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Excursion to Lagos, Portugal

Lagos – Day One

After a long morning bus ride, we finally arrived in Lagos exhausted and starving. We dropped off our bags at the hotel, and went to the Main square of town to look for something to eat. Cole and I soon learned that MJ was telling the truth when she told us that Portuguese portions are large; we each ordered fries with our burger at lunch and were surprised to learn that each order was a bucket of fries that would have been enough for at least three people. After a satisfying meal consisting of a burger and lots of fries, the group headed to the harbor. We left in a huge sailboat for an incredible two hour boat ride and swim.– Chapman Malone

K Byerly PhotoAfter setting up shop in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean half of us went in a little motorboat for some “exploring”. We went into mouths of the caves [located on the cliffs]. The combination of the small, open-air boat and the constant smattering of waves made it feel like it was an action scene from Pirates of the Caribbean. The caves and and the rocks were absolutely gorgeous as they perched proudly among the monster-like waves.

We returned to the sailboat to let the other half of the group star in their own adventure movie. It was then the guides told us we were welcome to go swimming since the water was “great”. Well, let me tell you, the water was far from great–around 20°F off actually. Immediately after submersion there is this moment where you question all of your life choices that led to you jumping into the ice bath they call an ocean. Then comes the prickling of ice needles which fully seals your fate as someone who can no longer feel their appendages. But do I really regret jump into the beautiful, clear, icy, and slightly scream-inducing water? No. Definitely not. It was one of the coolest experiences that I got to share with my friends. I can honestly say that I not only got a lobster-red tan (by tan I mean sunburn) from the sailboat cruise but I got a whole lot closer to the other students and the directors.

Sadly, the cruise came to an end. We docked back in the marina and headed back to the hotel for official check-in. We headed in town for some fresh seafood along the ocean. All of the cafes in Lagos have this homey, comfortable feeling that anyone imagines when picturing a sea town. Each cafe, shop, and stall is adorable and I regret not being able to visit each and every one of them. With that said, we did settle on a cute cafe where the ocean spray hit us at our table. It was just right. – Kathryn ByerlyC Malone 1

For our free time we went to the pool and hung out before going to get dinner and then getting ready for the next part of the day. At 7:30 we all piled into the bus again and headed out to watch the sunset at Cape St.Vincent. Our directors promised us that this would be one of the most beautiful sun sets of our lives. It did not disappoint. When we got of the bus we were welcomed by a huge gust of wind. We slowly picked our way down the cliffs and perched ourselves in the rocks along with the other people who had come to watch the sun set. Slowly but surely the sun dipped in to the ocean; its reflection like a ball of fire dancing on the water. After it finally disappeared into the water and it was starting to get dark we all got back on the bus to head back. – Aishah Ahmad 

Day Two in Portugal

For the last day in Portugal we went surfing in Playa do Amado… It took me three tries to get the wetsuit on correctly! For me, surfing was a bit frustrating. It was fun but I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. I repeatedly flipped and fell off of my board! This surfing experience has given me a life goal: before I leave this earth I will stand on a surfboard once!

Overall this was the best excursion of all. If I was given the chance to, I would love to do this excursion again. Thank you ISA and my parents (of course) for this experience. – Aubrie Chiu

The next day, we slept in then ate a great hotel breakfast before heading to the beach to surf. All looking stellar in our wetsuits, we went down to the beach to start the surfing lessons. I got the hang of it soon and could have surfed all day until my decision to try the biggest wave I could reminded me that I was not immune to wipe-outs, but regardless the surfing was a blast for everyone, and the burgers afterwards were a great finish to a fun morning. We then boarded the bus to return to Sevilla, hoping to make the most of the last few days of our trip.– Chapman Malone

When we first got to the beach–that just randomly sits in the middle of two mountain sides without any civilization near it–we suited up with wetsuits. Then came the surfing class. First was warm-up–essentially a game of slide-tackle tag in the sand. Then we did some pretty solid yoga poses on the boards to feel out the balance of the board when in the water (yes, we did the cobra while riding out a wave). Finally came the moment of truth- it was time to take a stand (literally). Out of the time we had to actually try to surf, I only managed the monumental task of standing in the last five minutes for a total of three times.

IMG_1998Needless to say, Lagos was by far my favorite excursion. The first comment from my host-mom when I returned was on my newly, much-tanned skin (my host-mom is one of my favorite people). Lagos was beautiful and breath taking, but I was definitely ready to fall into bed at home for a greatly needed night of sleep at home. – Kathryn Byerly

The next morning we were up and on the move by 10:30 to go surfing at Playa De Amado, which is a surfing only beach about an hour away from Lagos. When we arrived our guides suited us up and gave us our boards, then down to the beach. First we played a short game of sharks and minnows to warm up, really it was just a warm up for the shark, the rest of us just got used to the weird feeling of the wet suits.Then we went into the water. Which, believe it or not, was even colder than the day before! But once we were all warmed up it was time to get down to real stuff. Surfing.

Our instructors gave us instructions in English, Portuguese and a bit of Spanish. We went out into the water and slowly practiced getting on to our boards lying down and staying on. Then out of the water again to learn the three necessary steps to actually stand up on the boards. This was a bit more difficult, but after about some time spent practicing and banging into each other, most of us had gotten the hang of it. It was one of the most amazing and difficult things that I think I’ve ever done in my life. After shedding our wet suits and getting off all the sand, we all sat down at a small restaurant and enjoyed the view and ate lunch.

Then it was back on to the bus to Sevilla. It was one of the quietest bus rides that our group has ever had. We were all so exhausted and sore from surfing that we had no energy left to do anything but sleep. About an hour before we reached Sevilla we stopped at a small cafe and we all got out the bus sleepy eyed to get a snack before we went our separate ways for the evening. Only to meet again the next morning at 9 am for our next adventure! – Aishah Ahmad
C Malone 2

– The above posts were contributed by several students who studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain in 2015, where they traveled as a group to Lagos, Portugal on a weekend excursion.

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