Portugal Days – 6, 7, 8, and 9

The next few days, transition this trip from a typical touring vacation to a fabulous birthday party. More friends began arriving, and we met in Magoito along the Atlantic coast. It’s about an hour from Lisbon, and it feels completely different. There are far fewer people and very few English-speaking tourists. We rented a 7-bedroom villa with a pool for all of our friends to stay in, which was lovely. The house was perched on top of the cliff overlooking the water.

The sea in Magoito is rough and probably good for surfing but not great for a leisurely swim, which makes the pool so important. Nevertheless, it was a lovely way to celebrate a birthday and a perfect way to break out of the pandemic malaise.

The Magoito Beach in the morning.

I won’t describe each day, but let me give some highlights. That first night we ended up at a local pizza place called Dona Azeitona, which was good. I was a little surprised at how much I liked the pizza. The chef and owner worked cruise ships and knew what he was doing as a host. I loved stuffing myself with pizza and coming back to hear the ocean while I sat outside with a glass of wine. Can life get better than that?

Food brings people together, and the next night, people decided to cook for one another. Sam and Jo walked to the fish market, others bought steaks, and everyone pitched in to make an extraordinary meal for all to enjoy. We ate and laughed under the starlight until it was very late. Eddy and Riad took the lead on the grill, which was all quite delicious. It’s funny how a kitchen can reveal your friends’ secret skills.

Hayan and Sam enjoying a glass of wine on the front porch of our Airbnb.

On Sam’s birthday, we went to Restaurante Nortada in a village south of where we were staying. It was a seafood restaurant on the sea. The food was spectacular, and we ordered more food than we should have, but every bite was sensational. The owner arranged for a birthday cake to be available for dessert. It was a dense, fudging chocolate cake that was so big we asked for it to be shared with any other patrons. Another table had a trio of people, and the woman came to our table and asked if we would be bothered if she sang fado for her friends; obviously, we were thrilled to hear her sing, so she did. Maybe, it was the gallon of Sangria I had in me, but a wave of emotion enveloped me while she sang; it was remarkable. We applauded and returned to our coffee when someone yelled, “look,” and out at sea, we saw a school of dolphins swimming by the restaurant. This is no joke. I could not have thrown a better dinner party if I was Gatsby.

Sunday was upon us before we knew it, and people started leaving before sunrise. After our last friends got in a taxi, Sam and I decided to enjoy a moment together at a small restaurant across the street from the house. Sam had his last bit of cod at Esplanada Duna Mar while we enjoyed the sound of the ocean.

Next: Portugal – Conclusion


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