LISBON- NAZARÉ -PORTO
At the top of my to-do list this weekend is to finally frame the painted tiles I brought home from Lisbon. Which reminds me, that it’s long overdue for a post about my spring trip to Portugal. Just a recap...in Mid-may I traveled to Lisbon, Nazare, and Porto for 13 days, spending the majority of those days with a friend who met me there from the U.S. I’ve already given my impression of Lisbon here, if you are curious, but I was also charmed by the other two stops we made after visiting the capital city.
Since we were traveling in May, I figured the weather would still be a little cold (I was correct) and after much deliberation decided that a dedicated beach stop would probably be a waste. The southern part of the country was enticing, but with limited days, unpredictable weather, and no logical route to fit in both the northern city of Porto and the south without backtracking through Lisbon, it was cut from the itinerary. The beautiful beaches of the Algarve would have to wait.
Instead we decided to stop over for a few days in Nazare en route to Porto. It had the best of everything. A quiet fishing town with great seafood, lovely people, amazing views, and when the sun decided to come out for one day…a relaxing afternoon beachside. Since it was the off-season, I felt like we were the only tourists in town. Everyone we met doted on us, and it’s always nice to easily connect with locals before they become jaded by a throng of tourists.
If eating, drinking, and lounging don’t appeal to you, the city also has a rather interesting claim to fame. The largest recorded wave ever surfed was off the coast of Nazare. Just follow the road signs, and you can learn all about it, see photos, and watch the surf hit the coast from above. If it’s a clear day, like we had, the view of the beach and city below is stunning.
After three days enjoying Nazare, we moved on to Porto with a short stop in Coimbra. I can’t really say much about Coimbra, because a series of unfortunate events left us without much of an impression. Some days the Travel Gods are on your side. Our day trip to Coimbra was not one of those days. After waking up early, we barely missed our bus and had to wait around, luggage in tow, until the next one. Five hours later we arrived at our destination, then proceeded to climb what felt like 3,064 very steep stairs in the sun to discover that there were no available tickets to the Library of My Dreams. I may have cried, just a little.
Lucky for us, Porto welcomed us in its warm embrace. Our apartment was the best I’ve ever rented on AirBNB, and the host was a gem and fountain of information on the city. We discovered more than our share of beautiful bookstores to make up for the missed opportunity in Coimbra, met colorful locals, and even stumbled upon the annual Tram Festival. Porto had many of the same characteristics and nuances that I love about New Orleans, but in a smaller European package.
I can’t finish a post about Portugal without mentioning the great shopping. Usually when traveling, I grab a souvenir book and spend little to no time in shopping. Portugal was definitely an exception. Besides the antique tile I mentioned earlier, I took home three vintage books, soap, Port, Ginja (local cherry liqueur), and a modern printed tile. Oh and I’m still mourning the loss of a ring that I talked myself out of buying by a local jeweler. I should have pulled the trigger.