From the arid rolling hills of Évora we headed west passing endless miles of cork plantations to the sea-side village of Nazaré. This charming little town has a perfect mix of local culture, great food and a bit of grit that I look for in my travels. We arrived in town with no reservations. Our hope was to score a cheap hotel room or quarto based on the city’s reputation for having a never-ending supply of rooms (maybe not in August). As we drove down the main boulevard towards the beach we stopped at a street corner and were scared to death by a lady who walked up and knocked loudly on our window and yelled “Quarto! You need a room!” Apparently the rumor was true. We ended up settling in the salty beach front Ribmar Hotel. Our authentic 1950’s room with four post wooden bed and balcony overlooking the sea was a whopping $30 per night. Very cool!
The food in Nazaré was nothing short of amazing; this place is a sea food lover’s paradise. We ate like kings and tried many new dishes and old favorites: Fresh sardines, sting ray, escargot, calamari, shellfish stew were just a few. We had pre-dinner port, house wine and after dinner port. Our version on the “Michelin experience” never cost more than $40 per meal – Now that’s what I call a good vacation.
On our second day we awoke to what sounded like gun shots at 8 am. These loud bursts continued for about a half an hour which was just enough to pull us out of bed. As we got ready for the day, I swore I could hear a band playing in the distance. The sound grew louder and louder and I ran down stairs to catch a small parade. What was the celebration you ask? Good question – everyone we spoke with had no clue…
Women in Nazaré hold on to a fashion tradition known as the seven petticoats and skirts. I can honestly say that all local women in Nazaré dressed this way. Women wearing black are upholding the long tradition of Portuguese wives who have lost their husbands.
In total we spent three days in Nazaré exploring the village, soaking up the sun and try to get a glimpse of what it’s like to live in one of the most unique seaside villages I have ever visited.