Another fixed point on our way north was Nazaré. The place with the giant waves, once standing in front, pictures and videos we had seen x-fold, so let’s go. Nazaré is located on the northern and southern side of a lighthouse, i.e. THE lighthouse. It is divided into an upper and lower town, which are connected by an “elevator” to the Ascensor. The trip costs 1.50€ and offers a magnificent view. With luck we got a small parking lot in the Upper Town and explored this part. The way to the lighthouse and thus to the small museum of surfer legends, led us past small restaurants, a few tourist shops to the Veado’ Surfer, a large deer sculpture. At the lighthouse, which “Farol da Nazaré” arrived, we visited the museum. Admission, 1 Euro! It is not a big place but special and even more special if you feel connected to the water or the water sports.
Incredible are the pictures and films you can see there. In 3 rooms you will find boards of the wave conquerors from the last decades. Very different in sizes and “ridden” by surfers from all over the world, by men and women. Also a special wetsuit with reinforcements for protection and a special jet ski can be seen there. There is also a model of the underwater canyon that stretches from Peniche to Nazaré and makes the giant waves possible.
Now that the sea is quite calm, the fog is slowly dissolving and the beaches are empty, one can only laboriously imagine what it must be like when the waves pile up to a height of 20 meters and roll onto the mainland. Our acquaintance from the Alentejo, Deborah and Toby had told us that they had already experienced huge waves here and still get goosebumps when they were telling the story. A bit awesome we stood there in this fabled place and knew we would come back, in winter, and experience this primal power of nature, live.
We decided to take a ride with the “Ascencor”. The view over the beaches and the lower town are fantastic. Here, too, there are some beautiful little alleyways, but the promenade is designed for the great tourism and this is not so much what we like. On the beach, however, an old fishing tradition is still being lived. The “Museo do Peixe Seco”. In Nazaré, the process of drying fish became a hallmark of local identity. Here, just like in the past, the caught fish is dried on the beach and can then be purchased directly on site. One of us has tried it, is a bit like dried meat, just fish. 🙂 The beach itself is littered with many small striped tents and we thought briefly, ah distance because of Corona, no, we found old pictures on which the beach always looks like this. Good, if you don’t want a beach view of the sea, ok!
For us it was time to get back up the mountain and on.
On to Coimbrao. When we arrived, the little surprise. Not a campsite in the peculiar sense, but the garden of the landowners. There was a small pool, a private bathroom with shower and toilet and few neighbors. We parked between 2 trees and found, here you can endure 2 days. The trip should not degenerate into stress, even if we now had a relatively fixed schedule to be in France on time. We were here about 6 km from the sea and the owners told us that it is partly up to 16° cooler at the sea than at the campsite. Wow, that’s a lot for such a short distance. We only looked at the small place by the sea for a short time but the surprise was great. North Sea feeling. Long white sandy beach, smaller dunes and dune grass. Was that Portugal? This country is not the greatest, but what it has to offer in terms of diversity is unique. Still weird, there you drive thousands of kilometers to see something new and then it’s almost like home. Let’s see what the northern coast has to offer. To have a bit of peace and quiet we decided to stay 3 nights.
By chance, we were there on a weekend, so we had the opportunity to visit the market once a month in the neighbouring village. Perfect distance for a bike ride. Oh yes, the bikes, they would have needed a little check of a bicycle workshop, but did they have it?! We asked for and actually, just around the corner. What a special experience, the not quite young gentleman of course spoke only Portuguese. Thus, sign language and show was called for. It was all about the brakes, he knew quickly which screws had to be turned and the question of payment was acknowledged with wave. We didn’t exchange a word, just a tentative smile, but in the end, all good.
So it went to the market. There was everything: household items, furniture, fruit, vegetables, fish, cheese and meat, geese, ducks and chickens, the latter alive.
It was cooked on open flames, the orders were wildly messed up, masks yes, distance well, but a really nice experience, we were probably the only foreign-speaking tourists.
On the way to Coimbrao we had seen a beautiful cathedral directly from the national road. We had to come back here. This must have been Fatima, the place of pilgrimage, what else. Our destination for the next day was clear, it should go to Fatima. But something was different. Did this look like the building we had seen from the national road?
No, but we drove past Fatima, so it had to be. We parked and left. It turned out, it was also impressive here, especially because pilgrims were on site, but this was by no means the place we had seen.
Thanks to the Internet, just over 20 minutes’ drive away was the place we were actually looking for. Batalha. More specifically, the monastery in Batalha.
If you have time, you should look at both cities, as we also planned.
After 3 days it was time to leave, we had read how beautiful it should be in Costa Nova. Striped fisherman’s houses are the hallmark of this area. We had always driven without toll roads up to this point. This certainly made individual routes a little longer and not always, but in this case, more beautiful. Especially the last 10/20 kilometers we went straight, past beautiful houses, the water and the dike always in sight. Then a river appeared to the right of the road, on the left there was a lagoon and we knew behind it is the Atlantic Ocean. Again we had decided for a small place where we were not quite clear what to expect. We made a small round and found that we had once fallen over the dike and directly from the campsite and you are right on the kilometre-long sandy beach directly on the Atlantic Ocean. A simple but perfectly located place. On one side the sea and right in front of the square of the Ria de Aveiro.
The next day we went to see fisherman’s houses. Some are restaurants or small shops, others wonder if they are really inhabited. The weather was wonderful, so we strolled through the streets and ended up in a somewhat quirky fish restaurant, the fish was good, the waiter not so much.
The town of Aveiro is only about 10 minutes away. Famous for its canals, which earned her the nickname “the Venice of Portugal”. Salt extraction is also an issue here. On the way to the parking lot we passed some salt mountains and there is the possibility to see the salt extraction from that time in the Salinas de Aveiro. However, we decided to go on a boat trip. Great wooden boats are on the small canals and you get a lot to tell about the history of the city. Afterwards we enjoyed the flair of the city to end the evening with sunset and barbecue on the square. Furthermore, one noticed the change in temperature and the next morning it was time for the heating to run, for the first time since when … March?! 9° in the morning, that was too cold for us. The beautiful thing was, however, as soon as the sun showed it was wonderful, it got warm and so the topic of heating was quickly over again. Thank God it wasn’t until the end of August.
Since the beginning of the trip there has been an open appointment with our friends who live in Porto. Now we had met her unexpectedly 2 times during the trip, but the invitation still stood. Now it was time, we went to Porto.
In Villa Nova de Gaia we had found something, not quite cheap, but it looked great and we should be in 8km in the city center of Porto, but sounded perfect. Was it, by the way. Again, the surprise was that it was a family that has a small campsite in their garden. A maximum of 10 guests can be on site at the same time, there is a code for door and gate, the pool is covered and heated, showers and toilet as in the hotel are directly outside, as well as the barbecue and there is a common room with kitchen use. Sounds too good to be true, yes, that’s how we felt, especially because we were only there with two campers. On the day of arrival there was an introduction to everything we need to know about Porto, including a reference to a driver taking you to the “starting point” and a wine tasting in the evening. We were six and after initial uncertainties with language and understanding we enjoyed the wines and small snacks and chatted until it got too cold. We felt comfortable and were looking forward to the city the next day.
The temperatures should be very summery, the day started accordingly early. The driver picked us up and took us to Jardim do Morro. This park is located directly at the famous Ponte Luiz I bridge. And on the upper level on which only the railways drive and no cars. What a view of the city. We were directly impressed. The sun was not yet high in the sky, few people were on the way, the shops opened so slowly, we awoke together with the city, so to speak. Through dark, actually dark because they were so narrow and the houses were by comparison high, alleys we ran down towards Douro, also we needed a first coffee. And then we sat there, looking towards the river, life began, many tourists were not yet on the way, but the more inhabitants who started the day. Everything done right! We didn’t have a real plan for Porto, we were well prepared by our hosts and let ourselves be driven with that knowledge. Especially since we had long since decided to stay another day. The sun was shining from the sky and we take the opportunity to take the tram to the sea. This was easy to get in at the Douro and fall across the road at the final stop, zigzag, right at the harbour entrance, at the lighthouse, by the sea. We went all the way to the front of the lighthouse, the spray splashed up over the wall, right and left beach events, pure holiday feeling.
But now we wanted a little hustle and bustle, we waited for the delayed tram in the shade of a palm tree and made our way to the library Livraria Lello. This place is said to have inspired Joanne K. Rowling for her Harry Potter novels. A place of pilgrimage for fans, you buy a ticket and then stand, 2 hours at least. No, not today, maybe we will try again tomorrow very early. We got a glimpse through the door and yes, it’s a really great shop and whoever buys a book gets the ticket price credited, a fair deal. We enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the city, drank coffee and looked at people.
That evening we met our friends. The day ended with freshly grilled fish and a view into the sunset.
Since it had worked so wonderfully on the first day, we also used the service of the service for the next day. Again we started early and today the first to visit the Livraria Lello was to no avail. Even before the store opened, the queue was so long that we should have waited at least 2-3 hours. We watched the hustle and bustle from the neighboring café and then decided to walk to the Casa da Musica, the concert hall of Porto. For a long time no concert hall 🙂 seen from the inside. We were on site on time for a guided tour and took the opportunity. Some things seemed familiar to us and yet it was an exciting look behind the scenes. Another visit is the train station of Porto. Great tile works in the entrance hall look back on important events in the city. Honestly, that’s what we looked at at historic buildings. We have experienced a lot, seen up to this point, at this point we did not want and could not absorb much information.
In the bustling old town of Ribeira with its colourful fronts and many restaurants on the Douro, we enjoyed the bustle of the people. Strolling audience, young savages who enjoy the attention with daring jumps from the harbour edge and the bridge Ponte Luiz I (from the lower part).
Finally we went over the bridge to see the well-known port wine cellars and of course also to buy port wine. A well-known name follows the next one and we found a small shop that had not only been set on a single provider. It went quickly and we had the filled glasses to try in front of us and then the bags full of port wine bottles in our hand. Highly recommended, just get advice. And the absolute end in Porto was the ride with the Teleferico de Gaia, an aerial cable car that connects the waterfront with the higher Jardim do Morro. And we were back at the starting point of our porto visit. We went home and the next day we continued north to Viana do Castello.