26 - 28 March 2017
Here we are in Alcobaca Portugal at the Conímbriga ruins a village occupied by Roman troops in 139 BC. Excavations presented floor mosiacs, building foundations, a some partially rebuilt study formations.
The tour began with roughly excavated and hard-to-image building sites, but ended with their "crown jewels" of floor mosaics, and colorful masonry, of what they thought to be the palace of a nobleman's family.
Onward to see Montemor-O-Velho Castle. We really liked this place as it was presented "as is" - no crowds, no touristic come-ons - just drive on up, park for free, walk in for free, roam at will within.
And we needed some vittles before arriving in Nazare. In some forgotten village (at least as we write this, we've forgotten it's name), Gerri found a promising restaurant on Trip Advisor. We walked in, Tim thinks "well this is a dump isn't it, there's even a bathroom stall in the middle of the restaurant (turned out to just be a wash basin)", dirty stained table covers, very local dive looking, Gerri thinks "this is where we will dine like locals and find a gem" -- no surprises here, Gerri is right another time, we had some spectacularly good food. Tim played it safe with chicken, but found it better than any chicken you might find, along with fresh fries, good rice, and tasty salad. Gerri found her favorite grilled fish with the head, done to perfection. Note the olive pits, already eaten, and savory. Tim had to drink most of that wine, as Gerri had to drive. Gerri finished off with a cappuccino. Our bill was presented as 12 Euro - hmmm, can this be right? We didn't hang around that long to check. The kitchen ladies came out towards the end for their afternoon meal before the big crowds arrived (8-10 tables), and Gerri gestured to them how good it was. Tim now refers to them as the "babushkas".
We stopped at Praia do Norte, on the cliffs over hanging Nazare to check out the scene. Internationally famous surfers come here, infrequently, when the wave get humongous - maybe once, twice, or thrice in a good season. The world's largest waves ever ridden happen here - 75 feet a few years back, and since, one pending further analysis maybe at 100 feet. An off shore deepwater canyon abruptly ends just off the cliffs, and the waves, under the right conditions, get large.
Then we ended the evening, after what seemed like a 90 minute quest for food, at a cozy place, and ate grilled octopus, potatoes, and veggies, with more Portuguese wine.
We would stay two nights in Nazare, and in between we drove out to Batalha to see it's Monastery. It's called unfinished, as monies were diverted at the end to fund Portuguese voyages around the globe. They began in 1386 and stopped in 1517.
A bonus we happened upon was a changing of the guards for Portugal's World War I Tomb of the Unknowns. The soldiers, commanded by a woman (out of photo), marched with pronounced strides and stamping feet.
An unfinished part - no roof!
After lunch we came back through Alcobaca to visit the Monastery of Santa Maria (began 1178, finished 1252).
To the left is the monastery's kitchen, with massive chimneys, and water provided via a partial river diversion, directly to the kitchen. To the right are the tombs of King Pedro I and his mistress, Inês de Castro (14th century deaths). She was beheaded by the King's father, as he didn't really like her (and for political reasons). They're arranged, symbolically, so that come judgement day, and they arise from their grave, they will be facing each other and be the first persons they see.
And then back to Nazraré to check out the beach scene. Their big season doesn't really start till towards May, with warmer weather. The wavy sidewalk mosaic was amazing.
The left photo shows some 20th century (new huh) lifeboats. The boat in the foreground was used to rescue a U-boat crew during World War II. The right photo photo shows fish drying racks.
The beach is really large - 20 year-old's fill it up during the summer season, many staying the summer jammed in tiny apartments.