Leaving Lisboa felt euphoric, after two days of beeing on a camping we didn’t mind driving off while the sun was already setting. We just wanted to drive for a bit and sleep at a different place than we did the last two nights. Since we were told that we had to see Sintra we drove in that direction. Half way there we pulled off the road into a dark gravel road, we had to pass through a gate that used to hang within a old stone arch. The gate was lifted out of its hindges and looked like it was trown out on eihter side of the stone arch. We drove for about 100 meters on the little road before it stopped. The road seemed to be swept away by a creek or a flash fludd. We were not far away from Lisboa, we could still see the planes take off in the far distance. this was where we stayed the night.
Next morning we set off to Sintra, another monument that was supposed to be another touristic atraction we could not mis out on, so we didn’t. We pulled into Sintra, all I knew was that there was a castle and a palace on top of a hill. We parked in the center of the little town and sure enough it was buzzing with tourists. It seemed that the palace and the castle were just outside the village so we started walking. Assuming we would just follow the herd of people to the monuments we were suprised to be walking by ourselves, and all we saw were tuc-tuc’s that flew by while we were sweating because of climbing the steep roads on the hillside. A sense of accomplishment grew on us when we arrived at the palace, we said to ourselves that we were much cooler and energetic than all those people that arrived in the tuc-tuc’s. We decided to ignore all the parkingspaces when we realised we would have been able to drive the van all the way to the top of the hill. Sintra was something we would not have liked to pass on. All the different colors and styles were amazing and while walking through the palace we learned a lot because of all the written information all along the tour.
After Sintra we drove our van towards Porto, knowing we would see a lot of surf and beach we were sad that we had to rush a bit. By now we realised we were not making the kilometers as easy as we planned, on avarage we did not do more than 60 kilometers in 1 hour. Spending time driving in the van didn’t bother us at all, specially because of the beautiful roads we were driving. We arrived in surf heaven, Peniche! We started out checking out “Supertubos” a break loved by bodyboarders. The admosphere was very much one of super cool surfdudes ruling the beach and the line up was packed! Watching the guys in the water drop into barrels, getting tubed was amazing but soon I realised this spot was not for me. The level of skills shown off on that single break made me just want to watch the bodyboarders ripp. After we sat on the beach for a while we set off to see the other side of Peniche, on this side the waves were a mess and I could not believe this was exactly the same ocean as we saw 10 minutes before. After hanging around on the beach for a bit we got back in the van to set out to Nazare.
Nazare itself is already very beautiful, but the real reason I was excited to go there was just to see the world famouse wave. No illusions of going into the water there, dont worry! But just to see the wave and to witness the real power of the ocean I have seen so many times in surfmovies. We wiggled the van through the narrow streets of Nazare and ended up rolling down the steep narrow asphalt road down to the ligthhouse. This lighthouse was dedicated to surfing and was almost a museum. In the many videos I have seen about this wave the lighthouse was always crowded with people watching the big wave surfers risk their lives. The lighthouse always seemed so small compared to the waves that looked like they were almost eating the lighthouse, by the angle the videos were shot the waves appeared higher than the lighthouse itself. In real life the lighthouse towers above the waves with great height. Although it was a calm day the waves where huge and it was so hard to believe people actually ride these waves. When we got on top of the lighthouse we were super suprised seeing sombody in the water. We witnessed (what we later discovered) Garrett McNamara practicing surfing the huge wave of Praia Norte that day! Overwelmed we wiggled our way up to Nazare again and set North.
On our way north we drove endless empty roads through eucalypt forests that sometimes led us to empty beaches. Often a fogg fell over these beaches at dusk, this made for silent nights where we spent time on misty whimsical beaches and we felt totaly excluded from the world. Sometimes in the early morning lone fisherman appeared from the fogg on their small mopeds that they use in Portugal. These mornings made us feel happy end blessed.
After seeing many more beaches and beautiful roads we visited Porto and after that we started to make our way to the border with Spain.