European Cruise with All the Family travel blog

View from our room

Hotel across the street

Christine at Dinner


An old fishing boat on the Nazare Beach

We woke to beautiful sunshine again this morning. We packed the last minute items and went down for breakfast. Another couple who had checked in at the same time as ourselves came into the breakfast room. We knew they were from Hong Kong and were travelling extensively, but we discovered they had been married in Gibraltar not long after we had spent our honeymoon there and had done may of the things we had done. They had a "motor home" built in Germany on an all terrain chassis and have had it shipped all over the world to travel and live in it. Unfortunately a ship from Australia with it on it got diverted to Korea where it was unloaded and everything froze, so it is presently being fixed. They had rented a car in Geneva and were travelling in Spain and Portugal. They intend to be home - we assume Hong Kong - by the end of August. You do meet interesting people when you travel.

We finished our breakfast and went downstairs to settle up and get our taxi. The host and hostess - Joao and Carmen - gave us hugs and assured us they would help if we needed it in Nazare, our next stop. I do not think we have ever had such hospitable people giving us accommodation before. He is from Angola and went to Montreal when quite young. She is Portuguese and went with her parents to Montreal as a young child. They met, married and must have made their fortune, there, then came to Porto and bought this run down old building which they transformed into an exquisite bed and breakfast. Everything is co-ordinated. The place looks brand new. The shower in our washroom was glass and every night it looked as clear as a camera lens, despite our having used it in the morning. Their attention to detail was unbelievable. We were given a glass of port when we arrived and every time we came in we were offered one. We accepted last night and I fully expected it to be on the bill, but it was not, likewise an endless supply of bottled water was in our room and two were pressed on us as we left. It felt like leaving family members instead of landlord whom we had only known for three days. We feel everywhere else we stay this holiday will be a let down after this treatment.

The cab they summoned for us arrived right away and we were soon at the bus station. The chaos we observed when buying our tickets on Monday was intensified as we tried to determine where our bus would leave from and which was the right bus. The building is sort of T-shaped with the entry at the leg. Buses whizz in and turn around in a tribute to the drivers' skill, but testing the nerves of, at least, this passenger. The one person who seemed to know what was going on was a leprechaun like beggar who accosted everyone for spare change, but would check their ticket and direct them to the bus - and he seemed to be right each time - in our case he certainly was.

We were eventually on our way, all be it half an hour late. We had to evict an American couple from our seats as they did not realize the tickets were for specific seats. We would not have known either had we not consulted our host. The drive to Coimbra was pleasant in a relatively new coach with up to date controls, including a rotary automatic gear selector which I had never seen before - it was similar to the dial on an old fashioned microwave.

At Coimbra we waited in a much more pleasant bus station where people seemed to know what was happening and could give you precise instructions about your connecting bus. We got sandwiches and pastries for lunch. The next leg of the journey was uneventful and left on time. This was an older coach with a manual transmission and at least 10 gears. This part of the trip involved going through many small towns and stopping in some of them. We got to Nazare and had our first hiccough. There were no taxis around. The bus station employee told us to go behind the bus station, which was also the information in Rick Steves' book, but there were none to be found. We tried calling the hotel, but were unable to get through. I left Christine with most of the luggage and set off with one case for the hotel. It was not too far, but it was hot and humid and I was decidedly sticky by the time I reached the hotel. They called a cab and I returned with it to the bus station and collected Christine and the rest of our luggage. We got back to the hotel and checked in. We got settled into the room and I updated the travel journal while Christine rested. We did a little laundry then set out for dinner. We had kebabs at a place round the corner. They came suspended from a rack which certainly looks appealing, but allows them to cool quickly. They were still delicious. We sat next to a couple - she was French and he was portuguese. French was the only language we had to communicate as I tried to dig deep in my memory for long forgotten words.

We enjoyed the meal then walked along the sea front for quite a distance and returned on the other side of the street where the stores are. I had read, but forgotten, that August 15 is a Portuguese holiday and this explained the busyness of the bus stations and the sidewalks in Nazare, as well as why so many people were crowded around tonight on the seafront.

We returned to the hotel and got settled in for the night. Tomorrow we plan to relax and have a quiet day - maybe visit the beach later.

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