3 things you have to get over to learn how to surf

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This picture is the only proof I have that I’ve ever actually stood up on a surf board (in reality this could be anyone, pretty awful proof if I say so myself…). The picture was taken on my first trip, when I was still just surfing the white water (broken waves), now I’ve progressed on to the green waves (unbroken waves), which would look a hell of a lot cooler in a picture than this one does… Oh well, maybe on my third trip I will get a good picture

Surfing is an either-or sport. With that, I mean that you’ll either LOVE it or decide that it’s not for you. I really don’t think there is an in-between. It’s known as an extreme sport, which I guess is only applicable if we talk big wave surfing. But even dealing with smaller waves, there still is a few things to get past before you can embark on the life long journey that is living and loving surfing. I’ve made a list of three things you have to get over to learn how to surf:

1. Your fear of the ocean. Okay, so this one doesn’t count for everyone, but for me it did. When I was younger I loooved the ocean, and I loooved swimming. As I got older, I quit my swimming lessons and stopped going in the ocean as frequently as I previously had. Instead of spending four hours in the pool pretending to be a mermaid I joined the crowd that impatiently lay in the sun, waiting for their skin to reach the next level of tan.
Overall my connection with the water slowly disappeared, and I got to a place where going under water meant plugging my nose and diving in to the water head first never happened. I could no longer jump from a high point, and if I, god forbid, ever did end up on a 3 foot diving board, the only trick I could do was the bomb, so creative I know.
This didn’t mix well with being in the ocean, only joined by a surf board. There is no time to plug your nose when a wave, in the moment seemingly bigger than your house, is heading towards you, and you just have to accept the fact that any kind of creature could grab you leg as you’re sitting on your board, looking into the horizon, waiting for the perfect wave. The ocean is your new best friend and you need to accept that is has the power to do whatever it wants with you at any given time.

2. Sand everywhere. Everywhere. In your hair, in your suitcase, in your wallet, in your nails, in your drink, and worst of all, in your bed. There’s no avoiding it and you just have to deal with it. I came home and laid in bed with a book that I had been reading in Portugal, I opened it and of course, sand came out. So now there’s sand in my bed in Copenhagen too. I’ve learned to embrace it and now look at it as a constant free body scrub.

3. Getting beaten up. Smashed. Creamed (I’ve heard a few surfers use this expression, and I don’t get it. It brings my mind somewhere else..). Destroyed. Ruined. However you say it, the ocean is going to toss you around and beat you up as if you’re were a member of its rival gang. And you just have to accept it. You will get thrown off of your surf board, you will get salt water in your eyes (duh), you will swallow water, you will get bruises, break finger nails, stub your toes on rocks and you will get caught in the impact zone while wishing that the ocean would just leave you alone and let you breathe. It’s all a part of surfing.

If you can look past these three things, and decide to learn how to surf, then I promise you that you’re about to embark on the most magical journey of wave craziness. The ocean will awaken feelings inside of you that you didn’t even know you were capable of feeling and leave you with memories that will instantly bring you to cloud nine.

// Annika

Surf camp in the Algarve

Travels

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The view from the rooftop terrace at the surf hostel I stayed at

As mentioned in my previous post I embarked on a journey to a surf camp in Lagos, Portugal. The week went by way too fast, and I’ve (sadly) already made it back to Copenhagen.
I am currently sitting at my favorite cafe with a chai latte, intensely hitting the keys on my keyboard as I try to document my latest adventures and experiences.

I had a really good trip. The weather was absolute shit the most of the time, but surfing, daily yoga, great people, amazing food, lots of sleep and a little bit of partying made the week a great one regardless.

It’s my second time visiting the Surf Experience in Lagos, and definitely not my last. By now the place kind of feels like a second home (or maybe fifth, by now I have a lot of places I like to call home). I stayed in the same room, visited the same restaurants, surfed the same beaches and hit it off with the same instructors, it’s all familiar and safe by now, and I love it. However, there is an always changing factor about going back; the other guests. On my last visit we became a very tight knitted group, this visit the group didn’t become as much of a family, but I still met some interesting people.

David the top notch hairdresser with his own salon in Manchester, who has previously lived in China, LA and other cool places, all while working as a hairdresser. Millie, an up and coming freelance graphic designer who lives in Cornwall, England. Martti, who lives in Helsinki, Finland, with a sauna in his apartment. He works for Microsoft and is in charge of the 1500 partners that the finish part of the company has. Vaughn and Shannon, the badass, funny, surfer couple that have lived in more countries than I can count to. Shannon being a freelance copyrighter and Vaughn working in oil. Lukas and Nathalie, works in wrestling and as a yoga teacher respectively. Amanda, a Canadian school teacher currently living in England and last, but not least, Vosko, a Rumanian barber that loves, and live in, Ireland. Add all of those people up and add a touch of a danish/american crazy auditor as well as a few surf instructors and you’ve basically set yourselves up for a very interesting week.

At the Surf Experience they have a handful of different beaches they go to, depending on the conditions that day. On my last visit I went to three different beaches, this time five different ones. My favorite of these beaches, which currently has a place in my heart as my favorite beach in the world (out of the ones I’ve visited at least), is Vale Figueiras. The most beautiful beach on the west coast of Portugal. We went here on the last two days of my visit, and I managed to catch the best wave I’ve ever ridden and nearly drown, all in one day.

Anyways, I’ll let the pictures below tell the rest of the story.

The neighbour house to the place where the Surf Experience keep all of their surf boards and wet suits. I love the view of the historic part (the center) of Lagos from here

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The view seen on the drive to Vale Figueiras, my favorite beach. To get to the beach you have to go through a 20 minute bumpy ride through a national park, a beautiful trip

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The world famous Praia Dona Ana beach located in Lagos. This beach is crazy beautiful and for a second there made me feel like I was in Thailand with the cliffs in the ocean. It’s very rare that this beach is surfable (has waves), which is sad, since surfing with that view would be spectacular

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Heading out for the daily surf sitting in the back of the surfmobile with my shark printed leggings. While on surfing vacation I’ve decided that leggings works as pants, but only then!! 

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A beach on the south coast of Portugal called Porto de Mos. Here you see our foamies (foam surf boards mainly used by beginners) and the flags used by the instructors to fence in our area on the beach. I still haven’t progressed on to a “real” surf board – that’ll be the goal for my next trip. I did try a longboard one day and was able to ride it, but I want eventually ride a short board

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One of the roof top terraces at the Surf Experience surf hostel. To be honest I was only up here once; on the last night I ate chocolate cereal up here with Millie after our night out. We were planning on doing roof top beers, but when we returned to the house the cereal sounded better. During my last visit I spent waaay too much time up here drinking G&T’s and eating cheese and olives. I actually turned the bench you see to the left in the picture into a bar with my favorite fellow surfer, the british/russian Martin, during my last stay – I was pretty proud to see that it still works as a bar four months later

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I wish I could’ve brought this plant from Porto de Mos home with me – it would look great in my living room

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One day the conditions were shit, so we spent about three hours driving around trying to find decent waves. On our little roadtrip we found this guy, a working artist that lives in this van, parked very far away from all other living creatures. Pretty cool! I kind of regret not buying a piece of art from him.. That would’ve been a nice memory to have

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Me jumping out of happiness from having my very own bright orange wetsuit and being able to catch dreamy waves in it at Vale Figueiras

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Griff, one of the surf instructors, on top of the surfmobile in the parking lot of Vale Figueiras. Every day starts with loading the mobile up with our boards wet suits and most importantly the lunch. Then the drive towards the waves start

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(and surfing) … Wise words on the back of the surfmobile

That’s it for now.

// Annika

Lagos, Portugal

Travels


My well-deserved (if I say so myself) fall break from the corporate auditor life finally came around and I’m back in Lagos, Portugal! I’ve been waiting for this week ever since June, when I, in a very hungover state of mind, left my favorite surf hostel without my passport. Great story by the way, but that’ll have to wait.

In 2009 I stumbled upon a newspaper article (http://www.b.dk/rejseliv/surf-s-up-i-portugal), about a surf camp that had been running since 1992. It sounded like everything I needed in my life and in that moment I decided that learning how to surf was in the cards for me, so I saved the article on my computer and spent the next years frequently daydreaming about what was to come. Fast forward 6 years to June, 2015, where I finally decided that it was time, and ventured to the surf camp on my very first solo adventure. That trip ended up being one of the best things I have ever done for myself, hence why I am back, this time in November.

Getting here was quite interesting. I was at work until 10 pm Friday night, the last few hours, however, were mainly spent eating dinner and drinking leftover wine from the celebration of promotions that had gone on in the afternoon. I had convinced a lovely coworker of mine to stay at work with me and keep me company. She ended up convincing me to go out for gin and tonics after I was done with my work -knowing that I had to leave my apartment at 3 am and that I still had not packed. My hesitance went away after my department leader overheard our conversation and said “you’re only young once!!”

We ended up at The Bird and The Churchkey, better known as Gin Bar, where I had a few lovely gin and tonics and met a group of middle aged men that thought it was absolutely splendid that I had to leave the bar early to go on a solo surftrip to Portugal – The only reasonable reason there ever was to leave a party early.

I made it home in time, quickly and drunkenly gathered my stuff, and sat down on my couch. I quickly realized that the idea of only bringing handluggage for a week didn’t even come close to matching up with drunk packing, so I just brought my big old red suitcase. Business as usual. After sitting down on the couch quickly I realized that I would fall a sleep if I didn’t get up and do something, so I headed for the airport a bit early.

Flash forward and I am in Portugal. Even in the same room in the hostel as the last time, except a Canadian girl named Amanda has my bed this time. A bunk bed will do just fine this time. We just had a very nice dinner, best salmon I’ve ever had and lots of lots of green wine. After a glass of bourbon on top I’m feeling a bit “pissed” like my new British friends would say it. We finished off strong after a rainy day of surfing.

I’ll get back to more details on the surfing in another post, this was more of just a “holla, I’m in Portugal” kind of thing. Oh yeah and it’s pouring down rain here, so there’s no reason to be jealous. Yet. Hopefully the sun will shine tomorrow and that’ll all change.

// Annika