The title perfectly describes my adventures in the South of Portugal. From using shower gel as a body cream, basically falling in every little city I visited and getting hit on by all the golden oldies. I spent roughly 3 and a half weeks laughing till I couldn’t breathe with Keanu, Dino (Keanu’s brother), their aunt and uncle and some of their extended family as well as their friends.
The journey to Portugal started off with a 3-hour flight to Angola. This was pretty relaxed as our plane was late in the evening but I just couldn’t hide my excitement and this stressed my mother out. I had all my stuff packed at maximum capacity of 23kg and ready to go. We flew with TAAG – which was better than expected. The leg room was more than usual and there was smooth sailing from the moment we left the ground. Although the TVs weren’t working, it did help that we brought a book and it was late enough for my body to take a nap. The layover in terms of the duration was a breeze (only 3 hours) but unfortunately, there’s not much to do in Angola airport and they’re so expensive so we did a lot of just sitting, waiting and people watching. Finally, after another 7-hour flight, we landed in the very hot and sunny city of Lisbon (capital city of Portugal).
I had never been to Portugal before and so I brought all my tourist gear except for one – my camera charger. I recently got a what people call a “fancy camera” (a DSLR) and was super excited to take all the photos and play around with iSO and aperture and all these other fancy terms and when that stupid little notification saying that my battery was too low, I almost died. Of course, Dino and Keanu wouldn’t let me forget that. Luckily this was only discovered maybe a week into the holiday – lol.
All in all, Portugal involves a lot of walking in the old towns, up and down some hills and sometimes on a plateau (if you’re lucky). The thing I enjoyed the most is that even though I was eating my weight in ice-cream, pastel da natas and chicken, I couldn’t help but not feel bad due to taking 20 000 steps in different little towns. Here is a list of different little towns that we visited, ate and explored.
This was the first leg of the journey due to the fact that our accommodation was close by in a village called Collegio. We were lucky enough to have Keanu and Dino’s aunt let us stay in their wonderfully decorated ruina. A house that they bought as ruins and built it up, added their special little touch and made it a home. This was lovely as it sometimes felt good to be away from the city (although a 10-minute drive from Lagos).
Lagos is a beautiful little old town filled with vibrant people and cute little stores located in every corner, a beach with killer views and cool caves. Getting lost in this city was an absolute beauty as the roads were decorated with colourful houses and mosaic streets. I loved visiting all the little stores that were unique to Portugal. The man ( and sometimes lady) with his little one room panini store, the different store that only sold cork (since it’s the main export), the little ice cream store ( that I visited way too many times) and the little gift shops that had tiles and sardine patterns. I know that most of the shops I mentioned I have, have food but hey what can I say Portugal is delicious. The nightlife here is cool. Late nights, happy hours, young people and a few golden oldies that I couldn’t get rid of lol.
Whilst in this lovely city, we went to a Farmers Market by the bus station. This is where I saw a tomato the size of my face, different types of loaves of bread that were sold, different items of baked goods and of course an array of vegetable and fruits that the farmers had brought to sell. The uncle decided to buy snails that we sadly stayed in the fridge for too long and so we didnt eat them.
We all decided that going paddle boarding out in the ocean was a good idea. As much fun as it was, it turned out to be harder than we thought which almost left us stranded on a little beach. Keanu got motion sickness from the waves, Dino was down to his last chocolate bar and the waves wouldn’t allow us to back to where the beach we had started. Every time it felt like we paddled really hard and were moving forward, we soon realized that no matter how much we paddled we were in the same spot. Thanks to Dino’s courageous efforts we had got a lift back with one of the kayaker instructors on their boats and made it safely and happily back. Don’t get me wrong, it’s super fun and a beautiful way of seeing the caves. Recommendation – is that you should have your own board. Keanu and I shared one and so the weight made it kind of hard to move fast.
If there is one thing I would advise with any trip is plan ahead for what you will do when you visit another place that you’re not very familiar with. Although a cheap little train stop of 3 euros, we clearly underestimated the size and distance it would take to get to the beach from the train station. A little over 20 000 step trip we found out how far exactly it is and learned that hills make the journey just a little harder. Although long, we did enjoy journeying up and down this side of the Algarve.
Not so funny story time – Portugal is a HOT and I mean hot place to be! Being the alcoholic that I am, I decided that I would buy a cider (forgetting that I didn’t have a bottle opener). I struggled as we walked towards the beach to open the cider and thankfully Dino found a way. My shoes didn’t have grip. The downward hill to the beach was steep and the floors were very slippery and so the minute I stepped on to the sidewalk, my cider shot up in the air and so did my legs and I landed hard on to my elbow and bottom. So most people that had seen me fall had most likely thought I was a drunkard who just couldn’t balance. Well done Nkuli, well done.
After the incidence, we visited the top of one of the points on the beach and enjoyed the views
Faro was a city that was very beautiful, had lots of churches to see and could easily be explored by those that don’t have a lot of time but want a little history to take with them. This little town had a lot to offer but was very close by and although we devoted a whole day to see what Faro had to offer we had already done so in an 2 hours or so.
Our day consisted of visiting the must see churches of the area. Portugal, as I soon found out, is a religious country. Keanu and I went to the Cathedral in which had seen a small structure that was made of bones – yes human bones. Accordance to my research and what I have been told – the structure was made of bones in order to create more space as the cemeteries were overflowing. The cathedral had a really cool bell tower kinda place, in which you could view a little bit of the Old Town.
We later met up with Dino walked the town a bit and went to a chapel that was made of bones too. Although creepy it looked really cool.The story behind the chapel was to scare the locals into not doing bad things.
All in all this day was fun. We looked like tourists trying to figure out where we were using the map instead of technology.
The Algarve is a beautiful place in which you can spend a lot of the time by the ocean and enjoying the summer sun. If we weren’t out and about exploring the lovely cities mentioned above, we would be at home by the pool unwinding and be seeing friends of the Batista family. Lots of laughs were shared and sangrias drank. I tasted numerous amounts of cheese and had lots of prosunto (parma ham) . This is a place in which I will definitely come back to in the future.
(Blog post the North of Portugal coming soon.)