What is the best place you’ve visited on someone else’s recommendation?
We’ve finished with South America, so we’re circling back to what we skipped before: the rest of Europe!
We had heard a lot about Portugal before our first visit, but most of the stories hailed from either Porto or Lisbon. So when our Lisbon Servas hosts recommended a small beach town – Santa Cruz – we were excited to check it out.
We started in the nearby Torres Vedras, where we wandered the many narrow alleys and admired the local architecture. We also made our way up to the highest point, where we could explore an ancient Moorish castle ruins. I love ruins and there was no fee to enter, so it was an easy choice. Furthermore, the site houses a much newer church, featuring Romanesque architecture in its thick walls and domed tower.
After getting ourselves a bit lost in the tiny streets, we continued to the coast – Santa Cruz Beach. The tide was in, and the waves were ferocious! We were fascinated by the huge arched rock being pummeled by waves, and we climbed the many stairs down to the sand.
This area of coast also features an intricate network of pathways that ascend the jutting rocks for more lofty ocean views, benches and awnings sprinkled throughout. However, the massive waves drenched many of these, forcing us to race past between surges.
We could see part of the path was completely submerged. One rock was now a tiny island, its wooden railings the only indication that people can ordinarily climb on top of it.
We stopped into town for a quick bite to eat (struggling heavily with our lack of Portuguese in this less-touristed area) before we drove back into Lisbon. However, our day wouldn’t be complete without spotting at least one friendly kitty!
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