It was a short ride to Nazare…..45 minutes even with a wrong turn…..or two…..but we finally drove into town, parked along the beachfront and called a nearby hotel, the Hotel Mar Brava (hooray…..it has an elevator!). They had an ocean view room available for 80 euros and asked if we’d like to look at it. Being savvy consumers, we said “yes”…..even though we already knew the answer……oceanview for 80 euros? Oh yes, that’s where we’d be sleeping tonight.
Uncertain of what we were looking for, we passed it by and ended up in a “no car” residential area. A patient but slightly preturbed gentleman showed us the way out. We made another circle through town…..and out of town…..and back into town before finally finding the hotel on the third pass. This may sound bizarre to anyone who hasn’t driven in Europe but trust me…..circling three times isn’t bad.
Craig wanted a seafood salad so we perused each restaurant’s offerings until we found one that fit the bill. We tried our first bottle of Vinho Verde (a young, light, sparkling white wine) and decided it won’t be our last…..it’s the perfect seaside drink.
We were finishing lunch, relaxing and enjoying the warm rays of sunshine when we heard the blare of car horns honking……a wedding procession was going by…..all the locals came out of the restaurants and shops to wave and applaud the happy couple……a touching custom that made us smile……this does, indeed, seem to be a very “happy” country.
After lunch, we took a walk on the beach. It was about 70 degrees but felt warmer….too warm for sweaters and even too warm for our long-sleeved shirts, but warmth is relative. The locals were wearing their heavy winter jackets. It’s easy to spot the tourists here……we’re the ones in short-sleeves!
The soft, honey-colored sand of the beach went on for miles. The aquamarine waves crashing on the shore were music to our ears. We took our shoes off and walked barefoot in the cool sand. Children were playing soccer, dogs were romping in the water, old men sitting on benches were watching and talking…..all was right in the world.
Further along the beach, we spied what we thought were rows of beachchairs…..oddly, not facing the water and far from the shore. As we neared, we saw they weren’t chairs, but wooden frames with netting pulled tight and slanted at an angle. Each wooden frame held dozens of small fish….cleaned, salted and left to dry in the warm sunshine. Women (perhaps the wives of the men who braved the sea to catch these schools of small fish?) tended to them and offered them for sale to anyone who showed an interest.
Throughout the town, we saw elderly women dressed in the traditional garb of the region…..shawls (sometimes wrapped like a turban and worn on their heads to keep the blinding sun at bay), knee-length skirts and lots of petticoats. A charming custom that seems to be fading.
Not wanting to venture out, we dined at the hotel’s restaurant……Grilled Sea Bream for Craig (paid for by weight, so it was brought to the table for Craig’s approval before being grilled); Pork and Clams (a Portuguese speciality) for me. The Sea Bream was delicious….the Pork and Clams was….. ummm….. interesting. We had Walnut Pudding for dessert…..it, too, was more of a tart than a pudding.
We slept soundly listening to the comforting sounds of the sea.
First the tide rushes in
Plants a kiss on the shore
Then rolls out to sea
And the sea is very still once more