The memorable Portugal story continues...
After the incredible hot day in Lisboa, it was time for my next stop: Peniche! The fourth day was the last day and I was dreaming about my next adventure all day. My first time surfing, and above all in the surf-capital of Europe… How will it be?
Because I wanted to fill my day in Lisboa, I decided to take the last bus to Peniche. This was a very risky decision because I had to run to catch my bus in time. If I arrived 15 minutes
later, I could have missed the bus and my hostel in Peniche was already booked. Luckily I was there in time. I bought my ticket (very cheap: €9), loaded my luggage and searched for a seat in the Rede Expressos. I really enjoyed the view for 90 minutes long while listening to music through my headphones. I realised even more now that Portugal is a lovely place in Europe!
When I arrived at the last busstop, it was one big question how to get the hostel! There were plenty of people, but it was like everyone knew how to get at their location except a few people. I asked some guys if they knew the place I was looking for and most of them never heard about it. I was perplexed. Eventually I started a conversation with a very relaxed dude who was waiting in a jeep with some passengers in it. It was surf a teacher of one of the surf camps in Peniche. Here was my good karma, he knew the Surfers Lodge and was able to drop me off for free right in front of the hostel in Baleal! Ooooh what a day…
I checked myself in, they gave me some more information about the surflessons and I went to the room. I bumped fast onto the only negative point of the day. I noticed the Surfers Lodge wasn’t really a hostel, but more a hotel with bunk bedroom. I felt alone for the first time, but at the same time it was the most luxurious stay throughout the area so I didn’t care and went to sleep.
Finally the day had come I learned surfing. I couldn’t imagine a better place to start surfing than in the breathtaking area called Baleal. It wasn’t that negative the Surfers Lodge was more like a hotel because the surf lessons were given in a very small group. The real hostels in Baleal/Peniche were more like the stay for the surfcamps over there (read big groups). My lessons were perfect, it almost felt like I had some private surflessons. The group consisted of a married couple and myself.
We gathered downstairs in the hotel, we’ve put on our wetsuits and off we go. We walked
in pairs on our bare feet to the beach with one board in each hand. Once we were there, we had a warm-up and a little training on the sand about how to peddle and stand on the board. When all this was kind of clear, we were able to try it in the water and it felt amazing. The first day I was able to stand up and surf the wave till the end, of course without curving into the waves. It was quite funny my teacher noticed I’m a snowboarder because of my style, I leaned too much backwards. At the end of day we stretched a bit and went back to the hotel.
The lessons only found place in the morning. So after the lessons the really big question I asked myself was “what will I do for the rest of the day”. I explored the Surfers Lodge from head to toe and ended my scout at the reception to ask for more information about the sights of Baleal. Except surfing, there was almost nothing to do in the fishing village.
At that point of time I saw a young guy drinking a beer at the bar. I stepped into him and started a chat. Shaun was an Irish guy who just ended his shift in the kitchen of the Surfers Lodge. We had a good talk and he wanted to show the area. Eventually at the end of the conversation he invited me to his place. I took a free bike from the Surfers Lodge and followed him to the next village, my day was planned. Untill now, I’m still thankful for his invite!
At that moment I really felt the added value of travelling alone. I’m quite sure you will agree with me that you don’t approach the locals if you aren’t alone, most of the time you’ll stay in the same group over and over again. I have a lot of stories from that specific day, but that’s a bit too much to tell. Discover the added value for yourself!
The second day of surfing, there was a new guy in the group. A father from Canada who had a break between two jobs and decided to have an European surftrip by his own. It became clear it was a nice man to talk with and we had some things in common. One thing in specific is that he had an important advertising job in Canada and I was and still am studying a digital marketing and communication postgraduate. After the lesson our ways split, but we agreed to eat together in the evening. The rest of the day I just went with the flow. I went to a restaurant, did a walk on the beaches and visited some shops.
In the evening we met again for dinner. After dinner we went out to explore the hostels in the near area because I was thinking to move to another hostel. I didn’t feel the sense of belonging in the Surfers Lodge and wanted something more. I didn’t want to bother Geoff all day, so it was the best solution to find something new. I knew where the Irish girl was staying (which I’ve met in Lisboa), so the Maximum Surfcamp hostel couldn’t be missed in the exploration. When we found the place Sinéad was staying, we’ve directly noticed each other. We drunk something together and she invented me to a nightclub. I was in a smart mood and refused her proposal since the next day was my last day of surfing. We replaced the invite to the next day and I went to sleep.
Unfortunately the third day was my last day of surfing, but I enjoyed it to the fullest. I was really glad I was could catch the waves. I was even able to catch the curves of the waves at the end of the day. It was possible to book an extra day of surfing, but that was too expensive over there. In the beginning I booked a package of three days. A package of five days should have been doable, but the fifth day I had to leave Peniche to catch my plane.
After my morning of surfing and the exploration of the hostels the day before, I decided to move to the hostel Captain Loghouse. I can’t remember why I haven’t moved to the Maximum Surfcamp hostel, but I think it has something to do with the price and the available places. After my evening dinner with Geoff, I went to the Maximum Surfcamp with a bottle of wine to meet Sinéad again. She was able to give me a discount wristband for the cocktail bar the group was going. We were able to get to know each other and had an awesome and drunk night.
Logically I was a bit broke after the night out, but I could handle my hangover. When I woke up, I packed my luggage to leave Peniche the next day. One of the first things I saw in Belgium when planning my trip were the Berlengas Islands, It looked incredible. From the start of my stay in the Surfers Lodge I asked if it was still possible to visit the islands. Their first answer was disappointing, but lastly it was able to manage a trip to the Berlengas.
I told Geoff about it from day one and he sounded positive about it. Luckily when the Surfers Lodge finally took care of the reservation, I was able to find him and we went off. We took his rented car to Peniche and started our search for the boat. They told us in advance there was a little storm at sea. We thought “if the captain still sails to the island, he definitely will be able to bring us safely”. I never saw such big waves in my life and we were sailing on them. It was one hell of a trip, but it was worth it! Geoff and I met regularly during our stay in Baleal and we became great buddies. In the evening, we drunk something together in the cocktailbar to end my solo trip in style.
The next morning I took the taxi to the Rede Expressos station. I took the bus to Lisboa, went back to the Desination Sunset hostel to drink some cocktails and make my last dip in the pool. Unluckily all good stories have an end, so I had to catch my plane to Belgium. Bye Lisboa, bye Peniche, bye Baleal, bye incredible awesome people I’ve met… See you next time!