Nazaré

0 · Monday 2 November 2015 · Journeys

We left Porto by travelling up the Douro Valley on minor roads. The scenery was stunning, the weather less so. We stayed in the car avoiding the rain until we stopped for lunch in the small town of Lamego. After lunch we pushed on to Castelo Branco, arriving at dusk to find a nice hotel, but struggling to find anywhere to eat. Unfortunately the day delivered very few photographs.

The next day didn’t deliver many photographs either. We stopped for lunch in Fátima, where apparitions are said to have appeared to three shepherds a century ago. The town was full of shops selling religious artifacts, and outside the extensive sanctuary that marks the apparitions pilgrims were shuffling forward on their knees across half a kilometre of public square.

 

That afternoon we arrived in Nazaré, a seaside resort 200km north of Lisbon. It was the end of the high season, and apartment owners were on the street touting for business: we stayed two nights in a seaside apartment with a balcony at a fraction of the high season price.

Nazaré is three distinct communities; two cliff top villages and the seaside resort between them. The seaside community appeared to be governed by a cadre of little old ladies dressed in black. We saw them everywhere we went; at roadside stalls, down back alleys, drying fish on the beach. But it was hard to tell how much of this was tradition and how much was a performance maintained for the tourists.

 

Nazaré was a good place to stay. There were interesting shops, meandering alleyways to explore, and the food was tasty. To commemorate the end of the high season the council was repaving part of the road along the beach. We enjoyed seeing the precision with which the team was putting down cobblestones, and so did many of the locals and other visitors: there was invariably a crowd watching and giving advice when we walked past.