When planning my trip to Lisbon, Sintra was top of the list.
It's often referred to as the "Portuguese Disneyland" and after visiting, I can see why.

Sintra is located around 40 minutes outside of Lisbon and is easily accessible via the train. The main attractions are dotted across the steep hills of the picturesque town but thankfully, the 434 bus was designed for visitors to see all the sights.



I went during the low season and on a Monday, so it wasn't overcrowded but was still fairly busy. I arrived early afternoon, which isn't enough for all five sights, so my top choices were Castelo dos Mouros and Pena Palace, both of which I had plenty of time to explore.




The Castelo dos Mouros was one of the highlights of my trip and provided me with some of the best views. Again, great views come at a price as there's a lot of walking involved, but definitely worth it!




Pena Palace is responsible for Sintra's Disneyland comparisons and was an absolute must during my 6 days in Portugal. My camera died and isn't the greatest, but it still captured the beauty of the architecture.

Quick tips:

  • Go early in the morning and on a weekday if possible 
  • Bring extra cash for the shuttle bus to Castelo dos Mouros (or walk up another hill)
  • BRING FOOD - other than the town, there's hardly anywhere to eat around the sights 
  • Buy a combined ticket for the sights as it's cheaper
  • There's a lot of walking involved, so wear comfortable shoes
The architecture, the details, the nature - Sintra is a beautiful town and will definitely see me again.

Sintra: The Jewel of Portugal

11.12.17
When planning my trip to Lisbon, Sintra was top of the list. It's often referred to as the "Portuguese Disneyland" and aft...

It's only been a few days since my first solo trip and I've jumped right back into work, so I'm still processing it. Update below!

Upon my arrival, I was greeted with sunshine and palm trees, so I started my trip on a good note. I stayed in Alfama, one of the older and STEEPEST districts, and as beautiful as it was, my calves have never worked so much! 


Public transport is super effective and WAY cheaper than London but the Portuguese city is best explored on foot, so comfortable shoes are an absolute must  if you plan on sightseeing and especially if you plan on visiting Alfama.

I took a fairly different route to and from my Airbnb almost every time due to the maze-like streets - basically I kept getting lost - and discovered some pretty cool artwork and cute cafes by the dozen.

My favourite thing about travelling are views like this. I could do nothing else on my travels but see views like this (and eat, of course) and I’m happy. Viewpoints are dotted across the city; São Jorge Castle has some of the best.














I took virtually no photos of any food as it was so good, I dived straight in. Bacalhau was my favourite, a fish cake of sorts, and as a lover of seafood, my options were endless. Salmon, cod, prawns, sardines...endless.


Confession, though I did plan on trying a pastry from Pastéis de Belém, I didn’t because that queue wasn’t worth it for I’d probably dislike. Next time.











I find it quite difficult to condense a trip into a blog post without it being super long or dragged across several posts and found making a vlog much easier. I have more photos over on the 'gram.

Upcoming Lisbon posts on Sintra, Cascais and the best in street art, so stay tuned.
mayanotmya.com

I'm going on my first solo trip and I'm happy, I'm nervous but I'm mostly HELLA EXCITED.

At first, I was hesitant to tell anyone in case it didn't happen...which is silly because solo travel has always been something I've wanted to do and was always going to do.
During the booking process, the discovery of this quote felt perfectly timed and it instantly entered my top five:

'You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea.' 

Living in Europe provides so many opportunities for quick and affordable travel and having lived in the continent my whole life, I've hardly ventured into it. Thanks to Brexit and everything else, there's no time to waste.

Travelling solo, especially as a black woman, can be quite daunting, but it can also be quite liberating (or at least I hope so). I've always been someone who likes to do their own thing and feel I was made for solo travel.

I'll be spending 6 days in Lisbon, Portugal and though I have a list of things I want to do, I don't want to follow a strict itinerary. I just want to explore and enjoy the city (follow the 'gram for stories and photos.)

Have you travelled solo before?

I'm flying solo

13.11.17
I'm going on my first solo trip and I'm happy, I'm nervous but I'm mostly HELLA EXCITED. At first, I was hesitant t...
Motivational quotes on a desk.

Growing up, I never wanted to work a '9 to 5' as I thought of an office job as the grey cubicle, the dull repetition of menial tasks and being bored AF. I felt you couldn't be very creative" in that environment.

But yet, I find myself in my third office job. And I'm enjoying it. And that's because my job isn't boring AF. I work in digital marketing, which basically means I'm on Twitter and Instagram all day lol jk, but social media is a big chunk of it. 

As I've mentioned previously, I've found my career path and see myself working in it for the next 10, 15 years until the robots take over.

Sure, every millennial's dream job is being a digital nomad; travelling the world, taking pictures and earning money to do so.
Anyone who says they would rather work in an office Monday to Friday is LYING.
I'm sure we've all read the odd "I quit my job and now I travel the world!" blog and whilst it's not impossible, it's not that feasible.

Here's a few pros and cons of working 9 to 5 #whatawaytomakealiving:

PRO - SECURITY. 

Having a regular salary is my most important reason for working full-time, especially as I live in a city as expensive as London. "There's more important things than money," yeah yeah, we all know that, but food and rent do not come for free. 

CON - UNDER-APPRECIATION. 

You work hard to help someone else achieve their goals and it's not always recognised or appreciated as it should be. Working for yourself means putting all your time and energy into your own success AND benefitting from it.

PRO - PEOPLE. 

The people you work with impact on how much you enjoy your job, so it's great when you're working with a team of people that you get on with. I now consider some of my former colleagues friends and I'm grateful to have both met and worked with them. 

CON - ANNUAL LEAVE. 

25-30 days seems to be the average holiday employers give, so travel time is limited. You can't travel for months at a time and are often limited to 2 weeks in a row, unless you're in a higher position.

PRO - PROGRESSION. 

Not just being an intern and working your way up to a senior role, but also in terms of the experience and knowledge you gain from employment. 

CON - COMFORT. 

You can get too comfortable when having a steady job with a steady income and may reduce the amount of risks you take. That comfort can also lead to boredom and lack of caring, which isn't great as you're spending most of your time there.

CON - WORK/LIFE BALANCE

Working Mon-Fri does feel like it takes over your life sometimes and in all honesty, I don't think I'll ever have a GREAT work/life balance whilst full-timing and trying to get my all important 8 hours sleep. I guess it just something you figure out as you go along.

Working full-time isn't for everyone, especially the younger generations, but coming from someone in their mid 20's who once hated the thought of it, it's not all that bad.
Even though I listed more cons than pros.

Do I want to work in an office until I reach retirement? No.
Do I see myself doing it for the next 10 years or so? Yes.

Don't knock the 9 to 5

9.10.17
Growing up, I never wanted to work a '9 to 5' as I thought of an office job as the grey cubicle, the dull repetition of menial...
I create this transition GIF using both the original photograph and the edited illustration of myself. I created the illustration in Adobe Illustrator (obvz)

I've never been that good at art and crafts. I can't draw, I can't sew and my handwriting is slightly neater than chicken scratch, so I'm glad I've found another way to create art.

I've been using Photoshop since my school days and I'm fairly comfortable with it.
There's a lot of ridiculously expensive graphic classes available, but self-teaching (in my opinion) is the best way to learn this stuff.
I've spent many a hour watching video tutorials on Adobe TV because I'm nerdy like that and believe there's an amazing graphics designer waiting to be unleashed.

An illustration of Drake created via a photograph I took at one of his concerts.
 My first illustration from a Drake concert photo a few years back - I'm no fan girl BTW...

Using the same image trace technique, created this outfit illustration

My favourite of the Adobe products is Illustrator as I quite like turning photographs into illustrations - like the ones in this post - all without having to pick up a pencil.
I create these using the image trace function and edit a lot of the details and colours until I'm satisfied, which is never so I'm always editing!

A photograph of the London skyline

London eye illustration

This one took me quite a while to do and I'm still tweaking it as I'd like to re-add the detail of the Eye and some of the clouds, but it's a good start.

I'm no expert and still have a lot to improve on, but I'm enjoying the learning process and would like to create a varied portfolio of work. Who knows where it could lead to?

Have you created illustrations out of your photographs before? (If not, give it a try!)

From Photo to Illustration

18.9.17
I've never been that good at art and crafts. I can't draw, I can't sew and my handwriting is slightly neater than chicken scr...

As someone whose job is primarily focused on social media, it can be quite difficult to escape it, but as I had a few weeks until my start date, I decided to take a break. 
NO Twitter, Instagram, Facebook (which I rarely use anyway) or Snapchat. FOR TWO WEEKS 😱😱

It's annoying when everyone's tweeting about something I have no interest in and this was one of those times, so it felt like a good time for a sabbatical.

"OMG I can't believe *insert celebrity name* did that!" 

"Why did *insert Youtube couple* break up, they were #goals!"

...

I scroll past. 

Scrolling through Instagram and checking Twitter as soon as I wake up is such a bad habit that we ALL do - don't lie - and it's something I'm trying to stop. I thought uninstalling the apps on my phone would stop me reaching for it first thing, but instead of checking my social media, I'd check my emails, calendar and random apps for no real reason. Still working on it.

So, how was the hiatus? Good and bad.

I had a lot more free time to do something productive, but as much as I hate to admit it, FOMO immediately kicked in. Twitter is one of, if not, my main source of news and even though I was still up to date with the world, I felt like I was missing out. WHICH IS SO BAD. 
But as time went on, it felt normal and I got used to not using any social media. I was still talking to people, I still existed and life went on without memes and hashtags. 

The super smiley, sunshine-y 'my-life-is-so-amazing' photos we see on the 'Gram have been curated to look super smiley and sunshine-y and we all know people only post the positive parts of their lives, so it makes no sense to compare yourself to them. I understand it's difficult when that's all you ever see, so it's important to take a break from it. 

Focus on spending your time in reality as I'm sure you'll get a better representation of life than you would via a blogger's Instagram.

Social Media Shutdown

4.9.17
As someone whose job is primarily focused on social media, it can be quite difficult to escape it, but as I had a few weeks until my s...


Summer came early this year when I took these photos in May. July was a disappointment and August hasn't been much better. Ah well, typical Britain.




There's times when I find myself bored of London, but I think it's natural when you've lived in the same place your whole life. Despite the abundance of variety - art, food, music, people - the grey hue that often exists over the city makes everything feel quite samey, so I'm grateful for the little bit of summer we get.



Without travelling to Hyde Park or one of the gardens, you can sometimes forget that nature exists here, so seeing flowers in full bloom and grass that reaches my knees makes a welcome change.



Not a big fan of the insects though, especially the flying ants. Those I could do without.

In Bloom

14.8.17
Summer came early this year when I took these photos in May. July was a disappointment and August hasn't been much better. Ah well...

It's been a while.

Much longer than my one month planned hiatus, but when those 30 days or so were up, I didn't know what to write about. 

I like the freedom of not having my blog fall into a particular category, but at the same time, it feels like there's a lack of direction. I planned on continuing with my monthly art round-ups, but it's difficult as some of the shows I go to prohibit photography and I found those posts quite boring to be honest. I might do individual posts as & when instead.

I'm also thinking about getting rid of my Tumblr. I've had it for years and used it as an extension of my blog/'online portfolio', but I've started to move my photography over to Instagram as it's much more convenient.

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

This pretty much sums it up, the latter especially.
Despite my previous post, I do want to take blogging a bit more seriously and I've got a few posts lined up, but I'm still discovering what that 'something' is...

Refocus

7.8.17
It's been a while. Much longer than my one month planned hiatus, but when those 30 days or so were up, I didn't know what to ...

I hope I don't come across as a miserable biatch on here because I'm not, but some posts are less joyful than others and you've got to be honest. Though I promise to make this as cheerful as I can, hence this completely irrelevant photo. Yay summer!

I blog, but I'm not a "blogger."

I'm a very career-minded person. I always have been and I'm very happy to be working in a profession that I enjoy and see myself progressing in.

Blogging will - most likely - never be my job or a primary source of income, so it will never be a priority. I've read several posts on having a full-time job whilst having a consistent blog and if it's a breeze for you, then kudos. I guess I don't try hard enough.
I won't be setting my alarm 3 hours earlier to edit a post nor will I spend half of my lunch break trying to get the perfect shot of my prawn fried rice and lemon water.

It's not that I don't enjoy it because I do. I love writing and taking pictures and I have ideas for posts, but if I'm honest, I find reading and engaging with other blogs quite time-consuming and it feels like a chore at times.

It can be disheartening putting time and effort into a post only for it to have little to no engagement, but I know if I was more consistent, then that would increase. As I mentioned in my one year blogiversary post, I'm happy with the content I've put out and will hopefully have a new camera soon, so I will continue. Such is life.

Are you a "blogger" or someone who has a blog?

I blog, but I'm not a blogger

29.5.17
I hope I don't come across as a miserable biatch on here   because I'm not, but some posts are less joyful than others and you&...

My third day consisted of...you guessed it...bus tours and flamenco!

Side note: It was also National Tea Day in the UK and being a Brit, I OBVIOUSLY started the day with a cuppa. Not that I don’t almost everyday anyway.


Going on a bus tour is one of the top recommended activities to do there and I can understand why. They’re a great way to see all the sights and travel around the city. 








We passed some of the major sights such as Park Güell, FC Barcelona, all the designer shops, the harbour, back to Montjüic and loads more that I didn't photograph!
The tour that we went on - Barcelona Bus Touristic - has three routes and can be used for a full day (or two) and you can hop-on and off whenever you like. 

During the planning stages of my itinerary, I booked most activities beforehand apart from flamenco as the prices were quite high and for only a short time. No trip to Spain is complete without it, so it was definitely something I wanted to see.

Luckily, there was a flamenco bar close by and the hostess approached and informed us of an upcoming show at a great deal, which we booked! 
Excuse the camera quality, I only had my phone...




It was amazing and it is an absolute must do in Barcelona (I’m sure I’ve said this on all my related posts but they’ve all been must-do’s!)
The day ended with paella and cocktails and whilst the piña colada was muy bien, the paella wasn't, which is disappointing as I love paella. Never mind.



If you're into amazing views like me and you're ever in Barcelona, then Montjuïc is the place for you. VIEWS FOR DAYS.

Montjuïc is Barcelona's famous hill that overlooks the harbour and has many other attractions such as the Magic Fountain, the Castle, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya and the Olympic Park to name a few. 


 Olympic Park

More on MNAC in a future post!



I'm not big on hiking, so the cable car journey up the hill was an obvious choice.  
I booked it for the day of my birthday as previous birthdays in London haven't consisted of such beautiful scenery. A very welcome change.

Nearer the end of the hill is Poble Espanyol, the Spanish village described as an open-air museum. Another shining example of the city's gorgeous architecture, Poble Espanyol's numerous bars, museums, restaurants, in-house crafters and what feels like a million souvenir shops make it a great way to spend a few hours.





The day ended with the spectacular that is the Magic Fountain. 
Consisting of various fountains choreographed to a pairing of music and light, it's not one to miss and it's free! 



Quick tip: arrive early enough to get a seat on the steps and don't lean on the mini fountains as they also spray water. I'm sure the visitors who were sat on them weren't too pleased that they weren't aware of that prior. 

Stay tuned for Day 3!

Barcelona Day 2: Montjuïc

8.5.17
If you're into amazing views like me and you're ever in Barcelona, then Montjuïc is the place for you. VIEWS FOR DAYS. Mont...