Thursday was my last full day in Portugal. I had intended on having a rest day, but I also wanted to get back out to see what else was around, close to where I was staying.
I had been staying at the beautiful Alfagar II Aparthotel, which has private access to Praia Santa Eulália. Although I had taken a walk down to the beach on the day I arrived, I really didn’t explore that much. So, I decided to pack up my rucksack and head down to the beach armed with my book and my beach towel ready to explore Praia Santa Eulália.
Once I arrived at the beach, I noticed the tide was out, so I decided to keep walking and followed the beach around towards the next cove. The beaches around this part of The Algarve are stunning. They are rugged and wild, but magical and serene at the same time. The cliffs were something else, and their colours are just beautiful.
As I continued my walk around to the next beaches (Praia da Oura Leste and Praia da Oura), I turned back to look at the view. It was such a stunning spot. So it was there that I sat and read my book until lunchtime approached.
After a spot of lunch by beachside restaurant Vivaldo’s it was time to head back to the hotel to enjoy my last afternoon poolside.
As the evening set in, it was time to reflect back on a fantastic trip.
I booked the entire holiday (flights, hotel and transfers) through easyJet, and I couldn’t fault any of it.
The hotel was absolutely stunning and spotlessly clean, the staff were really friendly and helpful, the food at the Buganvilla Snack-Bar where I ate my evening meals was fantastic. The portions were huge, with a wide selection of starters, and main meals. The apple pie was to die for, and the chocolate mousse was simply divine! The evening entertainment was on the cheesy side, but I guess you expect that in resorts, and in actual fact, holidaying in February, I was probably lucky that evening entertainment was on the menu! The little supermarket in Alfagar Village was well stocked with everything you could wish for, including fresh bread, a butchers, and plenty of wine.
I didn’t use all the facilities on site (there is a car rental office on site – not sure I trust myself to drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road yet!), but those I did use were superb. The gym, the spa, the pools, as with the rest of the hotel were spotlessly clean and well looked after.
On my first day, I had a slight problem with my lights not switching on in the apartment, however, I called down to reception, and within 15 minutes the maintenance guy was at my door, ready to fix it for me. 2 minutes later, I had light and had no further problems throughout my stay.
I had also booked my transfers through easyJet. Finding the meeting point at Faro airport was really straightforward, and only took 30 minutes to get from the airport to the hotel. On the return journey, thankfully I was early, and already in reception, because the transfer was a good 10 minutes early picking me up. We got to the airport early which at least meant I had a bit more time to look around duty free!
And despite landing in windy conditions, both flights were excellent.
This time I decided to head east of the resort, and headed to the beach at Olhos de Agua. Again, I chose to walk, as good old Google maps told me it was only a short walk away.
20 minutes later, I arrived at the beach. Olhos is small fishing town where the local fishermen still pull their boats onto the sand when they arrive back to the shoreline with their fresh catches. It’s a much quieter town than Albufeira, but lovely if you have a young family and aren’t looking for somewhere overly commercial.
As there wasn’t an awful lot to do or see there, I decided to head down onto the beach to see if I could walk round to the next Praia (beach), Praia da Falesia.
If you are lucky enough to get down to the Praia‘s on the Algrave’s south coast when the tide is out, it is really easy to walk from many of the beaches to the next without too many problems, albeit over a few small rocks. However, once the tide comes back in, these parts are pretty much impossible to reach by foot.
Luckily, the tide was out when I arrived in Olhos de Água, leaving a clear path right i round to Praia da Falesia.
As soon as I walked around the corner of the cove onto Praia de Falesia, the view took my breath away. Seeing the vivid orange colours of the cliffs and the distinguishable layers of rock, made my inner geographer do a little back flip of joy!
I must’ve walked down almost the entire stretch of the praia with a massive grin on my face. Every new section of cliff face I came to had something different to offer.
As I continued to walk along the beach, I realised how light and carefree I felt. I felt more relaxed and content than I have done in a long time.
As I walked along, I did a lot of thinking. I started to make a lot of sense out of things on that walk, putting some things into perspective, letting other things go, and thinking about some of the changes I need to make in order to create more happiness and feelings of being carefree, on a more regular basis.
I will share some of my thoughts with you over the coming days, but for now, it’s time to pack and wave goodbye to Portugal as I have a flight back to London to catch tomorrow.
After reading an article the other day on active relaxation, it got me thinking.
I’m not always very good at slowing down and relaxing, even at weekends. I tend to think that days sitting around not doing much are wasted days. In a world where there is so much to explore, why would I want to spend a day or two a week, not doing anything?
Although I have to admit, this afternoon has been one of those rare times I haven’t moved far from the sofa…and I haven’t felt guilty or frustrated by this in the slightest. It’s been another incredibly busy week. I crawled my way to the weekend. It’s as if my body and mind have turned and looked at each other and said, do you know what, this weekend she needs to re-charge and rest. It’s a rare thing, but for a change I’m not ignoring what my body and mind are telling me.
So despite not being very good at relaxing, I do seem to be pretty good at active relaxation. Sometimes we need to move around to feel better. Sometimes we need to get outside for a walk or some exercise to feel good, taking in some fresh air, taking in our surroundings, and watching the seasons change.
Other times, we may chose to cook to make ourselves feel better. Since I have been adjusting to living alone, I am throwing myself into cooking new and exciting dishes. Nothing overly complicated, especially during the week, as I simply don’t have the time or the energy. Even cooking simple, quick recipes for the first time helps the mind to switch off from the day to day and to concentrate on the task at hand. It’s why I love to bake too. I lose myself in the recipe (and have to admit, that whilst I like to cook new things, even the oldest dishes in my repertoire, I still need to follow a recipe to get it right 🙈), allowing me to free my mind.
Writing is also another great way to practice active relaxation. Transferring my thoughts from my mind into my blog for example, helps to clear my mind, and really helps me to process the information in a more constructive way. It makes me question my thoughts and helps me to process them, freeing up my mind, and making my mind a much more happier and relaxed place.
So, as much as I find it difficult to sit and do nothing, active relaxation appears to be something I practice a lot, without even realising it.
Are you good at relaxing? Have you tried active relaxation to help free your mind?
I love being the first to wake up in my household, especially at the weekend.
That makes it sound as though there are more than two of us living here. There isn’t. It’s just me and Ali.
When we first moved in together, I would lie in bed reading or checking my social media on my phone until he woke up. He’s not an early morning person, so that would often mean I would vegetate in bed until midday waiting for him to wake.
Just thinking about this gives me a fuzzy head.
We would get up until around midday. We’d then get up, shower, eat and wouldn’t be out enjoying the weekend until perhaps 3pm in the afternoon. If we were night owls this might be more understandable. But we were going out for a couple of hours in the afternoon to grab what was left of the day, going home, eating, watching tv and then going back to bed again.
I soon became frustrated at the chunk of the day I was missing out on for not getting up early.
So I started to get up more or less when I woke. I might give myself half an hour extra in bed just to make sure I’m fully awake and to let my body and mind catch up with each other. But after that, I’m up.
There are so many things I love about being the first to get up.
I love that the flat is quiet, except for the creaking of the radiators as they warm up and, the sound of the early morning London traffic outside.
I love the short walk across my flat to the living room blinds, and being the first to let the daylight pour into the flat, come rain or shine.
I love to be the first to walk into the kitchen to switch the kettle on, followed by the first smells of either peppermint tea or as is the case this morning, camomile and spiced apple.
I love to hear the rest of the world stirring. The sound of people starting to go about their business just outside our flat. The local shopkeepers starting to arrive to open up there businesses for the day, the sound of the flats around us waking too.
Yet, despite the sound of the city coming to life, my morning world feels calm, allowing me time to think if I chose to, giving me the opportunity to reflect on the working week thats just come to an end, or to contemplate the opportunities that may arise from the day ahead.
I also find it the best time to write. I will quite often sit and write a couple of blogs before Ali even begins to stir.
It would be nice to wake up together sometimes, but I just can’t lie in bed all morning waiting for that to happen.
I have been carrying a notebook with me for a while now.
I have always loved writing, but I’ve never known what direction to take this in.
Fresh out of university I dabbled with the idea of becoming a travel writer.
I loved the thought of travelling the world and writing about the places I visited. However, I quickly stumbled across a few set backs. Firstly, I didn’t have the money to travel, therefore limiting the places I could write about (although the new adventurous me probably would’ve found local places to visit and write about, rather than looking to jump straight into travelling the more distant world). Secondly, I holidayed in the French Alps one winter, came home, wrote about my experiences and sent my work to a Snowboard Magazine. I heard nothing…
The younger, less confident me, decided to park that idea there and then, and I haven’t written about travel since.
Even during university I loved to write. Whether it was essays or my dissertation, I could write thousands of words about the most mundane subject, because once I start writing, I just can’t stop. Exams on the other hand are a whole other issue. If I could’ve completed all my education in essay form, I am certain I would’ve come away with more than average grades.
I have always wondered whether I have a book in me somewhere. I love romance. One of my favourite authors is Freya North. But how could I ever compete with someone as inspiring as Freya? She writes so brilliantly and makes the reader feel as though they are there, in the room her characters, silently watching, not daring to breath for fear of being caught or seen. I have this romantic image of sitting in a weather battered cottage by the sea, with a couple of four legged friends by my side while I write my bestseller…
It was only recently that Ali suggested I started to write a blog. And the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. As I sat through my coaching sessions with Beth from Transforment, I realised that my head was quite muddled, and I started to wonder whether I needed to offload some of this into properly constructed written words, sentences and paragraphs. I also started to wonder whether it would help me to write about the loss of my friend, as I wasn’t able to grieve properly at the time, perhaps writing down some of my thoughts and feelings would help.
So back to my notebook…
I carry this with me everywhere. It comes to work with me, it travels between London and Northampton in my bag, it comes with me to see friends, as I take walks around London, as I visit the fabulous sites London has to offer.
Because when I am feeling inspired by something I have seen, something I am feeling, or something else I have experienced, I have to write it down. Many of the musings I have written so far, have started from a couple of words jotted on a page when I have been on my lunch break, or as was the case this week, on a train to visit a friend.
The notes I write rarely become the full story, and as with Change (part 2), the words that finally appeared in my blog were quite different to those I had written on the train. But they do form the backbone of my ideas and help to build the story I want to tell.
I still have no idea where my writing will take me, but it is certainly helping me to reflect, to clear my mind, and to enjoy something that doesn’t seem like hard work.
In a world where I hate the sound of my alarm clock most weekdays, at the weekends and on my days off, I find myself excited to get up early, before the rest of the flat wakes, to see what journey my writing is going to take me on that day.