Sunday 10th December 2017 – THE GHOST COAST & 100ft WAVES
It’s 9.15 pm and we sit in the van listening to rain for the first time in about 6 weeks. It sounds relaxing on the roof. We await the delivery of a part to hopefully get the hot water and heating working before heading on the next leg of our trip to Albufeira. Angie decided to make the most of the facilities here and cleaned the van inside and did some washing and ironed a few things. I however decided to take Molly for a long deserved decent walk as she had to put up with walking the streets with us over the last few days and we were sure she was yearning for some “off the lead run around and be silly time”. She certainly did not disappoint. As soon as she was released from the car onto the beach at the head of the Õbedos lagoon she became a dog possessed, bouncing and jumping all over the sand. The next stop was a secluded sandy bay with high cliffs and amazing waves crashing on to the shore. She ran up the cliffs and all I saw was the occasional head popping over the top of the cliff to see if I was still on the beach before bounding down again.
This could be a truly stunning location and numerous golf complexes are of the same opinion however the perfectly built infrastructure of roads, pavements, lamp posts, zebra crossings, road signs and even stainless steel waste bins and seating at empty bus stops are wasted as there are no houses no residents and no visitors to the ghost coast. The road system (probably the best tarmac in Portugal) lays dormant awaiting the influx of foreign homebuyers and several luxury golf courses offer manicured greens and fairways through sandy wastelands but with no one to T’ off. Existing homeowners seem to be desperately trying to sell their homes at exorbitant prices realising that they may have brought into a ghost town with no improvement in its infrastructure for years to come and a plethora of for sale signs dot the area. Whilst it may be a dream for some it appears to be a nightmare for others and with secondhand 4 bedroom villas with views being marketed for £750,000 with no takers and the new homes suites deserted for a lack of interest, I wonder how many months or years will it take for the prices to drop or activity to increase sufficiently enough to make this an attractive place to buy again. Maybe in 20 years or so this will be the place to live but it doesn’t feel so at the moment. The Blueprint Golf and villa development just a few miles south feels nearly finished but has a horrendous road to and from it that seems to go on forever.
Monday 11th December 2017 – Peniche 15k South
Heavy rain and Gail force winds hit the are in the night and to while away the afternoon we decided to take a drive along the coastal road to a small hamlet on a peninsula island approached by a gorseway road over the sand.
Baleal looked pretty on google maps and we are sure it is stunning on a calm sunny day. Today was neither. Huge waves ripped at the rocks surrounding the island and massive white horses rolled into the bay. The gorseway road was covered in the sand from the beach and our poor little smart car was buffeted about in the wind. It was however a truly invigorating experience watching monster waves totally swamp the rocky outcrop before landing on the beach.
After a while wave watching we decided to brave the storm a bit more and head out to the end of another peninsula 2k further south of Peniche famous for its strange rocky outcrops. Now I love the sheer force of the sea and this did not disappoint. Truly gargantuan waves smashed against the rock face far below and huge plumes of water were pushed up the tumble of rock stacks and onto the road some 100ft or so above. The wind roared and tugged at my jacket as I battled to stay steady to take a few photos. A small restaurant was at the end of the cliff and is surrounded by sea on three sides. Dinners sat inside the glass walls eating and drinking wine as the Atlantic Ocean jumped up the cliff and pounded at the windows immediately pouring back down the rocks only to be pushed back up again seconds later. Enough was enough and windswept and salty I returned to the car where Angie had been sensibly waiting and Molly immediately decided to lick all the salt water off of my neck and ears.
We bumped into the young couple with the two lads again in a car park whilst we were trying to withdraw some cash from the Santander branch. Now that is three times in three weeks between North Spain and South west Portugal that we have bumped into them – weird!
Tuesday 12th December 2017 -São Martinho Do Porto & Nazaré
What a difference a day makes – Blazing sunshine today and breakfast al fresco. Having enjoyed the google map highlights of yesterday and despite the weather we thought we would have another go today. First stop – the perfectly formed crescent bay of São Martinho Do Porto.
We parked and walked along the promenade out to the fishing harbour walls. Such a pretty town and for the present unspoilt by mass tourism and hotels. The neatly manicured streets had attractive bars and local shops surrounded the golden crescent sandy beach that must be the safest beach in the world to swim in and also had a wicked surf that was squeezed through the gap into the bay. So far the nicest and best beach town in Portugal and if we were to buy another property in the future it would be one to consider as its prices were semi affordable.
Next stop – Nazaré. The long sandy beach is famed for the best surfing in the world apparently. Too rough for surfing today though as huge waves crashed onto the shore and there was a mist in the air created purely from the spray of so many waves. High above the beach an outcrop begged to be explored so Sunny the smart car had his work cut out twisting his way through steep narrow cobblestone streets to finally emerge onto the top of the headland where a car park (of sorts) allowed us to get out and wander down to the fort on the end. The highest waves ever recorded at over 30m/100ft high have all been recorded on this headland and as we wandered down we could see why. Mahoooooosive swells and monstrous white horses were pounding the cliff face and beach. Just when I thought I had seen it all I looked down and some nutter was tightrope walking between the headland and an adjacent outcrop. Huge waves were creating a bubbling, clawing, boiling cauldron, of white water that kept swamping the outcrop and drenching the intrepid individual. Adrenaline junky or what! I could have spent hours watching the massive breakers but sensed that Angie and Molly had had enough so we made our way back to the car and into the pretty square for a bite to eat and a coffee.
The 30k of coastline between Nazaré and Peniche is stunning with big differences between the towns and developments. A place for a summer holiday? That would be a BIG FAT YES!