A Wild Pizza Night and a Road Trip to Ardales

Algarve has showed me more interesting stuff the past weeks. I also went away for some days to Spain this past week to meet a bunch of Finns. Now I’m back in Sagres, but I have someone I know from Sweden around again.

Algarve Pizza Night

This event has been one of the craziest and most memorable things on this trip so far. Imagine a party in a hilly forest from 6 PM to 6 AM with all you can eat pizza for the first hours. I heard about it from someone at Baleal in the fall but I had completely forgotten about it. It popped into my mind again while talking with Finnish park neighbors in Sagres about interesting stuff to do down here. I didn’t get my neighbors to join me, but I went alone Friday last week. The last stretch of road was bad and bumpy, but I got there in one piece.

I arrived alone, but did not have to be alone for long. A Dutch couple and two young German fellows were parked close to me and we started chatting and ended up spending the evening together with about two hundred other people. Once you get the tickets at the entrance, you walk into an area smelling of wood oven and delicious fresh pizza. And there are a lot of people lining up for pizza too… The hordes of hungry people caused some delay with the first slices. Later it was easier and you didn’t have to wait at all.

There were two stages that had DJs playing (theme was drum and bass) and a third one that had nothing going on now. I guess it’s because it’s winter season. I can hardly imagine how the parties look during summer with almost ten times the amount of people.

Psychedelic decorations at the event area

There’s another aspect about the party that made it “interesting” too. As you can probably guess from the picture above, there were drugs going around too. I stuck safely to beer (and suffered accordingly the next morning). Some of the people I partied with more or less skipped alcohol and enjoyed other things. The atmosphere was very safe and chilled and nobody forced or tried talking me or anyone else into taking anything. Also it felt very safe generally too.

Finnish vanlifer meetup

I told you about this meetup in my last post and I was a bit hesitant about taking the long drive. I’m really glad I did. I arrived there last Sunday and just one van was there then, but on Monday there were 12 Finnish vans and about twenty people there. Also close to ten dogs participated and they seemed to enjoy each other’s company too. The spot was really nice for a big meetup. Plenty of room for vans and flat sandy area with nice mountains around it.

Really beautiful lenticular clouds above our park in Ardales, Andalucia

Most of the people there had vans that they had built themselves. Naranja was an exception along with a new and expensive Hymer camper and one older mobile home. But even if their vehicles (homes) and backgrounds were very different, the world views seemed to align nicely. I think for someone to choose this lifestyle there needs to be at least a bit of critical of the “normal” way of life with kids, houses, mortgages and the (over)working to pay for it all.

I have to admit that the stereotypical vanlifer life with wilderness and bonfires and interesting conversations is not something I’ve had a lot. Until now that is. We had bonfires on Monday and Tuesday nights and the discussions were deep and interesting. I ended up getting a lot of phone numbers and social media contacts this trip. I’m sure I will meet again with many of these people. And if there’s ever a chance to take part in something like this again, I definitely will.

Meeting an old friend

My Swedish pal and park neighbor from November Petter sent me a message while I had just arrived back from my Christmas trip to Finland. He told me that he would be heading this way in February to have a break from the winter. We met yesterday in Sagres again. He is leaving back to Lisbon on Monday again so it’s not going to be a long reunion, but I’m really enjoying his company again.

Today we went surfing on Praia da Martinhal, some distance from the park. It was a new spot for me too. We had already given up on surfing actually. We were having a walk and Petter spotted some surfers in the water on a beach further away, so we decided to give it a go. It was not easy, because the wave broke really close to the shore on really shallow water. We caught a couple of small waves each and also watched some really good surfers do magical things.

Christmas in Finland and New Places in Algarve

I have been a very lazy writer the past two months… I’ll try to recap some of the stuff that has happened since the last post and tell you a little about my future plans as well.

Christmas in Finland

I mentioned in my previous post that I would spend most of December in Finland. And I did. It was really nice to be with Elina again. I stayed at her place for the three weeks. Four months is a really long time to be apart. But I guess getting through that probably made us as stronger – both as a couple and as individuals. We spent Christmas eve with her extended family and it was one of the most fun Christmases I can remember.

It was wonderful to see family and friends too. We had the Christmas party for our “dude club” in Helsinki. I really enjoyed seeing them again.

Also spending some days with my sister’s family and especially my nephew was so much fun. I hadn’t realized how much I missed everyone. Even working from the office for about two weeks was really enjoyable, because it gave me a chance to see my colleagues face-to-face again.

The seven non-inked brothers, the dudes

The weather played along nicely too. It just started getting cold when I was on my way back here again. Most of the time the temperature stayed between -5 and -10 degrees so I didn’t get badly climate shocked.

Return to Portugal and first impressions of Algarve

As I got back to Portugal on January second and had some hassle with the taxi driver who brought me from the airport to the garage where Naranja spent Christmas. The driver told me at the airport that he would charge a regular meter fare, but when we got to the garage, what he asked me to pay was ten times that… I haggled and even threatened to call the cops. In the end I handed the driver a 50€ bill and got out of the cab angrily. It was still more that three times the normal fare, but I was too tired to fight any longer.

After I got Naranja back I just drove to Caparica for the rest of the work week. Then I headed down south to a nice campsite in Albufeira where I got sick right after getting there. I even missed a couple of work days. Luckily the fever only lasted for three days. When I started feeling better, I went to have a look at the city too. A lot of British tourists there. Seemed almost like it was their colony. I’ve never been to Ibiza, but that’s how I imagine it being.

I headed to Lagos next for two days. The first night the cops woke me up after 11 PM when I was sleeping in a residential area parking lot. They told me to move over to the supermarket parking lot nearby. They claimed that sleeping on public parking spots was not allowed. I tried to protest and tell them that normally one night has been ok everywhere as long as everything stays inside the van. They disagreed, so I took a ride to the supermarket and slept rest of the night there. Lagos was really pretty. I might go for another visit later.

After that I have mainly stayed on a large free parking lot in Sagres. There are two surf spots close by and about 50 other vans/mobile homes here. It has a bit similar feeling to the now closed hippie park in Baleal. There are a lot of retired people here so the average age is higher. There’s a small campsite close by that offers fresh and waste water services for everyone for a couple of euros. AND, the weather here has been amazing the past week now too – close to 20 degrees Centigrade and sunny every day.

Sagres parking
Sports news

I have not enjoyed a lot of good waves here so far. The Tonel-side has been mainly too big for me and the Mareta-side too small. I’ve tried the latter mentioned twice so far and it has still been fun. Can’t say the same about Tonel though. I got beaten up pretty badly there once. No injuries luckily, but a couple of really close calls and I did not get a single wave there. I haven’t tried surfing in Beliche, another spot close by yet, but I might have a go at it this weekend.

I’ve been running more now again and it feels really good. There’s a nice 5K route here that I have done twice this week already. I hope to get a good rhythm for that again, since the past couple of months have been pretty sporadic. The weather makes a big difference with running motivation too.

Surf skating has not been on program lately. As you can guess from the picture above, the cobblestones are a problem. This whole area seems to be like that. There are some streets not too far that have good asphalt, but so far I’ve been too lazy to walk there.

Future plans

Even though the disappointing surf so far, I’m going to stay around here for another four weeks. Then Elina is flying over for about ten days and I will drive to Lisbon to pick her up from the airport. I’m not sure what we will do after that yet. I have a week off work then too. We might drive to Baleal first for a visit at least. That’s my home away from home here still. If the weather looks better down here, we might drive over as well. We’ll see.

I might take a drive to Spain for a few days in two weeks. There’s a meeting for Finnish vanlifers that I already signed up for. Now I’m having some doubts about going again since it’s a four hour drive one way and even though there would probably be cool things to see along the road (Gibraltar is not too far for example), it just feels like a too long trip. I will decide what to do about that next week.

I’m also getting another visit in the end of March from two of my friends (they are both in the first picture in this post). They both surf too, so that will be the main event during that week. We are still considering spots where to go. Sagres is high on the list right now. If the surfing here doesn’t get better, we may have to consider other options too. They both have been to Baleal many times so they are not so much into going there. Surfing wise that probably is the best spot, but there are other aspects to consider too.

A Trip to Ericeira and Goodbyes to New Friends

On Tuesday I left Baleal for the longest time so far. Petter talked me into it and I’m happy I went. He left for Lisbon on Friday and is flying back home on Tuesday. I drove back “home” to Baleal yesterday.

Ericeira – so much prettier than I remembered

I didn’t come to Ericeira at all last fall and I haven’t been here since the surf trip about ten years ago. I had completely forgotten how pretty the town is. Surfing here is much more complicated than in Baleal though. Reef and rocks on most of the beaches. Also the tide timings were not so good for after work surfing this week. I ended up taking a break with surfing.

Praia do Matadouro right after sunset.

I stayed at Ericeira Camping which is a really nice place. The price with electricity was about 14 Euros and all the amenities were really clean and working well. The closest beaches are in walking distance too.

The town is really pretty and just a good kilometer away. The walk to the town is really pretty too.

Daytime view of Praia do São Sebastião
Saying goodbyes and returning home

Petter has been a good buddy here the past weeks and I’m sure I will miss him soon. We had a goodbye dinner on Thursday with him, a Finnish girl and a French guy who also have been around too for some time. We had a fun night in a fish restaurant and then we shared a bottle of wine at the campsite afterwards. I had a bit slow Friday morning at work after that, but mainly because of not having enough sleep. I didn’t drink that much.

I decided to stay for another night in Ericeira and relax there. On Friday there was a lot of sport I wanted to see (tennis and ice hockey) and being in a campsite hooked into electricity made that easier. Yesterday I drove back to Baleal and now I’m testing this new parking spot I found while surf skating. It was really quiet to sleep at, but there’s no ocean view and the walk to the beach is longer too. It seems like this is a place where a lot of people come to sleep. I might try the same even though I don’t like driving around daily that much. I have been pushing my luck at the parking spot closer to the beach and this seems a better place to avoid trouble with the authorities.

Other news

I bought surfing boots in Ericeira. Now I’m a little bit better prepared for cold water and even some rocky bottom / reef surfing. I might put them on today already. I have not surfed for the past week, but the week before I surfed pretty much every day. After the week I had some shoulder trouble so a break was something that I really needed. I ran again though and it seems that my heel is back to normal now. Surf skating has become my main hobby this past week. I went for a long tour this morning to see how the waves were and last night I did two smaller tours close to my new parking spot too.

Morning Meditation and Other Good Routines

I have wrote something about my routines before, but I also promised to go more into detail about one of them. I meditate every morning for a few minutes. It’s not a big success story and it’s not something that has made a huge difference at least so far. But I’ll tell you more below. I’ll also update you on the current surfing and weather conditions.

Atom – start small and keep it simple

The app I use for my morning meditations is called Atom, as I told you in my post about workcationing. It’s main point is that to form a routine, you need to start easy and simple enough. That’s why even after almost six months, I still only do an average of eight minutes of guided meditation every morning. Which is really perfect for me, since waking up even earlier is not something I’m eager to do.

As I already mentioned in the intro of this post, I haven’t noticed anything mind blowing so far. I still struggle almost every morning with even the short meditations and I haven’t noticed any big changes in my life. But that’s not something I even expect really. And the struggle is a part of it. I try to think of it like going to the gym for the brain. You need to practice the concentration muscle too and when the concentration slips, turning it back to the chosen focus is the best kind of mental weight lifting.

The guided meditations have taught me a lot about how the mind and attention work. Also the small articles about the theories behind the apps approach have been interesting. There’s some repetition with the meditations and articles now (I haven’t bought the pro-version yet), but that’s ok. The articles go beyond meditation too and go deeper into how habits in general are formed. It focuses on a theory about how you can successfully keep good ones going and be more aware of the ones that are not so helpful.

Weather and surf updates

The weather has been the same, lots of rain, but some short sunny breaks in between. Last week it also got cooler, but now we’re back to 20 degrees during the day. The wind has gone down a little, but there’s still more than in September. Surfing here at Baleal is still concentrated on the smaller beach (Prainha). The bigger one is still pretty useless. The day before yesterday there was some glimmer of hope and a few surfer’s were trying it out. I went surfing on Wednesday and Thursday this week, but took a break yesterday. The swell was uncomfortably high and since my week at work was not so comfortable either, I decided not to risk it.

I went for a quick session today too, but since the tide doesn’t work early, it was really crowded. So it was barely one bad wave today and out. I’m hoping that tomorrow there’s something available on the big beach too. That would make it so much more comfortable.

A Baleal sunset from Wednesday to cheer you up

Last Sunday I took a bike ride around the Peniche peninsula with my Swedish neighbor. It really is a beautiful spot. The waves were really big, the wind hard and since the peninsula ends in cliffs almost all the way, there were some impressive splashes and lots of flying salt water.

Peniche cliffs and big waves
Other news

Work this past week was not too pleasant. Something happened last weekend that needed a lot of fixing this week. I can’t go into any details here, but it was a shit show… I even had to work a couple of extra hours and the days were way too full. Hopefully next week will be a slow return to normal again. I could really use it.

I had a really nice run on Tuesday, but my right heel has been a bit sore after that. Maybe my next run should be with shoes and on a sand road. It could be that barefoot running on the beach needs a break now. That really is a shame, because I can’t remember ever enjoying running as much as I do that. Luckily the heel hasn’t been a problem for surfing or surf skating. The latter has become a nice routine now too. Not quite daily, but almost.

Rain, Wind and a New Parking Spot

The weather has been pretty constant the past week. Rain every day, but with some sunny moments in between. Surfing was doable from Sunday til Wednesday, but since today the wind and has been too much. I escaped from shaky sleeping to a paid parking in downtown Peniche. The alternator change went well even though my old friend the yellow engine light came to say hi right after it.

Weather and surf updates

In my hometown there has been the first real snow the past days and the winter really has started. Here it’s also been a few degrees cooler and a lot of rain. Right now there’s a third national weather warning in the past four weeks. Heavy rain, hard winds and pretty impressive waves are predicted for the next two days. Last night I decided to sleep at my regular parking lot at Baleal, but during the night I woke up a few times because the wind shaked the van. Today I escaped to a paid parking in Peniche because this has at least a little cover.

Luckily the past three days I was able to surf. The big beach at Baleal is “out of order” since the last storm and extreme spring tide pretty much destroyed all the sand banks there. The smaller beach has been ok to surf, but of course there have been a lot of other people there too. The next days at least until Monday will be pretty much impossible to surf at least around here.

Engine issues sorted out

Naranja now has a new alternator! I had to wait one day longer, since the new alternator came too late for the first appointment. But the garage did a good work with the agreed price.

A yellow engine light appeared right after the work was done. They sorted that out too. It seemed like a weird issue first, because the code readers (mine and the professional one from the garage) couldn’t get an error code. The next day I took the car back for a more thorough check-up and they fiddled a little with their reader and the error was the familiar secondary fan fault after all. The mechanic went through all the relays and may actually have found the culprit too. There was one tiny copper wire loose in a spool of one of the ventilation relays and he tucked it in again. That fixed it at least for now.

Other news

I have been using the surf skate quite a bit and I have really surprised myself with my quick learning. I am now able to do it without stepping off for quite some distance. The day before yesterday I had my first real contact with asphalt though. The board hit a small stone and stopped. I didn’t. Luckily I just got a small cut in my hand and a little bruise in my hip. I was only wearing the wrist protection and that saved me from more pain. The elbow and knee pads would not have been any use this time, but I think I might put them on the next time anyway.

You should not film and skate.

I met a Swedish guy from Umeå a few days ago. He’s been around here for a while already and he’s staying for at least next week still. He actually persuaded me to come to this motor home parking. He also gave me an idea about where to park Naranja in December when I fly to Finland for three weeks. There’s a really nice looking indoor parking garage in the outskirts of Lisbon. I already asked them for an offer and I may go for it. I will ask a couple of other places too first, but knowing that Naranja is safe indoors might be worth a few extra Euros.

Turning Points with Weather, Surf and Luck

Looking at the last post now seems like I had it coming. It was like I jinxed it. The weather and surfing have become really tough. And maybe because of the weather acting up, I got some car trouble too.

The fall rolling in big time

The weather changed with a bang. There was quite the storm last week and it’s been raining daily ever since. Little over a week ago after I got back to Baleal from a day trip to Cascais and I still went for a surf in the evening. The next day it started raining and the wind picked up quite a bit too. I decided that it might be nicer to be somewhere with electricity for the next bleak days so I decided to head up north to São Martinho do Porto. Park4Night showed two campsites there and it was only 40 minutes away. It turned out that the nicer campsite had already closed for the winter so I really didn’t have much choice in the end. The place where I spent the next three days was not pretty nor really cheap, but it was a safe place with the strong winds at least. No trees or much anything around that could fall and break the van.

São Martinho do Porto

The three nights there were rough. I woke up several times when the wind shaked Naranja. The days were really dark and mostly rainy too, so the electricity coming from the campsite is what enabled me to work. I managed to take a couple of small strolls around the quite pretty but vacated town. But mostly I just used my unlimited data and binged series that have been on my watch list for a while already.

Big fall swell too for the first time

With the weather change came also the change in the surf. Most of last week the swell was over three meters. Last Friday after work I drove to Nazaré to have a look at the waves there. The swell was about 6 meters then everywhere on the coast. Last time I went there over a year ago it was really flat. This time it was not. But because of the still strong wind there were no surfers. But the waves were absolutely horrifying.

Nazaré waves. The video makes no justice to seeing it live.

I almost was a week without surfing, but I was just barely able to rescue it. I went surfing on Sunday morning at Baleal again, but it wasn’t really easy. It was only possible right next to the island and in a very small patch. I wasn’t the only one interested in that so I got really crowded really quickly. Yesterday and today have been windy and rainy again so I haven’t gone now. And I have also had other stuff that’s kept me busy…

Car trouble

On my way from Nazaré to Baleal the battery light popped up on Naranja’s dashboard. That means that the battery isn’t charging. Since it was Friday evening, there was nothing much I could do about it then and there. I parked at Baleal and decided that I could manage not driving until Monday.

There’s a garage here that helped me last fall and has good reviews from others too, so I took Naranja there yesterday. The alternator is bust and needs to be replaced. Most likely it’s the age mainly, but the sideways rain last week might have had an influence too.

They ordered a new one yesterday and we’re hopeful that they could install it today already, but they gave me a call in the afternoon and said that the new alternator had just arrived and there would not be enough time today. The part costs are about 300 € which after some quick googling seems fair and they estimated that they need two hours for the change. Their hourly rate (30 €) seems almost like a joke comparing to Finnish prices so as far as I can tell it seems like a good deal.

Plans ahead

Right now it seems like the bad weather is here to stay at least for another week. I will have to see if I need more power and another stint at a campsite the next days. If it as bad as it was today, I may not have a choice. I really started feeling some serious cabin fever just being inside Naranja for the whole day. Now I’m writing this in a cafe, because I just could not take it any longer. The rain stopped for now but since the sun was already pretty much gone by then, the solar charging today was minimal. I think I will be ok working tomorrow still, but if there’s no more light tomorrow, I need to go somewhere with power. Hopefully the alternator swap works out tomorrow and then I can just hit the road. I might head to Caparica, but not sure yet.

Surfsurfsurf and a New Toy

I decided to write a quick update even though there’s not that much news really. Just to keep the writing going and to introduce the latest toy I bought. Plenty of surfing and exceptionally good weather during the past weeks.

Surfing update

The surf has been really good except for the last two days. Strangely enough, it’s been really small, even too small yesterday and today. I still haven’t given up on the possibility of going for a short session later though. Last year at this time it was already way too big and also really windy. So far the weather has been summer like and so have the waves. I really don’t mind. This has given me a lot more hours in the water and I can really notice the improvement I’ve made. There are some signs of the fall visible in wave and weather forecasts now so this might not last that long.

A new toy

The Finnish guy I mentioned in my last post had a surf skate that he didn’t use much any more. He wanted to sell it and I was willing to buy. I tried the sport briefly last year and it was something I enjoyed, even though I found it hard. Many surfers have told me that it has been a big help with surfing too. The turning movement is similar to turning on a wave. You don’t get to practice it that much while surfing, since the time you spend riding a wave is not that long. With the surf skate you can have a lot more repetition.

My new surf skate.

Before I did any practicing I bought some protective gear as well. Now my wrists, elbows and knees are safe at least. A helmet might not be a dumb idea either, but it seems that the wrists are getting the most hits really. Actually so far even they have not been getting much action. It has been going much better than I expected. I can now manage going up a slight uphill for a while. But I still have a lot to learn.

Slowly getting more steady.
Other news

I’ve been stuck at Baleal for four weeks now. It’s just been too good to leave. I’ve been changing my park every couple of days and I’ve been very careful about keeping my stuff inside Naranja. Other’s here on the parking lots that I’ve used have mainly been behaving too, so I think there will not be big issues with the cops if everything goes this smoothly.

I planning to go for a short weekend trip to Cascais maybe on Saturday. I will meet up with Ana for lunch there, or that’s the plan right now at least. The weather is going to take a turn for the worse tomorrow, so nothing is set in stone yet. I’d really like to see Cascais again. It’s definitely one of my favorite places here.

Workcationing and a New Charity

I was browsing around on social media yesterday and learned a new word: workcation. In some ways it fits my way of life nicely. I also read an article that made me start giving away some money for a good cause. Also, I have now paid the fine that has been hanging over my head for more than a year.

Workcation – My daily routine

I’m working, but I’m doing it from a place where the environment is very vacation like. It’s by no means a real vacation, but especially since my work schedule is from 6 AM to 2 PM it does give me a lot of possibilities to do other stuff too. That word somehow sounds fitting and I might start using it.

My routine for the work days here is quite set. I get up at 5.40 and meditate for some minutes. (I use an app called Atom that has worked nicely for me, but I will write more about that on a separate post later at some point.) Next I have a quick morning wash, put water on for coffee and start making breakfast. At six I start working and I usually eat my breakfast while already working. Normally during the lunch break I have time to do my morning Portuguese lesson after a quick lunch.

After I stop working at two depending on the tide and the surf conditions I either go surfing or wait until the tide gets more favorable. I usually surf for up to two hours and then have a quick shower either on the beach or on board Naranja. Then it’s time for something to eat. I’ve been cooking more now than I did last fall, but I have gone out to eat some too. Normally I use the evening for reading or watch sports. Now that I have unlimited data on my local sim, I got the Finnish hockey league streams and I’m also considering getting another streaming service.

I go to bed around nine and do another Duolingo session and my daily five minutes of Drops. Then if I’m not ready to sleep, I usually read a bit. In most cases I’m already sleeping by ten o’clock.

A pledge for good

I read a book review about a book written by William MacAskill and it mentioned a community of effective givers: Giving what we can. It does a lot of research into effective charities and works as a community to encourage people to pledge some amount of their yearly income for a good cause. I did the pledge yesterday, because I’m now saving some money in my living costs compared to earlier. I also know I can afford it and I have been looking for a cause that would make a difference. This organization had plenty of good options and they list pros and cons for every option. All the chosen charities have been and are continuously being evaluated.

I’m not writing this here to morally pose. I’m doing it for two reasons mainly. First of all, maybe this will inspire someone else to follow suit. I know that I’m in a very privileged position to be able to do this and I don’t expect this of everyone. Second reason is that writing it down publicly gives a little extra motivation to stay on track. I have said it out loud now and now it’s harder to back out. I pledged for a year and hope that I have the moral backbone to continue it then.

Other news

I went back to the city hall on Friday and paid the fine for illegal camping. It worked out as they promised, but it still took some waiting before I finally could go to the treasury to pay it. That’s one thing less to worry about now. I just need to be careful not to get another one.

Surfing has been really nice the past week. I have not been able to leave Baleal. I also met a Finnish surfer here who will be starting his drive back home tomorrow. He has surfed a lot in Finland too and yesterday he encouraged me to have a look at the Finnish surf scene when I get back. He showed me some videos and it did look better than I expected, but I would have to get a thicker wetsuit at least. We’ll see.

I’ve also had two wonderful beach runs here so far. Even though the sand makes running a bit slower and more strenuous, the view and the barefoot feeling more than make up for it. Somehow it feels like I have more energy too. I can’t explain it, but it feels that way.

Another Baleal sunset for you to admire.

How Has the New Gear Been Working?

In June I told you that I had bought a new bike and in July that I did some upgrades on Naranja. This post I will give an update on how these new things been making my life easier. There’s also a piece of tech that I have forgotten to tell you about that has made one hobby much easier.

Brompton, king of the folding bikes

I still love it! It takes so little space and it was very useful during the trip here and here too the past week. Of course it’s not the best friend of cobblestone or bad roads, but it has been very useful. During the trip down I used it a lot in Budapest and a some in Triglav and Florence too. It has helped me with laundry, groceries and other smaller and bigger rides many times already.

Naranja upgrades

The new radio has been really good. Not necessarily for the radio part, but the Bluetooth connection to my phone and Storytel (audiobook app) have made the long drives feel much shorter. While connected to my phone, it also works as a hands free device if I get a call while driving. Navigation sounds are much better audible too. So the 45 € for it have definitely been an worth spending. The only minus so far is the color changing LED backlight that is sometimes a bit distracting and annoying. It hasn’t annoyed me enough yet to google for a possible solution.

My new radio has definitely been a good buy.

The Maxxfan shade has been an improvement also. The shade part itself has actually been a bit disappointing. The shade was not really as shading as I had hoped especially during Finnish summer circumstances. Here the nights are dark anyway. But the light on the shade has been extremely useful. The sleeping area has two halogen spotlights under the cupboards, but they don’t give a lot of light into the cupboards themselves. Now it’s actually possible to visually choose a pair of socks or a t-shirt before taking it out first. The light even helps in the front part too.

One gadget I forgot to tell you about

I love the smell of books in the morning (or any time of day really). I used a lot of energy last fall to find books in a language I could read that were at least a bit interesting. It worked out quite ok, even though I ended up reading a couple of really bad ones too. I made a difficult choice and bought a Kindle paperwhite. Difficult for two main reasons: 1. Did I already mention that I love books? 2. I’m not really eager to give any more money to Mr. Bezos.

After giving it a little thought and learning that there are ways in which you can use Kindle without buying the books from Amazon, I decided to buy it. I barely used it in Finland and I was starting to think that I had made a mistake. But it has been a good companion on my trip so far. I first finished the book I started in Finland by John Scalzi (Android’s dream) and now I’m about to finish the massive Arthur C. Clarke’s and Gentry Lee’s Rama the Omnibus (with about 2500 pages).

E-readers are very practical, but they’re not quite the same as real books either.

I know my way of acquiring the e-books is not completely kosher. I download them from Library Genesis (a Google search will give you a link) and then transfer them to my Kindle using Calibre. The authors get nothing out of it, which does make me feel bad. It helps to think that I actually very rarely bought new books anyway so this does not make a big difference.

Summary: It’s not the same as reading a real book, but its practicability makes up at least some of the lost multi-sensory experience of reading a real book.

A Surfing Update and a Relocation to Baleal

The first bottle of gas got empty on Thursday and I decided to go and fill it up right away. And since the filling station is on the way to Baleal, I went there to look at the surf conditions. They did not disappoint!

Baleal, sweet Baleal

I parked and went straight surfing. Everything was so easy and I got all the waves that I wanted. At least almost. It was like magic and so much easier that Caparica that I made a decision to stay here for a while now.

Sunset from Bar do Bruno’s terrace.

Yesterday the waves were rough and I had three days of surfing behind me, so I went for a run on the beach instead. It was really pretty and nice. I had missed running barefooted on the beach almost as much as surfing. This morning I slept past the sunset surf and when I got in, it was already really crowded. But I had fun until I had a couple of close calls with other people. If the conditions are ok in the evening, I might give it another go. Most likely though I will leave it until early morning tomorrow. I may even set an alarm.

Parking situation at Baleal

I don’t remember if I already told you that the hippie park I used last fall has been closed off for vans. It’s a pity, but no wonder really considering how messy some people there were. So the parking situation here is a bit different now. There are plenty of nice options, but you have to play by the rules more now. I’m parking right next to Baleal surf camp (beach entrance parking lot) for now, but I think I will have to move soon just to avoid trouble.

Talking about trouble, I also visited the city hall of Peniche because I wanted to pay the fine from almost a year ago. I got a letter in February (in Portuguese) stating the evidence and asking if I wanted to challenge the fine. Since they have my old address, I went straight to the source and asked if I could pay the fine. That didn’t work out, because they were still waiting my possible challenge and no decision had yet been made. But they promised that I could pay it next Friday. That’s another reason to stay here for at least a while.