Changing Venues and an Afternoon by the Ocean

Had a relaxing morning at the hotel and checked out before heading over to the new digs in Graça, on the heights to the east. At the hotel bar, the server comped me a cappuccino and a small pastel de nata. This morning was the Lisbon Marathon, so I knew the ride over to the other side of the city center might be longer than normal, but the Uber driver took back streets and got me there before my host, Maria, arrived. Maria owns a number of high-end Airbnbs, and since we got to know each other when I rented her Chiado place, she gave me a cash discount to rent the new one privately. The place is huge and has three bedrooms. It’s just below the city’s most renowned vista point, or miradouro. I just took some night shots from the living room.

My friends Pedro and Joana invited me for a drive to the northwest of Lisbon, so I planned to grab the local train from Rossio station to Benfica, where their apartment is right across from the station. Maria offered to drive me to the station, so we hopped into her electric Peugeot, which is a great car unavailable in the US. The marathon closures were so bad that I decided that walking would be faster, so I hopped out and was able to catch the 1:31 train for the 10-minute journey to Benfica.

Pedro met me at the station and we jumped in the car and headed out to the very cool beach town of Ericeira, which is a big surfing venue. The restaurant they reserved was closing early so Plan B was to head to the beach and eat there. We found out that the World Surf League European Challenger Series was underway, though when we got there the day’s competition was over. The restaurant reminded me of Huntington Beach, with surfers from all over Europe and their families. There was even a marine layer!

After a satisfying lunch, we walked around the town. It’s a place where I certainly could live. Nice restaurants and shops and a beautiful coastal location.

After Ericeira, we drove to another picturesque town, Mafra, built on a highland with Sintra and the Atlantic in the distance. The canyons and trees reminded me of Del Mar near San Diego.

Mafra is the site of the Vatican-scale Palácio Nacional de Mafra, built to rival St. Peter’s in the early eighteenth century. It’s surrounded by a large park with an aviary and extensive French formal gardens. It’s visible from the freeway below.

It was around 6:45 pm when we headed back to Benfica, so we stopped just outside Mafra to take some pics.

I bid my friends goodbye and walked across to the station to catch the train back to Lisbon. I’m grateful to have met Pedro and Joana and really enjoyed their hospitality. Great way to end my last weekend in Portugal.

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