You know how I said last week that we weren’t too keen on Portugal? Yeah, forget I said that. We’ve had a complete change of heart, thanks to the last week in Nazaré. We heart Portugal!
So, after a disappointing- but brief- stay in Figueira do Foz, we sailed down to Nazaré. Our expectations were low: the guide book says that “The harbour is rather bleak and it is also more than 1.5km from the town itself” (do you mean to say I’m going to have to get off my arse and WALK?!) and “Possibly the most compelling reason to visit Nazaré is as a base from which to visit Portugal’s most famous cultural sites.” And then goes on to describe in detail one of the two marinas in Nazaré- and completely ignores the other! Literally, doesn’t even provide a phone number or VHF channel and call sign. However, friends we’ve met along the way overtook us and emailed us some weeks ago giving us the heads up for the second marina That Shall Not Be Named, so we called up, confirmed their existence and that they accept visiting yachts, and headed there- it’s the Club Naval da Nazaré, for those who are interested.
So, once berthed and checked in- the bloke who runs this marina is, incidentally, a very friendly young man and there seems to plenty of space for visiting yachts- we went into town for a drink and explore. We were pleasantly surprised! It’s clearly a popular holidaying spot for not only the Portugese, but the French also, and why not. The beach is clean, pleasant, the sea fairly safe with a small shore break perfect for frolicking in, and there’s a plethora of bars and restaurants in town. Once you get back from the seafront- which is by no means unpleasant, but can be a little tacky with stalls selling towels with dalmatians or the characters from Frozen on them, and overpriced, mostly empty restaurants- the town become much more traditional and charming, with tiny lane ways and cobbled streets.
However, the main attraction is the surf. There’s no real surf in Nazaré itself, but the nearest break, only 10 kilometres away holds the impressive accolade of hosting the biggest ridden wave ever recorded. If you want to see something to make your jaw drop, click here.
Thankfully, no monster waves for us. We’ve been taking surf lessons with the guys at Surf 4 You (highly recommend them, by the way, check out the link if you’re in the area and want a fun morning!), who pick us up from the marina in the morning, take us to wherever the surf is at its best, give us a 90 minute lesson, wait for us while we get in some serious sunbathing time and have a burger at the local bar, then bring us back to the boat. Perfect! We’ve gone to Peniche several times, which is a fantastic beach for learners, evident from the hoards of surf schools around the area. There’s also lots of bars along the beachfront, which is ideal. We’ve become very fond of one of the surf spots in Peniche, Baleal island, which has a very relaxed, family friendly, surfy vibe. Lots of learners in the surf, everyone from children to older folks (gotta be careful of what age I’m calling ‘old’! I’ll leave it up to you to fill in the blanks…). We love it.
Nick’s been doing surf lessons almost every day, keen to take advantage of Miguel and Henrique’s expertise to improve his form and try and get out of the bad habits he’s picked up. I’ve picked up a soft board and gotten wet once or twice, but I also don’t mind just lazing on the beach or chilling in the beach bar. Nope, I don’t mind that one bit.
We’ve also loved the food here. There seems to be a lot of choice in town, but we’ve gone for the Portugese options, since they mainly consist of amazingly fresh and delicious seafood and fish. Our little routine, for those who care, is a beer and a plate of clams in a tomato and onion sauce at a bar called Casa o Santo in a small square behind the seafront, then move on to a Portugese restaurant for dinner. Before coming to Portugal we had absolutely no idea what Portugese food even was. Well, my experience of it so far has pretty much been delicious fresh fish, grilled in front of your eyes, served with a simple salad and boiled potatoes. Or a seafood stew thing, but I haven’t tried that one yet. Maybe tonight? And, of course, Portugese tarts. However, possibly my overriding memory of Nazaré’s food scene will come from the ice cream parlour we visited yesterday. Obviously, we couldn’t just go for a simple scoop, so we leafed through the menu and ordered a couple of small sundaes. Well, they were literally- literally- the size of my head. Even the waitress looked a little apologetic at our bewildered expressions. They must get that reaction a lot. But some miracle, Nick finished his. Boys have that strange capability, don’t they? But I was defeated half way through. Sundae 1. Terysa 0.
So we keep putting off our leaving date for Nazaré, and now Nick’s just committed to having surf lessons for the rest of the week. Our lovely friends Matt and Kaitlyn told us yesterday that they’re flying out to meet us next Monday, and I’d like to say that we’ll be in the next port by then…. but it’s entirely likely we’ll still be here this time next week.