Girl surf trippin’

Whoa, Portugal is still the awesome place for a quick surf getaway. So from 4 -10 May 2015, it was time for a girls’ trip again.

This time we decided to fly into Lisbon and rent a car there. It turned out to be a mean looking black van. People were quite surprised to see 4 happy surf girls jump out of that thing at every beach! 🙂

We got to the apartment in Sagres late on the 4th, so the morning of the 5th was spent getting some groceries, and renting surfboards, a few more than intended because the baggage handling had unfortunately eaten up some boards, which was highly disappointing. I intentionally hadn’t travelled with my own board because I wanted to try out something different. For a while I’d wanted a nice longboard, but on this holiday I got to try out an egg and I’m completely hooked. Since all the other girls have longboards, it’s kind of nice to hang out with them in the back, but lugging around a longboard is a bit of a pain, especially on public transport and stuff. With the egg, I could catch lots of waves and hang out out back, so pretty sweet.

The first day, we drove around a bit, hung at at Furnas and had lunch on the beach, but there weren’t any waves there due to the high tide. Thus we ended up at Zavial. I’d not had any super nice sessions there before, but every year the conditions are different. It looked a bit big, so the two ballsiest ladies went first, but we couldn’t resist and joined them after a little well.

On Wednesday, Tonel was huge! So I decided to sunbathe and save my energy for Beliche in the afternoon. My favourite beach 🙂 The next morning, I did paddle out at Tonel during our dawn patrol session, but it was quite dumpy so took it easy and watched others catch some big ones. In the afternoon, Tonel was a lot friendlier, although I did get one thorough washing which really hurt my ear and even made me a bit dizzy for a while. The rest of the day I still heard some bubbling noise when I tried to clear my ear. I’m now a lot more religious about bringing and wearing my ear plugs!

But it’s not all surf that Sagres has to offer, there’s also fabulous restaurants. We went to a local place called Babugem where you could pick from a box which freshly caught fish you wanted grilled. I had a lovely seabream and shared a fig, almond & carob cake with one of my friends.

Thursday morning, we managed to drag ourselves out of bed early and made it to Zavial and it was just magical! We got in the water at 8, and there were just three other guys there for a bit but they left. The waves were super easy to catch, super mellow, hip to shoulder height. Afterwards we checked out the new Surfer’s hangout in Sagres for a well-deserved post-surf snack (a.k.a 2nd breakfast). After a little nap (surf, eat, sleep, repeat), we checked out a couple of beaches, but Tonel was heaving and Beliche didn’t look too friendly either so we ended up at Zavial again. Not the best session, but still fun. There were also some naked dudes on the beach.

The naked dudes were gone on Saturday morning, when we went to Zavial again. A bit more wind made the waves a bit harder to catch, but did produce some gorgeous rainbow sprays. I was also quite happy that I’d gotten some new earplugs! Like the previous day, we then went to the hangout again, followed by a nap. The last session of my holiday was at Beliche, where I thoroughly surfed out my arms until they felt like spaghettis.  Muito obrigada Portugal!

 

 

Roadtrippin’ in Florida

Paul grew up in Florida, and we’ve visited Pensacola a bunch of times now over the Christmas holidays, but I had never seen much more of Florida. Until now. And it’s huge, so I’ve only seen a small bit of it, but it was pretty awesome 🙂

After Christmas, we first drove to St. Petersburg (yes there is a St. Petersburg in Florida). It’s like a 7 hour drive, and that doesn’t even get you all the way to the other side of the state. But that’s fine. The main reason we went there is that it has the largest collection of Dalís outside Spain, but it turned out to be a really nice town. The centre is very walkable and they try to keep out the big chains, so there are lots of nice little boutiques and coffee places, which gives it such a different vibe from seeing the same chains again. So we had a nice dinner after we arrived, outside (because it’s Florida and the weather is nice 😉 ) and in the morning we found a nice tea & coffee place where we had breakfast before we went to the Dalí museum.

The museum is really epic. It’s a beautiful building and it has some amazing pieces. The temporary exhibition was Picasso/Dalí, Dalí/Picasso, bringing together two fabulous Spanish painters. Afterwards, we found a nice organic supermarket where we assembled a big salad, ate outside again (I could get used to that) and hopped into the car to go to Cocoa Beach, a little surf town on the Atlantic where we booked a cute AirBnB just steps away from the beach.

Cocoa Beach is an interesting place as it’s basically a long road with some houses on the sides wedged between a the Banana river and the Atlantic. We rented some boards and got to surf lots together (it was too small for the locals, but not for us). We had one of the best surf sessions ever on 30 December: it was just us, super mellow waves (a few party waves), the weather changed a bit, we had some sun, we had some rain, which also brought a rainbow, and we also saw some dolphins! So cool! Afterwards we refueled in town with some great food after which we decided to go to the Kennedy Space Center to see some space shuttles. It was pretty good, although I thought it was a bit nationalist which was unnecessary. Also, Paul and I would have liked a bit more in-depth information than what was on the little info boxes near the displays.

On the last day of the year, we went surfing again, super different from the day before, but still good to be out without gloves and boots and all that. We had a nice relaxed day around Cocoa Beach, and in the evening we took a little trip to Cape Canaveral, apparently that’s where it’s at. There were a few bars, some of which had people in them. We ended up at a fairly OK bar which had laid out a beach and had a redneck rapper name Bubba Sparxxx on the program. Never knew that such a thing existed, but the cocktails were decent and we got to dance 🙂

On 1 January, I first had a nice little New Year’s surf after which we drove to Orlando. We first shopped at an outlet mall, after which we went to have dinner at some friends. They have a smoker. I love pulled pork, it’s even better when it’s homemade!  We also went to Disney World, to the Magic Kingdom! Thankfully our friends knew the way and booked us a few fast passes so we didn’t have to wait too long at some of the rides. I was a bit surprised that it was so similar to Disneyland Paris, so I kind of felt that I had already seen it. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, I just didn’t expect it.

When we got back to Pensacola, we still had a few more days to enjoy the Florida sunshine before we headed back to cold and dark Amsterdam (although the winters have been pretty mild the past two years so it wasn’t too bad).

Surf trippin’ around Europe

This spring I got to make two surf trips (kind of). The first was to San Sebastián in combination with a project meeting (the perks of being a researcher), the second with a bunch of awesome ladies that I got to travel to England with last year.

San Sebastián was, as always, a great little escape for a few days. I got quite lucky that it was warm and sunny, because the weeks before the weather had been dreadful. When I was there though (early April) it was even nice to surf without gloves (I so hate gloves). It was quite windy though so I did wear my cap every now and then. I rented a board at the Pukas surf shop, which is just really nice. They’re right on the boulevard by Zurriola beach and you can swap the board whenever you need something bigger or smaller. I started out with a 6’4″ shortboard, but that was just really too small for me, so I went back and got a 7’0″ banana (it was yellow). As they closed early on Sunday, I got to keep the board at my hotel overnight. On Monday morning the waves were pretty OK. In the afternoon I traipsed around town for a bit, read a magazine and did a bit of prep for the meeting, and checked into my apartment where I would be staying for the meeting (I was staying at a hotel closer to Zurriola the first few days). The apartment was pretty awesome too, had a great view of La Concha, and I managed to check in using my rather basic (but improving) Spanish skills. In the evening the waves were super small. But I did get to trade in my board again for just the awesomest pink flowery Walden Magic Model. It was super sweet. And I got to catch a lot of waves. I did have to book it back to the central square to meet my colleagues for an informal tapas dinner, which meant being guided through the nicest places to eat the awesomest stuff that tourists normally don’t know to ask for.

Sunrise over La Concha

Sunrise over La Concha

The next night, we had a big dinner and cider tasting at one of the cider houses in the hills just outside Donostia. Another proper treat. Life is good in Spain.

Actually it’s pretty good on the whole Iberian peninsula, as early May I got to spend a week in sunny Portugal. With the 5 surf buddies, we rented a lovely apartment in Sagres for a week, two cars and a bunch of longboards. Pretty sweet! I was happy I could go though because the week before the trip I had some weird swollen head. I woke up on Sunday morning May 1 with a head like a balloon, and a super sore skin on my neck. I first got some antibiotics but that didn’t work (so no bacterial infection), so a couple of days later I went to the GP again and got some antihistamines and some cream. She said it was supposed to start working in a couple of hours, but it didn’t quite, go down. With daily naps and an icepack on my cheek it did start going down on Friday. My skin was still a bit flaky when I got to Schiphol, but I didn’t scare anyone too badly 🙂

At Faro we got our rental cars, and I got to drive a really nice van which we rented from Zitcars, a local place and they’re awesome! We didn’t have to pay or register additional drivers and they were pretty cool about us sand into it (although we did try to clean it).  On the way to Sagres, we took the motor way, which was quite nice, although I didn’t realise the van had 6 gears. But we used those the other days ;). On Saturday it was first quite the undertaking to find some suitable longboards as most surf shops mostly rent out soft tops. Luckily we secured four boards for Saturday from two different shops and found some lovely waves at Cordoama. The next day, we traded in one of the boards we didn’t like and I picked up a nicer board from Jah-Shaka (the 9’2″ NSP I also surfed in November). We traipsed around several beaches on the south shore and set out to find the ‘secret’ point break (Ponta Ruiva) to no avail so we ended up at Cordoama again. The next day we first went to the market and bought some fish and then met up with a local for a little surf lesson, who also helped us find the point break and helped us position ourselves for the take-off (above a big flat rock that is only 2ft under water, only mildly nerve racking but a wonderful experience). The location was amazing. On the way back, Suzanne, Marieke and I went for a few sunset waves at teeny but beautiful Beliche where we got to put the afternoon’s tips into practice in slightly less challenging conditions. The rest of the week we also surfed at Mareta, Beliche again, and I even managed to get my bum out of bed for a dawn session at Zavial one day. The sunrise was beautiful, although I’m so not a morning person! Zavial changed a lot since last year btw, the storm washed all the sand away so there is not much beach left, it’s also not quite my favourite spot, but everyone has their own preferences. We had some really fabulous food at a lovely little place called Mum’s in Sagres, as well as some great home cooked meals at our apartment (I lit the BBQ!).

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The last two days, there was a lot of wind on the west coast, but it wasn’t really coming around the bend to the south coast, so we had to find a slightly sheltered spot. We found this at Arrifana, which I hadn’t been to yet. It’s a really gorgeous beach too. Again much less sand than last year apparently. We ended our holiday on the beach officially with a lovely lunch overlooking the beach after a great last surf session together. On the drive back to the airport we took the slower local route because we wouldn’t be able to pay the tolls (which are to be paid 48 hours  after using the motor way at the post office, which obviously wasn’t going to happen.). Anyway, we had time for a little ice-cream break on the way, and still made it on time, returned the car without a dent, and happily got back to Amsterdam with a tan and lots of new happy memories.

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