The youthful joy of living by the sea

A Walk on the Beach - @mariarebelophotography.comOne of the joys of living on the coast of Portugal is to wake up and go for a walk on the pristine beach sand, letting the waves bathe our feet. We always thought of these moments as pure indulgence until we read Pablo Casal’s memoir “Joys and Sorrows.”

The great cellist continued to play in his 90s, maintaining a youthful spirit and an amazing creative energy. As we searched his memoir for clues to the source of his longevity, here’s what we found:

“I have always especially loved the sea. Whenever possible, I have lived by the sea… It has long been a custom of mine to walk along the beach each morning before I start to work. True, my walks are shorter than they used to be, but that does not lessen the wonder of the sea. How mysterious and beautiful is the sea! How infinitely variable! It is never the same, never, not from one moment to the next, always in the process of change, always becoming something different and new.”

Amalia’s beach


The great fado singer Amalia Rodrigues built a beautiful house on a cliff with an expansive view of the ocean. The adjacent beach is called Amalia in her honor.

To visit this magical place, you need to drive to Brejão, a village on the southern tip of the Alentejo coast. Stop in one of the coffee shops and ask for directions to the beach (you have to follow a hidden path alongside a small brook).

This secluded beach is a perfect setting for declarations of love. The spirit of the place will inspire you. But if words fail you, you can always say: this beach was named after Amalia, a singer who sang about the joy of love and the pain of loss. I brought you here because I love you and I never want to lose you.


Few people know that you can rent Amalia’s house by emailing the Foundation Amalia Rodrigues ( But now you do!

A beach fling


First-time visitors to Lisbon are often surprised by its beauty. But, when you live in the capital city, you begin to take this beauty for granted and look around for something new. You don’t have to look far. Drive a few miles down the coast and you’ll find secluded beaches that will tempt your heart.

One of these beaches is Praia do Abano, on the coast of Cascais. Its cliff top offers breathtaking views of the Sintra mountain and the endless sea. Sheltered from the wind, Abano is the perfect place to enjoy a day in the sun.

There is a rustic restaurant on top of the cliff that you won’t find in tourist guides. It serves simple, wonderful food, such as amazing clams with irresistible country bread, delicious rabbit cooked in wine, and flavorful shrimp “açorda.” It is an unforgettable experience to dine there while the sun melts and the moon comes out to gild the sea with silver light.

An afternoon at Abano feels like a vacation. You return to Lisbon relaxed and content and, when you arrive at the capital, you are surprised by its beauty all over again.

The Abano beach is 21 miles from Lisbon. The telephone number of Restaurant Abano is 214870342.

Loving Ericeira

Ericeira Summer 2013

Beaches are like people, they have different personalities. Portugal has 1,115 miles of coastline, but no two beaches are alike. Some are popular, always crowded with sun worshipers. Others are shy and choose their friends carefully. One of these shy beaches is Ericeira, 40 miles north of Lisbon.

Everybody loves Ericeira when the sun is shining and the sea is balmy. But Ericeira tests its visitors to make sure they deserve its beauty. So, there are cooler days to discourage those who complain that Winter spends the Summer at Ericeira. And foggy days to see who appreciates the joy of walking on a misty beach. Sometimes the sea is rough to see who is in awe of the ocean roar. Other times, the wind blows to see who feels invigorated by the ocean smell.

If you fail these tests, Ericeira is not for you. If you pass them, you understand the true beauty of Ericeira and you’ll never trade it for any other beach.

The indispensable Summer vacation

A do Mar_92- Praia de São Julião
Praia de São Julião (St. Julian’s beach)

When you spend a Summer vacation in Portugal, it’s easy to face the Winter. You can brave the polar temperatures, the wind and the snow, because you’re still warm from the Summer. You can remember waking up to the sound of the waves, strolling on the beach, bathing in the salty ocean, dining outdoors at sunset. And Winter is just a reminder that it’s time to plan the next Summer vacation.

In October, Peniche has it all


If you go to Peniche in the middle of October, you’ll find this normally sleepy village bustling with activity. The world’s best surfers gather here to compete in the Rip Curl Pro event at the famous Supertubos beach. Restaurants are full, television crews and photographers are everywhere.

If you want to stay away from the crowds, all you have to do is turn right at the entrance of the Peniche fort, on Rua da Boa Viagem, and walk to the Quebrado beach. There, you can seat in Bar do Quebrado, shown in the photo, enjoying a cold beer and a wonderful view.

With the excitement of the world surf championship and the quiet beauty of the seashore, no wonder Summer likes to spend Autumn in Peniche.

Do as the Romans did


The places where rivers meet the sea are often blessed with great beauty. Troia, a peninsula off the coast of Setúbal, near Lisbon, is no exception. It has the vast Atlantic ocean on one side and the majestic Sado River on the other. Between the two shores, you find pine trees and immaculate white-sand beaches. The weather is perfect and the water temperature is wonderful for swimming.

The Romans, who loved great locations, settled in Troia in the 1st century. Back then, the trip from Lisbon to Troia was long and arduous. Today, there’s a ferryboat that gets you from Setúbal to Troia in just a few minutes.  As a result, Troia has started to attract its share of celebrities. José Mourinho, the well-known Portuguese soccer coach, just bought a house there (please don’t tell the paparazzi).

Click here to check the Troia ferryboat schedule.