Girly Surf Trip
Lack of knowledge of the language was no problem, apart from being ashamed that I could only say 'obrigada' - 'thankyou'. We managed to get what we wanted most of the time - a girl's best friend is a sweet smile! The 'Guardia' stopped us once; we gave up trying to understand each other and they let us go (even though I had no licence with me).
I still have no idea what they stopped us for - could have been for the very short shorts we had on! Or the 'photos-out-the-window' tourist antics...or my driving. On second thoughts, the tailgating antics of the Portugese are far more dangerous than anything I could dream up.
We camped everywhere - it was a real budget trip. Loads of other English and lots of Germans too. We were looking for some, err... fun, and mostly found couples, all loved up with their perfect little tent setups, where we had two busted tents and only one pan for cooking between us...
Peniche is a beautiful town, with the port and the old cobbled streets making an absolute maze. We checked out Baleal where there was a nice wave breaking but it was crowded. We were so tired after the driving that we voted to set up camp and be on it the next day. Mistake! It was too windy the next day, plus we were too hungover...
The beach bar at Baleal is full of surfy types, beer's cheap enough and all the cigarettes are long ones. It pumps all night with lots of cheesy tunes and happy sunburnt people. Hope the guy whose knuckles I rapped as he was trying to get in the girl's toilet window has learnt his lesson though!
We also went to 'Numero Uno Bar', on a tip from a local girl. I have to say it was the scariest place in the world. All the chicks had facial hair and belonged to one of two clubs: they were either wearing orange t-shirts or a uniform that was a cross between the Girl Guides and air hostess kit. We got a bit freaked out and left, forgetting to pay the tab that you are automatically given in a lot of Portugese bars. Sorry guys!
Ericeira was the next stop - even prettier but full of gorgeous bikini-clad chicks with amazing tans who could all surf better than us! It was just that bit too big for me - I don't have a lot of reef experience and chickened out. I psyched myself up fully, got changed, walked down there, watched a girl get an absolute pounding and froze. Could not get in that water. Ericeira - I'll be back for you!
So we scooted on down to the Algarve, to Sagres, which was one of my favourite parts of the holiday. The town is small and less touristy than some other areas in the Algarve. We found the people friendly and there was some night life even out of season. Try the cool 'Bubble Bar' - the owners are real sweeties and later on, the 'Dromedario' for drunken antics. The campsite was the best we stayed in, decent showers and no-one stopped us having a little fire.
Went straight down to Praia de Tonel and caught a sweet little swell on the drop with only a few out. Stayed out for hours, a bit bumpy but a lot of fun, and the water was much warmer! Next day it went colder, we were in the wrong spot really. We went out in bigger waves which were jacking up then sucking dry which meant I ended up with sand up my nose, in my ears and all over. Met a couple of guys who were living in tents under the beach bar with just their guitars, boards and fishing gear. What a way to spend the summer!
We saw Beliche working properly - it was about 6ft, some barrels, clean as a whistle, light offshore, hot day. Bouncing off the cliff to create an A-frame peak which had about 6 spongers and only one stand up on it. Few were trying it, (I saw many not even able to paddle out) but the cliff was ringed with people hooting and cheering every ride. It was great to watch but I didn't get surfing that day.
Tonel was just frightening, while Mareta was flat. We were told later by some Aussies that 'Supertubos' at Ericeira was going off the same day while they were running a comp. This coastline has so many nooks and crannies that there's always somewhere to surf! Next time I go back, it will be to explore more of the Algarve and take on Ericeira again. With cheap flights to Faro and Lisbon, why not?
Check out more pics from this trip here