City feeling in Porto and surfing in Peniche

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This time, our journey already began in Switzerland. Early in the morning of our first day of spring vacation we Simone and I took the train once across the country fo catch our easy jet flight in Geneva. It was one of the least complicated procedures until I was on the plane that I ever had. For once, I not only worried about the technic of the aircraft but also about the current mental state of the pilot. But despite all the bad news we’ve had during the past year, flying is still much saver than being on the streets and so we landed in Porto without any  troubles.
With the metro, it’s easy to get to the center of town.Our hostel was quite central but the room was so tiny that I wouldn’t recommend it for two people. Since we only had one day in Porto, we strolled down to the wine cellars by the river. We degustated a few port wines from the oldest port wine producer in the Kopke bar. They meant well and filled the big glasses, plus we even received some delicious pralines. The view we had on the streets and the river was a plus as well. Afterwards, we ended up at a weird synchroniced concert with Portuguese folk music and were surprised by a few raindrops.
We had dinner in a small and steep alley and since everything was completly in Portuguese, I didn’t really know what I would receive. But it was ok and plenty of food and for 11€ for two people we were quite happy.
Bookstore that inspired a certain story. Can you guess which one?

Bookstore that inspired a certain story. Can you guess which one?

The next morning, we took the metro to the beach. Unfortunately, it wasn’t  t-shirt weather yet 😦 Actually, the weather the past week in Switzerland had been better.
There was a nice park, a small fort and some surf schools in the water.
In the afternoon, we boarded one of the Rede Expressos buses to Peniche, which worked perfectly. Only when we got out of the bus at our arrival time, we had no idea where we were, since the driver dropped us off at a normal bus stopp. Thanks to two Swiss guys who were on the same bus, we then could hitchhike with the guy who picked them up and drove them to the Surfcastle surfcamp. The office of our camp (Maximum Surfcamp) closed at 7pm already.
From the surfcastle it was only a 2min walk to our camp, where we were welcomed by Simone’s friends whom she met at a surfcamp in Morocco and who now lived in the same appartment with us.

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On Monday morning we had to get our equipment and then got devided into our surf groups. I was a bit dissapointed that I had to go to the whitewater intermediate group yet again but at least I could really work on my turns this week.
The waves are great and we all have lot of fun. I’m surprised how well the wetsuit protects from the cold. Like this we really couls surf in any condition.
In the afternoon, the water is wilder and I have no energy to paddle anymore. When I get hit in hip by my surfboard I decide that it is time to quit for that day. I even need a powernap to be able to function again, my body just isn’t used to so much sport anymore. We have a delicious dinner with a nice view of the bay at Algamar restaurant.
The next day, the water is still wild and so I’m mostly on white water again but the video analysis of us after the course is fun and instructive.
Once we had organized a plate for the oven, nothing was in the way of our delicious selfmade pizza.
In the surfboard factory

In the surfboard factory

On Wednesday, we surfed at a beautiful colored beach with red rocks. The current was quite strong and the waves big, so why did this have to be the first day me and another guy from my group were finally allowed to paddle out to the green water? It took us ages to get past the waves and even once we arrived in the calmer water we only had a short moment to feel proud until we had to start paddling on and keeping up with the current. In the end, I only had the energy to take one wave. By now, every muscle in my body was hurting a lot but the peak of the pain only came the next day and on the fifth day, my body finally started adapting to all this exersise. Because of that, it’s kind of stupid to only attend one week of surfcamp.
After the course on Wednesday, all the surf students were loaded into the vans and the guides drove us around Peniche to show us the beautiful spots this half island has to offer. There are a lot of pretty cliffs and cute fish restaurants. It would be worth it to rent a bycicle and check these places out again.
Afterwards, we had a guided tour in the Fatum surfboard factory, which was pretty interesting.
In the evening, we played one of many rounds of the board game Dog in our appartment.
On Thursday, there suddenly were smaller waves and the current was gone, too. Now it was a lot easier to paddle for unbroken waves.
In the evening we drove to Peniche to have a mouthwatering dinner in the steak house. We all loved our dishes!
On our last day of the surf course we just had one long session since it always started raining again and the wave sets took a long time to come. However, I finally really surfed my first wave…Right in the middle of the green water and in the end I even turned in the right moment to surf on when the wave died at the edge. Woohoo, apparently I had made some progress! I wished I had an ocean at home to keep practicing. In the evening, we even were fit enough to all go out together and dance the night away.
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On Saturday, we made our way to the beach without our teachers and I was happy to be able to catch a few green waves, too. Unfortunately, the find and rain got stronger during the day, that only kite surfers were still on the water and I had my last session without realizing that it would be my last.
On the day I leave, the wheather is still indecisive.
Again, it was no problem to get back to Porto with Rede Expressos, it just took me an hour longer this time because I had to take a detour via Lisbon.
This time I stayed at Oporto Sport Hostel which is right in Rua Catharina and pretty cheap. I can only recommend it.
The next day I started with another delicious breakfast of local pastries and then attended the free walking tour, where I learned a lot about the history of Porto, its foods and drinks.
The guide showed us pretty view points and after the tour I had a much better feel for the city.
I couldn’t stop myself from doing a little shopping but unfortunately, I could hardly buy anything, since I was only travelling with carry on luggage.
For dinner, I went to another tiny Portuguese restaurant which was hidden in an alley. The waitress only spoke Portuguese and I tried to tell her that I wanted a dish with chorizo. She wouldn’t hear any of it and tried to convince me to take alheira (on the tour I learned that this is a breaded sausage with chicken meat, so that the Jews could eat it, too and pretend to be Christians when the Jews weren’t wanted in Portugal.) After the waitress had repeatedly tried to make me understand that this would be the best alheira I would ever eat, I agreed to take it. And oh my God, was this delicious!!! It hopefully won’t be the last one I had.
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Since I read that Oporto airport was open all night, I decided to spend the night there and not have to worry about how to get to the airport early in the morning.
I already went to the departure area at about 10pm, just as the last stores closed its gates. Perhaps I should have waited in the public area a little longer, because there at least Costa Coffee was still open. In the morning, I also realized that there weren’t even any letter boxes on the inside and so I had to hand my post cards to one of the staff who promised to throw them into the mailbox after her shift. Other than that it would be possible to sleep on the wooden chairs if you bring enough warm jackets. It got quite cold. The bathrooms were open, there are some powerplugs and vending machines, so it’s really possible to spend the night. For half of the night I felt like I was alone at the airport except for the cleaning crew (who was friendly and let me sleep) but at around 4am got too cold to lie around and wandered back to the main escalator to find many more people spread out on the benches. The last two hours somehow went by, too and already I was sitting on the plane back to Geneva. Thanks to my new best friends M&M’s I didn’t even have a sugar low on the flight this time and could actually enjoy the view down onto the snow covered mountains.
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