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Distraction in the Algarve


I went to Portugal for the opportunity to get to know a new country and a new culture, or at least part of it.

I would probably never have travelled to this country if I hadn't been forced to return to Switzerland in the meantime.

My goal here in the Algarve was to clear my head a bit after all that had already happened.

So I tried to focus completely on the new impressions of an unknown environment.

It was an exhausting journey, which took me over 2400km by car through Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal.

I was on the road for more than 30 hours and was therefore very happy when I arrived in Portimão, even though the heat almost beat me to death.

After the long journey, it was important to get some rest first and so the programme for the first day was limited. Since I was invited, I had a place to sleep for the whole time.

I planned to see as much as possible and still take it a little easier than I was used to.

I quickly noticed that life was different here. People slept longer in the morning, had breakfast shortly before noon, lunch in the afternoon and usually dinner, when it was already a bit cooler, took place in the dark, so that people went to bed late.

As I was not alone, I respected the local customs and, for once, also followed other people.

I visited many warm-hearted people, from whom I learned a lot about the culture, the language, the cuisine and the nature of Portugal.

In the castle of Silves, I saw Arabic architecture from long ago and learned about the historical connection between North Africa and Southwest Europe.

In Sagres, I saw illustrations of trade, seafaring and slavery.

It was an impressive exhibition on which I discovered an old globe on which I could make out Old High German inscriptions. In Alentejo, I learned more about everyday life in the countryside. I kept noticing big parallels and also big differences to the Spanish culture and language.

During the entire two weeks, I tried food that was unfamiliar to me and ate almost exclusively authentic Portuguese. There were things I didn't really like, but I would eat most of the dishes again immediately.

The thing that surprised me the most was snails, although I had to get over myself to eat them, in retrospect they tasted delicious. This reminds me not to be prejudiced against any kind of food just because it doesn't match one's idea of edibles.

One of my goals was also to go for walks and hikes to promote or check the condition of my foot and to be able to experience nature in this environment. I packed my sleeping mat and sleeping bag for the summer in my backpack in advance. In addition, I remembered to bring a knife, fire steel, headlamp and power bank.

I did the shopping and then drove to Aljezur.

From there I walked along the road through a small village called Monte Clérigo. The road then became a gravel path and soon after a hiking trail with very sandy ground. After a few kilometres I stopped walking because I had only started in the evening and I wanted to spend the night right at this spot 40m above the sea directly on the cliff. I waited for the sunset, which I enjoyed in silence. Then I settled in for the night and wallowed in my thoughts for a while before I went to sleep. It was a long night, during which the wind woke me up again and again.

I was grateful for the first rays of sunshine in the morning, knowing that they would become almost unbearable for me as the day progressed. Fortunately, the first part of the trail was still partly through a low pine forest, where I got some shade from time to time. For the first time, I followed the steeply sloping western European Atlantic coast, gazed into the vastness of the ocean and was certain that one day I would cross it.

Again and again I came across kilometres of golden, almost empty sandy beaches. On one of them I spotted a large male ground beetle. What luck it takes to be able to observe such a small creature in billions of grains of sand.

Without pause, the cooling wind blew towards me from the west. It accompanied me the whole way, so that I began to think we had become good friends. With the sun still high in the sky, I reached my destination for the day much faster than expected. I spent the hours by the sea and looked for a suitable place to sleep shortly before nightfall. There I built a small wall of stones to protect myself from the wind. When I lifted one of the stones, I met a tarantula, which fortunately was as frightened as I was and quickly ran away.I then lay down on my sleeping mat and went to sleep.I woke up a little tense, but was happy that everything had gone so well the day before. I was also very much looking forward to today's destination, as it would be a special one.At the beginning of the day, a mist spread over the cliffs and the coastal hills.

Then the path led me inwards from the sea land. The air was hot and yet the wind blew almost continuously today. After some time, I reached Vila do Bispo.There I took a short break before the path led me through dry landscapes back to the sea. In the distance, I spotted the Cabo de São Vicente. I walked faster until I joyfully reached the most south-westerly point in Europe. From then on, I followed the Portuguese south coast to Sagres, the southernmost point of Portugal. I began to develop a passion for geographically relevant places.

My goal had been reached.I was able to realise my little project.I was glad that my foot remained pain-free for the entire time, even though I felt it and my knee hurt.I enjoyed these two days very much.However, I also realised that although my foot was in better shape, it was still far from being in the condition it should be in to be able to cover thousands of kilometres again.

It was difficult to accept this and so I travelled back to Portimão elated about the experience but disappointed about the current condition of my ankle.

I tried to push the thoughts away and decided to give them the time they needed when I was back in Switzerland. So I focused on the remaining time I had left in this foreign country.

I could watch storks all returning to their nests at the same time.On another walk, I was able to spot flamingos. I also travelled to Monchique to the highest point of the Algarve, Fóia.At 902m, a seemingly tiny coastal hill, but it gave me a better understanding of the surrounding vegetation zones.

I met local people.

I ate local food.

I saw local places.

It was a wonderful time.

I am now back in Switzerland, still wearing my orthotics, regularly attending physiotherapy and planning the next steps on my road to recovery,Success comes when your dreams become bigger than your excuses.

Do you want to support me?

Andrea Erne CH07 0076 1502 5100 6200 2I am very grateful for everything.

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