Last year, before the summer crowds descended upon Cornwall, I hopped on a short flight from Newquay to Faro for my first solo surf trip to Portugal. I left with the intention of seeking out new waves, to dust off my shorty wetsuit and feel the warmth of Portuguese sunshine on my bare skin. I was hoping for an adventure, an opportunity to explore, to eat Pastel de Nata's fresh from the bakery every morning, to stroll down cobbled streets in the warmth of an early summer evening's breeze, to wake early and surf a new break every day, and to ultimately, meet some new people along the way...
Every so often I seem to get the jitters. I have a tendency to feel agitated, perhaps a little stuck. I love Cornwall and always have done. However, sometimes it can feel like you're almost too sheltered, tucked away inside this safe little bubble. It's a beautiful bubble, but nevertheless, after a full winter nestled inside, cosied up in front of the fire, as the storms rage outside all winter long, it can sometimes feel a little constricting.
I decided to fly to Faro and take advantage of the cheap new flights direct from Newquay for a week away before I started my new job. I booked myself into a surf camp in Sagres. I wanted to take every opportunity to surf. Say yes, to everything. Be up for everything. To push myself out of my cosy Cornish comfort zone I had successfully managed to hide myself behind the whole winter.
I have visited Sagres a few times before, so I knew the place fairly well already, but had never visited on my own and had yet to stay in a hostel in this area. I had always previously been camping in a van, but this time round I booked myself in to the
. As soon as I arrived, I knew I had chosen the right spot. Its relaxed outdoor lounging area with whitewashed walls, sun drenched palms and plants a plenty... The perfect summer haven.
The people working there were so friendly, the other people staying were lovely. All nationalities. All wanting the same thing... To surf and explore.
I met some of the kindest, loveliest, most beautiful people whilst staying here. When travelling alone, it really doesn't take long to meet other like-minded people, such as Lena. A kind hearted, open minded beautiful soul; who just so happened to love surfing, adventures, sunshine and the outdoors as much as me, maybe even more so!
A true beauty!
We ended up surfing almost every day together; scoring some super fun small waves at Mareta, some slightly bigger, heavier waves at Beliche, and some even bigger, heavier surf over in Amado. We were constantly receiving tips and helpful advice from the coaches at Algarve Surf School. They were amazing, even managing to take a few snaps of us in action along the way:
Me at Beliche
Me on some tiddlers at Mareta
Lena enjoying Mareta's fun tiddlers
Lena full speed ahead
I fell in love with Sagres this time. It was a completely different experience to all the other times I had visited. This time round, I was on my own, and I loved it. I have travelled solo a few times before and I can't recommend it enough. It makes you feel so free, you can do whatever you want, and if you're worried about being on your own... just don't! You will never be alone for long; there are always like-minded people out there.
I met some of the most amazing people whilst out in Portugal, I didn't want to come home. So much so, I ended up extending my flight home for a couple more days just so I could stay that little bit longer, explore a little bit more every day, get to know people better. I wanted to extend my flight further and further. I just didn't want to leave. I felt like I had found a second home, I wanted to live here. It wasn't just because the sun shined so much more than back at home. It was the people. The people living here, I fell a little in love and couldn't see myself not returning.
This first trip was in May 2017 and it marked something in me so deeply, so much so, I wound up returning to this place at least 3 more times last year. I believe many people have been marked in a similar way, by this beautiful part of the world. It appears to have the same effect on people that Cornwall does. You feel that pang of heartbreak when the time to leave comes, yet simultaneously, you feel so completely fulfilled and content having visited in the first place.
I had the most incredible opportunity meeting the people I did. This is a beautiful part of the world which, coincidentally, is full of amazing and beautiful people too.
This place will stick with me forever, there is no doubt about that. I shared incredible memories with people here.
I have found that a lot of the time, it is always the people you meet along the way that make the journey, the whole experience, so worthwhile. Had I only surfed and not tried to talk and get to know people here, I wouldn't have had half the experience I did.
It showed me how important it is to push yourself out of your comfort zone whenever you possibly can. This is when you will truly grow and change, at least, that is what I've found for myself. It will always be worth saying "Hi"to someone, even though the shyness can sometimes be crippling. It will more often than not be worth it, and it was certainly worth it this time round for me.
I don't regret a single bit of my time spent here.
Paddle boarding round the caves of Lagos
Enjoying my morning rituals at the hostel: fresh coffee, a stretch in the morning sun in my bright and beautiful