As we approached this coastal city, we immediately felt at home as we both realized that we are coastal dwellers. It is bustling, vibrant and energetic. We first did a scout around to try and see what this place is all about and decided to use the Services of Lonely Planet Africa to source Nancy’s  Hospederia as we were in dire need of a good cleanup after the 2 days of dusty roads. Nancy is an ex-pat from the US and made us feel at home. It was great to be able to converse in English and as she was so impressed that we were the first Lonely Planet guests even offered free juice . The kindheartedness of the locals continued in that her place was actually full, but one of the guests moved out of his room to make space for us. Nancy runs an English language school as well as a guesthouse/backpackers and for any future travelers, this is affordable accommodation by Angolan standards.

 Local church A satisfied Stew at the beach cafe after a typical portuguese meal

 We used the rest of the day after booking in to explore south of Benguela, including the stunning beaches and villages of Saint Antonio, where we had in impromptu  lunch,  Baia Azul and  Baia Farte (aptly named, as this place stank of fish). A swim in the calm bay and surprisingly warm waters at Baia Azul, a beautiful beach resort  of holiday houses , was a highlight. Here in this area as well, we noticed all the development as beach houses are being fixed, new houses built and in general everything seem to be moving forward. We are sure that if we were to return in 5 years time, Benguela and surrounds will be a very different place.

 Coastal village close to Benguelaremnants of a holiday resort

Benguela is a sprawling bustling  coastal city, with a beautiful beach and promenade. We ate that night at an outdoor restaurant/bar on the promenade, sitting in the warm balmy evening in shorts and t-shirt. The promenade is like a stepsister version of the Sea point promenade with the a lot of joggers, walkers and even a few locals doing Tai Chi !! The city has many beautiful old Portuguese buildings and architecture, including an ancient Catholic Church close to where we stay. We had no problem changing money, or finding everything we needed (except fresh fruit and veggies!), and enjoyed the laidback atmosphere of this city.

 Beautiful Baia Azul  The fishing village of Baia Farte

As we are writing we are still unsure as to our plans for today as we would love to stay, but the life here for foreigners is just too expensive. Hopefully as it gets more popular it will become more accessible as it is a shame that people do not know about the beauty of this place.