Portugal

I’m writing this retrospectively…we actually got back from Portugal a few weeks ago (it’s taking me a while to get used to the technology). And I’m realising that where I pictured I would be posting stuff up as I travel, actually I also have ongoing reflections about the places I’ve visited, some of which will take longer to take shape. So there’s more to be said about my experiences in France, which I will share in due course. But in the meantime, onto Portugal…

I went on a 10 day holiday with a couple of good friends to this lovely little surfer cum hippy dude type place called Odeceixe (pronounced “Oh-de-seysh”) in the North Algarve off the South West coast of Portugal.

Colourful bunting is strung up throughout the village, blowing in the gentle, cooling coastal breeze. The place is so small, you encounter the same local people and tourists each day.

We walked the 3km to the beach most days- a pleasant walk over some fields, and along a quiet road following the tidal river towards the sea.

We stayed in a FABULOUS hostel called “Hostel Seixe”, run by a lovely friendly local lady called Nadine. Most people stayed a few days and then moved on, but we stayed put for the whole 10 days. Why wouldn’t you? It was a really beautiful spot.

The pretty, white washed, orange roofed little houses of the village tumble attractively down a hillside. After quite a steep but short ascent, we arrived at this beautiful viewpoint, replete with a very picturesque windmill with its sails tethered. Here are my friends, enjoying the view over towards the river and the sea in one direction, and the rest of the village in the other. (Either that, or they were posing for a cover for their new music album 😆)

Portugal is a relatively cheap place to eat out in. As you can see, we dined splendidly on the evenings when we decided to go out for a treat. The fresh fish and red wine and the famous Portuguese Tarts (Pastel da Nata) were to die for. A meal including delicious starters, a bottle of wine, three fresh fish dishes, two generous portions of chips and a couple of portions of veg/salad cost us 12€ each. And the waiter brought us some delicious honey liqueur afterwards on the house, too. (We went back there again!)

On other evenings when we cooked for ourselves, we dined splendidly too, and at very little cost. (We bought a bottle delicious local wine in the supermarket for less than 3€.)

Every time I go away, I seem to end up hurting myself somehow. This does not bode well for my Big Trip! The Portuguese holiday was no exception. I looked at the tidal river and thought, “Could I swim across that? It’s not very wide. Sure I could swim across it no problem! I swim a lot further at the pool every week…”

This ☝🏼 is me in naive optimistic mode. It was nearly the last photo of me alive, though!

…and this is the photo of my wounds, which dripped blood in quite an impressive way before I could stem the flow enough to be able to wash my hands and take the photo!

I swam out into the river just far enough to get caught in the strong current (fortunately going inland at that point), then realised I was drifting upstream a lot quicker than I was making progress towards the shore. It’s really quite frightening swimming in one direction but being pulled inexorably much faster sideways! I kept swimming and eventually I reached some rocks on the shore upstream from the beach. I clung onto them for dear life while the tide bashed my toes and legs against their sharp edges. My arms started to ache, I knew I needed to move, but I also realised I didn’t have the strength to hang on much longer, let alone pull myself up. I panicked, but then, remembering mindfulness training, I realised “I’m panicking I need to stop”, began to breathe more deeply, and then was able to use the rational part of my brain to work out that if I edged along the rocks I would arrive in a niche where the tide would push me up onto them, where the rocks were lower down too, so I stood a chance of actually being able to haul myself up onto them.

It worked, I climbed out and up some steps through a bit of someone’s garden and then back onto the public path and the longer way back round to the beach where my friends were waiting for me. Most of my toes had little cuts on them which made walking across the sand pretty painful, but by that point I was just happy to be alive and back where I belonged!

If this is the sort of thing I end up doing when I’m with my friends, what will happen when I’m travelling solo??? Hmmm lesson learned about tides and tidal rivers, anyway. Odeceixe river: 1 Ali: 0

2 thoughts on “Portugal

  1. Lovely pics, looks grand. Your experience in the river took me back to an experience I had in the sea at the Western side of Brittany. I was swimming with Adam who must have been about 6. While he could swim he was obviously not a strong swimmer at that age. And all the (false as it turned out) confidence I’d acquired through my years of happy childhood experiences in the sea with Bryan Mavis and Carol rapidly evaporated when the current grabbed both Adam and I, and it looked like we were heading away from the shore and out into a very large river estuary. I was holding onto Adam and somehow managed to steer us onto some rocks at the estuary mouth, where I sustained similar injuries to yours. Even tho Adam escaped any harm, Liz could barely talk to me for about a week!

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    1. Oh my!! Sounds like a properly scary experience! These things stay with you. It’s amazing what strength and fast decision making you sometimes find when you’re up against it. Maybe that could be an encouragement that at least 90% of the time blind terror will not win in the end? Here’s hoping…! Xxx

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