Criss-crossing Portugal: Troia and Nazaré

April 11-18, 2023

We had already ridden four hundred miles north, from the beaches of southern Portugal’s Algarve region to just north of the Douro Valley. Now we were once again headed south, all the way back down to Troia, which is about twenty miles south of Lisbon as the crow flies. We had accepted a house sit in Sol Troia, a private community of villas right on a beautiful beach, which itself is on a tiny finger of land only about a quarter of a mile wide (and less in places) and about ten miles long that sticks up from Comporta, Portugal.

On the way south we rode over the Serra da Estrela mountain range, crossing at 1993 meters or 6340 feet in elevation. This is the highest point in mainland Portugal. I had no idea there was anything like this in Portugal. There’s even a ski area at the top.

If you’ve read some of our posts about house sitting and wondered “why would someone want to do that?”, well here’s one reason: This view, for free.

Oh, and living on this beach for a week. Again, free.

And hanging out with these three great dogs is an added benefit.

As we’ve mentioned before, doing these house sits offers us the chance to slow down and relax in one place, while planning our next moves, which helps avoid the burnout of constant travel. It also offers us the opportunity to cook some real meals in a real kitchen and do laundry. Let’s not fail to mention that it also allows us to hang out with some great pets. And of course, it also helps our budget considerably.

In this case we had the pleasure of caring for three dogs and a nice home on the beach for seven days.

The peninsula we’re on is mainly a tourist area; most of the homes are owned by part-time residents or are used as rentals. At this time of year — not quite the leading edge of tourist season — it is mostly vacant and very quiet, though a few families did show up for the weekend. There is a small convenience store about five miles away, but no real grocery store or market. So on our second day at the house, we made a trip to Setubal to go grocery shopping. Diana joked (although it’s true) that the grocery store is only about six miles from the house, but you have to cross the Atlantic to get there. We rode to the ferry landing, took the ferry to Setubal, and walked to the grocery store to do our shopping.

On the way to the store, we passed this little Citroen Ami. The whole thing looked like it was 3D printed from one piece of plastic. A little research revealed that it is not a car, but rather a “quadricycle”. It’s electric, with a small battery which is good for about 47 miles, and has a top speed of 28 miles per hour.

I also ran across this MacBor Montana 500. Made in Barcelona.

In a park in Setubal were these amusing sculptures by Maria Po. This one was called “Birdwatcher”.

“Vineyard Lady”

“Miss Livramento”, in reference to the Seafood and Produce Market we visited in Setubal.

After recharging with the pups for a week, we again headed north towards Porto, but we stopped in Nazaré for one night, spending it at Zulla Surf Village. Nazaré is home of some huge waves, and in fact the top three tallest waves ever surfed are all at Praia Norte in Nazaré, the largest recorded being 86 feet. I’ve been wanting to come here to watch the big wave surfing competition for years, but our schedule just hasn’t worked out. The big waves are mostly in winter, typically around November to February. The day we were there, the waves were only about six to eight feet.

Looking down at Praia Norte, where the big wave surfing takes place in the winter..

Looking down at the south beach from atop the hill above Nazaré.

Beautiful fiery sunset from our room at Zulla Surf Village.

“Veado”. This sculpture sits just above the viewing point of the big waves. It is a combination of a big wave surfer with a deer’s head; part of local folklore that goes back more than 800 years. It’s an interesting story, but rather than reprint it all here, you can find the story of the hunter who in 1182 was saved by a deer and attributed it to a statue here

We’ve enjoyed Portugal so much that I’m hoping we’ll get back to Nazaré at some point during the big waves.

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