Time is the ultimate luxury in the world of travel. Time to leisurely sip a coffee on a warm summer’s day in a quaint Italian trattoria. Time to head to that two hour meditation and yoga class in the rice paddies of Ubud. Time to settle in to a new town, to get to know others, and live like a local.
Unfortunately, this adventure to Europe didn’t lend itself to this luxury, so I made it my mission to choose places to visit and stay which emanated that lived in, homely vibe.
In this instance, I had been recommended by my friend Justin, a relatively new hostel (if you can even call it that) called Conglobo, in the tiny coastal enclave of Pera, about 1 hour east of Lagos. This backpackers is located in a caravan park, and is essentially made up of double decker buses. Aussie owner Shane had come across these buses and driven them down to Portugal, setting about transforming them into dorm rooms. A novel concept for a novel guy.
By this stage I was craving some privacy (my tolerance for dorm rooms is not what it used to be), so reached out to this Queensland-native for a private room. And I got a caravan for my efforts! It’s been a recent obsession of mine to own some sort of vehicle I can drive and sleep in, so this satisfied this desire of mine to no end.
I rolled through the gravel driveway mid-afternoon, after a morning of slight panic that I didn’t have an international drivers licence, and was greeted like an old friend. The hostel is set up with two DDs and a communal lounge space in the middle that hosted nightly family vegetarian dinners and was for the perfect setting for making new friends.
Remember how I mentioned a little hand poked tattoo a couple of posts back (forgiven if not, seeing as that was about 70kagillion months ago)? Well no sooner did I drop my bags and settle into my new tin home did I jump back in the car and drive north to meet Chloe (aka @discowitchtattoo on Instagram), who would adorn me with the jellyfish of my dreams.
Travelling up and down the Algarve is relatively easy without your own vehicle, as long as you have patience for public transport and the knowledge that you may have traverse a bit on foot. So lucky for me and my newest British buddy James, Pedro the Peugeot was our key to exploring the beaches and local coastal towns the next day. Poor James had been stranded as such at the hostel since his arrival, without wheels to scoot him around.
Should you find yourself in this glorious part of the world, I would recommend exploring the nearby little towns of Praia de Rocha, Albufeira and Vilamoura. All have beautiful beaches and enough other activities to keep the restless traveller busy.
The evening passed by in a warm haze of good conversation, delicious food, red wine and a visit from a friend from further up the coast. It seems my powers of persuasion have improved!
I had been stressing (never a welcome emotion on a holiday) about what to do with my last three days in Portugal, before I headed to Greece for a stupidly short three days. More on that later. After debating on whether to fly north, drive back up west or just hot-foot it back to Lisbon, I decided to listen to my gut and drive right up through the belly of this beautiful beast.