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A Weekend in Ericeira

A view down to Praia do Sul Beach in Ericeira Portugal
Praia do Sul Beach, Ericeira (photo by author)

Before I headed to my next stop on my tour of “Life in Portugal”, I decided to spend a weekend in Ericeira, a seaside town a short drive from Lisbon. Ericeira was on my original list of places to spend a month as I search for towns I might want to live in if I don’t return to Lisbon. It interested me based on its proximity to Lisbon, its beautiful seaside location and lively town center. Plus they had a sports bar which is not always easy to find in Portugal. 

Arriving For a Weekend in Ericeira

Upon arriving in Lisbon, I was exhausted from the overnight flight from the US where I’d spent time with family and friends. I flew on TAP Air Portugal which is not doing well financially, so they’ve jammed as many rows in their planes as they can possibly fit. Fortunately, I was seated next to a very nice guy. Given it’s been a while since I’ve had a date, it was kind of nice to be so close to a man again.  

After the flight on the “Sardine Express”, I opted for a car service to Ericeira, avoiding dragging my bag on a bus trip with a couple of transfers. My driver was emotionless, never speaking a word during the 40-minute ride. I thought of pretending to call my dealer and order the weekend's drug supply to see if it affected him in any way. 

After a silent drive, we arrived in the center of Ericeira. He stopped the car and said nothing, as he waited for me to get out. When I inquired as to where my hotel might be, he said “Maybe ask that guy.” and pointed to a man sitting on a nearby bench. I grabbed my bag out of the back and he sped off.

Perhaps he is a new driver and doesn’t understand the importance of driver ratings?

Bathroom holding a high-end white clawfoot tub that faces a porthole window
Paradise is a Clawfoot Tub with a Porthole Window (photo by author)

Settling into The Perfect Hotel Room

After finding my way to my hotel using my map app, I was greeted by a very friendly young woman who welcomed me to the hotel and gave me the lay of the land. After telling me my room was on the second floor, she grabbed my suitcase and easily whisked it up the two flights to my room. As I followed her up the stairs, trying to keep up, I compared her to my driver and thought how often you need a woman to do a man’s job.

My room was better than the pictures! The balcony was divine, decorated with colorful tiles. The bedroom was not large but well-designed, so all my things fit neatly away. The bathroom was the selling point. A nice claw-foot tub waited for me in which to relax my cares away. I smiled with the thought of three nice soaks in this beauty over my three-night stay, each one washing away any troubles I might encounter. To fit with the nautical theme of the hotel, the bathroom had a porthole for a window, which was the perfect touch to my already perfect room.

A view to a busy sports bar where people are playing pool as people watch and there is an empty foosball table nearby
A True Sports Bar with EVERYTHING in Ericeira (photo by author)

Finding the Perfect Sports Bar

That night, I summoned my energy to head to the sports bar to watch the European Champions League Semi-Final game. The bar was truly a sports bar but more bar sports than real sports. While there was a great corner nook with plenty of TVs to watch any game you wanted, most of the place was filled with everything you needed for your favorite bar sports. If you wanted to play foosball, throw darts or shoot a game of pool you were in luck! They even had my personal favorite, pinball machines. The place was a cheeky, sporty heaven.

For big games, I always arrive at the bar early so I can get a seat in front of a TV where I can actually see the game and not end up staring at a bunch of guy’s backs. I was well-positioned when what must be the usual crowd of guys came in, a bit thrown as I was at the table in front of the biggest TV. The ice thawed when I welcomed them to take the three empty seats at my table. With everyone happy again, the game began.

A toasted grilled cheese with cheddar and shrimp cut in half on a plate on top of newspaper liner
The Perfect Grilled Cheese at Pão da Vila, Ericeira Portugal (photo by author)

A Missed Chance at Love in Ericeira

The next couple of days, I spent some time catching up on work in my comfy room and taking breaks to explore the town and find good places to eat. I became an addict of the local health-conscious restaurant, GIG (Green is Good), which had a salad I ate for two lunches there. It was the perfect mix of everything: leafy greens, grilled chicken, apple, goji berries, cucumber, radish, red onion, feta, walnuts and mixed seeds with dijon mustard vinaigrette. 

A healthy salad discovery early in the weekend was a great turn of events as on the day I left, I made a food find that would have changed the caloric outlook of my weekend. I stopped to grab a quick lunch before ordering a car to my next stop of Nazaré, at a place that seemed to attract the locals. As I was settling into my table, the heavenly smells of fresh bread washed over me, instantly adding 3 pounds onto my already well-padded behind.

Not being one that can resist good food, I chose grilled cheddar cheese with shrimp. Hey, it was somewhat healthy. It had seafood after all. I sat breathing in more calories in anticipation of that warm, buttered bread filled with melted cheese and all those healthy shrimp. When it arrived, I just knew I’d found true love. The bread was perfectly toasted to a golden brown filled with the perfect amount of melted cheddar and fresh shrimp. 

One bite and I knew if I lived in Ericeira, me and this grilled cheese would have a long and happy relationship.

View toward a beach through yellow plastic table and chairs
Plastic Chair Cafes are the Best, Praia do Sul Beach (photo by author)

Relaxing by the Sea in Plastic Chairs

My first day, as I was wandering around the center of Ericeira, I stumbled upon a sign for “Praia do Sul” which means “South Beach”. I headed down the path toward the beach and was not immediately impressed. While it was, as most beaches in Portugal are, beautiful, it did not seem much different than the other beaches with which I’d already fallen in love.

I checked out the two seaside cafés and chose the one with plastic chairs and an old-school beach vibe over the fancy place with coffees three times the price. The offerings were basic and I was concerned they might only make espressos. When I asked the guy at the counter if he could make me a coffee with half milk, he happily explained that he could. He said that in Portuguese it is called a “galão”, which I already know well. He seemed so happy teaching me that I let him continue the lesson. He explained some tricky parts of the pronunciation of some common words which is always helpful. I ended up getting a lot for the price of my galão!

After paying for my galão and thanking him for the Portuguese lesson, I settled into my plastic chair by the sea. I watched the waves crash against the cliff upon which an old hotel with its fading beauty was perched. As I watched kids playing on the beach, I realized they were naturally separating into two areas with the older kids playing in the surf and the little guys playing in a calm area that was protected from the surf by a rock barrier. 

As I watched all of the action, I realized this is the perfect beach! The beach naturally provides safe places for the littlest of the littles to enjoy the water while the older kids brave the surf. The area is surrounded by rocky cliffs where the waves crash and provide quite the show. Best of all, it’s got your cheeky, old-school, beach cafe, of which I became a regular. An older couple spent most of every morning there, reading the newspaper and watching the world go by.

If I lived in Ericeira I’d be joining that couple every day.

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