Listen to a podcast: The Beaches of Lota – Portugal
I woke up this morning with a memory of a Beautiful Dream. Yea, I know, but I do dream a lot. And this word ‘lot’ happens to magically repeat throughout my life. This time, it brought me back to the Beaches of Lota in Portugal.
It was April 2016 and I was getting super tired from going through the same daily routines; working and being a mother of a back then 2 year old and trying to live some life was never easy. So I decided to run away for a while, only us Girls.
Portugal was always the right place to go to, so Portugal is what I chose. It had to be as far away from humanity though as possible and close to the beach so that we could warm our little white bones somewhere nice.
Few days later, I knew my hotel location, reserved a car and needed nothing more, travelling on my stand by tickets from work. That’s always fun. There’s this thrill accompanying it that you may not board in the end if the flight is too full. But I have my ways so usually got this covered before getting to the airport. Except this time 🙂 Was so excited to be going away that I totally forgot to ring the office and check how many people are actually on this flight to Faro. Faro! That’s like destination number 1+ in Ireland, especially during summertime. So we went to the airport only to rebook onto the next available one – late at night – and sadly went back home to wait on our turn 🙂
Arrival after midnight in Faro is not such a bad thing at all. You simply avoid what you want to avoid – masses of humanity everywhere. But there was a little problem, Chloe was completely exhausted and our rental car company promised to have a rep awaiting us. I do not have to say more, right? So after some half an hour of trying to locate the guy, he finally showed up. From there, he took us and some other folks from our flight onto a van and into their office. That was all good. Chloe puked only once after we arrived there but the staff was amazing. Super professional and real fast so that they would not have to clean any more of that 😀 Yes, truly recommend Centauro Car Rentals. Amazing People and service.
I am a bit of a Formula 1 driver but! there is a but… yep, I am not so good driving on the right side of the road. That’s why it’s always a good idea to rent a car and pay full insurance (some mare 50 Eur) and this way you can happily hit every possible pavement you wish to hit. So I did too. Both, paid 48 Eur and happily hit every piece of pavement with my right front tire 😀 And all that driving this insanely huge Fiat 500 🙂
Anyway from the Car Rental place it was only a matter of turning right onto the motorway towards Spain. Yes, that’s where the waters are warmer and there are no people walking on top of you.
C fell asleep within seconds and I only hoped that in the darkness of the night my internet running on roaming would not fail me… But it did. I took a right turn from the motorway but then ended up in some middle of nowhere. In the darkness all I could see were some scary looking buildings and big fences around any hotel I drove to. Lost my way in a tiny place called Manta Rota and pretty upset returned to the first roundabout I saw on my way. Went straight through and what? Nothing! Turned left, nothing, so turned right… and there it was… Parked, grabbed my 3 bags: biiig, smaller and the smallest, pushchair, sleeping Baby and finally myself and dragged it all into the lobby where the guy told me I would be on the first floor and there was no lift 😀 Fine. After all am I not the one who lifts heavy weights and really needed the sun?
So… I already held the Baby, grabbed the pushchair, hanged the smallest, the bigger and the biggest bags on me and went up. Only that up was not the end of the journey. The room was some good 50 metres walk around the corner.
Made it. Slept until that freaking aircon box screaming from the wall woke me up. Chloe slept like a stone.
Our room was very pretty, overlooking the cafe, pool area and with the view of the sea. Hungry as hell, super hot but with a mission ‘beach’ in my head, I gathered myself, little C, pushchair, creams, hats, towels, water bottles, toys and finally our amazing beach tent which I had never unwrapped yet since I got it, loaded all onto me and happily walked downstairs to the restaurant. Never travel other than on B&B deals! Eat a lot and sneak some more for later…
So we did. Later we found a little gate in the fence by the pool that led to the beach. Hmmmm… who would have thought that the path would be made of tiny concrete squares too small for the pushchair wheels and besides they were all covered in sand… The struggle was real, but what? Mommy is a strong woman, she carried us all in some 40°C across this beautiful dune onto the beach (eh! mare 15 minutes!) C was already moaning 🙂
Step 2, tent. Oh dear. The wind blew as hell. I took out the instructions but with the whole thing flying around me and the baby looking to play my brain suddenly became so so small that I truly struggled with putting this thing together. Luckily some amazing Dutch couple who apparently had ‘been there and done that many o’times’ came to the rescue and in a few minutes we were all set and ready for the proper type of ‘beaching’.
Our hotel was in the Lota area, within a walking distance to a small village called Manta Rota. Quiet enough although already pretty touristy so if you want peace and an almost empty enormous beach, stay in Lota or further towards the Spanish border.
For only 7 Eur a day you can get a bike at your hotel reception and if travelling with kids this is an optimal way of spending a few cool days. So we did too.
As much as Manta Rota offered food, beach and souvenirs, that’s not were we wanted to be. On one of the days we cycled to this magical place I never heard of before, because I simply never study the places I go to. These must always be spontaneous trips, only then you can truly get the real feel.
Casela Velha welcomes cyclists with a rather steep hill, but sure, we did not come here to whine. But Oh My God the views from this village are absolutely unreal. It is a fairly small place situated on the coast and not overly popular but why? is the question I will leave unanswered because I want it to stay just this way.
A beautiful white washed church stands at the top of the square. There’s one tiny cafe run by a super kind lady there too. But we went to the graveyard.
Have you ever seen a Portuguese graveyard? No? Well, next time you are there, do. It is a total must. This one does not really have graves. There are walls with tiny square windows everywhere. And these windows are beautifully decorated; some with photographs or memorabilia, some have proper miniature net curtains and look like real tiny houses for the deceased.
C found a little cat and run after it like crazy. I strolled around peeking into these amazing, unusual ‘houses’ and thinking of these people; were they happy living their lives here in this tiny paradise? Is Casela were they were born? Is this were their families spent centuries before them? Well the usual you’d ask yourself, only here, it felt somehow magical. But the cat hopped on top of one of the walls leaving my daughter pretty desperate so to save the world from Her tears I had to act quickly and by offering a challenge of something new and yet unknown.
The challenge it was indeed but for my poor already sore body. Just by the gate to the cemetery there are stairs… maaaaaaany stairs… leading down to the beach. As Casela Velha is closer to Tavira, one of the largest towns in the area, the beach is already split into two by the waters of the sea, however in the Tavira region it is completely divided off by the river. That’s one of the reasons I in the end decided to go a bit further towards Spain as the access to the beach in that part is direct whereas around Tavira you must take a boat which can be a bit of a hassle when travelling on your own with a small baby.
And so we left our vehicle together with our food supplies completely unsecured by the church, but in fairness who would dare stealing a bike with a baby seat from beside the church, right? 🙂 I took that baby of mine into my arms and off we went down not even daring to count. And at the bottom awaited us this little tiny beachlet with a little tiny boat house and golden yellow sand.
The bike was happily awaiting us exactly where we left it. And the way back to the hotel seemed even more wonderful, even tough the very same. Beautiful houses with pretty orchards were luring us with the visible sweetness of their heavy branches pregnant with perfectly round oranges.
Lady at reception smiled at us and at the same time looked at the cleaner to be on guard. Well, we did stain one of their lovely lobby cushions that morning and they seemed completely freaked out that we might do it again. In fact the stain was the size of a nail from the sausage C dropped on it at breakfast but the cushion was nicely washed and looked like new now 🙂
We decided they knew not what life was all about, laughed from the bottom of our hearts and moved on to grab a dinner in a restaurant and have it up on the balcony of our pretty room.
… that very same balcony I would spend nights on, staring at the starry sky and listening to the swooshing of the sea…
This journey does have it’s end…
… but not just yet 🙂
So long for now,
Anna & Chloe
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This post can also be viewed in Polish here: