My case was small enough to hold a camera housing and a wetsuit with those all important flippers. Nothing more except two pairs of boardies and two tees. This was enough to place above my head on the flight in order to arrive knowing my stuff was safe and not thrown to pieces by the carrier I was flying with.
I travelled alone with no real idea what to expect from Portugal other than flicking through a few surfing blogs and a couple of quick Google searches. It was all lodged in my nut above the neck. I didn’t know much about the Portuguese surfing culture therefore on a whim, working stringless I was ready to really become freelance.
I arrived in Faro and quickly nailed the A22 on four wheels on the wrong side of the road, it was a good feeling.
I said to myself prior to the trip that this was not a holiday but preparation for the day I got commissioned to cover such an event. I was looking to prove I can achieve something without the need of others, meeting and working with people I had never met before.
Sagres was my home for the days I was in Portugal, a light and fresh town. It was quiet as it was still early in the season for them. The roads were slow and empty except the locals with their motorhomes that seem to litter the streets. The cafés become hangouts where you can sit, eat and read mags from all over the world. Housed by friendly people, with experience and knowledge of the area.
The first thing I did after my five minute bag drop in the hotel was head to Beliche, a town beach contained by a natural fencing of epic glory, yellow sands and the clean water. Being a UK surf photographer and living in Cornwall, I have photographed beaches which are stunning and Portugal was certainly up there.
The difference was that I felt odd walking through the sands with tourists tanning on the loungers in the heat, enjoying their holidays. I felt unbalanced and untravelled and a little apprehensive. Still, my job for these few days was to shoot some surf and hopefully have something on the wall for the coming weeks.
Before I left the UK, I did pack something which I knew would mean I was going to be checked at some point. As terrorism is top of the agenda at airports, carrying a heated wetsuit vest wasn’t going to pass without someone looking at it strangely through the x-ray. The vest is battery powered and woven through with wire, so not ideal.
I got stopped on the return flight check in, yet once explained to security I got the all clear. Most people might wonder why you might take that to Portugal, all I can say is you should sit in the sea for an hour half to two hours and see how it feels.
The evening of most days was routinely used to edit my shots from that day. The hotel allegedly had Wi-Fi but it was a no-show in my room, evidently I was going to annoy reception as this was the only place strong enough to work from.
Hiring a car is important too if you wanna grab some surf on the rural side. I was issued with a 2016 black Polo, with enough polish to see your reflection a mile off.
It was ideal for the trip from the airport to your hotel. But not so if you fancy checking out Praia da Ponta Ruiva. The uneven and rough winding trails gives any car a good run for its money.
The further you go the more you wish for a 4×4. It did unfortunately mean I was limited to really going in deep and exploring, but I felt like I was pushing my luck anyway so I made the most of what I had.
The swell that day was good, the heat was up and the light was strong which was good news for my pictures.
I was stoked to meet some good people, a surfing school was using the same break . Tidy lips and backhand shoots helped to capture the moments.
The swim wasn’t too tough either, nothing in respect to a hard swell at Fistral where it’s sometimes a full on fight.
I shot for a couple of hours, with the tide pushing high for me to return to my hotel.
I had planned to shoot more on the Sunday and I was hoping for a swell I had been tracking to come through.
Unfortunately, Sunday was slow and very small. So my final day was touring without my uniform on and cleaning the stacks of dust and crap of the car in order to get the deposit back.
That was my Portugal, I’m definitely looking to return again later on in the year to travel more breaks and discover more adventures in this welcoming country.
For more information visit www.waives.uk
Praia do Beliche in Portugal