On our latest exploration in Portugal, we visited more places in the Lisboa region. Since the towns we explored are closer to Lisbon, it is better considered as day trips from the capital city.
A beautiful surfing town, Ericeira is popular with Portuguese tourists in the summer. Visit outside that time like we did, and the place is pleasant and laid-back. The town is easy to explore on foot, and once you’re done sightseeing, there are many options for lunch. It makes for a perfect afternoon day trip, especially when you visit out of peak season.
The small town Mafra near Ericeira is known for its national palace but not in the mood for it, we found something better for us to do there. We picked a nature outing instead, visiting the Iberian Wolf Recovery Center, home to thirteen rescued and recovering wolves who aren’t fit to live in the wild anymore.
Iberian wolves are only found in Portugal and Spain, and they are endangered. The ones living in the natural forest enclosures at the center have enough space to roam and live in. The center strives to recreate the wolves’ natural habitat, and because of this, there is no guarantee you’ll see the wolves during the visit.
The workers and volunteers at the center do not interact with the wolves. However, they do feed them but do so by hiding the meat at different areas for the wolves to find. They also feed the animals only once or twice a week, mimicking how the wolves would eat in the wild.
During our tour, we managed to see three wolves from two different groups with binoculars from afar. Thus, I do not have pictures of the wolves to share, only the environment that they live in. When we left after sunset, we also heard the wolves howl, which was pretty awesome.
We learned a lot about Iberian wolves, and the visit was well worth our time. Being nature and animal lovers, we were glad we spent our time in Mafra visiting the wolves instead. If you’d like to visit the center, reservations are required by email and visits are only over weekends and holidays with two time slots, and the second time slot being bilingual.
Iberian Wolf Recovery Centre
Azenhas do Mar
Not too far from Sintra, the cliffside village of Azenhas do Mar is a popular spot for tourists to stop in. Being small, it does not take much time to visit and explore here. The main attraction is the oceanside view of the village with its natural rock pool.
On our return from Azenhas do Mar, we made a special cheesy visit to Foodprintz Cafe in Lisbon. This is the only place we wanted to eat at in the capital city because it is more in line with how we eat — and especially because this place has organic and vegan cashew cheese.
Foodprintz is a yoga and food place: all vegan, organic and health focused. We visited for the cashew cheese because it’s rare that restaurants specialize in this. We do not like and do not eat oily, processed vegan cheese, but nut cheese is a different story.
Because our mission was to try the cheese there, all we ordered was the cashew cheese platter. It was amazing, so tasty and worth the visit.
The platter consisted of one sweet cheese, which was the cashew, date and apricot cheese (Fruitloop), a cashew and pine nut sundried tomato cheese (Piney), a cashew goat cheese (Holy Chevre), a tofu ricotta (the only tofu based cheese), and a cashew cream cheese (the only one not fermented out of the cashew cheeses). Nick thought the cashew cream cheese reminded him most of cheese, and I thought the tofu ricotta tasted just like mozzarella. Our favorites were the cashew cream cheese, Holy Chevre, and Piney.
The cheese was so good, we bought a block of Holy Chevre and Piney to go. We also wanted the Cashew Cream Cheese most, but they were out of that one.
Foodprintz is known for their cheeses, but they also serve tartines, soups, salads, and burgers. If you visit, trying the cheese is a must!