This travel blogger interview features James Cave, one half of the team behind portugalist.com.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I’ve dabbled in all areas, but I guess I fall under the live and work abroad category.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I work as a freelance writer, writing content for a range of online clients as well as for a few personal projects.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
I have vivid memories of family holidays where we would drive from Ireland to France (or even as far as Spain or Portugal) and stay on Keycamp campsites. I was probably around eight or nine at the time. I think there were earlier trips, perhaps over to England and other parts of Ireland, but the trips to France are the ones I remember best.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I thought Bangkok would be a lot crazier than it was and I was disappointed and happy at the same time. It was somewhere I could see myself living, and somewhere I would go back to.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Plenty! I’ve been ripped off and had a few food poisoning incidents although both of those things have happened at home as well.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
I went to Marseille and ended up booking an Airbnb in the wrong part of town. Unfortunately, someone chose that day to fire a shotgun at the local bus causing all the bus drivers in the area to go on strike. I had no way into the city centre, and it seemed safer to stay inside that day, so I only have a few memories of Marseille and they’re not of a very beautiful part of town.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Every time I try to settle down, I read about somewhere new that I’d like to visit. I’ve lived in a few different countries, and done a fair bit of travelling, so I’m getting to the stage where I can imagine not travelling constantly. However, it’s hard to imagine not travelling at all.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
It’s hard to imagine any other alternative. I’ve always had a strong desire to travel and there are still plenty of places in the world that I haven’t been to yet that I want to visit. Perhaps once I’ve crossed those off my list I can become somebody who only travels once a year, but it’s hard to imagine now.
If I had a bit more time (and wasn’t travelling) I’d like to study history. Working and travelling is extremely time-consuming, so at the moment it’s not practical.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
What’s your most recent blog post and why did you write that?
I recently wrote a post about New Year’s Eve in the Algarve. A few people had e-mailed asking about events or where to stay. I wrote the post and was then able to e-mail them back with the information they wanted. The information wasn’t really available elsewhere, so I was glad that I wrote it.
When did you begin your website Portugalist.com?
It’s a very new website. We launched in August of this year (2016) although I’ve been tweeting from one of the Twitter accounts (@algarve) since 2008.
Who are your main readers?
I’ve written quite a bit about the Algarve recently and, because of the time of year, that’s been picked up by a lot of expats. Hopefully, next year in the summer once people start coming back to the Algarve for vacations it’ll attract people then as well.
The majority of the people coming to the site are looking for information about Lisbon or the Algarve. Over the next few months I’m going to spend more time in both places, so hopefully I can keep the readers happy.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I have a couple of goals for the blog. It would be nice if it made me rich, but ultimately one of the main goals is to use it to meet other people in Portugal.
The reason I started the blog was because there was a real lack of good-quality content about Portugal out there. Most of it was written by people passing through, who’d only spent a couple of days in Portugal. This meant that some of the information wasn’t correct, but more importantly it only scratched the surface of Portugal.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
Portugalist is unique in that it’s written by two people who currently live in Portugal. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve spent time living in Lisbon, the Algarve, and the North of Portugal. Both of my brothers were born here and my parents currently live here. This connection to Portugal gives us a unique insight into what life is like here and allows us to go a little deeper than a lot of other blog posts about Portugal go.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Depending on how well the blog is received, I may write a book about Portugal in the future. I’ve previously written a tongue-in-cheek guidebook to German culture, and I’d like to write another book at some point. I don’t know if the next book would be the same in tone, but it would definitely have to be something that I’d enjoy writing.
Do you have any trips lined up within Portugal?
I have nothing booked as of yet, but there are a few places I’d like to visit next year. The Azores is definitely on the list. Getting there from Lisbon or Porto is very cheap, and it’s a crime that I haven’t been there already. I’d also like to do a walking holiday within Portugal, either a section of the Camino de Santiago or the Rota Vicentina (Fisherman’s Trail) in the Alentejo.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
I don’t mind long-haul flights but, like everyone else, I’m not a big fan of short-haul Easyjet or Ryanair flights. If I can, I try to take the train. Tip: The trains in Portugal are extremely affordable (if you book 7 days in advance) and an easy way to get around Portugal.
In terms of travel, however, the most rewarding way to travel is probably by car. I’ve driven across Europe a few times and stopped off in places for petrol or food that I would never have otherwise stopped off at.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to see another side to the world. Most Europeans travel to the major European capital cities and then hop on a plane to the other side of the world to see something different. But there’s plenty of that in Europe as well. You might be not be overwhelmed if you head to the capital cities (especially the city centres), but if you head to the second city, the third city, or a town in the countryside you’ll see something different to what you find at home.
What has travel taught you (positive)?
Travel has confirmed that people are the same the world over. Everyone has dreams of doing more than just getting by, and most of us are working hard towards that.
What has travel taught you (negative)?
Everywhere I go in the world I see pulled pork and lattes. I feel like the world is getting smaller, and we’re all appropriating this one culture that’s been spread through the internet.
Quick fire questions:-
I like Bangkok Airways because they often give you free lounge access. That means free Wi-Fi (very helpful if you work remotely) and free snacks. If I’m flying within South East Asia and I see a Bangkok Airways flight, I’ll always try to go with them.
I obviously have to say Portugal.
I’m going to have to say Lisbon although I really enjoyed living in Berlin as well.
Portugal (especially the Algarve) has some of the best beaches in the world, even better than those in South-East Asia. Of the Portuguese beaches that I’ve been to, Figueira is probably my favourite.
Turkish or Middle Eastern food. I don’t think it gets any better than that.
To listen to: French. To speak (and be understood): Spanish.
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://www.portugalist.com
Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/portugalistdotcom/