After spending a couple of nights in Albufeira, I took a bus to Lagos. As Albufeira train station is actually located 7km away in another area called Figueiras, it proved more convenient to catch the bus. The journey time was about an hour and only cost a few Euros.
Penny, one of the surf school staff, picked me up from Lagos station. You can arrange pickups with the school in advance for €15. She had no trouble spotting me at all.. I only had to say ‘I have pink hair..’. It was about another half-hour to Sagres.
It was SO HOT that day (as was every other day there haha).. by the time I arrived at the house (Algarve Surf Camp), I felt rather like a wilted petal. A PINK wilted petal!
I WAS IN LOVE WITH THE PLACE THE MOMENT I WAS INSIDE.
^Kind of a lame Instavideo I took hehe
It was just so cool and all I felt like doing was sitting down and having a full on chill-out.
I was shown my room/bed and everything I needed to know around the house, which was pretty empty since everyone was out surfing and won’t be back until the evening.
^The surf house!
^The driveway leading to the house
The ‘Residencial’ is a disused/abandoned hotel which some people enjoy describing as haunted. I heard that it’s possible to enter it and climb up to the roof to watch a magnificent sunset, but sadly I somehow missed out on doing this!
Here are more pics of the house:
^The bar has an open policy whereby you’re free to help yourself to drinks from the fridge, and if you’re not an asshole you then write down your name and what you’ve had in a book on the counter.
There was a social event that evening – BBQ + sangria. I have to say I didn’t expect too much of it.. but the food turned out freakin’ delish. There was lamb, chicken, pork, beef, sausages, potato salad.. everything!
^Just inside the main entrance of the house. Very surfy.
^My room! The I took the top bunk.. and my stuff took the bottom. Yes I was definitely quite glad that no one occupied the bottom one because having that extra space was toooo convenient.
The room wasn’t that big and I shared with four other girls. But not for a moment did I feel suffocated or that I needed more ‘space’. I felt like I was sharing a room with my sisters or friends, in a house as part of a big family!
Everything was very relaxed and often you would find doors left open. No one felt like they needed to guard their belongings like a hawk.
The room had a balcony and a large, ensuite bathroom and toilet. I know this is quite important to some, so I must say it: yes, there is free wifi internet access!
^View from the balcony connected to our room.
Sagres was not what I expected at all. It was a lot more deserted than I pictured.. and very flat! In fact in some ways it had the look and feel of one of those tiny, barely populated towns you would see as part of a zombie apocalypse movie or something (think the ‘Residencial’ building might have contributed to forming this part of my imagination).
I LOVED IT. I loved that it was so quiet. I loved that there was nothing much else to do other than feel the heat of the sun from an empty sky and listen to the leaves and tall grass whispering to each other with every gust of wind. I loved the abundance of beaches. They were like temples – everyone was drawn to them, staying for hours each day. And of course I loved that pretty much everyone was there for one main (and VERY FUN) activity – surfing.
A TYPICAL DAY AT ALGARVE SURF CAMP
Everyone wakes up at about the same time – between 8.30 and 9.00am. I assume no one would wanna be up earlier than that.. unless they’re a real nerd. Anyway. After washing up, getting dressed, and packing our bags, we go down to stuff ourselves with some brekkie!
The lovely staff a.k.a. the house elves puts all the food on display and you can have your pick of the usual cereal stuff, yoghurt, fruits, toast, hot drinks, etc. There’s also a selection of ham, tuna, and cheese plus a variety of bread. Most people used these to make a packed lunch for later.
Sometimes the elves make pancakes or brownies and other treats.. they’re all delicious.
My packed lunch always consisted of a ham/tuna roll, and a giant sandwich stuffed full with Nutella and peanut butter (of course).
At approximately 10am, everyone’s fed and ready to go (except the slow ones.. although I didn’t know of anyone who was so slow that they got left behind). We all pile into the lemons – by this I mean the vans/jeeps – and off we go to the beach!
It’s all very exciting and made me feel somewhat like I was at some sort of boarding school. It was a great sense of community.
After a bumpy 25-30 minutes, we arrive at Praia do Amado. It’s beautiful and has neat lines of manageable waves – perfect for beginners.
^It’s set against a backdrop of cute little midget mountains. I guess I should say ‘hills’.
IT’S REALLY A MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACH.
Please watch this rubbish compilation of rubbish videos I recorded that day.
We linger around and enjoy the sunshine for a bit until everyone gets allocated to their groups/instructors and given wetsuits.
Cristina, a girl who bunked with me, was learning with me. We’d spent the previous evening enjoying a cliffside view of a spectacular setting sun together – so we were pretty much best friends by then.
[In fact, I’m off to Romania to visit her next month!]
^Cristina, Me, GermangirlwhosenameIforgot
This was the last photo of my brilliant neon pink hair before the sun + sea sucked the life out of it. I tried spraying SPF50 sunscreen into my hair, but I don’t think it had any effect.
Once suited, we carried our boards down to the beach, to our little segment – the beach is shared with other surf schools.
We do a little warm up before going into the water – running and some stretches. Lemme tell you that running in a rubbery wetsuit with the sun blazin’ down.. was a bit.. blah. Especially after carrying those heavy boards all that way, while firewalking (the sand was SO HOT).
I’d tried surfing a couple of times before (read about my surf experience in Matosinhos, Porto) and I have good balance and coordination, so I didn’t find it too difficult.
In fact it was SO immensely FUN! I didn’t care about my hair. The sea could eat it all up if it wanted.
The biggest challenge for me was lugging about that huge board – an eight foot one (for beginners) – which kept banging against my legs and ankles, and around which my short arm simply couldn’t fit.
Luckily, they let me switch to a smaller, 6ft one the next day when I asked. Best thing ever! I had EVEN MORE FUN. Every time I fell off I just wanted to go back and try even more. I’m happy to say that I caught some good waves.
I LOVE SURFING!!!!!!
The lessons are split into two sessions with a lunch break in between.
The only shit thing is carrying those boards back up, and then back down again for the second session. Haha!
^Isn’t this the perfect way to spend a lazy hour by the beach?
I spent my breaks down by the beach, playing in the water 🙂
^Me and my stupid hair.
At the end of the afternoon, it’s time to rinse off and hang up your wetsuits etc. And what a lovely setting in which to do so!
There were yoga classes on the beach once or twice a week, and I got to participate in it one evening. It was just MAGICAL (just ignore the part where you lay down and sand keeps blowing onto your every crevice). I loved the view of the green upside-down hills every time I bent over.
Yoga on the beach was so good that I completely fell asleep at the end of it.. vivid dreams and everything.
THE BROKEN JEEP
Yeah, one day, our jeep broke down just as we were leaving to go back.
I think everyone was so high on surfing that no one really cared. To me, it meant more time by the beach and more time in the sunshine!
In the end, the boys had to push the jeep up the road and out of the way while we waited for another vehicle to pick us up.
While waiting, we enjoyed this:
The ocean was glistening like a smooth, shiny tarp.
Eventually, our rescue jeep came and we were back at the house in no time. Everyone has a shower and then you can either stay in for dinner or take a walk to the buzzing, two-street metropolis of Sagres to find food.
As mentioned above, I stayed for a BBQ one night which was superb, and on another evening Cristina and I went out for some traditional Portuguese food instead.
^Dinner at the house
^Me, Sara, Cristina
Sara was our surf instructor. She’s Welsh and she’s so lovely. This pic was taken in Lagos, when it was one of the staff members’ birthdays and everyone went down to celebrate (the nightlife in Sagres was just too much for us to handle).
THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME ALGARVE SURF SCHOOL!
When I was reading the reviews on Tripadvisor I noticed a common theme of people suggesting being flexible with your dates ‘because you’ll want to stay longer’. I thought it was just one of those things that people wrote about places they enjoyed… but you know what, at the end of my three nights there, I REALLY WISHED I COULD STAY LONGER. I wanted to stay so bad! Maybe next summer..