CRAFT

Due to a rise in fast fashion consumption many traditional crafts are being replicated using machine-led manufacturing so that thousands can be made quickly and more often that not are a much poorer quality. When you choose to support traditional craft not only are you keeping a valuable and customary skill alive but you are also helping artisans to support themselves and their families.

 

INVEST IN A PIECE YOU WILL TREASURE IN 10 YEARS TIME

Quality over quantity always.  With so many cheap options available it can be tempting to ‘stock up’ on bags every summer season. But rather than owning several, cheaply made items that won’t last you the season ahead why not invest in a timeless piece that excites you year after year?


A PORTUGUESE BASKET STORY

A Portuguese basket story. Handmade basket bags  | Soi 55

Our beautiful straw basket bags have been handmade by talented artisans in the north of Portugal. The summer baskets have been woven from natural ceira reed local to Portugal. Read the Artisan Story on the Portuguese basket page to find out more.

A Portuguese basket story | Soi 55


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