MacNamara and the waves of Nazaré

     Thanks to Garrett MacNamara even those who couldn’t care less about surf have been hearing a lot about Portugal as a surf destination. I’m going to be honest: I’m not a great fan of surf myself, but the pictures leave anyone speechless and have been going around the world.

  Last year MacNamara was recognized by Guinness World Records for riding the largest-ever wave, a towering 78-foot wall of water. Now he claims he broke his own record, after surfing a 100 foot tall wave, also in North Beach, in Nazaré. Tó Mané, a local photographer, took the magical shot and this picture is now being published by world reference newspapers.

Photo by Tó Mané, originally published by Zon North Canyon

      Is our coast that rough? Incredibly, not at all. Nazaré Canyon is a rare phenomenon created by a gap in the Continental plate. It’s about 105 miles long and 3 miles deep and focuses the Atlantic energy right on the beach of Praia do Norte, creating huge waves.

      If you ask me, I’d give you other solid reasons to visit this area. In Nazaré you can still see women wearing seven skirts (the traditional costume) or dressing all black once they become widows; try incredibly fresh (and affordable) fish in local restaurants; see the fish sun-drying in the beach and relax watching the beautiful waves and beaches in the Atlantic Ocean.

      Any time is good for a visit, as Nazaré is an open door to an almost lost world of local traditions, centuries old and to a never ending variety of table delights. Sounds like a perfect destination for a family trip, doesn’t it?

 

How to order a cup of coffee in Portugal

     Most Portuguese people start their day the same way: with a shot of strong, black coffee, the famous and beloved “café” or “bica”. “Um café se faz favor” (one coffee please) might be the first words of the day, but they’ll be repeated.

      What do we drink? Our regular coffee is what’s generally called expresso: a shot of strong black coffee, normally with sugar. Obviously, we have some variations, the most popular among them being “garoto” (small espresso cup); or even an “italiana” for a really short coffee.

     Bigger sizes? A “meia-de-leite” (is a large cup, half is milk and the other half is coffee); a “galão (3/4 coffee, ¼ of milk); and “abatandado” is for American coffee. Just coffee? No. Normally we have a little pastry to go with it, but that’s a subject big enough for another post.

      Besides the energy boost, there’s also the social side. “Hey, do you want to have a coffee?” might be the easiest way to break the ice with a new work colleague or to catch up with a friend. Are you staying for a few days in the same place and want to meet someone? Go for coffee at the same place everyday: by day 4 the waiter will serve you without even asking what you want.

      What about coffee to go? There’s no such thing. Even if you’re having a quick cup of coffee on your way to work, it’s very likely that you’ll have a quick chat with the waiter or with the person standing next to you. Weather, soccer and breaking news are normally the topics.

What about American movies shot in Portugal?

     When you think about beautiful movie scenes and movie actors, you might think of Cannes, Sardinia or possibly Beverly Hills. But what about Portugal?

      It’s no surprise that Wim Wenders shot his films “Lisbon Story” and “The state of things” in Lisbon as they clearly used this city as a part of the story. But did you know that “Invisible circus”, directed by Adam Brooks, with Cameron Diaz, was partially shot in Portugal too? Same thing about The Dancer Upstairs directed by John Malkovich.

     Remember the Mexican landscape of “The House of the Spirits” with Antonio Banderas and Meryl Streep? Well, actually it was a Portuguese landscape as that movie was filmed in Alentejo, a beautiful region of flat and dry land, with great wines and food, in the south of Portugal.

     And where was Ian Flemming when he “created” the most famous international spy, James Bond? In Hotel Palacio, in Estoril. The Casino of Estoril gave him the inspiration to write “Casino Royale” and “On his majesty’s secret service” were featured many scenes of Praia do Guincho, near Cascais. This was definitely a perfect set for the incurable romantic and the dreamers.

      More recently Bille August directed “Night train to Lisbon” a movie that should come out really soon. It’s based on the homonymous novel by Pascal Mercier and after reading the book, I just can’t wait to watch the movie.

 

Take the lead and come along to shoot your very own movie in Lisbon!

Lauren, will you marry me?

     We’ve all dreamed of wonderful proposal stories with medieval castles, sunsets by gorgeous views, or even surprise trips. Well, this is one of them, but actually happened.

     Lauren was going to visit Lisbon on her own, and Nathan decided to give her a little surprise. Two months in advance he emailed me and asked for my help to put up something really special. How could I say no?! My mind immediately started to conspire different ideas.

     Nathan told Lauren he’d have a surprise for her in Lisbon and gave her a letter she could only open on the plane. The letter said that the surprise was a tour of Lisbon but little she knew what it really was.    When I picked her at the airport and found her a little upset as she wished a bigger surprise… she even asked me twice if her boyfriend was in the city! I had to lie and apologize, saying that I only exchange a couple of emails with Nathan (we might have exchanged 20) and he only asked for the tour.

     I suggested we’d start the tour with Lisbon’s castle (the chosen location) and then asked her to come downstairs, where the tiles were waiting for her. Words can’t describe Lauren’s reaction (I think that her brain just blanked) when she saw the tiles with her name written on. I had to ask Nathan to hurry up (he was coming downstairs by then) before she’d get a heart attack, but she only got more confused when she finally saw him.

     It was a magical moment when them met halfway in a long flight of stairs, in Lisbon’s castle, by the sunset, with a gorgeous view and many emotions. He got on one knee, showed her the ring and… she said Yes!  It was such a delight to meet them and take part in such a lovely proposal. Best wishes guys!

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We are back!

Many were the reasons that forced Lisbon Stories to “freeze” this blog but today we’re really happy to announce that we’re back!

Want to know what we did during our silence? Looking for useful information about Portugal and helpful tips for your visit? Just keep posted!

I hope that you missed us as because we missed you too!