N 38° 38′ 40.49″ W -9° 14′ 8.02″
During last week I, Olmo, had the pleasure to stay at Gota d’Agua surf house in Caparica, Portugal. Despite the fact I know the accommodation well and I’m a good friend of Ricardo, one of the owners, it is always good to get to experience a week in a surf house myself. And I am surely not going to regret having spend my time with them as I experienced things which I have barely seen at any other accommodation.
As it is October, the high season is over. When the surf house if fully booked, the schedule of the week is a bit more fixed. However, even then the ‘four boys of Gota d’Agua’ – Gonçalo, Pedro, Miguel and Ricardo – will always do their very best to make your stay as good and special as possible. Their willingness to do anything to make your visit even better is exactly what makes this accommodation so special. The main aim for them is not commerce, it’s not about earning as much as possible. It’s about providing guests with an experience which they will take with them forever. And this is – very importantly – something they truly enjoy themselves.
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A great example of this is one of the trip to go and watch the sunset from the cliffs. With one or two vans, you would drive up the hill to witness the sunset, while enjoying an amazing view over Caparica, with Lisbon in the distance. Last week, after the sun had dropped into the ocean, Gonçalo opted for showing us something else. We drove for another 10 minutes, where we ended up at an old military base. It was covered in graffiti (something I’m normally not a fan of, but here it was really adding a touch to the scenery). This surely is a place we would never have visited by ourselves, but purely because Gonçalo took us there we all had another moment of happiness. After that we drove to a restaurant and like almost every night, everyone’s had a say in the type of restaurant we would visit. And all this (except for the food) was free of charge, it was just ‘a gift’ from the house to enrich people’s experience in Caparica.
About 2 hours North of Caparica is the world famous spot Nazaré. This is know for its huge waves – the highest waves ever have been surfed here (current record is 24 m – can you imagine?!). A couple times per year (normally between Oct – Mar) the waves get really high, which is very spectacular to see. Likely most guests would only have the opportunity once to go and see those waves, which is enough for Gota d’Agua to organise a trip. Last Sunday we drove over there, with 2 vans, to witness the massive waves (because of the wind, unfortunately no-one was surfing) and to visit the surf museum. Such a trip might sound ‘normal’ to some people, but the fact they organize it (they charge a little fee to cover petrol etc.) is something truly special. This day will be remembered by all of us for a long time. After Nazaré we drove by Obidos – one of Portugal’s most beautiful towns. Almost all houses of Obidos are surrounded by the ancient city wall, which ensures amazing pictures. After a stroll around, we visited the Obidos castle, after which we had a typical Portuguese lunch with the entire group. Towards the end of the afternoon everyone found themselves back in the vans, on our way to Caparica. The smiles I saw on people’s faces said it all: everyone had an amazing day.
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Something similar happened last Thursday. Once a year the World Surf League (the World Cup for surfers) takes place in Peniche (about 1.5h north of Caparica). Also this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of the guests. As soon as the WSL announced there would be surfing on Thursday (this always depends on the conditions), the 4 guys organized a trip to Peniche for the following day. So, again 2 vans drove all the way up so that the guests could enjoy a day at the beach, while watching the enormous waves at Supertubos beach which were taken on by the best surfers in the world. What a spectacular day!
For me it was truly special to witness how these 4 guys – who started this surf house with the communal dream of making surfing for a living – do everything to make someone’s stay at Gota d’Agua the best one possible. This comes back in a number of ‘clear’ ways (such as the trips, the sunsets, the visit to several restaurants) but it’s also very much about the feeling they give you. But in order to experience that, you would have to come to Caparica yourself. I am sure that I will be back myself, hopefully several times.