After Lagos, and especially after Running with the Bulls, I was in much need of some R&R, and a good detox. From the beginning of our trip, I told Michael I wanted to do some solo travel. I’ve met more solo female travelers on this trip and it’s really inspired me to do the same. I want that independent feeling again. Yes, I did some solo trips in Hong Kong, but I never felt truly alone. So that was one of my personal goals for this trip. Unfortunately, given our timeline, I only had a few days and I wanted to spend them wisely.
I’m definitely not a surfer, and my yoga skills aren’t great, but I desired to step outside my comfort zone and do something different. So, I booked a Surf Yoga Retreat in Ericeria through a company called Surf Yoga Portugal. There are dozens of retreats in Portugal, but this one had the best prices and was flexible with my start date. And I’m SO GLAD I chose them.
Nervous at first, as most are during a new experience about the unknown, I was questioning my decision. But after spending time with the owner, Carlos, on our drive from Lisbon to the west coast of Portugal, and making friends with Richie from Germany (another newbie that we picked up from the airport), I was instantly put at ease. The house was so comfortable, the other visitors welcoming and coming from all walks of life. Mostly all solo travelers too, which made it easier for me to fit in. Each day people are coming and going.
Our first night, there was a BBQ complete with sardines and the most delicious white fish I’ve ever had. 12 of us sat around the table and got to know each other. Richie and I bonded instantly because we were the two new kids on the block, if you will. While the others had already been there a few days or wrapping up their stay. But the conversations were endless.
Nervous at first, mostly because some of my fears in life are big waves, sharks, and I hate cold water. Carlos assured me there aren’t sharks in Portugal because the water is too cold. Which is good. But yes, the water is cold. Very cold. However, the waves were perfect for learning! Small, about one meter, and our teacher was amazing. Hilarious, comforting, and encouraging. And just like that, I caught my first wave! And almost every one after that until the end of our two hour session when I was exhausted. Sore for sure, but a good welcomed sore that I haven’t felt in months. And my toes were numb (Did I mention the water was cold??). Nevertheless, a perfect first day on the board!
The afternoons we had free to hop on bikes and roam the town. This is when we met Nicole, a med student from Switzerland. Nicole, Richie, and I bonded quickly and were basically inseparable during our stay. I’ve found it’s much easier to meet people and make friends when you’re traveling alone than with a partner. And I really enjoyed that aspect of my trip (No offense, Michael!).
The yoga was perfect. I’ve taken a few classes in the past, and have been told I’m a natural, but with no stretching for the past 6 months, I definitely felt a little slow. We worked on lots of breathing techniques, which I’ve never done before, and actually really enjoyed. I’m typically that person who can’t quiet my mind, always thinking about what I have to do when I get out of class, but concentrating on my breathing forced me to focus my mind on one thing and really begin to meditate.
In my mind, a retreat is a place where you relax, eat healthy, and exercise. I was hoping to spend my days and evenings working on my blog, writing in my journal, clearing my mind, and reenergizing myself. HA! What a joke. Perhaps if I had done the 7 day package I would have had more time for that. But with only 3 days and my new friends, it wasn’t going to happen. Especially because my first night we had the BBQ and wine, and the second night we all went out into the town center for tapas and drinks, and dancing at an outdoor DJ Party. We cruised around and grabbed dessert and more beer at local bars waiting for a surf documentary to start at midnight. Sadly, they were on Portuguese time and we were told the movie wouldn’t start until 2am when the clubs open. That was my cue to ask for a ride back to the retreat. Yes, I’m a party pooper, but that’s OK for once.
Unfortunately, I had to get back to Lisbon to meet Michael so I was only able to surf two days instead of three, but now I’m excited to get back to San Diego and try again!
Overall, such an incredible weekend! My only regret is that I didn’t have more time there. I made amazing friends from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Holland, Australia, and England. The true beauty of travel!
These three days were magical, and I’m looking forward to truly traveling alone from one destination to another in the next few months.
Thank you all!!
- Super affordable
- Great mix of people and activities
- Not the relaxing detox I thought it would be
- Green wine tastes like green apples with booze. Sweet, but good.