The road through Portugal oscillated between slow hill climbs in 5th gear at 65kmh to rapid downhill stints with the clutch pushed down (fuel saving mode). At nearly 3 tons and only 65 horse power, this wooden ship of the open road just isn’t build for ascents.
The sun was beaming, the temperature inside the cabin was hot enough for me to drop the windows down and as I nodded along with Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl I meditated on changing into shorts. I'd bought a cheap 12V fan to cool down the cabin, but that offered exactly 0.01% relief. 30km to Peniche, and I was getting excited.
20km to Peniche and it was getting cloudy and any thoughts of summer attire had vanished.
5km to Peniche and it started to get depressingly cold and windy.
I parked in front of the beach, wetsuitted up, waxed my board and got into the water. Only then I realised how tired I actually was from those 4 days of driving.
A maximum of 30 minutes later and too tired to paddle already, I called it a day and holed up for the evening.
“I did not drive 2000 kilometers for the same shitty weather as back home”, I murmured as I made myself some tea.
The next morning I started following the A22, snaking my way even further down south. I could’ve waited a few days for the weather to clear up but the lack of sun made my decision-making irrational and impatient, having just endured another dreadful North-European fall and winter. I needed heat, and I needed it now.
I arrived in the Algarve at sunset. That turned out to be a bad idea, as it meant having to navigate the tiny, narrow, steep streets of a busy town with a giant orange sunset hue blinding my eyes. Add to that a buggy navigation system and 5 hours of no food and little water and I was in desperation mode.
Note to fellow travellers: it’s always better to arrive at a destination unknown in the AM on a full stomach. It’s been said of Bill Clinton that, before engaging in negotiations, he always made sure both he and his guests had properly eaten, as he believed that better decision-making happens with an absence of hunger.
I tend to agree.