Olá, meus Amantes. I’m coming to you today from my perch atop a small cliff at Praia do Figueira along the southern coast of Portugal, somewhere between Lagos and Sagres. I’m watching waves of the prettiest blue green water crash in as the sun bakes the salt from my dip in the icy Atlantic into my already darkened skin. I’m rolling solo today as my cohort has been bed down with the wine flu, but that’s ok with me. I have you, my Lovers, the ocean, the waves, and a handful of naked Europeans to keep me company.
In each of our cities, we have a group of two or three locals deemed our City Team who run our local experiences, give recommendations for everything you can think of and just make sure we have a good experience in general. This month’s team provided us with 3×5 cards in the first week with a few local recommendations. At the bottom of mine was suggestions for an epic west coast road trip. Never one to turn down a local recommendation, when Starbucks Lightning messaged me last week and said he just felt like he had to get out of Lisbon, I knew just the trip. When I told one of the team we were going, he lit up and gave me another (two) handful of beach recs and a pizza place that he said was the best he’d ever had. We rented a Panda, mapped it out, and planned to head south via the west coat of this gorgeous country.
I had previously stated that one of my goals this year was not to drive at all, but this itinerary was epic and worth it, and SL’s Brit ass is incapable of driving on the correct side of the road, so I slipped into the driver’s seat, got my stick shift skills in gear (see what I did there?) and we headed out. Over the next 11 or so hours, we wound through a national park, stopping at every beach the city team threw at us. From Sines we hit Porto Covo, where we hit the cliffs and took in the views. From there we would down to Praia do Tonel and Porto das Bracas where we pulled into a fishing cove and the locals were not impressed. Onto Zambujeria, where SL napped on the beach – exhausted from a long day of riding passenger – and we got lunch, and I ordered way too much shrimp because I don’t understand the metric system. From there it was Odeceixe. We hiked down to the beach waded across a makeshift river, and trekked across the black cliffs that were laced with marble to get the best ‘gram photos. By this point we are torn between hitting all the beaches and conserving daylight, so we hightail it back up the cliffs (after I asked and SL said “fuck the stairs”) to hit Arrafina, where other remotes are, but we are up on the cliffs and they are down on the beach. Time for just one more, we park it at Praia do Amado until I drag us back up because my old ass doesn’t see well in the dark and the sun is going down.
Despite my irresponsibly large shrimp lunch, I’m famished shortly after arriving at our hotel, so I put on a pretty dress, invite my British travel companion, and descend to the restaurant alone after he declines. I wasn’t that way long though, as they had mushroom truffle risotto on the menu, and SL loves his truffle. We wine and dine (well, I martini’d) and decide to check out the Lagos bar scene after gathering some recommendations from the hotel bartenders and some regulars at the bar. None of the bars are particularly impressive, so we spend our evening hopping from one to the next before attempting to grab a cab home…. thing is, there are no cabs. The hotel is 3 miles out, so I vehemently oppose SL’s poorly crafted plan to walk, stubbornly plop down on the sidewalk and pull out my phone to call Hey Jude, my virtual assistant app. In my slightly inebriated and full on tantrum state, I instruct my VA to get us home. Where are you going? I don’t know, but you made the reservations for me, so look it up. Where are you? I don’t know. Pinpoint my location. And they did. 15 minutes later, a taxi shows up and whisks us home. Hey Jude FTW.
The next morning, a full fledged hangover and a full English breakfast take SL down for the count, so I’m left to go beach exploring by myself. A little me time never hurt anyone, and when you’re rolling 47 deep at all times, it’s actually a refreshing change of pace. I take off in the Panda, park at Praia Cabana Velhas, and before I can get out, four fellow Earharts on scooters pass me by. We exchange pleasantries and they scoot off while I head up to the top of a cliff. The beach itself is neat, with bean bags and straw umbrellas, but I’m not feeling it, so I load up and move on to the next, where I find myself now. This beach is by far my favorite despite the 15-20 minute hike to get it it. When you approach the beach, to the left is a cliff with the ruins of an old fort at the top (which is where I run into my fellow remotes again), a lagoon straight on, and to the right, a neat rock laden bridge across a tiny stream that leads to a small, not so crowded beach with cliffs that wrap around to tinier and more private beaches. This is where you find the naked people. And my perch. I don’t want to leave this place. Ever. There is no cell service. The waves are perfect and the sky is clear. Alas, there are more beaches to see, so we will pick this up later.
I’m now finishing this post from the Lisbon airport on travel day. I should have stayed on that beach. I carried on to two more beaches, Zavial and Ingrina, but my love for Figueira was too great, so after being as disappointed as one can be in South Portugal beaches, I check back in with SL to see if he has rejoined the land of the living. He has, so I circle back to get him and we head to a tiny little village in the hills of Portugal to have what Tomas called “the best pizza he’s ever had”. The village itself is quaint and quiet, with Pizza Pazza very obviously being the focal point of 80% of visitors. We both gaze out at the hills while each devouring our own pizza (Tomas did not steer us wrong). Before we make our way back to civilization, we climb up a hill to investigate an abandoned house where all you can hear is the bells on the cows in the pasture below.
After our adventure in the hills, we drive down into Sagres to catch the sunset across the cliffs. SL uses his nerd brain to explain deep space matters to me, including what kind of eclipse is coming and why we can’t look directly at it. Hey, I may be able to talk taxes and numbers backwards and forwards, but science is just not my jam. After the sun dips below the cliffs, we leave the beaches and head into town to meet other remotes for some good wine, good food, great convos and even better theatrics regarding a lonely bar patron that we stalk across multiple bars.
Monday we are ready to head home, but not before one last trip to Figueira, one last climb up a hill, one last dip in the Atlantic, and one more bask in the sun. Our drive home is relatively uneventful, although SL does take us on a few “adventurous detours” and we get a taste of Lisbon rush hour traffic. Luckily our workspace has a shower, so when I slide in nearly two hours after planned, I’m able to go straight there and rinse off the sand that’s still clinging to my legs, thereby officially ending our west coat adventure.
Stay tuned for Sintra and Lisbon my lovers.