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15 June 2015

snapshots | cabanas de tavira, portugal

imagine the prettiest place you've ever visited, in your whole life, the place that had the freshest smell and the cleanest air, the most colourful flowers in every nook and cranny, and a sunset to die for. imagine that place, then times it by one squidillion, and even then you're nowhere near how pretty the little seaside town of cabanas de tavira is, on portugal's south coast.

we arrived super late on thursday night, after a delayed flight and a forty minute cab, and it was dark and quiet and still really, really warm, but we were knackered after a full day of work and travel, and so basically headed straight for bed. we slept like rocks, with thanks to ceiling fans in (most of) the rooms, and in summery pjs and light linen to get us by. we had no idea what we were missing.

friday morning was lazy. we slowly rolled out of bed, threw on some suitably-summery clothes, and headed to the resort's pool. it was en route to the pool that we suddenly... noticed what we'd managed to miss the night before. it was the smell that hit me first. fresh, and floral, and definitely tropical. i suppose that's cliché, right? that portugal would be tropical, but... it literally really is. i'm from a hot climate, but it's not tropical. it's a desert. i've been to hawaii too, and that's the closest i can get to describing what i mean by 'tropical'.

there are flowers i've never smelt before, in colours i've never seen in the real-life outdoors. i don't have names for a lot of them. hibiscus was one, and maybe geranium was another. besides that, i have no idea what i was smelling. regardless, the outside was where i wanted to be; sun in the sky, burning off the overnight clouds, bluest colour i've ever seen. it was warm, and i hate warm, but it was idyllic.

we lounged, and laughed, and read by the pool. for a while. then we got hungry, and headed into town for supplies. we grabbed breakfast foods and bottles of water and many, many bottles of cola to get us through the days. we grabbed ice cream, because portugal, because hot. we made reservations for dinner, and stopped in to a locally renowned fish restaurant for the best spread of seafood tapas and white sangria that any of us had ever had. we sat in the sun, and burnt a little. it was worth it. it was delicious.

then we were in the pool - the cold, cold pool, to refresh and relax. and we did. and it was wonderful. we stayed there - or a combination of there and also by there, on loungers, under umbrellas, in our beds, in the shade, under a fan.. for the majority of the weekend. because... where else would you want to be? maybe the beach? we tried the beach, and it was mostly overcast and cold. i was cold, but i was in less clothes than normal. we walked for miles, and got sand in all the places. it wasn't as nice as poolside, but it was nice.

but i mean, the flowers. i literally cannot get over how fresh and floral the whole of this little village smells. the town that never seemed to wake up, was constantly awash with colours you don't quite believe exist in reality. they climbed the walls of derelict buildings. they grew from the rubble of abandoned walls. they grew between pavement blocks, out of dirt, alongside weeds. they just grew - rampant in the fresh sea air.

you could smell them inside the apartment. the scent wafted in through the fly-screened windows and lingered in doorways and danced around the curtains. it hung on our damp clothes, in our luggage, on the aloe cream we rubbed into our burned skin. a constant reminder of paradise. when you couldn't smell it (rare), you could see it. not just the actual blooms either - delicate representations of flowers etched into tiling that lined the rows of houses. blues and pinks and mints and brown paired against bright yellow and blue doorways, adding again to the relentless colours that welcomed you to a new day.

dinner was great too. three courses and two bottles of wine and still less than twenty euro per head; it was a steal. plus, i had the best dessert anyone's ever had. sure it was probably an iceland special, but it was creamy, and toffee-ey, and biscuity, but it was magnificent. and cheap, which is always a bonus. we laughed a lot over dinner, and walked back to the resort in a happy, tipsy, daze. a pretty pastel sunset congratulated us on a few days well spent in this gorgeous, vibrant, sleepy town, and carried us off to wherever the sangria was being served up next.

the mozzies may have had their way with us during our time spent outside this weekend, but man alive was it time well spent. i've always shied away from beachy, summery holidays as i've always been of the opinion that "they're not for me" - a phrase i am all-too-quick to throw around without too much thought these days. i booked this trip on a whim; it was cold, i missed my friend, and it was something to look forward to at the time. i was nervous about taking it though; but it's true what they say - that a change is as good as a holiday, and in this case, i got both...

a change from the ordinary city breaks i take; the chance to see and smell and experience something new, something vibrant and overwhelmingly sensory; the opportunity to relax and unplug (so very hard, let me assure you); a place to meet and make new friends; a way to remember who to be and how to survive; and a day, an hour, a minute to literally just stop and smell the roses - or, whatever they were. if portugal isn't for me, then i am definitely going to do more things that aren't for me from now on. because i would 100 percent go back to portugal. magical, wonderful portugal, where i most definitely left a bit of my heart.

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