Nina in Nomad Land: Portugal

“Travelling and working without a permanent resi­dence – with a 13-year-old child? That is possible. We‘ve been travelling for over a year now.
In autumn we combined my job as a yoga teacher with surfing in the nomadic hotspot of Portugal: in Porto and Praia de Ancora.“
Nina Winkler, journalist and fitness coach

After two weeks of late summer in Germany my son and I are travelling to Porto for three weeks in pursuit of our eternal summer – I will train yoga colleagues and we will then go to a surf camp. We grab our light suitcases from Mum‘s cellar, some of which are already pre-packed with summer clothes. Then it‘s a short three-hour flight straight to the north of Portugal.

I worked at a surf and yoga camp near Porto last year and still know my way around: We take the tram to the city centre and are booked into an Airbnb at Praia de Matosinhos – close to the beach with a great burger joint right next door and cafés galore. On the beach, I get my first and soon daily espresso at Lais de Guita. View, prices, coffee – everything is great! Unfortunately the accommodation isn‘t: the ceiling light in our bedroom is dripping while emitting hissing noises. I feel uncomfortable and immediately complain to the host, but nothing happens during our stay.


Then the second shock: I‘ve got the wrong, pre-packed suitcase: apart from a few things that are supposed to come with us on the next tour of Asia, it‘s empty and I‘m cross with myself. I could have told by the weight. My son Jamie giggles for an hour while I make a plan B: What do I wear during my yoga teacher training, what during the retreat? I decide to do minimalist shopping and improvise. Soon afterwards I‘m walking through an enchanting neighbourhood with streets that sometimes have a morbid charm, sometimes a metropolitan flair. After a bit of shopping I‘m back and realise that the large roof terrace where we wanted to practise yoga is closed. This is getting off to a good start.

Fortunately the sunshine arrives the next day with my trainees: The week of my annual Avantgarde Yoga Teacher Training soon flies by. And I‘m very happy that there‘s at least a washing machine in my flat that is in need of renovation which I can use to cover up my lack of clothes a little. And hey, II‘m becoming a fashion inventor: I put a skirt on back to front and tie it into a halterneck top. The same skirt is also used as an off-the-shoulder dress, and my saviour are black leggings, which simply go with everything. As the weather stabilises, we can also practice yoga on Matosinhos beach, which is very wide while Jamie does his school lessons in these days online.

Let‘s move on: Time for waves!

After the first week I say goodbye to my newly qualified yoga teachers, who finally hold their certificates in their hands after 300 hours of training. We drive back to the airport and patiently try to find the car hire company in a remote industrial complex. After some discussions there my suspicions of the last days are confirmed: Portuguese people are apparently very bureaucratic and speak poor English. I‘m forced to take out extra insurance for 200 euros and I‘m not very content about it.. But the car is fine, and we make our way a good hour north to the surf & yoga camp in Praia de Ancora. The welcome is warm, the location fantastic: a beautiful yoga room with a sea view for rainy days, otherwise the sun deck right by the sea. I want to practise here!

My son is immediately given surfing equipment and can soon play with the waves while mum practices on the mat. But I can‘t complain: As agreed with the camp management, I‘m also allowed to surf twice and I‘m thrilled. In the white water, I can cruise towards the beach standing up. The theory sessions are also great, about weather, waves and board sports in general. For Jamie it‘s almost like school, but more relaxed. There are also children in his group, but they are all younger than him as there are no school holidays at the moment. The surf spots in the area are brilliantly distributed: With the right water and wind conditions, three of them are within walking distance! There are also great spots in the neighbouring towns: Viana do Castelo, however, is still very busy. The local beach next to the camp is much emptier and you don‘t see any kiters there – what a gift!

Surf & School: cheers to the mobile router

Jamie goes surfing in the mornings and to school during the afternoons. There‘s no Wi-Fi here, but it‘s not a problem for us as we always travel with the mobile router. The Portu­guese phone card is obtained swiftly and we are online in no time at all. The router is really worth it!
The yoga retreat is very harmonious and a lot of fun. One participant learnt to stand on her head after years of practising and we are able to practise several times outside on the sun deck right next to the Forte de Ancora castle. To my great delight a former friend from primary school has also signed up and we have lots of great conversations this week.
The villages around the camp are all somewhat rugged and charming in their own way: you realise that the area is not yet very touristic and that there are still plenty of options for living in seclusion by the sea. On long walks along the beach and over the footbridges through the dunes you often meet hikers – all pilgrims, as I learn, because the Portuguese Way of St James runs right along the coast here.
The time passes far too quickly and as we cruise through the city on the way back to Porto I realise that I want to come back again in the summer when the weather is ­warmer.

Our conclusion: Porto is very diverse, but you need a lot of time and nerve to explore the city. If you are easily put off by bad English you are in the wrong place here. However the nature and landscape easily make up for any discomfort. And we loved surfing without sharks and with great ­beginner waves. We‘d love to do this again.

Nina Winkler …

Nina Winkler… recently reported on her time as a 100 per cent nomad with her son in Thailand and South Africa. She will soon be travelling to Namibia and Asia, among other places.


Porto is the centre of northern Portugal, with 1.76 million people, the country‘s second largest conurbation after Lisbon. The Romans were here, the wine is fundamental, the old town UNESCO World Heritage Site.
LOCATION AND POPULATION: on the north bank of the Douro before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean, 238,000 people
ARRIVAL: with TAP, KLM, Air France, Eurowings direct from Lisbon, Berlin, Munich, Paris, among others
BLEISURE TIP: e.g. to Surf & Yoga Camp in Praia de Ancora: surfing after yoga at the house and hours of walking on the beach.

Photos: © iStock.com/Rocky89, Nina Winkler, Daniel Rodrigues ATP

Tags : Destination