I can’t remember the exact moment that I decided to become a (so called) digital nomad and work remotely. I think it might have been when Donald Trump described the European Union as a ‘foe’ or perhaps it was during another of Boris Johnson’s verbose ramblings that finally pushed me over the edge. Either way, it was late July and something inside me knew that I wanted a change. No hang on, ‘wanted’ is not the word. As with most people, 2020 had not been a great year and something inside me said that I deserved something new. I ‘deserved’ a change.
As a writer, I am fortunate to have the flexibility to be on the road and not be tied to one particular desk (though not being in the office these days seems to be the new normal). I packed a (very light) bag and, after a brief stint in a jazz bar in Normandy, I found myself settled in the delightful village of Praia da Luz in the Algarve. First impressions suggested that it had everything I needed. A wonderful sandy beach, a good selection of bars and restaurants and access to surfing, kayaking, hiking and anything else that, should I feel the desire, I could easily undertake. Coupled with seemingly-endless sunshine, it appeared that I had seen the light in Praia da Luz.
I checked myself in to Ocean Villas Luz, a series of charming, self-catering villas which would be my home (and indeed my office) for my stay. My villa offers a (much sought after) combination of privacy with friendly, unobtrusive service. The swimming pool glistens ever-enticingly and the ocean-front position is simply unbeatable. As I sit on my balcony taking in the vast, cobalt-blue expanses of the Atlantic Ocean, I begin to feel a touch of satisfaction and optimism, sensations that I have seldom experienced in the past few months.
I take the 2-minute walk into town and immediately encounter a happy vibe. It’s as if everyone has found the solution to their troubles, but keeps their secret locked away in their all-knowing smiles. Opposite the splendidly photogenic Church of our Lady of Light, the equally alluring ice-cream parlour perfectly encapsulates the mood. A cluster of contented customers congregate with grins as large as their double-scoops. The beach is no different. I watch grown adults joyously build sandcastles, whilst shell-hunters scour the sand encouragingly for yet another shiny prize. The atmosphere is joyous, but it is certainly not congested. I feel safe and social distancing is not an issue.
Praia da Luz has an enviable location sitting handsomely between Lagos and Sagres and it seems that you are never too far from an adventure. There are a host of activities within walking distance – scuba diving, horse riding, kayaking, wakeboarding, hiking (to name a few) – plus scores of world-class surfing beaches within a short drive. For the overly adventurous (not me), there is kitesurfing, skydiving and a huge network of mountain bikes trails that are close by. Personally speaking, I’ve stocked my fridge with a wide range of adventurous looking Alentejo wines and they will do me fine for the time-being. I am beginning to find my sense of humour again so my sense of adventure can wait patiently in the wings. At least until I have sampled some of the culinary offerings of the area.
The restaurants are plentiful and of surprisingly high quality. Most epicurean tastes are taken care of and the levels of service (always a bone of contention with me) are generally excellent and friendly. There is not a restaurant chain or a gastro pub in sight and, quite frankly, It is refreshing and I love it. As I have taken on this new role of a digital nomad (i’m still not sure about that term), I shan’t be eating out every night, but it’s reassuring to know that I have such variety and quality within a 5-minute stroll of my front door.
I think I could get used to this nomadic lifestyle. My vitamin D levels are having a welcome top-up from the sun and a smile is beginning to re-appear at the edges of my mouth. I’m starting to think that coming here was one of the best decisions I could have made. Initially, my intentions were to stay for a week or maybe two, but I have a feeling that Praia da Luz will be my home for a lot longer. Something tells me that my lightly-packed bag will not see me through.