Sloths making the move

by Miška


Sometimes, during long cloudy days back in Prague, I was dreaming about sandy beaches, clear blue sea and palm trees. Sadly, Cuba, Maldives or Bali weren’t far away just because of the distance but also money-wise. At that time, I didn’t know yet that I will appear in Portugal and spend some time by the coast. I need to say (erasing the palm trees and adding some extra rocks) that Portuguese ocean-side is a paradise which matches my dreams.

Thanks to our mission (exploring the West region of the country) we have the possibility to stay in a small town of Consolação which lies 80 km from Lisbon. We are living in a tiny but cosy house close to the ocean. A lot of Portuguese own similar places which they use especially during holidays, those are actually former garages. They are equipped with everything you need to survive but you can’t expect any luxury (f. e. we don’t have Wi-Fi). The more you can enjoy the time - instead of spending it online you can grab a book and listen to the ocean waves. This tiny buildings reminded me a Czech tradition which is called chataření – spending the weekends and holidays in cottages which are out of cities, usually surrounded by nature and, from the inside, are really similar to our current accommodation.


Consolação is a great place to escape from noise and rush. Life here is slower, calmer and much more relaxed. To be honest I like very much these kind of places but, usually, I am not able to enjoy them for long as I am getting bored by their slow rhythm. Don´t get me wrong – sitting on a beach with the wind whipping my back (alternatively also the front and sides at the same time) and enjoying the waves is amazing. Although, after a few days of this I just feel like moving my ass. That is one of the reasons why we decided to explore our surroundings. Because we don´t have a car and the public transport here lives its own life our idea was simple – realize the expedition on foot.


Facing the ocean (with the plan to explore the cost) the choice where to go was easy as there are just two options - right and left. Eventually, we tried both. In total, we – the sloths – made three trips (two to the right and one to the left) which means more than 60 kilometers. The truth is that, when you walk along the coast, you don’t think that you end up covering such a distance as everything seems to be sooo close, but then your feet know better.


First expedition - São Bernardino


Our first trip led as to the left from Consolação. With a strong wind pushing us from behind (it stole a borrowed hat from my head) we reached São Bernardino. In that village there is nothing special to see, so we went to explore its two beaches. One is quite small and perfect for swimming thanks to small waves. The other one is longer, wilder, lined with cliffs and hit by bigger waves. Even though we really enjoyed the beaches I didn't like the walk to São Bernardino so much; it was impossible to make it by the coast/cliffs and we needed to share a rural road with cars and tractors.


Much more I enjoyed our expeditions to the right. They took us to Peniche and Baleal, two well known destinations for surfers. During our trips to them we saw plenty of boards dancing on the waves. The look at the more experienced surfers made me think of trying the sport myself. Although seeing the beginners eaten by waves made me uncertain about the idea.


Second expedition - Peniche


The trip to Peniche led us through that picturesque city and onto to a wilder path, towards the edge of Europe. Cabo da Roca might be the furthest west point but its sibling Cabo Carvoeiro on the peninsula is definitely a place to visit! On the way, we didn’t meet a single soul who would be walking, why to climb hills on foot when there are cars? Not bothered, we were passing by beautiful, but dangerous (if you are not careful enough) cliffs. We stopped a few times to enjoy the view and take pics. And even though I was whining that the way is too long, in the end I needed to admit it was worth it. Near the Cabo Carvoeiro we found a great place to just sit and enjoy the view of the endless ocean, passing boats and the sun on its way to the horizon. I wished to stay there forever (and it wasn’t only because even more walking was waiting).

We went back to Consolação along the beach which let us to witness a beautiful sunset. Amazing spectrum of colors mixed on the sky created a perfect scenery for photo-shooting. While taking tons of pictures my happy side was overshadowed again as it got very cold and everything started to hurt me after the long day. But a hot shower and a promise of a massage kept me going.


Third expedition - Baleal


The last trip to the right led us even further than Peniche – to Baleal. This time my beloved boyfriend decided to look for some ruins he saw on the internet. Those were suppose to be in Baleal. The ones he wanted were not there, instead, we found some leftovers which don’t even deserve to be called ‘ruins’. But, again, the journey was worth it – we enjoyed yet another other sunny day on Portuguese beaches with pleasant white sand under our feet, watching the art of surfers, and of course the cliffs hit by wild waves. On the way we saw some islands on the horizon, wondering what those have to offer. And only later we learnt that on them – Berlengas islands - you can find exactly the ‘ruins’ (which are in fact a fort) we wanted to see before, and a natural reservation recognized by UNESCO. All that, unconditionally, ended up on our must-see list. But about that later.


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