It has now been precisely two months since I arrived in Portugal for a self-guided artist’s retreat. Well, that is what it was supposed to be. Advertised in the late spring, the villa, in Albufeira, was offered up on an artists’ group page as a place where 5 or 6 artists could gather and spend almost a month exploring and creating art. The price was very affordable and even more so if you donated a piece of art at the end. I saw it as an opportunity I shouldn’t pass up, and so did my family. I’ve never really traveled on my own before, and this seemed like a pretty safe place to do so. Also, I would be able to develop my plein air watercolour skills, meet new people, generally take a break from everything here, and enjoy some warm weather and some beaches! I am really not sure what prevented ANY other artists from signing up to go. Their loss! So, I ended up sharing the villa with a nice older couple who were thinking about buying their own property there.
On my first full day there, we made an attempt to find the grocery store in the morning. Mr. villa mate had rented a car for the month, and drove us where he thought the store might be, but we didn’t quite spot it and ended up at a mini-mart. No worries, though, our villa owner had kindly provided several samples of local food in the refrigerator and I got enough at the mini-mart to survive by myself for several days while my villa mates were in Lisbon. I was taking a break from cooking too, keeping things really simple.
In the afternoon, I set out to explore on foot and actually get to the mall where the supermarket was, a distance of about 3 km. My main mission was to purchase a mobile phone SIM card to put in my unlocked phone so that I could have a phone in Portugal, to provide to tour companies and anyone else that needed to communicate with me there. I was successful! People at the mobile stores (there were at least three in the mall) were very helpful, and certainly spoke English well. It was quite reasonable, only 10 Euros for one that lasted a month, and included a bit of data as well. As it was, I barely used it, relying mostly on my iPad and wi-fi, or things I had downloaded to it for offline use. I even managed to get some more groceries AND carry them back to the villa walking.
I started out determined to paint every day (at least, the days that weren’t ‘tour’ days). So, when I got back to the villa I hurried out to the balcony of my room with my sketching journal, looked to the west, and painted while the sun set. It wasn’t a spectacular sunset, and it isn’t a spectacular painting. It’s just a sketch, done in a hurry, but I felt good having managed to reach my goal that day.
I will tell you more about my trip in the coming days. Ciao for now!