Stravaiging in Algarve

Stravaig: A Scottish word meaning to wander around, often for pleasure and frequently with no particular destination or aim in mind. This lovely definition taken from this blog.

I came across this word during an unforgettable dinner in a restaurant of the same name in Glasgow. I have not forgotten it since then nor have I forgotten haggis. Stravaig has become one of my favourite words while travelling, in the same way that Elizabeth Gilbert attached a great meaning to the Italian word attraversiamo.

I guess stravaig is the word I’ve been looking for to define the way I travel. Maybe I should change the name of the blog to that.

I’ve been stravaiging in Europe long before I’ve discovered the word. One of these trips was in Algarve, Portugal in the autumn of 2012. One chilly November morning, the sun finally came out after days of endless rain.  The breeze from the Atlantic Ocean was becoming unbearably tempting, seducing us to go the beach. So we decided to park our car somewhere and walk along the cliffs.

Don’t ask me where this is. I haven’t had time to research. I probably wouldn’t know. Maybe that makes me a bad travel writer.

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We walked along the cliff that opened up to a sort of heathland. From here, the horizon offered a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean in different shades of blue. Further ahead, we could see the mighty rocks that define the landscape of Algarve. This Portugese region is very popular with English holidaygoers f that we were even listening to a local English radio station  in the car.

After about half an hour sauntering in the plains and getting warm along the way, we had this crazy idea of going down the cove. We thought maybe we could have the beach all to ourselves, go skinny dipping if the water was warm enough.

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Chanelling Bear Grylls.

There wasn’t any marked path down to the beach. We had to climb down on crumbling earth, loose stones and sharp, broken rocks. The trail was quite steep too.

My brain was protesting for pulling this stunt while wearing a brand new pair of designer leather boots. But I was thrilled hearing the sound of earth crushing under my boots and the way the rocks cut my hands while I struggle not to slide down. It was my childhood all over again.

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After careful maneuvering down the cliff, we came to a rocky beach. Round, smooth stones, the kind that I would collect as a kid for the river bank, were being caressed by small waves rolling gently to the shore. The sun was just warm enough to allow us to sunbath naked for half an hour. Although the water was icy, I took a few quick dips, unable to resist the ocean.

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Don’t you wish you could do this right now? I do.

The beach was secluded. There was no one around. We could have done whatever we wanted. But we just lay there, baking under the sun, savouring what was lacking at home: blue skies, warm sun, the beach and some quiet moments together.

Photos by me and Robin Kuijs.

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