Coastal Lisbon and beyond

by Alison 24/10/2013

It turns out the hostel we picked was a great location if you want to surf, see the coast and experience Lisbon. The actual reason for picking it was it's proximity to Carcavelos beach, the main contest site for the women's world tour event

We stayed at the Lisbon Surf House. Housed in a beautiful old building, it was clean and friendly. The rooms were lovely, light and airy, though if you are a light sleeper it may not be to your taste as the train line passes right behind the house. We were there in-between seasons, all the summer tourists had left but the winter swell seekers have yet to arrive.  However seeing as we were traveling together and it was only a short trip, the lack of company didn't bother us. While the area is very quiet, the train station to Lisbon is less then 5 minutes walk away and you are directly on the main coast road, making it very easy to drive to the surf and explore Lisbon city. The surrounding area while urban is filled with sandy beaches, forts and stunning views of the city.

The coast from Lisbon to Cascais, is full of south facing sandy beaches and reefs. If these aren't working, Praia de Guincho is a westerly facing wide, wild, open beach with a dramatic backdrop . Over the week, we surfed in Praia do Guincho, Carcavelos and a mystery reef (either in Sao Joao or Sao Pedro. I still can't figure out which one) . Our last surf in Guincho made my day as when the competition was over, a lot of the competitors still hung around. Whatever about watching them from the beach, sharing the line-up with them was another matter all together. The speed of their paddling, their power and flow through manoeuvres, it was all I could do not to get in the way. 

However surfing on the reef, we got the timing perfect. Not only were their only two people out, but one of them was an unusually friendly local. He chatted away about the necessary swell, wind and tides the break required, literally pointed out the very limited take-off zone and called us into waves. As he said ''There are 3waves in every set, and I can only catch one. Another day you wouldn't catch a wave''. We had definitely lucked out, as the reefs around Lisbon are notoriously busy and can be quite localised. We wondered why the multiple paddle boarders weren't on the main break. He later explained that some of the local surfers had had 'conversations' with them and they won't come in the line-up while they are there. To prove his point 5 minutes after he left the water, the paddle boarders took over the peak.

Aside from visiting Lisbon, we spent another evening driving the coast to Cabo da Roca and then on to Sintra. Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point of Continental Europe. Wind and salt blasted, the cliffs are impressive and the vegetation reminded me of the fynbos on Table mountain. Unfortunately we only had the briefest glimpse of the palaces and woodlands in Sintra. The sun was setting as we drove and most places were closing their gates as we arrived. This area is a Unesno World Heritage site and will definitely be on my to do list, if I ever make it back.

1 comment:

  1. having trouble to understand everything you wrote down but the pictures tell the story