A short drive up the coast from Cascais lies a really cool under the radar town of Ericeira. Quite honestly, I never even heard of this place until it was recommend to me by the Olympic snowboarder, Sean White’s (aka The Flying Tomato) parents who we met on Slaugherhouse Beach in Maui. Barbie and I got into a conversation with his parents after we discovered they were on a similar Flashpacking journey as us and also were traveling around the world. They raved about Ericeira and all it had to offer. They both looked and sounded like diehard beach bums. I knew Portugal was on our radar so we took their advice and included it on our itinerary. So glad we did.
While Cascais was a PPP (Picture Perfect Postcard) sanitized village, Ericeira had more of a grungy edge to it but in a good way. Cascais appeared to be geared to the wealthy Portuguese where everything was sterile and perfect. Ericeira had a much younger and rougher around the edge surfer vibe that simply appeared more authentic. Surf spirit is everywhere, which brings a very relaxed way of life in Ericeira. And that is precisely why we really took a liking to this place.
We were here during offseason but temperatures were still in the mid 70’s. I am sure during the peak summer months, this town would be packed as the village is quite small and its such an appealing place. It is very windy on this side of the country facing the Atlantic. We really enjoyed standing on top of the massive cliffs with its’ out of this world views, overlooking the ocean with the cool windy breeze at our faces. You know that sensation breathing in the air when you are at the top of a mountain at a ski resort. Well, that is the best way I can describe Ericeira. The ocean air throughout the village was just so clean smelling and refreshing.
As for the beaches in Ericeira…..
Praia de Ribeira d’Ilhas is known as the ‘surf mecca’. This is one impressive beach and I have been told this beach has the best waves in Portugal. If you like surf, you will love it. If you don’t like surf, you will love it. If you hate beaches, you will love it. I can attest to this judging from the flock of surfers in the waters waiting for the next big wave. The waves were killer. The other beach we spent the most time at, Praia do Sul was also amazing and conveniently located directly across the street from our Airbnb. Foz do Lizandro is another nearby sweet beach but about 1 mile south of town.
Ericeira is not only sun and beach. You do have the option to drive up thru some towns further north into the countryside. You can also check out some surrounding historical sites in Mafra, However, we elected to be lazy bums and stay put and simply visit the beaches, chow down on seafood and stroll through the characteristic narrow and windy cobblestone streets filled with cool shops and cafes in the village.
As far as the cuisine here in Ericeira, fish and seafood are the main attraction. Simply sit down at one of the many seaside restaurants and enjoy the unreal scenery and seafood served up. Where else can you get a big piece of freshly caught salmon or any other type of fish with 2 sides for 10 euros? Too bad I am allergic to shellfish as many of the restaurants specialize in freshly caught shellfish. I did taste a piece of Barbie’s octopus as she told me that by peeling the skin and color off, I would be ok. I liked it a lot, I did not die, I did not turn into a Trump supporter, so maybe I can now slowly get my feet wet with a wider range of seafood other than fish.
And not to be forgotten, make sure to get the best Portuguese cupcakes at this tiny cupcake shop called Casa Gama. These were not your normal cupcakes from back home. Barbie tried to investigate what they were made of but came up empty. When you break it open it has a spongy and moist texture. (see pix below) These tasty gems were simply beyond tremendous and on par with the custard egg tarts. Now, that is a bold statement.
Let me tell you a little story about Boris. There is a tiny cobblestoned tree lined square in the middle of the town. The square is where local people hangout on benches and at the tiny cafes and bakeries which line the square. This square is run by the legendary Boris. Who is Boris? He is a 100% Pure English Bulldog and sits on the sidewalk and literally runs the show in the square. No bullshit. Boris is territorial. He loves humans. But any other dog, and there are many, that even step foot in the square has to get by Boris and his growl. I do not understand why all the other dogs yield to Boris as he is fat as shit, has bowed legs, he drools and is too lazy to even get off his ass. He just sits there, growls and all the other dogs know to step off. Respect, just pure respect! I think Boris is the most loved dog on the planet. Everybody in town knows Boris and comes by to greet and rub on Boris. He was Barbies absolute favorite and she loved him up with hugs everyday when we walked into town for her daily dose of grilled octopus. Boris was actually stolen one day and everybody in the town was scrambling to locate Boris for days. Luckily, they found him in an open field. The dog thieves apparently abandoned their dognapping plans when they underestimated the popularity of Boris. Next time you are in Ericeira, go check out Boris for yourself. He is one bad mamma jamma but you’ll love him.
Living in Ericeira was a unique and unforgettable experience and that is precisely the reason we extended our stay here from 3 days to 7 days. We both loved the tranquility of the sea in Ericeira and were sad to leave. It is now back to Lisbon before moving onto Israel where it should be a unique experience arriving the day before Yum Kippur and being there during Sukkot. Being the awful hebrew school student that I was, I really don’t remember the meaning of Sukkot. However, I do recall it involved a hut, a lemon and some sort of branch. By the time we leave Israel, I should be a Sukkot pro as well as a Shawarma pro.