Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'm Dreaming........of Sunny White Beaches

This week Lisbon has seen the first real sunny days for this year, FINALLY! It had been raining here at least once a day if not all day since New Years, and normally with only an average number of 45 rainy days per year in Portugal, this was a bit over the top! Anyhow, seeing the sun again is getting me anxious for the return of warmer weather and beach season!!

Last year, I spent many summer days out exploring the numerous amount of beaches, just within a 15-45min. drive from Lisbon; and with 11-12hrs of sun during the summer, you bet I was still laying out until 7 or almost 8pm at times :D Now after living in Miami (South Beach) with bath-like water temperatures, it was definitely a bit of an adjustment to Portugal's much colder waters. But there are plenty of other reasons to love the beaches in Portugal, the clear blue/green waters, the variety of big and small beaches with lots of waves or no waves, built in straw umbrellas, wind walls and volleyball areas for rent and all the friendly vendors walking around selling pão com chouriço and bolos de Berlim which are like sugared doughnuts mmmmmm. And here is my #1 pick for Best Beach in the area!

Guincho (pronounced "geen-shoo" with the g like "get")
This is by far my favorite stretch of beach in the area, it's the first one actually on the oceanfront when driving up north from Lisbon (as the city of Lisbon is set back in the Tejo river/bay area) and is situated in a beautiful area right below the Serra da Sintra mountains and surrounded by cliffs. Being directly on the coast gives this beach magnificent waves for surfers and wind surfers in which the winds have made soft rolling sand dunes that stretch far back from the water into the shady stone pine forests that make for great camping areas. The beach at Guincho is also one of the least crowded beaches around since it is just beyond where the Cascais train line runs up the coast from Lisbon that all the trashy tourists take. So you will have to have a car but the beach crowd that you will find here is either locals or upscale guests from the surrounding luxury beachfront hotels, one of them being the renown, 5 star Hotel Fortaleza. This hotel literally looks like a fort on the outside but the inside is like majestic castle with service to match and make you feel like a king or queen so anyone looking for great beach getaway or just want to stop by an upscale afternoon tea or cocktail hour, I highly recommend here :D

But if you're looking for something more casual to come to straight from the beach for an afternoon coffee or beer, there is a rustic hotel right up the sand dunes from the water where the inside is lobby/lounge is completely constructed all in petrified pinewood! It's quite a sight to see and the hotel also still boasts great service and a wonderful ocean view with your drink :) There are also plenty of moderate to upscale restaurants dotting the coast there, great for a fresh seafood lunch by the sea!

Besides all these wonderful reasons to spend a day at the beach here, Guincho is also great to come out to year around for its perfect location to watch an incredible sunset, which we did this winter parked on one of the cliffs while sipping wine. After the sun sets though, the cliffs become the equivalent to a "Lovers Lane" hehehehe so if you're in the area right now, probably would be a nice idea to end your "Dia dos Namorados" or Valentine's Day with ;)

For me, I think this sunny, Valentine's Day will be perfect to spend the day at my favorite beach for my favorite thing to do....lunch! :p

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