Tap right for scenes from the last day of the Duct Tape festival and more!
72 Hours In Ericeira, Portugal
Not quite a guide, but close!
An English gentleman in his mid-50s sporting a ketchup stain on an obscure footie polo greets me on the curb of the Lisbon airport. He’s wearing spectacles and lights a smoke, I ask him what he’s up to. He responds so quick it's like the answer was rehearsed, “Oh, you know mate, we’re here to drink and shag. We may be old, but we still have a go!” He exhales a satisfying grey stream through crooked teeth, and we carry on with small talk before he’s forced to find a friend lost in the airport.
This is the first conversation I had in Portugal, and although not everyone visits the country to do the “drink" and "shag” thing, it's an indication that you can have a grand and loose time in the area.
I arrived here to cover the Vans Duct Tape festival, as you may have seen over the photo galleries of the past two days. But it being my first time in Portugal, and seeing as how anyone who’s ever spoken to me about the place recited it in flowery language bordering on purple poetry, covering the extracurriculars of the festival seems the most fitting.
So here’s a Stab Writer’s Idiot's Guide to 72 hours in Ericeira.
Sweater vests are in.
But Argyle is truly the jam.
Argyle, unlike lighting, strikes twice.
If you’re coming to Ericeira (where the Duct Tape happened), you’re going to want a vehicle. For those accustomed to the steering wheel on the left side of the car and their vehicle on the right side of the road, you may be pleased to learn that this practice also occurs here. Maybe naive not to know beforehand, yet refreshing to discover.
As far as waves go, the coast is littered with setups the way Alabama lawmaker's inboxes are currently littered with death threats. Standing on the cliffs, overlooking the water’s edge, there are jagged outcroppings, jetties and potential in either direction. Finding the most popular and notorious breaks, Coxos, Crazy Lefts, The Cave, etc, is pretty simple–it’s an ask around and look for the signs scenario (or if your maps work on your iPhone, most spots can be found through a simple tap and search). The signs that lead to each surf sport are labeled by the difficulty of break – from double black diamond to green circle. It seems pretty novel, but it's something that if universally adopted, may reduce injuries at certain spots around the world. Or not. Last night, when asking one of the local guys where to surf this morning and mentioning a drunken motivation to drive to Nazaré or Supertubos, he just laughed.
“You don’t want to do that,” he said through the magnificent curls of his mustache. “It’s going to be kind of small, just drive 15-30 minutes north or south and you’ll find something to surf with no one out.”
This proved true.
Vans booties are encouraged to be worn with trunks for peak performance. Here they are juxtaposed against a heavily glassed single fin. They are, however, some of the most attractive boots.
It's incredible how deceptive this image is – an attractive chest high slab breaking on top of a dry-ish rock. Not nearly surfable at this tide.
The region boasts tide swings that range from negative to 12 feet (at least during a full moon, like last night), which means when that you find a rifling peak with a rising tide, you might end up making the paddle of shame back to shore. Best to strike when it looks almost good.
The town of Ericeira is quaint and utterly adorable. It’s a surf town, wetsuits hanging from the railing of apartment buildings with blue borders and white walls aplenty. There’s a surf shop on almost every corner. The food is choice, the wine will turn your nose upright, dogs don’t wear leashes, and there’s a general aura of happiness to the people who reside here.
It’s all very nice.
This is a place for romance and tapas, for good waves washed down with wine from various regions of Portugal, and all available at an affordable price. If you have no guide or direction, go for a waltz around the main stretch of town and poke your head into the numerous restaurants, bars and shops; something will suit you. If you’re actually going to use this short wrap as a guide to the area there’s a place called Mar delicately positioned on a road above the water’s edge that has fantastic wine, food and view - each about as wonderful as the last. Like most things, it can be located through Yelp, Google or simply asking.
After strolling around the promenade and through the alley-ways you'll find yourself in a bar, restaurant or storefront.
Cities are brighter on Sundays.
In short, 72 hours is not nearly enough time to spend on this town. I'd genuinely like to stay a while.
If you’re in town and the Duct Tape Festival just happens to be going on (which would be quite the coincidence as it runs for two days and this is the event’s first venture here), go check it out. It’s less a surf contest than it is a reason to get people together to share a few waves, bubbly drinks, laughs, music, art and more. This morning after the helluva party Vans threw last night, Joel Tudor, high on the success and evolution of his grassroots event, said to me (and I’m paraphrasing), “This is why we keep doing these events, to remind people how things are supposed to be. Surfing can have its geared up athletes, but that’s not us. It’s not most of us.”
And a final champagne pop from the winner of Duct Tape Ericeira, Kaniela Stewart.