For the second half of our Portuguese adventure, we headed ninety minutes north of Lisbon to the charming fishing village of Nazaré. Due to the magnificent waves that crash on its shores, the town is renown as a surfing mecca—not that we intended to climb on board any surf boards any time soon. Cruising through these curls—sometimes rising to one hundred feet in winter—was not on our agenda. Oh, no, such daring endeavors we’d leave to the fearless daredevils. (For more on this, check out the book of thrilling photos—Nazaré—by Portuguese photographer Ricardo Bravo.) After the hustle bustle of the buzzing metropolis that was Lisbon, chilling out was just the ticket.
Topping our go-slow agenda for the popular Silver Coast resort were low-key activities like meandering around the old village, birdwatching along the coast, and beach walking with a vivacious buddy who recently moved to the area with her pair of feisty pups—plus enjoying the local wine and food specialties, of course.
But before Nazaré, our adorable Fiat 500 whisked us to a birding area at Peniche, a rocky peninsula that juts dramatically into the Atlantic. Ralph hoped to see low-flying sheerwaters or petrels (a smallish seabird, which only lands to nest), but surfers and Shags, (a type of cormorant), Black Redstarts, and Yellow-legged Gulls had to suffice. After tromping around the cliffs and exploring the town, lunch beckoned. Thanks to my pal Google, we found a gem of an eatery called Marisqueira Mirandum. There was no sea view but the grilled dorade was outstanding and the staff was incredibly welcoming.
Our Nazaré apartment, which practically sat on the sand across from the colorful iconic fishing boats, was exactly as advertised. And what a vista—we could see all the way to the castle topped by a crimson beacon set high on the cliffs. And from the vantage point of our friend’s huge terrace perched above the town, we took in another stunning view—this one revealed a sweeping panorama of the terracotta-roofed village and the gently arched beach stretching to the horizon.
Dinner at a traditional family-run bistro called Rosa dos Ventos was divine. There we dined on more delicious fresh-from-the-sea grilled fish. Again, the service was extraordinary.
Without pushing too hard, we squeezed in a lot during the rest of our short stay, including a tour of Óbidos, the ancient town crowned with a citadel dating to 713. Nearby, we marched around a nature park on serene Lake Óbidos, and enjoyed a yummy snack at Bar Regional O Covao Dos Musaranhos, a rustic café on a tranquil inlet. But the highlight was spotting a flock of at least a hundred flying flamingos—spectacular!
Strolling with our intrepid chum and her romping canines on a seemingly unending, wild beach north of Nazaré—mostly deserted except for a few fishermen—was marvelously surreal. And what fun to hop on the funicular that swooshed us up from the village to the attractive neighborhood of Sitio, home to the beacon-bedecked fortress overlooking the north beach where in winter the humongous waves crash. We opted to skip the return ride in favor of hoofing down the stairway back to the beach in preparation for yet another fab seafood meal.
Our good-bye dinner with our spirited friend at Taverna do 8 Ó 80 did not disappoint. The delightful company and the delectable cuisine at the contemporary beachfront restaurant, starring the exuberant waiter Paolo—Mr. Personality-Plus—was the perfect finale to our memorable city-to-shore Portuguese escapade.
Stay safe, well, and hopeful.
Over the weekend, here in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, temps rose to the low 90s, and seem to be inching upward. So we’re especially pleased a beach getaway is in the works. Waves on the Med won’t match those of Nazaré by any stretch, but hopefully cool sea breezes will knock a few degrees off the thermometer. Stay tuned!