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About this time last year an idea started to form in my head.

I had just spent two weeks in Portugal again, visiting my beloved Aljezur and traveling up to the Sierra Estrella with my friends. As so often when I am there I noticed just how many German number plates can be seen on the Portuguese roads and I thought "If they can do it, then so can I...".

I already knew that I wanted to come back for Christmas - like I had been the two years prior to that. I did however think - why not make it the majority of the winter? The past winter had still been lockdown-curfew-hell in Cologne and I just could not bear the thought of doing that again.

However - my circumstances had slightly changed at home in Cologne as my little housemate Elfie moved had moved in six months prior. Elfie is a Bengal cat which I adopted from a friend of mine, who was no longer able to look after her. She had already been a guest in my house whilst my friend was on vacation and I had grown really fond of her. When it was clear that she could no longer stay at my friend's place it was clear to me straight away, that I could not watch her be given away to strangers. So I brought her with me to Cologne and have not regretted it for a minute.

One of the reasons why I had always been reluctant to get a pet was my love for travel and the fact that I would have to keep giving them in care if I wanted to continue doing so. I had already found a couple that loved to cat sit here when I was away, but obviously I did not want to give her away for 3 months or more.

So - during that trip last April I spoke to a neighbour of my friends, who owns a little guest house which he doesn't normally rent out to guests other than friends and family. He had come around for lunch to my friends' place every now and then and we had been on long walks together by the coast. (At 83 he didn't only know the best routes, but he was also fitter than me on these walks. ) So we already knew each other a little bit and he was open to the idea.

As soon as I got back to Germany I cleared with work that I could spend three months in Portugal over the winter. I wanted to hold myself responsible and put it out there.

I spent the summer training Elfie to walk on a leash, got her comfortable with a new carrier and tried to get her used to the car (she still hates it to date).

Come August I knew I had to get started to actually put things in motion. It felt like a huge mountain to climb. I had so many things on my list.

  • I had to decide if I really wanted to go by car or if a plane trip would just be easier with a cat who is not accustomed to any of it

  • If I decided to go by car (I had never before done a trip this long on my own): - which route would be best to take? - I'd have to get a complete check up of my car before leaving

  • If I decided to go by plane, how much would a rental car be for three months?

  • I wanted to try to find subtenants who would take over my flat in Cologne whilst we were away, but needed to clear with my landlord if I was actually allowed to sublet

  • ...

The list kept getting bigger and bigger. I had set myself September as a cut off to decide on the means of travel. The "If they can do it, so can I.." kept creeping back into my mind and I decided to go for it. Event though Elfie was not keen on car rides, it being just me and her meant I could take breaks whenever I needed and didn't have to worry about disturbing 200+ other passenger whilst traumatising her for life.

So it was decided:

We'd be going on our very first road trip through Europe together to spend the winter in Aljezur. This is how we got on ....


Watch the vlog to see how we got there:


Here are some impressions of our road trips (there and back):


These were places / accommodations we stayed in during our trip, who welcomed Elfie with open arms:


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