The road south

  It seems almost criminal to be travelling so fast these days but we finally do have a deadline, and Lisbon, and our flight to London to spend Christmas with family and friends, beckons. After Porto we headed south to Figueira do Foz, spending the night in a wind-swept campsite. We awoke to a beautiful dawn and a deep clear blue sky.

Good morning sunshine!

Good morning sunshine!

  The road south to Peniche took us past the famous monastery at Alcobaca, and despite our time pressure we decided this was something we couldn't miss and we were not disappointed. This vast monastery is a world heritage site with an impressive cathedral that houses the ornate tombs of King Pedro and Ines de Castro, star-crossed lovers whose tragic story is as famous in the Iberian peninsula as Romeo and Juliet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In%C3%AAs_de_Castro). The monastery was no less beguiling, with courtyards filled with orange and lemon trees and a huge kitchen with a fireplace large enough to spitroast an entire herd of cows.

The Alcobaca monastery 

The Alcobaca monastery 

The Alcobaca monastery church

The Alcobaca monastery church

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Ines de Castro's beautiful tomb

Ines de Castro's beautiful tomb

Quite possibly the most beautiful statue in a church ever

Quite possibly the most beautiful statue in a church ever

Detail of the azulejos in the King's chamber, Alcobaca monastery 

Detail of the azulejos in the King's chamber, Alcobaca monastery 

Inscription, Alcobaca monastery 

Inscription, Alcobaca monastery 

Novice's cloister, Alcobaca monastery 

Novice's cloister, Alcobaca monastery 

Awesome kitchen tap, Alcobaca monastery 

Awesome kitchen tap, Alcobaca monastery 

Cloister of silence, Alcobaca monastery 

Cloister of silence, Alcobaca monastery 

  From Alcobaca we stopped off in Nazare, buying dried fish from an elderly lady on the beach. We cooked it later that evening with onions and potatoes into a rich broth, perfect to keep us warm when the temperature drops down at night.

Fish drying in the sun, Nazare

Fish drying in the sun, Nazare

Octopus drying in the sun, Nazare

Octopus drying in the sun, Nazare

Dried fish seller, Nazare

Dried fish seller, Nazare

In tourist-mecca Obidos we ate a hearty meal in an ancient brewery and tried the famous cherry liqueur eaten from a dark chocolate cup. 

Exploring Obidos

Exploring Obidos

  That night we stopped in Peniche, where we awoke the next day to another impossibly blue sky. The nights are still cold and we're wrapping up warm to go to bed with thick wooly socks and thermals, but the days are clear and bright with that fresh blue light peculiar to Portugal's Atlantic coast.

Camping in Peniche

Camping in Peniche

The beach in Peniche

The beach in Peniche

Sunshine, sand and sea

Sunshine, sand and sea

  From Peniche we drove south past Torres Vedras to Ericeira, where we rented a tiny hut so we could unpack Sam, give him a much-needed clean and start to pack for Lisbon and London

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Sunset as we arrive in Peniche

Sunset as we arrive in Peniche

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A lone surfer catches a wave as the sun sets in Peniche

A lone surfer catches a wave as the sun sets in Peniche

Our temporary home in Peniche

Our temporary home in Peniche

Lunchtime

Lunchtime

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Sam gets a bath

Sam gets a bath

He scrubs up well

He scrubs up well

  Sam will go to a safe home in Lisbon while we explore the city and then head to London. And while we thought we had no plans here in Ericeira in our final days we've been invited to dinner tonight by some new friends. And tomorrow we've agreed to help out in the organic garden at the spectacular Areias do Seixo hotel just up the coast, in exchange for some tuition from the team there in biodynamic gardening. The magic of life on the road without a schedule is that you can be open to anything which comes your way, whether that's new people or new experiences, and that's what makes the journey worth the effort.