Sleeping on the beach? Legal.
Two things I remember about the towns along Portugal’s south coast: fish (fresh sardines, I believe) grilling on small sidewalk barbecue grills, billowing acrid blue smoke singeing the air and . . . packs of barking dogs racing through town. Which, if not prepared, imperil those lugging backpacks and other traveling paraphernalia. And anyone else caught unawares. One, two, three, four, 10, 11, 14 . . . who counts that fast?
The dog thing wasn’t so bad. The first time, I thought: “Wow, that was weird.” The next time, I noticed shopkeepers and restaurant owners – including the sardine grillers – pressed up against a wall, staring as the dogs raced past. Complacent. No stress. So the next time I heard barking dogs approach, I pressed against the nearest wall – and watched as the four-legged pack streamed around the corner on to . . . wherever. A man standing in a storefront across the street looked at me, smiled and waved. I did the same, feeling almost Portuguese.
As for the grilled sardines, that smell is with me still – almost 35 years later.
The next part is from my journal.
Sept. 17, 1979.
“17-9-79 Albufeira, Portugal Sunny & warm (but windy)
Arrived here late last night with a woman named Joy, who now lives outside La Crosse, Wis. It has been many days since I last wrote so I must try to catch up.
At the moment, I am sitting on a wall by the beach, it is late morning and I am waiting for my hunger to build to try a local cafeteria’s paella. I am using a bottle of
wine in an attempt to help my appetite along.
Morning – Looking west toward Albufeira, Portugal from our beachfront hideaway
I am officially in Algarve now, and it has to be the most expensive region in Portugal. Whereas up north (Peniche) I got one egg, pork chops, chips, bread & a beer for
less than two dollars, here the same meal would be 4-5 American dollars.
Albufeira, Portugal – Fishermen Pulling A Boat Up The Beach
Joy and I slept on the beach last night – she slept better than I, being a bit more paranoid about losing my possessions. Everything worked out fine. We built a fire and soon
it was morning.
Sunrise On The Beach – Looking East
Joy On The Beach In Portugal – some people just look good waking up, even after sleeping on the beach
Joy left for Spain today – she is to meet her friend Shirley, who is a real case – actually Algeciras. We arrived yesterday on the train from Sagres, after spending two
nights at the youth hostel there. It was crowded; but fun. The water was magnificent – cool and clear and refreshing.
The hostel was in a “fort,” which used to serve as a navigation school for the likes of Vasco de Gama and Magellan. We went out at night to look at the stars, and we could
see why that spot was chosen – a promontory with horizon lines on three sides, “essential for navigation by the stars,” said Joy.
Road To The Hostel On The Southwestern Tip Of Mainland Europe (we were walking)
Sagres, Portugal – Navigation School Turned Hostel
Before Sagres, I was in S. Martinho – for three nights. A Canadian woman with a mustache named Janet who was also kind of fat and I hitch-hiked around one day to a town call Peniche, where the only nice thing was a cheap lunch, and then to a town called Obidos, which was lovely. It is an old walled city, with hanging gardens and nicely kept homes and stores.
It was easy hitching – again proving Let’s Go Europe wrong and we never waited longer than ten minutes for a lift.
Colourful Homes In Obidos, Portugal
Right now, life seems easy, and America seems so far off. My plans for the immediate future – today and tomorrow morning – are to stay here one more night, sleep on the beach, have lunch, perhaps buy a few things, build a fire tonight, and then attempt to catch the 8:04 train east tomorrow. But I do not know to where. Oh yes, and the beach this afternoon. Today is the 17th, and I imagine that it shall take at LEAST one full day to reach Malaga, but I have no choice. Anyway, what that means is that I will not find out when Lou and LIz are coming until the 19th, or 20th, and I hope that they have not arrived already. This is so strange, perhaps I should call. (?)”
[End journal entry.]
Joy and I met in a hostel in a small beach town north of Lisbon. We had monumental arguments about, of all things, the so-called free-market economic system. I won’t bore you – except to say I think events proved us both right, in different ways. Joy was headed to grad school in business; she’d become a free-market convert. We crossed paths by chance once more a few days later – on the TALGO – then the only fast train in Spain – from the Costa del Sol to Madrid. She probably runs a bank somewhere.
One final thing: the suntan lotion, oil, or whatever it was. Beach shops on the Algarve sold an aromatic mixture of lemon and oil and I don’t remember what else (if anything). Thick, sticky and smelling like freshly squeezed lemons. That bottle traveled to Greece, including Crete, where I maxed out on beach time. To this day, my favorite suntan lotion. Ever.
Lisbon – When you’re young and backpacking, you brush your teeth wherever you can. Here by a city center fountain.