"In the old days, women would sit on the beach waiting for their fishermen to sail home. To keep warm in the face of a cold sea wind while staying modestly covered, they'd wear several petticoats in order to fold layers around their backs and legs. Even today, older and more traditional women wear short skirts made bulky by several—but not seven—petticoats." —Rick Steves
As we drove from inland Alcobaça to coastal Nazaré, the weather began to change. By the time we reached the coast, we were engulfed in a thick fog—and, for me at least—a growing sense of disappointment that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy views of the water during our brief time in this fishing town. We clung to hope that the fog would lift, and we lucked out—slowly but surely, we got our wish, and before we left, we were back in hot sunshine.
We began our visit to Nazaré with a brief orientation in upper portion of the town, O Sitio, near the cathedral. Locals were celebrating a religious festival that day, and the festival called for some very bright and busy traditional outfits (see photos of cart vendors).
These are some of my favorite Nazaré experiences:
- Watching from the bluffs atop the city as the fog lifted to reveal the beach below.
- Riding the funicular down to the lower portion of the city, with a sea of red-tiled roofs and the Atlantic Ocean before us.
- Wandering along the beach and the "sea" of colorful, striped beach tents
- Choosing from menu after menu offering delicious local fish dishes
- Observing the women in traditional black dresses tending their racks of dried fish
First, the row of colorful beach chairs caught my eye. Then I noticed the woman seemingly watching over them. Whether she was selling them, I will never know.
Click photos to enlarge.