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(Un)Settling into Nazaré

In Search of My Next Home in Portugal

The wide, sandy beach in Nazaré with a view to the cliff
The Beach in Nazaré (photo by author)

My third town on my tour around Portugal in search of the best place for me to live, was Nazaré, a lovely beach town that is still home to a strong Portuguese culture and community. It has not yet fallen victim to the mass of Golden Visa holders, just buying properties for rental income and the chance at a European passport, with no intention of living in them and learning the language and customs. In Nazaré, you can still hear Portuguese spoken most on the streets and feel like you are truly living amongst the locals.


The Anti-Environmental Demise of Laundry Lines

During my time here, I have loved learning Portuguese and trying to assimilate to the Portuguese way of life. One of my favorite parts of Portuguese life is hanging my laundry out to dry on the line. I love coming home to look up and see my undies flapping in the breeze for all the world to see.


However, a new trend is emerging that is curtailing that joy for me. When buildings are renovated, the residents are no longer allowed to hang a laundry line outside the building. I’ve been told people think it looks ugly. 


WHAT???!?!? That is such a characteristic trait of most old European towns. After all, it only makes sense. While no one fancies beating their clothes on rocks in the river anymore, it is easy enough to skip the environmentally unfriendly dryer and hang your clothes on the line outside. If you are not like me and don’t want your skivvies hanging for the world to see, they dry quickly enough inside while the rest of your laundry dries in the breeze.


Alas, the building I am in has recently been renovated which means no laundry line for me. Refusing to use the dryer in the laundromat conveniently located next to my morning café, I push the envelope as much as possible, hanging my clothes from the open windows. My older neighbors still have their laundry lines. I have befriended them, hoping to co-op usage of their lines.


Laundry lines hanging from old buildings in a quiet alley in Nazaré, Portugal
Laundry Lines in My Nazaré Alley (photo by author)

Sleepy Nazaré Erupts into Chaos

One night as I was getting ready for bed, all hell broke loose in Nazaré. Car horns were blowing everywhere as people raced up and down the streets. I could hear shouting on the main streets near my apartment which is tucked away on the tiny cobblestone lanes. My mind went to dark places as I considered the possibilities of what might have instigated this outbreak.


I was in shock. What to do? How could I find out what was going on??? I googled the local news but there was nothing outside of the wave report. I thought of texting my friends in Lisbon but how would they know what was happening in sleepy little Nazaré that was suddenly not so sleepy.  If they did know, it would mean it made the national news and if that was the case I had bigger problems. 


Finally, I got the courage to raise the shades I'd already closed for the night. I could see a flashing red light coming from the main street just like ones on emergency vehicles. The noise was not diminishing as the car horns blew relentlessly. I noticed a man looking out of his apartment which would have a clear view to the street below which I could not see from my window. The expression on his face indicated he was casually watching the scene below and had no concern whatsoever. He almost seemed to be enjoying what he was seeing. 


Unless he is some kind of sicko, he must be watching a non-violent event and I have no need to fear. But what could he be witnessing? 


Then it dawned on me. My local team, Sporting, must have clinched the league. Only football could make the Portuguese celebrate like that which is one of the many reasons I love them so. Not a wedding. Not a birth. But a big football game and they will take to the streets. Sure enough, I checked the Portuguese Premier League table and with Benfica’s loss that evening, Sporting had secured enough points to clinch the league title.


Unfortunately, by the time Einstein here figured that out, the celebrations were dying down. Otherwise, you can bet I would have been in someone’s car riding up and down the highways and waving my Sporting scarf for all the Benfica fans to see. 


Tis Tries to Get Back in the Game

One night at the local pub, I was basking in the glow of a big win for one of my favorite teams, Manchester City. I was finishing my drink while reading the news and stats about the game on my phone. I noticed a guy out of the corner of my eye. I’d seen him in here before and he was usually looking in my direction. I had never felt compelled to engage in conversation with him but as I was in a good mood from the big win, I decided to make an effort. 


He was Belgian, just visiting as he was buying a home nearby. He said unfortunately, he had to leave and head back to where he was staying, just out of town but would be back here tomorrow night and hoped to see me. I smiled and said good night while thinking to myself “Not a chance buddy. Tomorrow is a ‘relax at home’ night.” 


The next day, as I was taking my evening walk by the water, I thought about the Belgian at the pub. A little voice in my head was pushing me to make an effort. I have been enjoying life in Portugal so much, making an effort with men, especially after the absolute joys I have recently dated, has not been high on my priority list. I reluctantly headed toward the pub only to find him not there. There was a game on that I was interested in so I figured I would give him a few minutes and watch the first half of the match. 


Tis Grows Weary of the Game

After sitting at the pub for almost an hour, I was about to head home when of course, the Belgian showed up. He sat next to me and ordered a small beer. When they say small beers here, they mean small beers. They come in a cup the size of a juice glass. Be a man and at least get a medium-sized beer. 


We chatted and he was interesting enough to keep me awake but not much more than that. A lot of his conversation included mentions of an ex-girlfriend which always makes for delightful "get-to-know you" conversation. He had a second small beer and got me another wine. When they serve wine here, they come in nice big glasses, and they are usually not shy about the size of the pour.


When he went for a third beer, he offered to buy me a third wine. Hhmm, you are drinking little baby beers while buying me big glasses of wine. Now where could this be heading? I firmly declined, saying I was going to leave after I finished my wine and did not need a third. He quickly finished his juice sized beer, a simple enough task, and said we were walking in the same direction and followed me out. 


Wait. Didn’t you say you were staying just out of town? Yeah, this is going to be a wasted walk buddy. When I got near my apartment but not quite there in order to give myself some room to work with if things went south, I turned suddenly and said, “Well I need to peel off in this direction. Would you like to keep in touch?” That was not exactly what he wanted to hear so he declined and wished me good luck. Yeah, thanks buddy. And best of luck to you too!


So much for making an effort. I can check that off the list for at least another couple of months.


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