Discovery Trip: International Travel in a Post-Pandemic World

Myranda Thompson
February 27, 2023

Sparking curiosity is at the core of Sparkloft. We believe in the power of being curious and its ability to transform how we live, learn, and grow. To entice the passion for curiosity, we offer our Sparks the opportunity to embark on a new experience through our Discovery Trip program. It allows our team members to get extra PTO and a travel stipend to take an adventure somewhere outside of their comfort zone. In return, they come back refreshed with a new perspective and the fuel to grow in all facets of their life. Learn about Myranda’s 16-day Discovery Trip through Portugal:

I chose Portugal for my Discovery Trip simply out of curiosity. I didn’t know much about the country, but I had heard amazing things and felt like I could perfectly picture a never-ending sea of terracotta roofs, thanks to Game of Thrones. After a few years of staying stateside during the pandemic, I was itching to get back out into the world.

We arrived at our first destination after flying from San Diego to New York to Barcelona to Faro, and then taking an hour-long cab ride. Lagos is a small city on the Southern coast of Portugal, in the Algarve region. Because of the small size of the town and because we walked everywhere on foot, we quickly gained a sense of familiarity, which is a special feeling when you are so far from home.

The iconic features of Lagos are the ancient stone buildings that still stand tall, winding cobblestone streets, and miles of magnificent limestone cliffs that plunge into crystal blue waters. The highlight of Lagos was hiking all the way out to Ponta da Piedade alongside the cliffs and exploring the small beach coves that were peppered throughout. I love that no matter what part of the world you’re in, whenever you’re by the beach, there’s always a slower and more relaxed pace of life. Everyone seemed to be soaking in the joy of simply being alive, and it was a refreshing comparison to the hustle and bustle that can be so prominent in America.

After a few days in Lagos we hopped on a bus and made our way to Portugal’s bustling capital. On our first night in Lisbon we went to a small restaurant with only 5 tables. We had a traditional Portuguese dinner accompanied by a live performance of Fado music from the lovely owners. Fado music is a type of Portuguese singing that is well known for its expressive melancholic characteristics. Another highlight of Lisbon was exploring Museu Nacional do Azulejo, where we learned all about the famous blue, hand-painted tiles that you see all over Portugal. There was so much living history around every corner in Lisbon, and it truly felt like taking a step back in time.

After our time in Lisbon, we headed North to the Douro River Valley. Douro is the oldest demarcated and regulated wine region in the world, and in 2001 it was declared a World Heritage Site. This area looked completely different from where we started the trip, as we were now surrounded by rolling green hills covered in terraced vineyards and a powerful river that carved through them. It was breathtakingly beautiful and definitely my favorite part of the trip. We toured several wineries and learned all about Port wine production and how many of these wineries are still practicing original techniques, like compressing the grapes by foot.

Overall, I had an amazing trip that really sparked a lot of joy within me. Travel is a huge part of my life and I love working for a company that values it just as much. My creativity was reawakened as I observed global design trends and challenged myself to learn how to use a film camera. I was able to observe the international travel scene in a post-pandemic world and saw first hand how things are evolving. I felt myself stretch beyond my comfort zone as we quickly hopped from city to city and covered a lot of ground. 16 days, 6 flights, and an amazing collection of memories. 

Obrigada Portugal!

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Myranda joined Sparkloft in 2018, after graduating from Oregon State University with a degree in Graphic Design and a minor in Visual Arts. Myranda has worked with over 50 clients at Sparkloft, ranging from UGC to Travel/Tourism. Her creative skillset includes art direction, styling, photography, illustration, traditional design, and more. Recently, she has spearheaded rebranding the agency from a visual standpoint to better reflect Sparkloft’s evolution over the last few years.


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