800km of coastline, incredible surf breaks of all descriptions, beautiful sandy beaches and whitewashed villages with cobblestone streets perched atop dramatic end-of-the-world cliffs. There are not enough superlatives to describe Portugal. Ohh, and then there’s craggy mountaintop castles set amidst misty woodlands, stunningly preserved palaces and magnificent monasteries that rise above quaint medieval towns. That should start to paint the picture now.
To put it in simple terms, your eyes and mouth will be agape with astonishment at the sheer beauty of Portugal. There’s so much history, so much culture and oh so much surf, you simply have to make it your next surf trip destination when all this COVID 19 bullsh*t subsides.
I often use introductory paragraphs such as this to set the scene for the story to unfold – to paint a picture and describe a destination we have visited in all its glory. In this case however, all I could do is list some of the sights we saw. I was lost for words, and I am never lost for words. I can crap on about almost anything, but I had severe writer’s block approaching this story. The reason for my trepidation was that so much to say about the country. I didn’t know where to start and I was ever mindful of leaving something out.
No matter where I go, or whatever corners of the globe I traverse, nothing diminishes my love for Australia. If there was one place however, that I could consider living outside of Australia, it would be Portugal. No wonder the locals cry, “Esta é a ditosa Pátria minha amada” (This is my blissful beloved homeland).
Those fortunate enough to visit Europe are fully aware there is so much history, so many historical monuments, so much beautiful scenery, and equally beautiful people, along with delicious food and wine. The only problem is, in the main, it is frightfully expensive.
When I visited Europe in my early twenties, I pretty much kissed goodbye to ever returning unless I became a millionaire. I just couldn’t envisage ever going back with several kids in tow. I mean, mine is a family of five – that’s two rooms wherever you go. You do the maths – even in Australia it costs a fortune to travel with our crew.
Well, all those thoughts went out the window in October 2019 when my son Sam and good mate Alec Franklin were invited over to one of the most renowned football clubs in Portugal.
I mean what’s money anyhow? I was confident I could get a good price for my kidney… maybe not so much for my liver but my kidney was definitely worth a dollar. Anyhow, where there is a will, there is a way, and like or not my wife Katie and I were coming up with the money. Anyhow I digress, back to Portugal.
The boys were basically given a couple of weeks notice to get their asses over to OS Belenenses in Lisbon (what a football club!). It wasn’t until the death knell I was informed I needed to chaperone them.
With so much work on, I couldn’t conceive how I could do it. Thanks to Mark (my mate and Horse & Water / Smorgasboarder business partner) and the team however, I was told I couldn’t pass up such an opportunity and was promptly pushed out the door. I am so grateful they did. You have to take the time, and make sacrifices, to experience life, and looking back, I was so very lucky to do so.
With such short notice, and the fact I wasn’t initially going with Sam and Alec, I didn’t have time to read up on Portugal. And that just added to the adventure! Indeed, every time I HAVEN’T researched a place, I have enjoyed it so much more. I guess there is no expectation.