Day 6: Lisbon, Portugal to Nazare, Portugal
Once we’d packed up it was adues Lisbon and onwards to Nazare via Sintra and Cabo de Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe. I can’t really say much about Lisbon as a city as I spent less than 24 hours within its walls but I’ve heard great things so I’d definitely think about heading back for a city break or the like, sans bike; as negotiating the hills, cobbled streets and tram tracks was a little hairy at times, and I wasn’t even driving! Here are the highlights from day six and our tour along the Silver Coast.
The UNESCO heritage town of Sintra is chock-a-block with estates, castles, churches and buildings spanning from the 8th until the 19th century, including two national palaces. It’s also chock full of tourists and traffic, so we didn’t stick around for long. Hungry, we stopped at a snack bar for some Carne de Porco à Alentejana, or as was described to us by the waiter – pork and little sea things.
Cabo da Roca
The road to Cabo da Roca (and onwards to Nazare) was possibly one of the windiest trips I’ve ever done. Guess that’s why that part of the coast is known for surfing?! Initially it was thought that Cabo Finisterre and Cabo de Sao Vicente were the official endpoints of Europe but eventually it was determined that Cabo da Roca was a further 15 km west than these two points. Yay for da Roca!
Aside from a pretty lighthouse and a certificate to prove that you’ve been at 9° 29.8′ W, there’s not much to see here, so we snapped a couple of pictures of the bike and the sea and headed off towards the walled town of Obidos.
Allegedly an early Roman settlement, the region has been inhabited since the late paleolithic period – about 10,000 years before now. The walled city is an excellent example of medieval architecture or at least that s what the guidebooks say! As with most places, they’re easier to explore when you’re not head to toe in bike gear so drive-by photos were all we got.
Rolling into Nazare reminded me a lot of Essaouira; the sea air, the locals jingling keys at you (not that we needed accommodation anyway). It was quite a change from the busy streets of Lisbon!
According to Wikipedia:
The town derives its name from a small wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, a Black Madonna, brought by a monk in the 4th century from Nazareth, Holy Land, to a monastery near the city of Mérida, Spain. The statue was brought to its current place in 711 by another monk, Romano, accompanied by Roderic, the last Visigoth king. After their arrival at the seaside they decided to become hermits. The monk lived and died in a small natural grotto, on top of a cliff above the sea. After his death and according to the monk’s wishes, the king buried him in the grotto. Roderic left the statue of the Black Madonna in the grotto on an altar.
The first church in Sítio was built over the grotto to commemorate a miraculous intervention in 1182 by the Virgin Mary, which saved the life of the 12th-century Portuguese knight Dom Fuas Roupinho (possibly a templar) while he was hunting deer one morning in a dense fog. This episode is usually referred to as the Legend of Nazaré.
Nazare boasts one of the best stretches of sand in Portugal and is packed to the rafters in the summer. In early June though it was lovely to enjoy a beer (or three) on our deck in the early summer sun and be one of the only diners at a local restaurant in the square. Our apartment/hotel provided the perfect view of the beach and the bike.
Tip: You can park motorcycles pretty much anywhere in Nazare but don’t park them over the manhole covers. The sewer main comes to check them early in the morning and he has no qualms about ‘moving’ motorcycles if they obstruct his precious covers, or so the friendly man at the bakery says anyway! We ended up parking Yammie at the edge of the square, right next to the local police station.
Estimated Mileage: 164 kms
Actual Mileage: 211 kms
Accommodation: Solar dos Carvalhos, Rua Mouzinho de Albuquerque N. 3, Nazare, Portugal