My last surf trip was only two months ago. But since my boyfriend is currently working for a surf camp in Portugal and as a landlocked surfer I’m always in the mood for waves, I took some time off and booked a flight to this wave promising country.
I’m not really a fan of flying due to environmental reasons, but with only 18 days (14.5.-31.5.) on site I wanted to save myself the long journey by train/bus and decided to book the outrageously cheap flight from Berlin-Schönefeld to Lisbon.
After 3h on the plane dressed in a thick sweater and cap I was greeted by the merciless afternoon heat in Lisbon. I quickly took the shuttle to the bus station Sete Rios, got myself a cold drink and in the shade and waited for the next connection.
After another 1.5h on the bus I arrived in the north at Areia Branca, where Mareike (a coworker of the Camp) already waited for me at the bus stop of the small town. The 10 minute car drive marked my last trip for this day and I arrived at my final goal of the day – at Da Silva Surfcamp.
Da Silva Surfcamp
A bed, a toilet with shower and a kitchen area so that you can prepare a hot meal after surfing. That’s all I expected.
Instead I got a small caravan, a magnificent view over the wild meadows, fields and villages up to the sea and a camp with so many lovingly arranged places, nice people and leisure activities, that I don’t know what to do first.
Playing table tennis, foosball in the in-house bar, bouncing in the pool on hot days, exploring the area by bike or longboard, daring to take a skateboard into the camp mini ramp (I learned a little with a lot of patience from my teacher) or grabbing one of the music instruments – there is so much this camp has to offer.
And in case that there is no waves you can make a day trip to the nearby cities of Òbidos, Sintra, Ericeira or Lisbon – boredom was definitely out of the equasion.
Though, I came here for the waves and they are for sure not lacking here. Portugal is known for its steady wave conditions. The surf camp is located in the small village Areia Branca about 20min walk from the next spot, but the choice is big. If you have a car, you will always find a surf spot with great waves somewhere nearby, whether for beginners, advanced or pros.
What I especially like about surf camps are the people you get to know. Most of them share the same passion (surfing of course), which is a wonderful way to exchange different experiences with this sport. But whether you’re a surfing enthusiast or not, you always get to meet interesting people of all ages and backgrounds!
During my stay at Da Silva, for example, I met a wonderful family consisting of Daniela and Katharina with their two sons (4Y. & 1Y.) and their boxer bitch Emi, who have left their everyday life behind them and travel through Europe by bus for several months.
Or Leopold, who built two Tiny houses for Da Silva Surfcamp at the age of 19 with the help of his buddy.
And not to forget Thomas, who felt he had seen half the world, always has an interesting story in store and was already swimming and jogging while I was still comfortably sipping my first cup of coffee in the morning.
But also outside the camp life I have always met friendly people. For example, we were in a small surf shop called „Hangfive“ nearby, where we only wanted to see a board for sale, but we quickly got into a conversation with the friendly shop owner Luis. Our chat went from today’s surf scene, the local surf camps, the history of the shop (which used to be a corner shop) to living with children and an hour had gone by.
On my travels I simply notice again and again that with openness, a non-judgmental attitude and a little time that you can always take, you can have so many great conversations.
My absolute highlight was the first wave with my first own board!
Since I had been thinking about investing in a surfboard for some time anyway and the rental costs for a board for two weeks wouldn’t have been much cheaper, I looked for a second hand board in the Portuguese eBay („OLX“). The decision fell quite fast on a 6’8er Funboard, which turned out to have never touched the sea.
It felt a little strange at first on a supermarket parking lot with a bunch of cash in my pocket for a strange man to wait in a strange country, but not half an hour later I sat grinning with my first board next to me in the car.
When the first session with „Barbra“ came closer (the name we chose for the board since it turned out to be a little diva, just like Barbra Streisand) I was afraid that I wouldn’t even paddle properly into the line up (I’ve only surfed boards with much more volume before), let alone take a wave. But after my first wave ride on Barbra I knew that I still had to put on a lot of paddle muscles (match sleeves adé), but I can have a lot of fun with her and my surf skills will grow with this board!
Luckily nothing too serious happened!
The first faux pas was two Ding´s in my board, because someone dropped in on me (ironically my boyfriend) and our boards hit each other. Of course I was sad at first (first board, first ouch), but we brought it to the local shaper on the same day, who was so cool to fix it until the next day, so that I don’t miss a surf day.
A real failure was that the four tires of the Camp Van were punctured, which was probably done by some local surfers because they don’t seem to want to share the waves.
I am always very divided on this subject, because on the one hand I can imagine that you can be pissed off when the holiday surfers come in droves, fill up the lineups and in the best case still get dropped into the waves, but no matter how big the anger may be; just because a person lives and surfs here doesn’t justify ignorance, unfriendliness, let alone violence.
But I don’t want to chew through this eternally discussed topic of localism here.
Such things unfortunately happen everywhere, but one should not be intimidated by them. In this case, not 20 minutes later the other van was organized to bring the people back to the camp and the next day the matter was settled with a shake of the head.
Apart from that no further negative experiences with the locals happened to me on this surf trip, because as long as you follow the rules of the way and greet the people, everything is really chic and you also get into conversation during a break between the sets.
The journey home, like probably many people, is unfortunately very difficult for me.
Most of the time I quickly settle in to new surroundings and imagine again and again what it would be like to move away from Berlin and build up a new life abroad in order to escape from my tired mother city and be closer to the waves.
But I’m still young and have time to explore the world with small trips and maybe some day there will be a spot, who knows.
Until then I will go from my surf trips like the one to Portugal at Da Silva Surf Camp. It’s worth it in any case and will certainly be repeated soon. Best you have a look yourself.