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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.