We have just come back from Portugal, and I for one had a great time – to say the least. It was the best holiday I’ve ever been on, full of so much than the basics. It wasn’t just chillin’ on the beach. It wasn’t just sightseeing. It wasn’t all adrenaline and thrill-seeking, either. It was a beautiful blend of them all in one amazing 5-day treat.
I’m going to segment the trip into sections that best describe what happened. So, let’s begin…
Oh, there were so many fears. Firstly, there was the night before we left. My sister had not long left for Thailand to travel alone for a month. I was scared for her and missed her already, and so it had brought on my anxiety. I was feeling overwhelmed by everything that was going on, and it made me afraid to go on the trip.
There was nothing scary about it, because I’d planned it out and knew there would be food that I liked and I knew where the Airbnb was, so I had nothing to fear. Yet my mind was doing overtime, and my body was alight with anxiety.
During the flight I was okay-ish, and when we arrived – thankfully – I felt excited. We collected our hire car and we were a-go. I felt good. It was only now and then that I worried again, like when we first ate.
Before every meal, I got a little worried – naturally, as a socially anxious person who has trouble with public eating. The next time I got dreadfully anxious was on the first night. Well, I’m not sure I was anxious but I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep again and had to keep going to the bathroom. It set me back and was unnerving.
But I was good again in the daytime, and ate so well, and had so much fun. The only other times I got scared was the night before the boat trip and then the night before going home, too.
I don’t do boats, like not at all. And so naturally, I was incredibly terrified to go on one for 2 whole hours. And our flight was leaving at 7:30am and so we had to leave the Airbnb at 5:15am and the early rise worried me in case we missed it.
But we didn’t.
I had fears, but none of them changed the trip or made me opt out of anything. I let them be, felt the fear, and did what I wanted to do anyway. So, go me.
Patrick, my partner, was the driver for the trip. And he was amazing. Truly faultless (don’t tell him I said that). They drive on the right-hand side, and the steering wheel is on the left, so he had to get used to that. But there was no getting used to it for him, he took to it right away like a pro.
Driving in Portugal, well the Algarve, is definitely a must. We were able to visit 4 cities in our 5 days because of it. This was Faro (where we landed and stayed), Sagres, Lagos, and Albufeira. The driving gave us the opportunity to do this, and made the trip truly worthwhile.
The highlight of the trip was also a terrifying element of the trip. We went parasailing. Now, this was incredible. I’ve always been intrigued by certain extreme sports or thrill-inducing activities, but I haven’t had the chance to try them out and I’ve not had much nerve, either. But when I saw that it was a possibility with the same company that we were using to go on the boat to see the caves on the coast and the dolphins, I saw it as a sign. “Siana, it’s time you did something awesome…” And I listened, despite being afraid.
I like that good-afraid feeling. The feeling of being scared to do something, but knowing that the something you’re about to do is going to be great. I for one want more of those feelings in my life, and I’m so glad that Portugal provided several of those feelings. The parasailing, the boat and caves, the driving around, the cliffside sights, and the food.
The views when parasailing was breathtaking and it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime sight. I know my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles, didn’t get to see what I saw. They’re travelled a little, but not as much as I plan to. I’m able to see the world, unlike them, and so it is my duty to see it. And be changed by every moment of it.
We found it odd that there were so many stray dogs and cats. Even dogs that did have owners were walking in and out of their gates just like our cats do! It was weird but cool at the same time. I also liked that in the shops, they have open dog food bags where you can scoop-up a Tupperware tub of dog food and feed the stray dogs. So cool!
There was a sea of white buildings everywhere, too, that acted like a blank canvas for the many graffiti artists in Algarve. Our buildings in the UK are so different and distinct that you can tell a shop from a house and so on. But not in Portugal. We had to really look to find shops or restaurants. Everything blended into one another which was nice for the scenery, but annoying when you were hungry!
The people of Portugal were all lovely. The service was immense for the most part. Even when we used Uber on the last day after we’d given the car back, we realised that Uber is way better in Portugal than in the UK. Everyone was lovely. The drivers asked if the temperature was OK for us; they offered us sweets. And the best part was…we had our first female driver! How great is that?!
The best thing about the trip was the food – hands down. As you know, I haven’t always had a great relationship with food. I’ve always been a “fussy eater” and I’ve been socially anxious in restaurants since I was a teen.
But not this time.
No. I ate so much good food on the trip, not ordering the safe thing on the menu and eating it all with ease in public. And every day, we tried fish. This is huge as we’re new to fish. And I even ate a fish with it’s head on! It felt immense. It was euphoric! It was truly life-changing for me. I’m so proud of myself, and I hope it’s a sign of things to come…
Stay tuned for part two where I talk more about what we did and what we saw…