Nazaré – Home to the Biggest Waves Ever Surfed!
Nazaré – The name of this quaint fishing town brings back memories of when I watched Garret McNamara break the world record of surfing 78 ft monstrous wave in 2011 (while breaking my own “surfing” record on the internet!). The sheer sight of balancing and fearlessly storming against the menacing waves gave me goosebumps. I was delighted when my guide announced that there will be a stop over at Nazaré on my way to Obidos. Nazaré is famous for the World Surf challenge where renowned surfers from all over the world turn into tiny specks and ride the giant waves of the fierce Atlantic waters. Nazaré would most likely be the place where a surfer would scale the high watermark of extreme surfing (riding a 100 ft wave). The best season to catch the waves is from November till mid February.
We first stopped at O Sitio, the upper town of Nazaré. One can access the upper town by car or by funicular. It gives you excellent views of the town below and the bay. Street vendors encircle the main square selling souvenirs, handwoven fishing nets and carved wooden boats. There are women (Nazarenas) selling buttery beans and dried nuts wearing the traditional dress of Nazaré. This costume is referred to as Seven Skirts of Nazaré. Wearing the head scarf, chunky gold jewelry, high knee length socks and sunglasses, they cheerfully welcome the tourists to taste free samples. In olden days, the women used to sit by the beach in cold and windy conditions waiting for their husbands (fishermen) to return home. To keep themselves warm, they would wear seven petticoats that could fold layers over their backs, legs and heads. The number seven is multi representational – signifying seven colors of the rainbow, seven virtues, seven waves of the sea, seven days of the week.
My lunch was at a restaurant called Rosa Dos Ventos in the lower town. During my time is Lisbon, I quite understood the love affair of Portugal and the salted cod fish. The dried salted fish is so prevalent in their cuisine that the name Terra De Bacalhau (Land of Cod Fish) started appearing on world maps to indicate Portugal. Seafood in Nazaré was no different. The moment you enter the restaurant, a cheerful lad shows off the catch of the day. Nazaré is also known for Vinho Verde (Green Wine). A must try! I washed down the swordfish and boiled potatoes with the light crisp aromatic and slightly fizzy green wine. Vinho Verde refers to the lush green region of the wine production and also to the maturity of the wine (under the age of one). They are generally consumed young.
I strolled towards the beach after lunch and walked towards the shore line where the sparkling blue waves of Atlantic were accompanied by the roar of the howling wind. Even though the tides were not as high as during the surfing season, the sheer force with which the waves crash against the rocks gives a hint of the power and fury of the ocean in this region. It must indeed be a spectacular sight in the winters to witness surfers trying to navigate and conquer the dangerous waters of these intimidating turbulent waves. Hope to experience this unique event once in my lifetime!
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