This entire trip to Portugal started with a small write up in Men’s Journal. It talked about the surfing in a little known place called Peniche Portugal. Sean said we should go there! So we did.
Peniche is on a peninsula on the Atlantic coast. It is not the sort of place you check into a Marriott hotel and have a big pool. It is more a place that a VW van should be (and is) guys and gals in wet suits and families sitting on the beach. People chat about SuperTubos, pipelines and the world surf championships. It’s not pretentious; the ice cream is the same price here as in the other towns and a bottle of water will still set you back 35c.
We are staying in a small hamlet called Consolacao beach, in a wonderful home that is clean, two bedrooms and has super supplied kitchen. I love love love the pots and want some. They are made here in Portugal and are the best pots I have ever cooked on. Even the knives in drawer are sharp. The home is a 800 meter walk to the beach. A big part of staying in a neighbourhood it the little extras. Like every other morning the fish truck comes by parks on the corner and honks its horn. The locals listen and come out to make their evening dinner choice. The lady that runs the little store a few steps away is also a benifit. Her bread is fresh every morning as is her fruit and vegg. All which play a huge role in our daily picnics. She speaks very little English and I speak very little Portuguese but together we both speak amazing French!
I did have to play the mum card, as only one of the girls was keen to take lessons . Mariah didn’t want to go out on the waves, she was scared and really would have rather watched Philippa. I said she had to go at least once, then after that if she didn’t want to go again, Pippa would go on her own. Well after the 1st lesson Mariah wanted to go again and again. If we had the time she would have stayed for the 10 lesson package. I really think that is testimony to Nico and his team, they made it fun and the girls kept wanting to come back. They may not be ready for the surf championships, but they have incredible memories of a cool surf town and its people in Portugal.
There was a bit of a damper to our stay in Peniche, our rental car got the window smashed in, nothing was stolen and it was a hassle to get another car. But it was doable and the insurance will cover most of the costs. It does mean we no longer have SatNav or a brand new never been driven diesel any more. To make ourselves feel better Sean and I headed off to Restaurante Nau Dos Corvos, that had been recommended to us by Philippa’s surf coach (I call him “cute surfer guy). The restaurant is located in which looks like a bunker at the lighthouse station, but once in it has a triple view of the ocean and looks to the Berlenga Islands. The fresh seafood is based on today’s catch. We both enjoyed the prawns, salmon, linguine, the chef recommended almond tart and lemon Panna cotta . Our meal was prepared with great attention to taste and presentation.
The Berlenga Island was on our list of things to do. This inhabited archipelago of islands is 12km from Peniche. The Forte de Sao Joao Da Barra is really the goal. A good hike up to the light house, then a climb down of 306 stairs to the Fort across a causeway and you find draft beer for a euro. Makes the whole climb worth it. Plus it is pretty darn cool. The day was a great success and was finished off with a large gelato.
Our final day of exploring took us to Nazare, a coastal town that has retained a lot of its charm and traditional character. The fisherman’s wives can be seen wearing several petticoats, they are usually tooting the rooms they have to rent. We headed up on the funicular to the site of the Baroque church of Nosa Senhora da Nazare. The gentleman working in the church used to live around Edmonton and gave us some of the history of the church.
From Nazare we headed to Obidos, a lovely walled town , the coaches were still in the parking lot but just leaving, as we timed our arrival for their departure. There is no cars in the town and the shops of full of goodies that appealed to the girls. Sean and I enjoyed a shot of Ginja served up in a chocolate cup. Mariah treated us to dinner and then we were off back to the house to pack.
Tomorrow we head north to a farm near Ciombra, we are all looking forward to the area and the treasures it has to offer