Photo Credit: Illustration by Nik Neves. Portrait of Daniela Ruah by Cliff Lipson.

By Maria Neuman

The country of Portugal has held a treasured space in Daniela Ruah's heart ever since she lived there from age 5 until she went away to college. "My parents were born and raised in Lisbon, but I grew up just outside the city in a town called Cascais, which is right on the water and beautiful," says the brunette who has played special agent Kensi Blye on NCIS: Los Angeles since the show debuted in 2009. "I was there this past summer with my husband and kids for two months, and it's a perfect place to visit if you're a tourist. The Portuguese people are very kind." Here, Ruah gives Watch! a true insider scoop on her home away from home.

Daniela Ruah and her son by the seaside. Daniela Ruah and her son.Photo Credit: Courtesy of Daniela Ruah.

SIGHTSEE, SNACK, REPEAT

The area of Belém is gorgeous and such a monumented district. You've got the CCB [Cultural Center of Belém], which offers performances and art exhibitions. You can visit the ancient Torre de Belém, which is a fortress and gateway to Lisbon. But one place I always recommend is Pastéis de Belém, home of the original nata pastry —a custard tart —since 1837. The bakery's interior has pretty blue and white tiles, which feels so typical of the region; and even though they recently expanded, they are full all the time.

Torre de Belem fortress in Lisbon. Torre de Belém fortress in Lisbon.Photo Credit: FedevPhoto/Getty Images.

GO FOR A SEASIDE LUNCH

A restaurant I really love is Darwin's Café. It's right by the water in a cool area of Lisbon, and the decor is gorgeous. There are a ton of great seafood dishes, but my favorite one is simple and traditional: bottleneck clams, olive oil, and cilantro with lots of garlic; they simmer everything in a pan until the clams open up, and it's divine.

Traditional Portugese Bulh\u00e3o Pato clams. Traditional Bulhão Pato clams.Photo Credit: jackmalipan/Getty Images.

HIT THE STREETS

I recommend the Alfama neighborhood, one of the oldest parts of Lisbon, with cobblestone streets. There are plenty of hole-in-the-wall restaurants that offer live performances of Fado, a traditional Portuguese music. The singer is accompanied by a 12-string guitar that is difficult to play but so beautiful. Another area that you can walk to from the train station (it's a steep hill but totally doable) is Bairro Alto. Cars barely fit through the narrow roads because they were originally built for a horse and carriage. Tired of walking? Rent a small electrical vehicle called a tuk tuk with a driver to take you around.

Outdoor cafe terrace in Lisbon. A outdoor café in the Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon.Photo Credit: Rrrainbow/Getty Images.

CATCH A WAVE

Portuguese beaches are my favorite in the world. Guincho is the best, with gorgeous sand dunes and lots of places to lie down. The current and the waves can be a little aggressive, so you need to be experienced to surf. Closer to the city along the west coast is Carcavelos, near where I grew up. The beach and the waves are a lot smaller, so if you want to learn to surf, or you have young kids, this is the place.

Guincho Beach in Portugal..Photo Credit: gionnixxx/Getty Images.

ENJOY A COFFEE BREAK

When I'm in Portugal, I go to Sacolinha every day; there were only two of them when I was growing up, but now it's become a small chain. They specialize in pastries, cake, breads, and great coffee.

Sacolinha coffee shop exterior. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sacolinha.

DINE LIKE A LOCAL

My identity with Portugal is very much tied to the food. A favorite restaurant in my hometown is Monte Mar, where my husband and I had our rehearsal dinner. I love their filetes, which is fish and chips fried in a light batter and served with sautéed green beans or broccoli with a squeeze of lemon. For our bridal party, we had a giant cataplana—seafood, rice, spices, and a sauce simmered in a large copper pan. Delicious!

A traditional Portugese Cataplana dish. A traditional Cataplana dish.Photo Credit: poco_bw/Getty Images.

TAKE HOME A TASTE OF PORTUGAL

The two things we always bring back from our trip are olive oil and port wine. My husband researches the best olive oils. But for the port wine, we go to the city of Porto, which is a day trip from Lisbon. During our wedding in 2014, we rented a bus and took some of our guests there because all the best port cellars are lined up, side by side, just south of the Douro River in Vila Nova de Gaia. You walk from vendor to vendor and taste the different ports. We always bring back a few bottles.

Originally published in Watch! Magazine, November-December 2019.

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A look back at some of the best NCIS: Los Angeles cast photographs

Daniela Ruah dazzling in ruby red. Chris O'Donnell finding the luck of the Irish. LL COOL J shining in the City of Light.

The creative team at Watch share their all-time favorite photos of NCIS: Los Angeles stars that we've featured in our pages—like Daniela Ruah dancing on air in this breathtaking portrait.

"This is one of my all-time favorite Watch images—Daniela Ruah's enrapturing pose captured by Cliff Lipson is timeless. We photographed the NCISLA beauty in an incredible old Hollywood era mansion, which perfectly matched the elegance of this gorgeous shoot." — Alice Ross, Deputy Photo Editor


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LL COOL J living his best life

A black and white image of LL COOL J receiving bottle service at a restaurant

Photography by Gilles-Marie Zimmermann. Originally published in Watch Magazine, December 2014.

"I just love the composition and candid realness of this photo. LL COOL J was in Paris for a Watch cover shoot and his presence is just larger than life!" — Christopher Ross, Director of Photography

Chris O'Donnell getting his fashion game on

Chris O'Donnell in white pants and a dark patterned sweater hitting a golf ball

Photography by David Needleman. Originally published in Watch Magazine, May-June 2018.

You see this position a lot during a golf game. Chris O'Donnell really got into this shoot and gave us all the posed subtleties of a championship game. He just wears white pants so well! — Christopher Ross, Director of Photography

Daniela Ruah looking like rain drops on roses

Three different angles of Daniela Ruah in a sleeveless red dress with a plunging back as she stands by a pool

Photography by Cliff Lipson. Originally published in Watch Magazine, March-April 2018.

"We all pray for beautiful weather when we photograph our stars, but on the day of this shoot in Los Angeles, it was rain city. Nevertheless, Daniela Ruah playfully worked around the precipitation and was absolute perfection for this cover shot montage." — Ed Mann, Creative Director

Eric Christian Olsen showing off his playful side

Eric Christian Olsen playing croquet in a white bathrobe

Photography by Adam Secore. Originally published in Watch Magazine, June 2013.

"There are no words—Eric Christian Olsen playing croquet in a bathrobe—sign me up for a rematch please!" —Alice Ross, Deputy Photo Editor

Chris O'Donnell channeling his roots

Chris O'Donnell sitting on a green boat on a lake in Ireland

Photography by Cliff Lipson. Originally published in Watch Magazine, April 2013.

"For his first cover shoot with Watch, we took Chris O'Donnell to Ireland. Ashford Castle was the location and the whole crew was blown away by its beauty. The NCIS: Los Angeles star got those waders on and paddled our photographer Cliff Lipson into the middle of the lake to get this shot!" — Christopher Ross, Director of Photography

Daniela Ruah delivering that California dreamy

Daniela Ruah in a yellow one piece bathing suit standing on her toes near the water

Photography by Cliff Lipson. Originally published in Watch Magazine, June 2012.

"Daniela Ruah was so wonderful during this photo shoot. She was very patient and happily waited for us to capture that perfect golden hour shot."— Alice Ross, Deputy Photo Editor

Renée Felice-Smith sparkling on the red carpet

A black and white photo of Ren\u00e9e Felice-Smith holding three fingers up sideways

Photography by Cliff Lipson. Exclusive to CBS.com.

"Each year we get one shot of photographing our stars before the new TV season starts. It's pretty much a fire drill! Fast-paced photography on the red carpet that's over before you know it. And then walked in Renée Felice-Smith to our TCA photo booth in this amazing Bohemian look that made time stop. So poised, sweet and confident. Beautiful!" — Ed Mann, Creative Director

LL COOL J shining in the City of Light

Two images side by side of LL COOL J smirking in a denim outfit

Photography by Gilles-Marie Zimmermann. Originally published in Watch Magazine, December 2014.

"Few actors have that sense of presence off stage, that commands attention. LL COOL J is without a doubt, one of those stars. He simply captivated the streets of Paris, and our team." — Ed Mann, Creative Director

Dynamic duo LL COOL and Chris O'Donnell doing what it takes to get the shot

LL COOL J standing by the passenger seat and Chris O Donnell standing by the hood of a silver car

Photography by Cliff Lipson. Originally published in Watch Magazine, October 2009.

"This shot cracks me up. At the last minute there was a scheduling conflict and we could no longer shoot LL COOL J and Chris O'Donnell on the same day. What you see here is a cool composite after two days of shooting each actor separately—luckily both at the Peninsula Beverly Hills. Talk about teamwork!" — Christopher Ross, Director of Photography


Watch NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS and CBS All Access.

Daniela Ruah brings power, poise, and perfection to NCIS: Los Angeles, and her latest Watch! photo shoot.

Photographer Cliff Lipson captured the CBS veteran for our March-April 2018 issue, and after spending a day with Daniela we can assure you that the woman behind the brilliant Kensi Blye is as thoughtful and kind (and gorgeous) in person as she is on screen.

Check out these stunning photos—including web-exclusive bonus images—plus learn fun facts and interview tidbits about Daniela Ruah.

Stream full episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS All Access.

Primetime perfection

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in black sheer cutout dress

Photography by Cliff Lipson

Fun fact: NCIS: Los Angeles is one of the world's most popular shows (the NCIS spinoff, now in Season 9, is seen in over 200 countries). Daniela Ruah has been part of the series since the very beginning.

Beantown beauty

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in gold trimmed red dress

Photography by Cliff Lipson

Though Daniela Ruah was born in Boston, she spent most of her formative years in her parents' native Portugal.

Stage presence

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles dancing

Photography by Cliff Lipson

Early on, Daniela Ruah made it clear she might be a performer—from putting on shows with her teddy bears for her parents to excelling in dance classes.

"My parents were always very supportive," says Ruah. "They let me be who I was. They would say, 'Whatever you do, just be the best you can be.'"

Act one

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in black spaghetti strap dress

Photography by Cliff Lipson

After auditioning to become "Portugal's next sweetheart" in a new telenovela, the 15-year-old Ruah got her first acting break, when she was cast as the sweetheart's best friend.

Never stop learning.

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in red beaded backless dress

Photography by Cliff Lipson

As Ruah continued to land bigger and better roles on Portuguese telenovelas, she also continued her study of theater and dance at London Metropolitan University.

A star is born.

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in red satin ballgown

Photography by Cliff Lipson

At 22, Ruah won the first season of Portugal's version of Dancing with the Stars.

New York hustle

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in embellished red gown

Photography by Cliff Lipson

After moving from Portugal to New York City in 2007, Ruah studied at the Lee Strasberg acting school—and auditioned, auditioned, auditioned.

Big break

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in black satin dress by pool

Photography by Cliff Lipson

A brief stint with Guiding Light, CBS's iconic daytime drama, led Ruah to a part in the pilot episode of NCIS: Los Angeles.

American dream

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in black slip dress

Photography by Cliff Lipson

"I came to America with a hope for an amazing future, and it came true." — Daniela Ruah

Messy business

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in red sleeveless beaded dress

Photography by Cliff Lipson

While special agent Kensi Blye has been kidnapped, terrorized, paralyzed, and put into a coma, the real-life Ruah relates mostly to her character's fabled messiness: "I'm good at closing drawers," she jokes.

Celebrity crush

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in black gown

Photography by Cliff Lipson

Fun fact: Ruah had a teenage crush on NCIS: Los Angeles costar Chris O'Donnell (special agent G. Callen), and even admits to once having an O'Donnell poster on her bedroom wall. She jokes about it with him now.

Long-distance love

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in black bandage gown

Photography by Cliff Lipson

Ruah Skypes with her Portugal-based mom almost every day, and visits her twice a year—the same number of times Ruah's mom visits her in LA: "It's like I'm never gone."

Family ties

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles posing on banquet table

Photography by Cliff Lipson

Ruah's stuntman husband David Paul Olsen often body-doubles on NCIS: Los Angeles for his younger brother Eric Christian Olsen—who plays Kensi's fiancé Marty Deeks.

Partners in parenting

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in red dress by red curtain

Photography by Cliff Lipson

"Dave and I share the philosophy that it's our job to show our kids the world, and then it's theirs to let us know what they love about it, and we'll focus on those things." — Daniela Ruah

Food for thought

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in sheer black dress

Photography by Cliff Lipson

At home in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, Ruah and her husband make pizza from scratch, and son River helps harvest a variety of veggies from the backyard garden.

Words to win by

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in sheer glittery black dress

Photography by Cliff Lipson

"I'm always competitive. But if I didn't win fair and square, I didn't win." — Daniela Ruah

Daniela Ruah is a wonder woman.

Daniela Ruah in red V neck sequined dress

Photography by Cliff Lipson

Stream full episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS All Access.

Paging spring! April showers are no match for these sunny and stylish stars. From Jay Hernandez looking fine in a floral print shirt to Daniela Ruah soaking up the sun (pictured above), these gorgeous photos from Watch will hopefully bring you some much-needed spring cheer.

Watch NCIS: Los Angeles on Sundays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Pretty in purple

Emily Wickersham of NCIS in violet dress in front of flowers.

Photography by Christopher Ross.

Emily Wickersham looks lovely in violet.

Watch NCIS on Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Heaven scent

Beth Behrs smelling yellow calla lilies.

Photography by Patrick Demarchelier.

Beth Behrs breathes in the beautiful scent of fresh calla lilies.

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Garden party

Scott Caan of Hawaii Five 0 relaxing amid greenery

Photography by Emily Shur.

Scott Caan has the right idea.

Watch Hawaii Five-0 on Fridays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Tickled pink

Christine Baranski of The Good Fight in a pink striped skirt and pink heels.

Photography by Christopher Ross.

What screams spring? Hot pink! Christine Baranski's looking cheerful and bright.

Stream The Good Fight exclusively on CBS All Access.

Pop of color

Sami Gayle of Blue Bloods in a bright floral shirt

Photography by Adrienne Raquel.

Sami Gayle agrees that spring calls for vibrant hues and floral prints.

Watch Blue Bloods on Fridays at 10/9c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Walk about

Alex OLoughlin of Hawaii Five-0 hiking through Oahu

Photography by Nino Muñoz.

Alex O'Loughlin hikes the beautiful Kualoa Ranch on Oahu.

Watch Hawaii Five-0 on Fridays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Lemon drop

Patricia Heaton sitting on grass in a yellow dress.

Photography by Andrew Eccles.

Patricia Heaton is a ray of sunshine.

Watch Carol's Second Act on Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Picture perfect Weatherly

Michael Weatherly of Bull with red shoes sitting on grass

Photography by Keiron O'Connor.

Michael Weatherly sits back and takes in the stunning surroundings.

Watch Bull on Mondays at 10/9c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Stunner shades

David Boreanaz of SEAL Team in a plaid shirt and jeans

Photography by Cliff Lipson.

David Boreanaz keeps it casual.

Watch SEAL Team on Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Maui magic

Shemar Moore of SWAT in a tank top and sunglasses

Photography by Kwaku Alston.

Spring break in Hawaii with Shemar Moore? Yes, please!

Watch S.W.A.T. on Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Tea time

Jane Pauley and Gayle King of CBS Sunday Morning and CBS This Morning drinking tea

Photography by Christopher Ross.

English breakfast with journalists Jane Pauley and Gayle King sounds like our cup of tea.

Watch CBS Sunday Morning and CBS This Morning on CBS and CBS All Access.

Here comes the sun.

Daniela Ruah of NCIS Los Angeles in a yellow dress against blue and yellow tile

Photography by Cliff Lipson.

Daniela Ruah is a bright young thing.

Watch NCIS: Los Angeles on Sundays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Jump for joy

Adam Rodriguez of Criminal Minds jumping in front of a brick wall

Photography by Michael Parmelee.

Take a cue from Adam Rodriguez and put some spring in your step.

Stream full episodes of Criminal Minds on CBS All Access.

To a tee

Chris ODonnell of NCIS Los Angeles holding a golf club

Photography by David Needleman.

Chris O'Donnell spends his spring break hitting the links.

Watch NCIS: Los Angeles on Sundays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Bright light

Eve of The Talk in a one shouldered yellow dress and blue shoes

Photography by Kwaku Alston.

Eve stylishly stands out in spring-forward yellow.

Watch The Talk Weekdays on CBS and CBS All Access.

Dancing barefoot

Bridget Moynahan of Blue Bloods walking barefoot through water.

Photography by Keiron O'Connor.

Bridget Moynahan skips the shoes.

Watch Blue Bloods on Fridays at 10/9 on CBS and CBS All Access.

Cream of the crop

Ethan Peck of Star Trek Discovery in a white jacket and tank top

Photography by Matthias Clamer.

Ethan Peck rocks this light linen look.

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Muy caliente!

Jay Hernandez of Magnum PI in flowered shirt in Mexico.

Photography by Derek Blanks.

Jay Hernandez turns up the heat in Mexico.

Watch Magnum P.I. on Mondays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Spring awakening

Pauley Perrette in a floral print coat.

Photography by Mark Mann.

Pauley Perrette looks fabulous in florals.

Broke premieres on Thursday, April 2 at 9:30/8:30c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Photography by Cliff Lipson.

Watch NCIS: Los Angeles on Sundays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

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