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In September 2018 I spent a weekend in the beautiful Viana do Castelo on Portugal’s north Atlantic coast. I was there to celebrate a friend’s birthday and stayed in a fantastic spa resort located about 100 metres from the beach. We were a large group of friends and had planned a fun weekend of yoga, outdoor sports and healthy eating.

Sound recording wasn’t on the agenda, but I’d brought my handheld recorder with me in case I came across anything interesting to record. The Atlantic Ocean can produce extremely powerful waves and I could hear each of these crashes from my balcony. At around 2am, when most were asleep, I headed down to the beach, setup my recorder on a small tripod in the sand and recorded this soundscape.

On the Saturday afternoon, a few of us decided to hire mountain bikes and go and explore the backcountry. We were given GPS devices that took us on a 35km ride, first through the historic old town and port, then up through the mountains before heading back down through forests and woodland. It was an amazing way to see the region.

On our way up, we stopped to visit the magnificent church, Santuario de Santa Luzia. The church sits on the top of Monte de Santa Luzia hill, overlooking Viana do Castelo. I stepped inside the church and saw there was a sermon taking place. So I discreetly stood at the back and recorded the following soundscape.

This part of Northern Portugal is beautiful, and I really hope I can return in the future to explore further afield.