I know it has been a while so I assure you this one will be extra good!
Last week I went to Alentejo, Portugal. My first time here. (Alentejo is the green area on the map.) I flew from Brussels to Lisbon, with TAP airlines, and picked up my rental car at the Centauro office. I booked this car in advance via Rentalcars. I needed the car because I was staying in Vila Nova de Milfontes, a small town near Sines. Almost a 3h drive from Lisbon and used my own GPS. The roads in Portugal are really good and there are many clear direction indicators. For people, who get car sick, I wouldn’t recommend to travel by car, because once you are off the highway there are only sharp bends and many hills.
When I arrived in Vila Nova de Milfontes, my apartment was already cleaned so I could install my stuff immediately. I stayed at Dunamar apartments, which I booked via Booking.com. The apartment was awesome and I had a huge terrace with a pretty view on the river and a sea view on the other side. I was very lucky to have a good airconditioning system, because I had all the afternoon-evening sun on my window and my apartment got HOT HOT HOT by that time.
I was only going to be here for 1 week so I was determined to make it an active vacation.
The first day I arrived quite late in the afternoon so I used my time to discover the little village and passed by the tourist bureau to explore my options. In the evening I had dinner at a restaurant called Morais. They make the best scampi in tomato sauce.
In the next few days I went surfing twice, a kayak trip, horse riding and had my first SUP experience.
I decided the first day to explore the area on horseback. I like to see the area from another point of view than a car window, so this is why. And also because I love horses and the free feeling they give me. It is no surprise that I can get to many different places by horse than by car or on foot. The trip was organized by a ranch called Monte d’Avó. I chose them because their horses looked very healthy and strong. I had a lot of fun and saw beautiful places like the cork-oak plantations, an eucalyptus tree forest, a lake,… We actually walked through the lake with our horses. Luckely, our trip was in the morning, because by the time we returned it was already 44 degrees. I had to get off the horse, change into my bikini and ran for the beach to have a refreshing dive!
I have been surfing for a few years now, but I’m still not very good at it. I just love to do it so much that I never give up trying. So here in Milfontes I took surfclasses at the only surf school in this village. I had the best surf experience ever! I learned so much from our instructor, Pedro. I took my first green waves in the back and actually managed to stay on my board with a good position. Such an achievement! I was and still am pretty proud of myself :). This is the reason I keep trying and keep fighting those waves, because every time you are in the water, You are one step closer to your goal.
The kayak trip was very nice on the Mira river organised by Ecotrails. It was an upstream trip which meant I had to keep paddling the whole time, but that was a good workout for my arms and back. I saw very pretty landscapes, but I was disappointed to see that there wasn’t so much life in this river. Apparently it is because of all the digging they did there when the river was still very important for trading. Some inhabitants also said they can see nature restoring itself, because approximately 20 years ago there was no life to be found. These days you can find some fish and 2 types of crabs near the riverbanks.
When was the last time you could scratch something of your bucketlist?
Mine was now. During this vacation I finally got to learn how to SUP (Stand Up Paddling). SUP is not surf as many of you think. To perform SUP you need a large and wide board and a paddle (DUH!). Once you know how to control your board, you can catch some waves with it. But first things first, getting up and staying in balance while paddling. Due to my little surf experience, I had no trouble getting up nor controlling the board. The correct paddle-movement was defintely the hardest part! I took a lesson with the SWSUP Alentejo school. They are quite new, but they have lovely instructors. They also take some pictures of you that they send to you afterwards. I have to admit that those 2 hours were the heaviest of my life. I had the pleasure to be reminded of that the following 2 days. Anyway,I totally loved it!
So, my conclusion so far about Alentejo. I liked it a lot. The small villages, the way they decorate it, the awesome panoramas and the delicious food. The only thing I missed was that there are no endless beaches. Because it is a very rocky coast, you have multiple bays. It gives you a lot of privacy and good beginner waves, but personally I missed the endless views. For this time of the year the temperature was already hot, but in high season it gets even hotter and I know I cannot handle that. You can also see in the vegetation that it is very dry weather during the entire year. There is practically no grass and no flowers. I loved the fact that there were almost no tourists, not now and not so many during high season. I loved the soft waves, which made it possible for me to go around in the back and catch my first green wave and I loved the pink sky sunsets!
I will definitely return to Portugal, because I still have to see the Algarve, Porto and Ericeira, but I will not return to Alentejo. I saw a lot of this area, also when driving through on my way there, and I can tell you that it all looks the same. I had a wonderful vacation and I hope I can convince everyone, who likes the peace and quiet and good delicious food, to go there. Not many Belgians have been there yet, but the amount is growing every year with babysteps. It is definitely worth a visit!