The pretty blue tiles, friendly people, everlasting sunshine, great surf, happy bright colours, rocky mountains, golden coastlines. Portugal truly is one of a kind. The kind where I could easily live. Bathing in sunshine, exploring wild coastlines, indulging in freedom, kindness, space. Some countries touch your heart and Portugal is definitely one of them.
It was march so time to swap the Dutch grey weather for warm southern sunshine. First stop: Oporto! As soon as I arrive at the airport my ears are filled with expressive, poetic sounds of a language I cannot understand. But I wish I did.
From the harbour Porto looks like a colourful painting, with blue, yellow and orange houses scattered along the hills lining the Douro river. Exploring the steep narrow streets of this city takes some serious effort, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s a perfect city to ditch the map and get wonderfully lost. The street art gives Porto this arty feel, the prices are low and Portuguese people are extremely friendly. What’s not to love?
After one night in Porto, we move closer to the beach in Matosinhos. We ate fresh sardinas from the grill, went for a walk along the ocean where locals were having picnics and watched surfers gliding across the waves. The next day it was our turn to work our surf magic in the foggy morning cold. And by surf magic I mean, working on our technique of catching waves while not looking totally retarded.
Our journey continued further south to Faro, from where we took the train to Lagos. Apparently the trains here only run every few hours, and -typically- we just missed the last one. Welcome to the southern pace of life in this quiet white washed little town, where everything just slows down. But in a good way. Here we don’t get annoyed but just sit back, relax, enjoy the sunshine, the blue sky, breath in the fresh air and take it all in. Yes even missing a train is fun in Portugal.
The two hour train ride takes us along beautiful coastlines and when we arrive in Lagos without a plan and wander through cobbled lanes between the pretty 16th-century walls. We explore the sandy cove of Praia do Camilo, discover piazzas and take in the sunshine. But as beautiful as the coast is, Lagos seems more of a backpackers party town. So if you like to party, Lagos is your place. But if you want to surf, its better to keep driving. So that’s what we did.
We drove up to the wonderful cliffs of Sagres. And I fell in love again. Blue skies, ocean cliffs, sandy dunes and an endless view over the azure ocean. This area has a remote feel to it. And when I think back to this place, I feel so much saudades for Portugal.
10 X WANDER TIPS FOR PORTUGAL:
- Feel Porto’s magic at Rua das Flores
- Taste cocktails and listen to live music at Fica na Rua
- Check out Rua Miguel Bombarda for street art and art galleries
- Go for a Port tasting at one of the cellars
- Find Portuguese nostalgia and have a late night dinner and at Museu D’Avó
- Take a surflesson at surfaventura
- Try fresh fish from the grill in Matoshinos
- When in Lagos, stay at burasurfhouse
- Visit the Lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente
- Go surfing at Praia do Tonel or Sagres South