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The Perfect Little Trip to Portugal.

PORTUGAL

 Ah, Portugal, you are really special.

Magic Quiver Lodge Ericeria Surf Trip Guide to PortugalOur plane touched down on the first day of spring (at least it felt that way to me considering I have been living in two-season bali for three years).   I love springtime.  I love how the long sunny days encourage all the sleepy flowers to grow.  I love how the delicate little plants find their courage to bloom into their forgotten colors.  And just like that, everything becomes vibrant and alive (the flowers and me!).Guide to portugal surf

While traveling around this beautiful country, I fell in love with every village we passed and every pastry shop that served me a frothy cappuccino.  I came to Portugal for two reasons.  First, I came to scope a few area to run a retreat here.  And second, to be blunt… I needed a “vacation.”  After running two retreats back to back with a lot of hard core traveling (ie. lugging three surfboards and a baby around the world), I needed to just chill out.  And Portugal proved to be the perfect place to do just that.

 My curiosity about this part of the would began back in grade school when learn of all the  old-time explorers sailing away from the cliffy shores in search of new lands.  Now 20 years later it was finally my time to be the explorer.  And explore I would!  I was ready to taste her fruitful wines, eat her delicate pastries, and nibble on her stinky cheeses.  I was ready to roam old castles, meander cobblestone streets, and soak in her long and rich history.  Sounds divine, right?  It was!

Surf guide to ericeira magic quiver lodge portugalFirst stop on the tour was Ericeira.  Ericeira is located smack dab in the heart of Europe’s first World Surfing Reserve.  In this area there are a plethora of surf options for all surfer styles and abilities.  In other words, everyone can get their froth on here.

And of all the places we visited in Portugal, I would have to say Ericeira felt the most “quintessential Portugese.”  Walking along the old cobblestone streets, we passed the most beautiful tiled buildings.  We walked until we were tired, then we would find a street side cafe to nibble and sip until we were ready to start all over again.   It was just the type of nourishing relaxation I needed.

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It isn’t hard to imagine Vasco De Gama’s old masted ships with tattered sails awkwardly pulling into the historical little ports.  As I mentioned before, this is where many of the world’s first explorers come from and still to this day that adventurous spirit remains in her people. Despite the amazing cheeses and wines, the breads and beers, the fish and the figs … Despite the world class surfing and the rich cafe culture, the highlight of this trip to Portugal was hearing the stories of my friends, old and new, who call this land home.  Ready for story time?  Let me share…

Guide to Portugal Surf and Yoga.

Ericeira

The story of Mario.

Portugal Surf and yoga GuideMario is a german traveler who came to Ericeria a few years back.  After traveling the world he knew that Ericera was the place he wanted to to settle his roots. He is the creative behind the Magic Quiver Surf Lodge and the incredibly-well curated Magic Quiver Surf Shop.  He dreams just as big as he continues to make them come true.  While I was visiting, Mario and his wife were in the process of building a new cafe in addition to a new restaurant.   Their quiver of accomplishments is as long as a Ribiera D’Ilhas (the famous and long wave in the area).  With no lack of motivation nor drive, it was incredibly inspiring to see how  two humble humans could actually create a little surf empire.  Guide to Portugal

Aptly named, the place is magic indeed. Magic Quiver Surf Lodge is a 14 bedroom boutique hotel in the center of town.  From the lodge’s central location it is easy to walk to all of the town’s special spots.  Our two bedroom apartment included a gorgeous balcony overlooking a dozen terracotta roofs straight to the sea.  Our favorite part of each day was returning to the cozy little balcony with a bottle of wine and a block of cheese.  Here we would relax in Portugese style.  We would talking about everything  and nothing at at the same time while daydreaming of the the wild sea birds flying overhead.

Surf guide to portugal ericeiraWith an eclectic assortment of stylish and specialty surfboards for rent in the lobby, all you really need to do is show up. The rest is taken care of.  In this region the surfing is absolutely limitless.  At Magic Quiver, the boards you can ride are limitless too.  As mentioned before, this is Europe’s first World Surfing Reserve, so the surfing is good … like really, really good.  One must see it to believe it.

If you come to Portugal, Ericeira is a must.  And my favorite spot in Ericeira is without a doubt Mario and the magic Quiver Surf Lodge.  Come say hi.  Sit on the balcony.  And relax.

Guide to Portugal Surf and Yoga

Baleal

The story of Sandra and Luis.

I first met Sandra and Luis in Sri Lanka about 4 years ago.  In those days, we were all wild and footloose traveling around the world with our singlefin surfboards.  Now Luis and Sandra run Baleal’s most sustainable and well-curated surf stop, Hang Five Surf.  The shop is perfectly located just across the street from some seriously fun longboarding (and short boarding) waves. 

The geographic set up of the entire Peniche-Baleal peninsula is a bit mind-blowing.    It is one of kind!  No matter what wind or swell direction, there is always somewhere to surf in the area.  In fact, this is the only place we actually did surf while in Portugal.  

best surfing town in portugalBack to the story of Luis and Sandra … when it comes to doing what you love, Luis and Sandra are doing just that.  At Hang Five Surf Shop in Ferrell, expect to meet Luis.  When you meet Luis expect to talk about his two greatest passions, surfing and art.

 The hip, vintage surf shop has become the local surf community’s gathering place.  You can always find a few mustached men sitting around the picnic table out front discussing fin designs and art styles while sipping on one of Portugal’s tasty designer beers.  The warm welcome that the crew at this picnic table offer makes Hang Five quickly feel like home.

And there is Sandra, Luis’s wife.  Blonde and smiley, Sandra is an incredibly talented acupuncturist and massage therapist.  If you are looking for an independent (non-retreat style) holistic escape with incredible waves, I recommend staying at the Hang Five Airbnb apartment just a stones throw from the shop. It is kind of like a surf shop that you can sleep in.  There are cool retro surfboards and inspiring art on the walls for decoration.  guide to portugal

So yes, you heard me right… you can walk to the surf, have an acupuncture appointment and hang with amazing new friends all in one epic day. Thats why many would say a trip is baleal is often times the “greatest surf trip ever.”  In a town with a reputation for partying, the Hang Five creation is a breath of fresh air.  

If you are looking for a California-esque surf town with down to earth homely vibes, come stay here.  I absolutely adore these two humand and what they have created.  I am sure you will too.  Thank you Hang Five Baleal.  Thank you Luis and Sandra.

Next up,  we headed south to the sweet little seaside town of Porto Covo.

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Porto Covo

The Story of Maria.

Porto Covo POrtugal Surf and Yoga

photo by Filipe Neto

I honestly can’t even find the words to describe this last portion of our dessert de la portugal. If ever there was a guesthouse that I could call home, it is Cabeca de Cabra.  Cabeca de Cabra is an old schoolhouse renovated into a boutique guesthouse.  There are only 6 rooms, and each one is uniquely decorated in a minimalist, simple style.  The place has an incredibly calm energy, easily the most calming guesthouse I have ever stayed.  And there is a magic about the place too…

I believe the magic of the place comes from Maria, the young beautiful woman who made this place what it is.  Maria the owner and creator of Cabeca de Cabra was a complete stranger the first time we pulled into the driveway, but now I consider her a sister.  She is one of the most inspiring, soft spoken, humble, and amazing human beings I have the pleasure of knowing.

As I sat on the long white porch of Maria’s stunning little home on the first afternoon,  I made a wish asking the universe to bring more amazing inspiring stories about magic into my life.  See, I am writing a book, and it is all about magic.  I needed a little inspiration for one of the chapters I was working on.  Or should I say I needed a little more magic?  

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photo by Filipe Neto

Ten minutes later, Maria called us to dinner.  This is where I would hear my favorite story of all time, Maria’s story!  In fact,  I asked her to tell it twice.  And it is wildly serendipitous how it fell right into my lap that evening that I prayed for it.

Once a city-based engineer constantly living under the immense pressure of her career, Maria took one leap of faith after another to become the Maria that I was sitting next to this day, the Maria that is now living out what was once a wild dream.  Maria’s story begins over a conversation with a friend.  Maria mentioned how she loved the architecture of the old schoolhouses in rural Portugal.  She told her friend that if she was ever going to buy something, she would like it to be one of these old schoolhouses (and even better it would be near the sea.)

A few days later, Maria’s friend just happened to do a little google search.  Fifteen days later, Maria found herself sitting alone in an auction house in rural Portugal  bidding on an old schoolhouse near her family’s hometown of Porto Covo (yes, near the sea).  In fact, she hadn’t even seen the place when buying it.   She went to that auction, and immediately bid on the little building despite the fact that the front doors barely opened nor had it been used for nearly 20 years.  Just like that it soon became hers. {I call this a massive leap of faith}

In the countryside just outside of Porto Covo, Maria found her dream come true in the most incredible string of events.  In my book I speak of taking a leap of faith, trusting in the universe, and overcoming difficulties that come along in the reality of living our dreams.  I believe we all have an the innate ability to manifest our dreams.  Yes, each and every one of us can do this! Maria’s story means so much to me because she proves that my theory is absolutely true!  She is my scientific study.  Maria is the magic that I was looking for! 

Porto Covo Guide to Surf POrtugal

Photo by Filipe Neto

Porto Covo Surf and Yoga Portugal GuesthouseAnd the story keeps going…. But it is just too too good to write it here.  In fact, this story is so good i want to give it all the attention and love that a story of magic such hers deserves.  So I will leave you hanging here for now.  Sorry.

But, at least you know the ending of the story.  Maria created paradise. Maria’s dreams came true.  100%.  And you can hear the amazing tale of Maria and her dream guesthouse in two places. 1) my upcoming book or 2) from her directly at her dreamy magical guesthouse, Cabeca de Cabra.

Guide to Portugal Surf and YogaAnd it isn’t just the story that makes Cabeca de Cabra amazing.  It is all the details of the place, like the vinyl record player and the wicker basket full of vintage records (like Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson).  It is the fresh sprigs of lavender that fill the room with an aroma of pure relaxation and bliss. It is the eye mask on the bedside table. It is every single thoughtful detail that makes this place so very special.  

And as we drove away,  I honestly couldn’t bear the thought of leaving.  But thats why I know i will be back.  Indeed, (hint hint) I will be back very soon!

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And there it is … my perfect little trip to Portugal wrapped up in a few hundred words.  And while I only saw a few places in my 10 days in Portugal, you can feel how much I loved it through the aura of these words I write.  You can sense the genuine admiration for the people whose stories I tell.  They all are living their lives by the compass of their hearts. This is the way their ancestors have always done it, and this is they way they still do.  I adore that.

I absolutely love this country. All of it. Obrigado Portugal!  Obrigado!

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Photos taken by Stuart Smythe @stuartsmythe