To Beach or not to Beach?

Sometimes unexpected destinations end up being the most magical.

MK-Lagos2Posted by Morgan

My mom loves telling the story of my first time at the beach. As she tells it, she was stranded with two little toddlers, my older sister and myself, a few oversized coolers, and 4 unnecessary beach chairs while my dad casually went to go park the car. Meanwhile, my sister was running around in panic for fear that crabs would come snap off her toes, and I was apparently terrified of the sand, crying my head off anytime my feet touched the ground. To this day my family has never really been a beach vacation kind of family, and I have yet to outgrow my fear of sand.

Perhaps this is why I was wary of a weekend trip to Lagos, a city on the coast of Portugal. My friend, Brianna, had found the destination earlier on in the spring and had showed us beautiful photos of beaches, caves and stunning rock formations. Mirna was enthralled, quickly saying yes to this destination. I needed a little more convincing though. I didn’t want to waste a weekend lying on the beach, but when they showed me a plan of hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling, I decided, why not? I’ve never really done anything like this before and I am always saying that I want to try something new.

So I booked a plane ticket.

Thank goodness I did because I could not have been more impressed with Lagos. It was stunning. Breathtaking. Magical.

Our 3 hour kayaking trip was the highlight. Leading us around the coastline, our guide took us in and out of the caves and past the beautiful cliffs. I was mesmerized by the natural beauty of the area. How could some place be so perfect? How was it that I was here? It was almost unreal, and I had to take the time to soak it all in.

The three hour tour also gave us time to make a new friend, Lars, a student about our age from Germany who was traveling around for a few weeks before heading back to his internship. We conversed for a while on our journey, discussing our schools and cultures, before finally parting ways at the end.

After the very long kayaking trip, it was clear that Mirna, Brianna, and I needed a break…a really, really long break with lots of food and ice cold water and maybe even some ice-cream. As we made our way through the center of town, we took our time to stop and scour the menus for the best price and best looking food. We ended up choosing a traditional Portuguese restaurant and resting our feet for a while.

Standing up to leave, content with our meals and now satisfyingly refreshed, we bumped into our new friend, Lars. Talking for a while, we made plans to meet up later that night to watch the euro cup match, Italy vs Germany. But first, we decided to head back to our bed and breakfast, a ten minute drive out of town, to freshen up and take a quick nap. While the location of our bed and breakfast was inconvenient, it was also beautiful.  Located on a vineyard, complete with a personal balcony, it was the perfect place to sit back, take a nap, and relax before heading back out to meet up with Lars.

Once we were all ready, we began our journey back into town. We met up with Lars in a bar, where it was packed so tightly we could barely see the tv let alone breathe. It was fun though! I ended up cheering on Germany with Lars and even making some new friends from London who cheered along with us. When it came down to the penalty shootout, things got interesting. Some people were shouting for Italy and some people were shouting for Germany, but when Germany finally won, the bar went wild. It was an amazing experience and something truly unique to the culture of Europe.

The following day was not so enjoyable. Being my stupid self I had forgotten to put sunscreen on my feet the day before, and, seeing as I was sitting in kayak for three hours with the sun beating down directly on my feet, I got burned. I got burned badly. My feet were bright red and swollen the next day. I had tried to go out into town and do some things with my friends but it was painful. One woman even came up to me and offered me sunscreen.

It was a hard decision, but I decided that I needed to go back to the bed and breakfast and rest my feet while Brianna and Mirna explored. I was surprised to discover as I lied  there in bed that I wasn’t too upset with this. It might have been dull, but I got some rest, took some ibprofen,  applied some aloe, and enjoyed the picturesque views of Portugal from my window.

By the time dinner came, I was feeling better and ready to head out again with Mirna and Brianna. We grabbed some food and then walked to the beach to look at the stars. It was a sight I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

Growing up close to Philadelphia, I was never really able to see the stars. Not much changed when I came to Tech in Atlanta. But here, in Lagos, lying on the beach, the stars were shining bright above us. While it was a simple experience, lying on the beach watching the stars, it somehow managed to put me at ease, something I never thought possible while lying on the sand (I’m not really a fan of the beach don’t forget). Maybe the beach wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe even my family could be a beach family…or at least we could be a beach family when it comes to Lagos.