To ‘the end of the world’ - and back.
We’ve hit the road with the travelling box, leaving Lisbon but taking the sun with us. Indie folk tunes played as we head south, ready to swap our shoes for sandals and get off the beaten track. Our first stop, and the first view of Atlantic waves, is Porto Covo. We jump out quickly, just to savour the first breaths of ocean air and feel the sun on our skin, before carrying on to Almograve, where we’re going to spend our first night. We get a spot to stay for the night, between sandy dunes and wild succulents that covered the cliff edge, but far back enough from the unforgiving drop down to choppy waters. The back doors are open and the camping gas is on with our first oceanside dinner simmering away. The best restaurant truly is where you park it. As the ocean shimmers in the setting sun, we quickly wash the pots while there’s still some daylight before snuggling up in hoodies just to savour the delicious transition from the golden hour to the star-studded night’s sky.
After climbing down the steep wooden steps to Praia dos Alteirinhos we find a sunny spot to splay out on the sand. It’s much firmer and much, much colder than we were expecting. Just as we’re starting to drift off for a sultry midday nap, a sudden wave rushes up and covers our ankles but, luckily, stopping just before our waists only to be pulled back again from where it came. We’re wide awake within a second, jumping up and grabbing our belongings and, most valuable of them all, the camera bag! It’s all too easy to be fooled by the midday sun and doze off for a while, forgetting about the ocean and her tides…
Next stop further down the coast is Praia do Amado, where we end up spending three glorious, scorching days camping up on the cliffs overlooking the wide sandy beach and roaring waves. The huge swell and awesome waves make it a surfer’s paradise, the clifftop full of vans from travellers and surfers from all over Europe. We walk up on the headland, where the sun is strong is pretty strong and, in fact, I get burnt in not very much time at all. Here it feels really Mediterranean and you can feel the proximity to northern Africa.The rocks are deep orange, the tracks are dusty and full of rubble and the cliffs are covered in tropical succulents.
Even if the road getting down to Praia da Murração is enough to make me close my eyes and hold my breath (as a passenger!) it’s not enough to put off other travellers, as there was quite a collection of travellers at the bottom. There’s even a queue of cars and vans waiting and hoping to find room to park. Luckily we’ve got the advantage that our van is small and agile, and can pretty much fit into any small space that became available. It’s not long until we manage to get an ocean view spot right on the sand, just in time to make a pot of bean chilli for dinner. This is one of those small things that make the biggest difference during these for me. Eating van chef meals straight from the pot watching the sunset over gentle waves, not wearing a watch but instead just guessing what time it is by the position of the sun in the sky, having cold water shows by the side of the van but getting sandy again immediately afterwards. This trip is getting me back in touch with nature and honestly, it feels like a retreat. For me, two days at Praia da Murração with absolutely no phone signal, stripped back to basics and taking some quality time out of the “real” world, is a sanctuary. Taking it slow and taking a break from the constant multitasking in our day-to-day lives feels long overdue. Being curious, listening to our bodies and being in tune with the natural world around us is such a welcome change in pace. The familiar places we’ve revisited and new ones we’re discovering are real paradises, and reaching them all in our home on wheels just made the simplicity of it all so much sweeter.
Praia do Canal, is completely deserted. Other than the Austrian van parked at the top of the hill, that probably wouldn’t make it down the steep, rubble road and hairpin bends, we are the only ones here. Rather than the sandy beaches that we’ve come to expect during our trip along the Vicentine Coast, it’s a pebble beach with huge grey stones from the grassy dunes all the way out to the shore. Amidst the rocks lush, green plants are sprouting out. The sea mist and low grey clouds made it easy to forget that it was August. Night descends and the mist still doesn’t rise. Never mind, we have our campfire to keep up cosy. Only after the fire finally goes out did the clouds start to clear to show the sky full of stars. We lie there awake all night, our heads hanging over the edge of the bed and out of the van just to lie there starstruck, gazing up at the night’s sky, our minds drifting away with the sound of each gentle wave breaking on the pebbles, a journey of a different kind. Although there are many contenders, I think tonight might just be my highlight of the trip
All in all, we spend 12 days on the road, exploring 9 different beaches and covering 1500km. We reach Sagres, which sits at the most south-westerly point of Portugal on the cliffs of the Atlantic ocean and the very edge of Europe. Back in the 15th century, Europeans even thought it to be the end of the world. We may not have left the country but for me, it feels like we’ve gone much further than we have. It’s been my welcome to Portugal, just a few days after packing up and moving from another country and the beginning of a new adventure for us. What better way to mark a new chapter together, than with adventure and exploration itself? The Vicentine Coast is going straight to the top of my list of European destinations! The deserted beaches and memories made there will hold a special place in my heart and the saudades of clifftop sunset dinners outside our little home on wheels stay with me until our next trip.
My Caravan Stories