Sunday, November 24, 2013

So Close To The Sea You Forget To Count The Days-Lagos/Peniche/Lisbon, Portugal

Being in Spain we couldn't go past the opportunity to fly over to Portugal for the week. The plan was there is no plan, as per usual. With James birthday coming up we decided the best place to start would be in Lagos, Portugal's notorious party town.

Lagos is the least Portuguese town you could ever imagine. Its streets, bars, shops, beaches and restaurants are all jam packed with Australians, Americans and the British. However after one glance at the long sandy beaches and cliff edges I could instantly see why so many flock here for the summer season in hope of making Lagos their home. It was wondrous place, I had instantly fallen in love. 

We stayed at the Stumble Inn a cool little hostel run by an awesome chilled out New Zealand couple. After a long day relaxing on the beach we would all come together in the hostel court yard where we would put on the barbecue and drink all night. Almost everyone that worked at the hostel also worked at the local bar The Jam, which is where we would end up every night without fail. The Jam is one of those places where the bar tenders got a cigarette in there mouth whilst there pouring a drink for you with one hand and a drink for themselves with the other, and thats the way we liked it.

Come James' birthday I was more excited then he was surprising him in the morning with birthday candle lit donuts I took him out for a birthday breakfast. We went to the locals choice Odean Cafe a tiny dingy cafe that looks like nothing more then a hole in a wall. It was the best breakfast we had in the last five months spoiling ourselves with a plate full of greasy breakfast goodness and milkshakes that tasted like real milkshakes, after months of croissants and cold meats and cheeses we were finally at home and from that point on Odean's newest regulars. 

After a day of birthday shopping and chilling on the beach I took James down to The Garden a funky little restaurant that had a huge open fire grill. We went full throttle ordering cocktails, and countless plates of food. James decided to go for the glazed ribs and the look on his face when they came out was absolutely priceless, it was as if all his birthdays had just come at once. Our night eventuated into the recurring pattern of hostel drinks and then The Jam. Except this time it was in James honour.  

One of the must do's in Lagos is the cliff walk down to the light house. We called it the mini great ocean road as it reminded us of all the beauties of the south coast of Australia. The views made me feel nothing but calmness. For a moment in time I truly thought I was back home, back in the safe arms of my country. The light house itself is nothing special but the view of the sunset around it was absolutely sensational. 

Although we kept extending our time in Lagos with our flight looming closer we knew we had to finally head off if we intended to see anymore of what Portugal has to offer. We made our way up the coast to the sleepy little surfing town of Peniche. Peniche is a town where you don't know if everyones eyes are red from all the surfing they have been doing or from all the weed they have been smoking, we soon learnt it was a mixture of the both which didn't bother us either way. 

We stayed in West Hostel, a sweet little pad run purely solo by a local guy Glauco. The hostel was more like a home. Whilst staying there we met a hilarious German guy who spent three weeks the same time every year in Peniche. He knew almost everyone one who signed the hostels wall and knew of there crazy Peniche stories. It gave the hostel such a great friendly vibe. 

Peniche is set out on a peninsula so to get the most out of our sight seeing we rented a bike for the day and took off hugging the cliff coast line all the way around the circumference. We definitely chose to head the wrong way around peddling the entire time up hill under the scolding Portuguese sun. The views we were greeted with made our efforts worth every minute of it. I have been to the coast of Croatia, Italy, France and Spain so I think I am well within my right to judge and say that hands down without thinking twice Portugal has the most spectacular coastline and beaches in Europe that I have witnessed.  

If your not surfing then your not living. Peniche's surf culture is what makes this town what it is. To wake up grab your board and walk a few steps and have clean barrels right before your eyes was the perfect position to be in. Surfing the day away there was no better way of living. Its was to perfect for its own good. 

Two nights was no where near enough time. Peniche is definitely one of those places you could easily spend a month just loosing yourself in the rhythm of the waves. We didn't want to leave, refusing to sign and leave a message on the hostel wall I knew in my heart this was no time for goodbyes. I know I will be back sometime in the future, I can feel it.  

The last stop was Portugal's capital city Lisbon. The old city is a picturesque beauty and so different to the rest of the parts of Portugal we had been to. Having such minimal time we opted for a free walking tour to be able to see the most we possibly could. We found that Lisbon is one of those cities where you don't have the pressure to rush out and see certain things. It was quite nice just to wander around and enjoy its friendly nature. 

The week had flown by too quickly, but most weeks normally do. I was no where near ready to leave Portugal behind, there was still so much of the country to see and explore. There was something about it that made me feel at peace and at home. Although we were leaving so soon I wasn't upset. As I was already mentally planning and calculating my return all the way on the flight back into Spain.

The Wanderer's Daughter xx

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