When I was a kid, swimming lessons were not my favourite at all. After completing my ABC, I avoided swimming as much as possible. But life can make silly twists and by the time I turned 24 I decided I wanted to learn how to surf. Fully ignoring the fact that this includes water, sometimes even pretty rough water. My first surf trip (to Costa Rica), back in 2011 was amazing throughout and I actually managed to surf some pretty decent waves, but I also realized I’m not really talented at it. That didn’t stop me from being passionate about it.
Ever since, vacations are always to a surf destination. I even moved to the beach and 5 surfboards keep me company in my humble beach apartment. Still, my surf skills haven’t gotten any better than they were during my first surfing trip to Costa Rica. All of a sudden, I’m 30, having a full time office job, study in the evening and a very rich social life, leaving me with almost zero time for surfing and other sports.
Earlier this year, I saw an update from Andrew Cotton promoting a Surf Fit Retreat week in Nazare Portugal. Over lunch I was joking to a couple of colleagues that I could use a week like that. Joking, because I have zero intention on ever going to try to surf a 20ft Nazare monster wave. I still don’t really know why, but after that lunch I sent a message to Andrew anyway, telling him I was interested in signing up for this surf fit week he had been promoting. That was pretty much it. I didn’t really have clear expectations of what the week would bring, but I figured it couldn’t harm my poor surf skills, and I definitely wanted to get fit again.
It’s very exciting to get picked up from the airport in Lisbon by a famous Red Bull, big wave surfer. The accommodation is very convenient and well organized. It doesn’t take long to feel right at home. Andrew Blakey, Rebecca, Andrew Cotton are very hospitable, warm and cheerful. We had a nice group of people, with all their individual reasons to participate.
The location is great, in the forest, beach right around the corner and the old town is also within walking distance. Although there is a good schedule of activities, there is still plenty of free time go and venture, relax, nap or whatever you feel like. Meals are perfectly arranged. Rebecca’s muesli at breakfast is divine. The lunch packages are always a delicious surprise and dinner is good with beautiful deserts.
Waking up at 7AM to do fitness or yoga might not sound like a dream vacation, but if it’s with the Andrew’s, it actually is a great way to start the day. Also the fact that you can role to the gym straight out of bed makes it very easy. Although nothing is mandatory, I found myself participating in all the training and activities provided during the week. Fitness, yoga, pool training, breath exercises, surfing and eating. My absolute favourite, besides surfing, were the pool sessions. As already mentioned, I wasn’t a big fan of swimming. Therefore, to actually succeed a 10 second breath hold followed by a 25 underwater swim was a great personal achievement which I couldn’t have managed to pull off without the help of Andrew Cotton and Jamie Mitchell.
Obviously a single week can’t magically turn me into a great surfer, but I definitely learned so much which I will take with me every time I’m in the water from now on. Also the fitness and yoga have been really great. I felt a lot fitter after the week in Nazare and came home with new insights and inspiration.
Big thank you to everyone making this week epic.