• Theresa Fersch

A Shoot and a Castle

Today was our real rest day. The only thing we have scheduled is a photoshoot of all the cool things we learned and a tour of the castle in Peniche.

It was cold and cloudy in the morning when I did my warmup and yoga outside. Our only goal for today was to photograph our work. I was nervous about it because I was so weak yesterday. Photo shoots are very difficult because you have to burn through everything you know within about an hour and you have to hold yourself for an extended period of time. So you wear out quickly. You also have to eat just the right amount before hand. Not enough food and you won’t have the energy to power through, too much food and you can get motion sickness and nausea with all the flipping and spinning. We probably went through a dozen eggs before we left.

The girls were primping and prepping all morning but I didn’t bring anything special with me so I just hung out with them. Yin is a professional makeup artist who does makeup for professional models for magazines and fashion shows. She offered to do me makeup so I asked for a natural look. By the time she was done, everyone came into her room and had their face done.

The sun came out and we all sprinted outside to a spot on the beach for the photoshoot. Carla said she found a private place for the shoot but it was on top of a sand dune overlooking the entire beach, a restaurant, AND a parking lot! It was so amazing though. I was pleasantly surprised how no one gave us a second glance. Aerial sports are so popular in Europe that no one hardly noticed. Maggie, a German who’s been taking surf lessons with us saw us and came over. She was with her little girl and they sat with us most of the time to joined the fun. It was a lot of work though as I’ve never done a pole shoot before and I’ve never poled outside, and certainly not into top of a sand dune. I was so happy to find that the sand over time had corroded the chrome off the pole so it was super sticky compared to my pole at home or those I train on in the studio. This pole is only connected to a stage on the ground though so it moves a LOT and since we were in top of the dunes, any fall would be fairly epic. It was SO much fun though. At first we were all really nervous but eventually got really into it. Beforehand, Yin and I were a couple of nervous nellies and had to pee six times. But by the end, we were laughing and playing around like we do this every day. Carla who runs the camp, is also the photographer. She managed to take photographs of us while she held her five month old baby!

That evening, Carla drove us all into Peniche where we toured the castle and had dinner.  As we approached the castle, we could see the entire town enclosed by massive walls all along the cliffs. 

Sardines are really big here so they’re all over on tea cups, purses, etc. We stopped to get this really sweet cherry liquor that was poured in small chocolate cups. Then we walked all over the town in the castle, with thin walkways branching off in all directions up-and-down hills. beautiful cobblestone roads and houses and shops all along the way. It all looked like something out of a Renaissance fair except it was real.

We began walking up the side of the wall that circled the entire castle but as it got higher and higher most of the girls turned back. Sarah and I walked the entire section which was a bit dizzying with its thin ledge over a four story drop and no guard rail to our left. We thought we were superstars until we got to the very top and saw a couple sitting on the wall drinking a bottle of wine! No fear.

The restaurant Carla wanted to take us to was fully booked so we drove 15 minutes to another place. It looked like a tiny cottage from the outside but in fact was made of many rooms. Carla talked to the owner and we walked through the many rooms towards the back. I realized then that with all the traveling I do now, I have become completely accustomed to having no idea what’s going on. I happily followed them around to the back of the building figuring I’d find out eventually what’s going on. The gentlemen guided us to a beautifully maintained patio where we enjoyed wine, cheese, fresh bread, olives, and chorizo. 

For dinner, Carla said to order the ”half size” and share with one other person. She promised us that we would have a “proper Portuguese meal” here. When the food arrived we were completely overwhelmed. Sarah and I ordered a cod and cabbage dish that came in a massive bread bowl along with a traditional side called migas (me-gash) which was a moist cornbread mixed with greens that reminded me of stuffing. It was all SO good but it was entirely too much. Sarah and I ate until we were sick and we barely made a dent. There was a beautiful dessert counter that we planned to delve into but by the time we were done with our entrees, all we wanted to do was go to bed. 

On the way home, we talked about how minimum wage is only about $700 a month in Portugal and gas prices are very high. We all gave Carla 5 Euros for driving us and we bought her dinner. She also explained there is a lot of corruption in Portugal, high taxes, and the infrastructure is unreliable. Sarah said you could plan a trip somewhere and get stuck in a town for days because the trains just won’t work. I hope I don’t tun into the problem when I head out to meet Brian on Tuesday morning!

Speaking of Brian and Vegemite, they made it to Lisbon! I feel like I’m getting a good warmup to the long distance walking. I just checked my pedometer and I’ve walked over 30 miles since I got here.





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