Last week I’ve been on an amazing roadtrip. It has been proven to me that sometimes you don’t need to go half way around the world to have a great travel experience – you can (and will) find adventure right outside your home. And this was what just happened.
I have always loved to head to Costa Vicentina for holidays, and since I was a kid I camped there (near Aljezur, our then favorite camping site) or stopped there on my way to our family holidays in Algarve. Either way it was always wonderful. This coast has some of the best landscapes in the world and the road trip by the sea is an amazing experience. If you head here, skip the highway – you wont regret it.
So, I packed my 1973 VW van with summer clothes, bikini and flip flops, together with Nuno (my boyfriend), two of our friends, two bodyboards and one surfboard. And books! Lots of books.
It took us almost a full day to get to Pedralva (that’s what happens when you take your time on the road, driving no faster than 80km/h), a little village near Sagres, at the south west “corner” of Portugal. That place is magical. A little village reborn from ruins (the only original inhabitant is Fernando, an old man in his 70s or 80s who still lives here), recovered by a group of entrepreneurs who turned it into a rural holiday site, thinking of the people who want to escape the frenetic city life for a few days.
My friend João bought a little house in the village and also rebuilt it and turned it into “Barranco do Zambujeiro“, an awesome place to spend some time (and it’s for rent most of the year, check it out here and follow it on facebook too) and get your energy back. All of it. Full recharge guaranteed. One of the best things of the house (and same happens for the whole village) is that you have no mobile phone signal, and the house does not have wifi. [Believe me, it’s a very good thing not to have access to emails, work calls, whatsapp and facebook. Let’s call it an offline therapy.]
And the same goes to the beaches we went to. No phone signal. No 3G or 4G or annoying ring tones. No loud music. No crowds. (Almost) no people. Some waves, a big blue ocean and a very pleasant sunshine. The village is very close to Vila do Bispo and there you can find signal, a café with wifi (if you really REALLY need it) and many locals who will tell you the way to the beaches. In my case, my friend João knows most of the beaches around, so we just followed his directions. Olívia (the name I gave to the red VW van) was a superstar and didn’t even blink at the most troubled roads on the way. People here normally go to the same beaches every time and in the summer they get really crowded, but in Costa Vicentina if you take the time to discover new places, to embrace adventure and even go for a little hike you’ll find almost deserted beaches that will take your breath away.
On the beach, João and Pedro take on the waves (even while complaining they weren’t as big as they have wished for), Nuno climbs the highest rocks to go fishing, and I dive into my reading, protecting myself from the burning sun. Walks on the beach are on the menu too. It feels like our own private beach. In the afternoon, some local fisherman arrive and head to the rocks, where they “hunt” for percebes – that blissful sea food, typical of this region. Before sunset we head back to Barranco do Zambujeiro, happily riding Olivia and occasionally stopping for birdwatching. We stop by a supermarket in Vila do Bispo where we get some food and beer (the market is only open in the mornings). We eat the fish Nuno just caught. After dinner we head to Pizza Pazza, a great pizza restaurant in the village of Pedralva owned by Marco, a fun and friendly italian, to drink a glass of red wine (oh, and you MUST try their pizzas!). Then we head back to Barranco and play cards in the terrace until we’re so sleepy (and tipsy) we can’t recall all the rules anymore. Time to sleep. And then wake up early and do it all again.
I am in heaven.
Contacts for Barranco do Zambujeiro house, in Pedralva:
Owner: João Guerra
Phone: +351 918733865