Well, I certainly didn’t expect my last post for The Vancouver Sun to be about a nude beach and bouldering in Portugal, but I didn’t really expect to go to a nude beach and boulder in Portugal as well. Life is certainly full of surprises. The Vancouver Sun has shut down its community blog section so I’m re-posting my last Sun post here on my climbing, health, travel and adventure blog. Come with me as I dive back into the memory of our perfect day of beach bouldering on the Algarve Coast.
After our wonderful, challenging and epic day of sport climbing with André of Volta do Mar, we were given one final gift – the gift of an out of the way bouldering spot on the beach. And aren’t you lucky…I’m giving this gift back to any of you lucky readers who happen to be climbers who happen to be lucky enough to find themselves in Portugal with a chalk bag and a pair of climbing shoes. So get your pens/phones out and write down/click for Praia das Furnas, Rua Serpa Pinto 32, 7630-174 Odemira, Portugal. Trust me, you won’t want to miss out. You see my boyfriend and I boulder primarily in Squamish, BC, which is beautiful and the forest is magical, but the granite is notoriously challenging to climb. Foot holds are almost non-existent, or completely non-existant and forest landings can be terrifying with branches and sharp rocks in the way. So when we finally found our way down a gravel road to Praia das Furnas we were like kids in a candy shop. The boulders were plentiful, not scary and all had soft, beach landings. Welcome to heaven.
It was a hot September day, the kind that is just right. Not too cold, not too hot, which is about what Portugal is like in the fall, so I definitely recommend going at that time of year. We lay on the beautiful soft sand, surrounded by happy nudists and soaked up the atmosphere and sunshine until the sweat trickled down our faces. We jumped into the ocean…which is not warm, FYI. Portugal is on the Atlantic and the water can be intensely bone chilling. We went snorkeling earlier in the week and had to wear wet suits in order to stay warm, just to give you an idea.
But, this cool temperature was perfect for our day of bouldering. We would tackle a problem, or just climb as far as we could along the rocks, take off our shoes and chalk bags, jump in the water and cool down and lie in the sun again. Repeat as needed. We were so blissfully unaware of the passing of time that suddenly we realized that the day time beach dwellers, aka the nudists, were starting to leave and a new, beach bonfire crowd was starting to arrive. We were lucky enough to be on this beach on the same day as the super moon and we climbed as the moon rose breathtakingly over the ocean.
There aren’t many perfect days in life, but this was one of them. Zeke’s smile was almost as large as the giant, pulsing moon and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our last full day on the Algarve Coast. We made a pact to come back and spend days at this beach, climbing every problem we can manage. There is no guide-book as far as we know, but the difficulty of the problems are probably pretty easy to figure out. We only tried a handful of problems but hope that in our next trip we can record some of them in more detail. Our tip for now – just look for the chalk! We even had one friendly Portuguese man come over and attempt to give us beta (for non-climbers, beta is the series of moves required to finish a particular problem/climb) in his broken English and we felt that kinship that comes from being a climber anywhere in the world.
I can still feel the glow from that day, hear the sound of the waves crashing as we lay in the sun, feel the sticky grip of the rock under my hands and feet and the heat from the sun pulling forth beads of sweat as we tackled each problem. I can still remember the cool and impressive supermoon as it got bigger and bigger and took over the sky, something my camera sadly couldn’t capture properly, though I tried. I can still feel the depth of gratitude welling up as I enjoyed every minute of that day.
So, thanks to those who followed my Vancouver Sun blogs for the last four years but I can tell you – the adventure is far from over. I’ll continue writing on this platform and possibly others so stay tuned for more adventures in travel and climbing.
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Thanks for reading!