Posts Tagged With: beach

A place with a few secrets

Summer is right around the corner and so is beach season. Unless, of course, you live in Portugal and have by now already dug your feet in the sand at least once this year.

Today I’m showing you a famous beach in the Aveiro area, in Central Portugal. Yes, there are beaches in other regions besides the Algarve.

A fisherman and his family, by the sculptor Alves André.

Praia de Mira is, just for starters, the only beach in the world which has received the Blue Flag certification for 31 years in a row – yes, 31 years.

Like so many other beach areas in Portugal only fishermen used to live here until tourists started to arrive. In an area with no stone available people used wood to build their homes but also… A chapel! Although this is not *on* the sand (unlike another famous beach church in Portugal) it’s close enough. The chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição was built in 1843 and is still functioning and being kept by the fishermen and their families.

Enjoy!

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Categories: Nature, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Snapshots of Nazaré (and a revelation!)

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View from the lighthouse at the Fort of St Michael Archangel.

Nazaré is one of those places that has its own mystique, legends, folk lore and, in more recent decades, tourists and surfers.
In the late 1940’s Nazaré attracted the attention of a then-young photographer called… Stanley Kubrick! He captured bits and pieces of the lives of the people of Nazaré (fishermen and their families, mostly) with their somewhat “exotic” hats and clothes, squinting in the sun and smiling – sometimes.

nazaré4Life by the sea can certainly be hard, particularly when you’re facing giant waves in tiny boats. Ever heard of the “Nazaré canyon“? Probably not, but that’s the phenomenon which caused the famous 100 foot (30 meters) wave surfed by McNamara in 2013, in Praia do Norte.

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Even in Praia do Norte the sea can sometimes be flat – like on this day! Just my luck!

Traditionally, the women of Nazaré wore not one, not two… but seven skirts! Why? Well, there are several theories, but no certainties. Some people say it has to do with the magic usually associated with the number 7 (and, particularly, with the seven waves, since they used to spend a good part of their day near the sea); others claim it was simply because the women used those skirts to cover both their heads and ther legs while they sat in the sand, waiting for the men to come from the day’s fishing activities. Contrary to what some people might think, yes, it does get cold in Portugal and, yes, we have fog, cold drizzle and wind, even on the beach! 😉

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And if you think that Nazaré sounds reaaaaally similar to Nazareth… well, that’s connected to the legend of Nazaré!

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Remember the lighthouse from the first photo? It’s that tiny spot on the left.

There’s a giveaway taking place right now on the blog’s Facebook page. It’s your chance of getting a box full of Portuguese goodies – for free! 😉

P.S.: If you follow the blog you may have noticed that I haven’t posted so often lately. No, I haven’t given up on the blog or the site. It’s just that I have… let’s call it “a new project in the making”! 🙂

coming soon

The website: http://www.beyondlisbon.pt/

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Categories: Legends, Nature, People, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Along the coast

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Along the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. This area covers most of the Alentejo coast and part of the Algarve, in a total of about 110km of cliffs, unique plants, big waves, rich culture and history and, yes, amazing sunsets. Actually, this is such a special region that it is the only place in the world where storks make their nests in the rocks by the sea – and by rocks I mean cliffs!

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But today I bring you another side to this coast: The town of Vila Nova de Milfontes, in the Alentejo, as seen from the river Mira. No cliffs seen from here, just the peaceful sunset inviting your mind to drift away and relax. There’s a lighthouse at the mouth of the river; you can see some boats and a few of the white houses from the town. The beaches are empty now and every living thing seems to stand still to appreciate the sun going down and the moon coming up.

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Enjoy! 🙂

The website: http://www.beyondlisbon.pt/

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Categories: Activities, Nature, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Apple beach

 

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If you’re staying in Lisbon and plan on going to Sintra for an afternoon there’s a lot you won’t be able to see – like the beach, for example. Most people who visit Sintra focus on the monuments alone, but the fact is there’s a lot more to see. 🙂 Today I’m writing about a beach in Sintra, which also happens to be a true classic.

Praia das Maçãs (yes, Apple Beach) has its own mystique and fan base. Even in winter it’s a lovely place to go for a walk and to breathe in some of that energizing sea air. In the summer it’s one of the most crowded beaches in the area. For many people living in the Lisbon metropolitan area this used to be their go-to place in the summer months, particularly from the 1960’s to, say, the 1990’s. Today, it’s still a place where you’ll find a lot of families, but also surfers and bodyborders.

There’s a (let’s call it “erratic”) tram that can take you from Portela (near the train station in Sintra with the same name) to Praia das Maçãs. If you have the opportunity I highly advise you to take this tram, as you’ll be able to enjoy part of the Colares area.

Trivia tidbit of the day: Legend has it that Praia das Maçãs owes its name to the fact that apples, from orchards located in Colares, would fall from the trees to the stream and eventually end up on this beach.

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There’s a giveaway right now on the blog’s Facebook page which might be interesting if you happen to be visiting Portugal for the next couple of weeks!

The website: http://www.beyondlisbon.pt/

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Beyond the obvious

tavira4Reputation can be a good thing or a bad thing – a bit like tourism.

In Portugal, the Algarve (in the south part of the country) has a reputation for being one long strip of sand, sea and sun, filled with restaurants, pubs and hotels – a place that becomes overcrowded in August with both Portuguese and foreign tourists, battling for a spot on the beach.

tavira1The truth is, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can experience the real Algarve, if you dare to look beyond the obvious. Altough this a region which has beautiful beaches (many of which with very few waves you fraidy cats) it also has castles, old forts, white-washed villages and towns, wonderful cuisine, thermal baths and even a natural park (Ria Formosa).

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Today I’m sharing with you some images taken, just last week, near Tavira, in the Ria Formosa area. You don’t get to see this unless you leave your hotel-with-swimming pool-and-5-bars-in-a-nice-all-inclusive-package.

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Will you dare to step out of your comfort zone? 😉

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Little place, big history

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Can you see it? Can you see that tiny white spot in the distance?

Remember when I told you about Sagres, the “holy promontory”? Well, that white spot is the lighthouse of the Cape St. Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente) as seen from Sagres.

This bit of land is, surprisingly enough, full of stories as well as history.

According to legend (and some history) Cabo de São Vicente, much like Sagres, was considered sacred in the Neolithic period. Later, ancient Greeks would come to call it Ophiussa, meaning “Land of Serpents” (although some claim that the name extended to much of today’s Portuguese territory) and Strabo mentions the existence, in the area, of a temple dedicated to Hercules.

In the 16th century this little bit of land suffered attacks from French and Dutch pirates and even from Francis Drake. Most of the buildings that existed in the area were destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, so there’s not much left from that time that would let us know how the whole thing looked back then.

Trivia tidbit of the day: Lisbon’s coat of arms has, among other things, a ship and two ravens. Legend has it that two ravens guarded the dead body of the martyr St. Vincent until it could be found by his folllowers. When his body was taken to the cape which now has his name, a shrine was built over his grave – being guarded at all times by flocks of ravens. This caused the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi to call it “church of the raven”. In 1173 Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques, had the body exhumed and brought by ship to Lisbon. The ship was guarded by (you guessed it!) two ravens.

Enjoy! 🙂

Oh, before I forget, there’s a surprise on the way! 😉

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Categories: History, Legends, Nature, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Strange things in strange places (part 2)

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I really wasn’t thinking of writing a sequel to the previous “Strange things in strange places” post, but such is life – showing me unexpected things in unexpected places. Like a chapel on a beach.

I had actually seen photos of this place before but had never been there. Nothing the internet could not help me with!

Not far from Porto, in a place called Praia de Miramar, you can find a chapel on a beach. This chapel (Capela do Senhor da Pedra) was built in 1686 and, legend has it, there used to be a Pagan altar there before.

Do you know of any similar buildings in other places? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Enjoy! 🙂

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Categories: History, Nature, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Can we go back to August?

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Do you know that sad feeling you get in the beginning of January, after the Christmas/New Year wears off?

Well, I also get that feeling some weeks after my Summer holidays/vacations.

So, to bring back a bit of that relaxed August mood here’s a photo of the landscape you get before reaching the beach in Odeceixe. What you see here is the river Seixe making its way to the shore, creating a wonderful zigzag.

Who would like to be there right now? I know I would! 😉

Enjoy! 🙂

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It isn’t always sunny at the beach…

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Not even in Portugal!

Today I bring you a view from Azenha do Mar, in Odemira, not to be mistaken with Azenhas do Mar, in Sintra. It’s a rather small beach in an equally small fishing village where the streets are named after… fish!

Enjoy! 🙂

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A day at the beach

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A bit to the north of Aljezur you can find that which is probably one of the most famous beaches in the area known as Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast: Odeceixe.

There’s a small river, Ribeira de Seixe, which meets the sea at this beach and it is, at the same time, the local division between the Algarve and the Alentejo regions.

If you like to stay on the beach until sunset you’ll be able, during the Summer months, to witness a unique event here… let’s call it a “ritual”. At about 19h30/7.30pm the lifeguard will blow the whistle in the same way that referees do at the end of football/soccer matches, meaning that he’s leaving for the day. The people still at the beach clap their hands and he waves a “thank you”. I’ve never seen this in any other beach and I think it reflects the fact that this is a beach and a village where a lot of people go to year after year – and I mean whole families: Uncles, aunts and cousins included. The lifeguard’s letting everyone know that he’s leaving for the day and people clap as if to say “thanks for another day of a job well done”.

I think this is, ultimately, cute. 🙂

Categories: Nature, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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