Travelogue

June 10, 2016 , By Megha Agarwal

Portugal Travel Diary

Portugal Travel Diary

“The definition of intimacy is – Sharing your reality with someone else and knowing you’re safe, and them being able to share their reality with you and also be safe.” Those moments in which we are entirely, naturally, sub consciously ourselves and one with the universe are meditative. And memorable. They are often shared with a real ally in truth or partner in crime. This dedication is to that friend – written Megha, founder at The Corner Courtyard.

“Oh! you’re from Calcutta! How wonderful is that.” This is how our immigration officer greeted us in Faro, Portugal. We evidently had him at hello. This was to be the beginning of a trip where serendipitous encounters with strangers were as disarmingly special as its infinite Atlantic views. Ten mins into our friendly exchange, he couldn’t help but think aloud fondly of the memories from the East Coast of the exotic Indian sub continent. We had unknowingly travelled a long way to feel right at home. Finally and very reluctantly, he let us go after much prompting from the queue that we were inadvertently holding up. If one does get held up at immigration, it should always be to make you feel this important.

Our cab rolled along the luxurious landscape, transversing beautiful mountains. Past lazy idyllic village towns sprinkled with quaint, romantic, pastel painting like houses with distinctive characteristic ornate chimneys. Along streets surrounded citrus trees and almond plants. Yes, it all feels surreal and yet so exhilaratingly real and familiar, perhaps from dreams at dawn. There is deep sense of deja vu, calm and belonging.

When we arrived at our hotel in the sleepy looking, tourist spared and picturesque town of Alboferia, it seemed like we maybe the only people there. We often felt like the last survivors, living on the sublime edge of this wild world, surrounded ancient, wise, all seeing and knowing mountains. Spring peeping through enchanting orange meadows and waterfalls. Later that evening, courtesy our very first accidental local guide friend, we made our way to ‘the strip’. Here the diametrically opposite scene is fueled wicked never ending parties and wild bars, friendly folks, live music and the best vibes! The Portuguese did teach us a thing or two about ‘partying’. 

It is extremely rewarding and humbling to overlook the popular acts and itineraries and allow ourselves to be led the day, place, feeling, instinct and moment. We spend our days exploring the hidden beaches of Algarve and connect with our own inherent and now freed Mediterranean souls. Three bus changes, thousands of lost steps, several ‘lost in translation’ directions and one cab ride later we find ourselves at our first ‘secret’ beach in Lagos.

Nestled amidst brightly coloured cliffs and centuries old cave formations along the seemingly endless blue and champagne coast, these hidden canvases settle any doubt over nature being a better artist than humans. These seductively spectacular stretches of the infinite coast make it nearly impossible to pick a favorite beach, however our first love is Praia da Marinha. It instantly & unexpectedly auto restored our factory setting where love at first sight could and should be possible. We were like most strangers to distant foreign lands, who fancy finding their own path in the paths treaded shoes before them. Resembling old fashioned travellers, adventurers, seekers and explorers, but really like eccentric pirates and over confident drug lords, we had set off on our curious feet. Seeking the ‘horcrux’ which seemed as evasive as love itself. Like any epic grand gesture of love is preceded a final test and tease, mixed with some more yearning before yielding, this steep flight of stairs leading to the quintessential Algarve beach cove could have easily inspired the classic “stairway to heaven”. After a day of climbing cliffs alongside the Atlantic ocean, getting high (on the view obviously) in cove beaches and naturally carved hole in the wall rooms in rocky mountains, endless horizons of the sun, sky and sea, we made our way to civilization.

Albeit this one was paved in cobble and echoed with saxophones and guitars flirting with the wind and waves. The captivating fragrance and flavors of peri peri and oysters. And beautiful strangers in the night errr ‘exchanging glances’.  The party really is everywhere you go as here the people truly are the party. They are wired to be warm, sweet and sexy, unreasonably happy. And heart meltingly expressive of simple feelings with honest words and winning smiles. This is how we want to live – be real, get surprised, laugh till it hurts, feel foolishly excited, share comfortable silences, be challenged & inspired, crazy and reassured, amplified imaginations and surreal reality, vulnerable, wild and safe.

Call it a lucky streak or meant to be, the next morning we were greeted the a gorgeous man. His irresistible charm, sweet spontaneity and impish grin made it easy for us to let him lead the way. And he led us to the treasure coves and hidden spots that only the natives of a land can know of. Those special places shying away from tourists intruding eyes and self facing camera lens. The kind of stuff that makes nostalgia were the laughs and love we shared, plucking and feeding one another almonds and berries, as we drove through beautiful vineyards, visiting stunning horses in country clubs in the clouds. We looked like the cover of every fancy glossy travel magazine. We were the picture that inspired that cover! The muse to Chris Martin’s ‘magic’ and all other music. As we were sitting there under white canopies overlooking the great Atlantic, listening to relentless waves and smooth guitar strums, over food and pheromones (courtesy the oysters off course), we made and shared ‘intimate’ free-flowing stories. With the comfort of old friends and butterflies of new loves. Spring had subtly arrived, fashionably late into the Mediterranean summer.

Saudade (Portugese)- A nostalgic longing to be near again to something or someone that it distant. “The love that remains”

A special thanks to Megha for being our guest blogger. Your travel stories and story-telling skills endure an unexplainable admiration for you. Thanks for giving us The Corner Courtyard and inviting so many travellers to our city. 

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