The Beautiful Town of Ericeira, Portugal

2016 has been a very exciting year for us and we’ve been to some incredible places, but very few can surpass the beautiful Portuguese coast line and the wonderful fishing town of Ericeira.

The town of Ericeira is famous for its surf and incredible beaches, but there is so much to enjoy here on top of the swell; beautiful seafood restaurants, enticing independent bars and an exploding culture are begging to be enjoyed.

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We stayed for four days in a brilliant apartment high above the old town boasting a balcony view with sight lines from Foz do Lisandro  in the south right across to the beach at Matadouro to the north.

Having arrived late on the Monday we spent the first full day getting our bearings and investigating the local surroundings. A short walk down the hill from our apartment towards the coast led us straight on to the boulevard, which stretches from the edge of the old town to the beach at Matadouro, home to some of Ericeira’s best surf. On the boulevard is a charming café where we sat for a late breakfast and coffee. Right on the path, Esplanada Sebastiao Café is the perfect place for a bite to eat and a coffee whilst enjoying the sea breeze and the often glorious sunshine.

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From here we walked along the coast to the already highly credited Matadouro beach front, here we stood and watched the busy waters of the late morning and planned the surfing lessons we went to Portugal to take. Down on the seafront we met Sami, surfer and owner of Activity Surf Centre, but more about them to come.

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This beautiful spot is an absolute must for all holiday makers, surfers and explorers trekking along the coast. There is access to Matadouro beach, where at low tide you can walk out across the rocks and shallows for 100’s of meters. Overlooking the gold sandy beach is a wonderful seating area which is provided by a perfectly placed American style pop up eatery serving a range of classic food and drink. This is one of my fondest memories of Ericeira, sitting with my feet up enjoying a beer and basking in the glorious heat of the late afternoon.

For the remainder of the day we walked leisurely back into Town to get our first taste of classic Portugal. We drifted in between cobbled streets dressed with white and blue buildings until we arrived at the town centre. From here we ducked down a side street and came across Cassa Portuguesa an authentic restaurant on the corner of Esperanca and Outubro. We sat on the street in the sunshine and both enjoyed freshly caught Octopus; not our usually plate of choice but honestly it was incredible, the rumours of the sensational seafood in Ericeira were true. Finishing our meal and topping off our water we received the bill.  One of the great surprises of Portugal and Ericeira was that it is dramatically cheaper than the rest of Europe, in fact you could certainly enjoy yourselves on a budget, enjoying Portugal with out breaking the bank.

For the week that we were staying in Ericeira the Portuguese Surf Film Festival was on, showing two films each evening on a variety of surf culture issues. This was too good of an opportunity to miss so we purchased tickets for every night we were there.  The films typically ran from 9pm until 11pm, which meant that after a few drinks beforehand we were usually ready to head home and get some rest before the morning surfs lessons.

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The following days passed by in a brilliant routine of surfing in the morning and enjoying lunch at Matadouro; then heading back home to change before walking down into the old town to eat at one of the many seafood restaurant, then watching a few surf films in the evening. We rarely had reservations, but this was not an issue if you are ok with eating between 7pm and 8:30pm as the Portuguese like most Europeans tend to eat dinner a lot later than us British.

The second evening we ate at a place called Restaurante Tik-Tak, decorated with nautical themed antiques with a wonderful collection of wine on display throughout the walkways.   Located directly opposite Cassa Portuguesa where we ate lunch the day before. This choice was not made because of its location, in fact it came highly recommended and with great reviews. We got to the restaurant just before 7, found all the tables were reserved and they were completely full for the evening. However one of the staff noticed us reading the menu and kindly highlighted that there was a table for two reserved at 8, but if we were happy to finish our meal within the hour she could seat straight away. Another example of the kind and friendly nature of the people in Ericeira.

The meal itself was divine. Nicole had the catch of the day and I had Monkfish Rice with Prawns. Although we only had an hour the staff weren’t pushy and the service was expertly delivered with recommendations for drinks and bars for after. We left the table at 7:55pm completely satisfied and raving about another brilliant meal.

On our third evening we decided to treat ourselves and we ate at a beautiful seafront restaurant called Esplanada Furnas. This restaurant is idyllically placed, right on rocks with a view of horizon supplied by the restaurant glass fronting. A wonderful piece to Esplanada Furnas’s romantic charm is the option to choose your fish from the counter upon entry, where the staff then grill it there and then. We had an entrée of barnacles and prawns; a messy affair but definitely worth it, the barnacles were superb. Our main was the Flounder we had picked at the start, grilled to perfection and professionally served. Perhaps not the choice of fish if you’re looking for a fish with a lot of meat on the bones, but a wonderfully light and flavourful fish. We stayed for a while after we finished our mains and watched the sun go down; this was possibly one of the most beautiful views and moments we have had on a holiday and if you do make it to Ericeira you must head down to coast on a clear evening.

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On our final evening we ate at Restaurant Prim and much like our evening at Restaurant Tik-Tak this place was all reserved and we hadn’t made a reservation. Classic! But true to form the wonderful restaurateurs of Ericeira found us a table. We sat down at 7pm and had to be at the Town Hall for 8 for our final evening at the surf film festival. Once again the staff were expert and helped us with our orders and drink choices, which came in plenty of time for us to enjoy at a slightly increased pace, but still one of pleasant company. Nicole and I both had the steak, a change in diet and menu after days of fish and other seafood. Perhaps it was the overdosing on fish that made the steak all the better, but it was so good.

So ladies and gents that concludes our whistle stop tour of Ericeira, the restaurants and the beautiful spots we found. In short you have to visit for the surf, the food and most importantly the place.

GVSCO x

Lisbon- The Forgotten City? By Caitlin Russell.

We love getting posts in from Caitlin as she has a fantastic passion for travel and a keen eye for some amazing pictures! This latest instalment follows Caitlin through Lisbon with her boyfriend Paul and was the first part of a 9 week journey spanning Europe and Indonesia!

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Our entire first day was lost to travelling and we didn’t arrive at our hotel – Residencial Mar dos Acores – until two o’clock this morning. The metro link is available from the airport and an unlimited 24 hour card costs only €6 each. We alighted the last train around 1.15am and it took us an absurd amount of time to find the hotel due to the lack of public wifi, thankfully when we did arrive our room was still waiting for us. With a 7.3 rating on Booking.com and one bathroom per floor which is shared between eight rooms, the €25 per night fee for us both seemed fair. It’s located a steep five minute walk from the Anjosnmetro station and is surrounded by shops, bars and restaurants. When we got there, the amenities were beyond what we had expected; immaculate kitchen stocked with beers and drinks for a fee, stunning mosaic interiors and a lift. The room itself, albeit compact, was spotless and included a sink, TV, air conditioning unit and a fan – both of which are necessary even at night. The bathrooms pleasantly surprised me, again immaculate and cleaned several times a day. After one night past, €25 seems like a steal.

From what I had read online, on WordPress as well as the Visit Lisbon website, I would be lying if I  told you I expected much from the Portuguese capital. Combined with the heat, how tired we were and the pending game against Poland this evening, I really thought today would have been lost to relaxing and watching football. Thankfully, for me at least, that was so far from the way the day unfolded, and I’m really glad our curiosity pushed us towards spending time in a lesser raved about location, because after only a few hours out in the beating sun we have both fallen for this beautiful city.

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We took the metro from Anjos to Rossio, the city’s main plaza in the Baica district. From there, we headed uphill through the narrow, pastel coloured streets. We had no plan, but our route allowed us to see so many glorious buildings. We followed the steep steps upwards to a higher plaza, from which we could see the city’s port. After deciding to head towards the water, distraction after distraction pulled us in all directions. Every street we passed  one of us found something intriguing; from intricately mosaiced walls to hidden churches, the rich pastel colours of the city are so attractive we couldn’t help but walk around with our necks craned, while I photographed everything my eyes met. Eventually, when we reached the water we sat at a waterfront restaurant and watched the world go by with a cold beer in our hands. Across the water, sailboats and cruise liners sales past and the vast red suspension bridge leading across to the historic Almada district stood stark against the bright blue sky and water. Behind it, a Christ the King statue stands tall, towering over the district and overlooking the rest of the city from across the water.

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From the harbour, we walked along the waterfront, through the Praça do Comércio and underneath the Rua Augusta Arch; the city’s trump gal arch, a vast Neoclassical monument flanked by Baroque buildings (which are very reminiscent of Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna). Through the arch and much to my delight there was a wine festival taking place before the shopping district began. I tried local whites whilst Paul did some shopping before heading to the Elevador de Santa Justa, a tower with panoramic views of the city, but also with an extensive queue and so we decided to head further uphill to have an undisturbed and unrestricted view for ourselves.

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Without realising,  we had done a complete lap of the city on foot and found ourselves back at Rossio square almost three hours later. I took the opportunity to photograph what I had not already and afterwards we headed away from the square in the opposite direction from before, towards the  Cathedral and Castle. We climbed even steeper streets on this side, but there are teams, tacos and tuk tuks available if the walk isn’t for you. Pauls trying to catch up on my tan from Canada, so I think that’s why he has been so keen to walk so far. On this side, streets were beginning to be decorated with Portuguese flags and tinsel in the flags colours. Music played loudly from pubs and the smell of seafood bled out into the streets from the many homes and restaurants that lined the cobblestone streets. Once at the top I found the view I had been searching for all along; a sea of terracotta roofs and off-white walls, plastered against an uninterrupted blue sky. We found the Cathedral atop the hill, but the castle sadly evaded us, and we were too tired to look anymore.

I feel Lisbon is sadly overlooked in favour of the more popular European cities such as Barcelona or Rome, and I can say that because I too overlooked it. After visiting so many in Asia, I have a really great appreciation for European cities and am trying so much more to explore the world a little closer to home before venturing out across continents again. Lisbon was the perfect starting point for this new adventure of ours because of its relaxed atmosphere, the lack of need to rush to pack sights in and the proximity of sights from one to another. Without a map and any idea as to where we were or where we were going, in a few hours Paul and I seen the majority of the sights on the to see lists. I found it to be an incredible romantic city – something I don’t think I’ve ever said about anywhere on earth. The colourful buildings and sun constantly shining makes it near impossible to not stroll around with a smile on your face. I was so pleasantly surprised by the proximity of the water to the city centre, and the rich variety of architecture and sculpture across the city.

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I feel relaxed, which is odd to say after a day of walking around in the heat. In truth I feel really lucky to have spent time here, and I can’t wait to see what the Portuguese city of Porto has to offer over the next few days.

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You can see more from Caitlin and her travels here and follow her on Instagram here.

 

 

Portuguese Surf Film Festival – Ericeira

So two of the team members over here at GVS Co. have booked a surf holiday to Ericeira for the start of August but we have only just realised that this coincides with the annual Portuguese Surf Film Festival! We cannot believe our luck!

It is the 5th annual festival and is being held on  July 30th – August 6! There will be 21 films screened over the course of the festival and they will be judged in 5 different categories: Best Surf Film, Best Short, Best Sustainability, Ericeira in Shorts and Best Soundtracks

Ericeira PSFF 2016 from Portuguese Surf Film Festival on Vimeo.

 

We cannot wait! Also if any of you lovely people are going to be out there, let us know!