Surfers’ And Eaters’ Paradise In Portugal
We originally hadn’t planned on including any European countries in our round-the-world surf tour, mainly due to their costs. We knew that the Atlantic coasts of France, Spain and Portugal had great waves, but in western Europe, it’s difficult to travel on our budget of $60 per day for two people.
However, our friends Edoardo and Dany, whom we met back in Mexico at the beginning of our trip last year, live in Ericeira, Portugal – a great surf town – and they told us we could live pretty cheaply there. They also recounted how amazing conditions are during the shoulder season of September/October, when most of the tourists have left but the waves get good and the days are still warm. We decided to take the chance and visit Ericeira after South America. Neither Michael nor I had been to Portugal before, so the culture would be new to us as well.
Ericeira is just a 45-minute drive from Lisbon. When we first arrived, we stayed in our own bedroom in a local guy’s apartment that we booked in advance on Airbnb, giving us some time to find a longer term place to stay. The apartment ended up being beautiful, very spacious, and with a super cool owner named Luis, who is also a surfer. It’s situated in front of one of the better surf breaks in Ericeira, and we could walk out on the balcony every morning and check the surf conditions.
Daily breakfast with delicious toasted Portuguese bread, butter and jam, and fresh squeezed orange juice was included. For the four days we were at Luis’s apartment, we surfed and hung out with him and his girlfriend Mafalda, and since then we’ve become good friends with them both.
Edoardo and Dany helped us rent a room in their friend’s house, a short drive away from where Luis lives. It’s a cute and compact 50-year-old seaside vacation home with 5 bedrooms, but since it’s low season right now, there’s no one else in the house and we have it to ourselves.
The vernacular architecture in Ericeira consists of low, whitewashed houses with Mediterranean blue trim and terracotta tiled roofs. The streets in the town center are paved with small square stones, and everywhere you look, there’s another breathtaking view full of texture and color.
We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the cost of staying in Ericeira. The room we’ve rented for the next month is so affordable that we’ve been able to rent a car, which has proven essential for getting around town and checking out all the other surf breaks.
And the food! THE FOOD! The ingredients and produce in the local shops, the cheap and delicious local wines, the seafood and grilled meats in the restaurants, and the pastries and bread in the cafes here are to die for. We look forward to every single meal, whether we cook it ourselves or with friends, or eat out at a new or an already familiar restaurant. Michael has happily started gaining some weight back after losing a few pounds in South America. I’m trying my best not to put any weight on, but it’s difficult not to eat everything in sight. Luckily, we’re surfing almost every day.
The waves have been consistently fun, with most days in the six to eight foot range. They are mostly rights, which make Michael (a regular-footer) happy since in Peru and Chile, the waves were all lefts. The rights are helping me work on my backside surfing.
My childhood friend Liisa came to stay with us for a little under two weeks:
We went sightseeing with Liisa in Sintra, a town known for its decadent palaces and a Moorish castle that’s visible from many miles around. We visited the Moorish castle, built in the 9th century:
as well as the Quinta da Regaleira, a 4-hectare estate full of fountains, towers, hidden caves and underground tunnels:
Michael and I also spent a day in Lisbon, where we visited Europe’s second-largest oceanarium.
There was a temporary art exhibition by Skeleton Sea in the atrium, with intricate and beautifully crafted sculptures made from garbage washed up on beaches around the world.
We took a ride on Lisbon’s famous #28 tram, which is an electric streetcar that makes the rounds through the most popular tourist neighborhoods and past many of its famous sites.
October 7th was the date that we flew out of New York City last year, so we’ve been gone for a little over one year! In many ways, the time has gone by quickly, slowly and also just right. The days have definitely started to move faster now that we’re only spending five or six weeks in each country, as opposed to the seven months of slow overland travel we previously experienced through Peru and Chile.
In several days, we’ll be leaving for our next destination: Morocco. We’ll spend a few days soaking up the culture in Marrakech before exploring what Morocco’s southern Atlantic coast has to offer in the way of surf. Tagine, hammams and squat toilets, here we come!