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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

15 January 2018

Lagos & Faro, 5th-15th January 2018

This year's winter sun choice was Portugal, specifically Lagos. When I think Lagos, I think Nigeria, but there is one in Portugal too. To reach it, you can hire a shuttle from the airport in Faro. GreenBus cost €45 via (for two people), taking slightly over an hour (mainly because they avoid the motorway due to tolls, taking congested side streets instead). The weather is OK in January, though you do get the occasional windy downpour. Lagos seascapes and beaches are beautiful either way, as is the surrounding area, like Sagres an hour along the coast

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My apartment was at Dona Ana Garden, for the ridiculously cheap price of €28 (for a double bed, so that's between two). January may be colder and wetter, but that's a massive saving on the €120 you can pay in peak season. Plus there's a heated outdoor swimming pool. The reason I went for Lagos was because I had a jiu jitsu contact there, having met him at last year's Heidelcamp. There is nothing in the way of engaging cultural sights in Lagos, but it does boast some beautiful scenery. The beaches are magnificent, replete with a bizarre seascape of isolated rocky pillars and a range of grottoes swirling with foamy water.

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The best grotto of all is the Ponta da Piedade. Down a long flight of stairs, you're treated to a close-up view of crashing waves pounding against the rocks, surging through caves and gullies all around you, as well as that same glorious view of the sea. The only thing missing is a beach, but you can get that a short walk away, down from the O Camilo restaurant.

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I met up with Jeff for some BJJ on Friday morning. He trains in Lagos at the Shinobi Academy, which is right by the Dona Ana Beach. Until doing a coastal walk, I didn't realise that there is a much easier way to get to the Shinobi Academy, heading in from the coast. You can also go in through the main bit of the Interlagos complex (in which the academy is located), but to reach the gate by the swimming pool, I think it's quicker to go in from near the beach. Although either way, it isn't a long walk. Once you're in the swimming pool bit, the academy is by that spiral staircase, on the first floor. It's worth getting in touch with Jeff or the school owner Colin if you need directions.

Colin runs a cool Instagram channel and YouTube vlog that documents what he's been doing each day, with soaring drone views of the area. He decided to interview me as part of that day's vlog, which was fun. I'm always happy to talk about myself after all, as you can see from the literally millions of words I've written on this blog 😉. See below for the embedded vid, edited from the full version on the Shinobi Vlog:

Near where we were staying, there was a handy Spar on Estrada da Ponta da Piedade, which also has an affordable cafe in it. For tasty cakes, the Pastelaria Gombá on R. Candido dos Reis will only set you back around €1.30 for a cake or €1 for a pastel de nata (you can get them cheaper, but they're meant to be particularly good at Gombá).


I got my art fix in Faro, at the Museu Municipal. It's free to enter on a Sunday before 2pm (though I think the normal price us cheap anyway). It's house in a 16th century convent, with some well preserved Roman artefacts. The highlight of downstairs is a large mosaic of Oceanus, missing the bottom half of his head.

The paintings are upstairs, mostly late 18th and 19th century by unnamed artists, though there is a selection of 1962 figurative work by a Portuguese artist, Carlos Filipe Porfirio (1895-1970). The strange dog-like creature I've included (if you swipe left a few times) is The Bellowing Vixen. It comes from an Algarve folk tale of bad omens, announced by the titular doggy vixen type thing. 😃

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Of the main room, featuring late Baroque work from Italy and Spain among other places, my favourites were a piece featuring a small dog in the corner, an expressive St Jerome and a slightly homoerotic St Sebastian (who I find often has that kind of vibe 😉). The dog intrigued me, as while dogs in art pre 20th century are primarily there to symbolise fidelity, it made me think that dogs are outside of time.

Whatever the period of painting, a dog looks like a dog. Unlike the surrounding figures, there is nothing to indicate the time or location if you just look at a (hu)man's best friend. As the gallery was quiet and they don't ban photos, I could do my own rambling audio guide. Meaning I can be pretentious in text AND audio, hooray! 😜

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Along with finding what looks like the perfect blouse to coordinate with my pink leopard print gloves, I also found the most Bristol-esque place to eat in town, Padaria Urbana. They do a delicious range of 'urban toast' and awesome smoothies, quite affordable too. I had a smoothie with milk, apple, cinnamon, oatmeal, linseed, chia and honey (€3.20). Very hipster, but also tasty. The toasts range from the equivalent of a few slices up to a massive metre long version. Sounds like a good option for feeding 3 or 4 people at once: either way, best meal I had in Portugal, although the calamari at O Camilo was pretty good too.

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