I already ranted about our online culture and how we are sometimes getting further away from real connections, to others and our own core. I told you about the opportunity I had to live at the Offline House, away from what I know, between strangers and pine trees. Now it’s time to let you know what I learned on a tiny weekend getaway.
1.Where am I?
Probably one of the first challenges I faced: finding the supermarket with no google maps on hand. Something that would have took me 10 minutes, ended up close to an hour, because I obviously walked in the wrong direction and had to turn around. Intial reaction? “If I had my damn phone this wouldn’t be taking me so long!”. On a second thought I had to smile at myself and say, dude what’s your actual problem? I don’t have anything else lined up for the day. You just have to find food to cook yourself a couple meals. Also: I remember ten years ago me roaming a city with a paper map. Now I have even trouble to figure left or right on a virtual one. Seriously. It embarassed me. Just a little.
2. The concept of time
There was one clock in the house, which is the one in the livingroom. My clock is my phone and as soon as it was locked away, I realised that the watch I wanted to bring was sitting on my table back home. Great job. It was interesting to see how we perceive time. Ten minutes reading a book seemed to be one hour. An afternoon spent out on the beach not more than 30 minutes. I found myself checking that clock running back and forth from the kitchen with no timer while cooking, I asked my roommates to wake me up in the morning because I am not an early bird by nature. It was a weird thing in the beginning, but so great to observe.
3. No escaping
How many times I found myself between a new group of people feeling slightly uncomfortable. And what was the first thing to do during those moments? Yep. Checking my phone, play busy, distraction, avoid the discomfort. I had to see for myself that in the end we were all strangers in a house and all facing the same situation. I am a social animal but it takes me a few minutes of adjustment in a new environment. Still, all of the sudden walking up to people with a smile and a few questions about their stay was easier than ever, and ended up in a night long conversations. The funniest part was probably trying to find a piece of paper and a pen at the end of the evening to write our phone numbers on, because, “are you on Instagram” obviously was not an option.
4. Plenty of day
It is astonishing how much of the actual day you have on hand with no electronics. It is also very embarassing to admit that I had to literally get used to it. 24 hours are freaking long and can be filled with the most amazing things that do not involve worrying about battery life at all. I feel again slightly stupid by even writing this, but the first hours were weird and easy at the same time. I had stuff lined up all the time and if not, hey, I am the first one to relax on those futons on the terrace while gazing at the sunset between pine trees. Bottom line, I did not miss my phone at all, I was expecting bigger withdrawal symptoms, and I would have loved to extend my stay for a week and continue the experiment. Just a reason to come back one more time.
5. Going back to online living
After I got dropped off at the bus station, I was glancing at my mobile, literally afraid to switch it on. I am not joking. Just picturing a flood of messages, notifications, emails and another dumped date (dumping people by text is a nono and a coward move anyway, did you know?) was making me shiver. I eventually was brave enough to face it all, but I have to say, my last days in Portugal had some more very well spent hour offline. Not asking for wifi passwords, not wanting to let everybody know what I was doing. A fraction yes, but not everything. So I guess all in all it was a success, I learned how to disconnect. To reconnect.
The Offline House
Offline Portugal is located around 15 minutes away from the gorgeous town of Aljezur. You will be living in a residential area, nestled away from noise and big city life. The perfect setting to give your phone away. Keys included. You don’t need the keys. Relapse alert!
What do you get
The house caters to solo travelers, where you can have the classic bunk bed, up to double rooms for the princess roamer or couples. I obviously had a bunk and shared the room with three fellow offliners, lovely people. A bed will cost you 25 EUR a night, breakfast included. As far as I remember, the double rooms vary in size and price range. Besides your sleeping situations, you can expect a garden, a pool, a gorgeous terrace, a spacious kitchen and a cosy livingroom.
Will I get bored?
Most likely not, mate. Besides your stay, you can also pre-book for some of the activities outdoors, like surf, yoga or stand up paddling sessions. If you come by rental car, this will give you an enormous amount of freedom to go explore plenty of amazing wild beaches along the coast. This will be me next time. I picture a van. I can’t wait.
If you happen to arrive by bus and don’t wanna walk sizzling in the sun, you either hitchhike around, which seems to be fairly easy there or you might have my luck to have a roommate with a car. It’s either way going to be a great experience. I assume scooters are easier to find in the area too.
There will be themed nights optional for you to join to, in case your evenings are clueless, which will make you know the humans staying at the house more. As I said, I arrived prepared with a bunch of books and my journal, that I barely used during those days at the house.
Retreats are also happening a couple times a year, which I am sure can round up the whole experience even more. My travel dates sadly did not match with those, but I can totally imagine to go back for one in the future.
Just try it out. You will be quite shocked on how much time you spend scrolling. And you will probably start to use your phone more wisely. Have fun, thank me later. And at the very end of your stay, take a selfie. With a polaroid camera, and save it on an actuall wall made out of concrete. Cheers 😉
More Information about Offline Portugal can be found here.
Thank you to Barbara and Team for making me feel like family. You are love ❤