Surfing in the waves at Praia das Maçãs

Surfing as the sun sets.

Discovering the joys of surfing this year has turned me into a wave chaser – and the freezing cold Atlantic Ocean water wasn’t going to stop me in Portugal.

Yanking on a wetsuit, grabbing a surfboard and diving into the ocean; for me this is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Granted, I’m a terrible at it, but I always come out of the water feeling happy after surfing.

Out in the waves there is a peace and solitude that is hard to find elsewhere these days. No one can call me, send me an email or a message, there is no advertising bombarding me, and whatever else needs doing can wait until later.

Learning to surf has long been on my list of “things to do in life” and this year, I finally started.

Many people thought I was a bit nuts for starting to learn in the Australian winter, but a thermal wetsuit fixed that problem, and it was pretty good preparation for jumping into the frigid Atlantic Ocean in Portugal.

Stepping in my feet instantly felt numb and the problem with wearing others’ wetsuits is they never quite fit properly. As soon as a gush of icy water found its way down my front, I was questioning my passion for surfing.

But like many surfers when the waves are good, I kept going… I don’t really need all my toes do I?

Sintra to Praia das Maçãs electric tram

The electric tram runs between Sintra and Praia das Maçãs every day.

Praia das Maçãs (Apple Beach) is about 40 kilometres north-west of Lisbon in the Parque Natural de Sintra-Circais. A small little place with a more restaurants than you poke a stick at, plenty of walking trails north and south and a lovely old electric tram that travels back and forth to Sintra, home to a former royal palace amongst other things.

It’s a resort town populated on the weekends by Portuguese day trippers, and kept going by a steady flow of tourists. Really there’s not a lot to do but sit on the beach, soak up the sun, walk or surf. But sometimes that’s exactly what is needed.

I came down here for a few days of relaxation (and surfing), deciding I needed to sit and not do much but soak up the sun, walk and surf. Oh and eat… I’ve eaten plenty, but when the food is as good as it is in Portugal, why wouldn’t you?

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