Fortaleza de Peniche

We are too late! This year’s world surfing championship at the beach of Supertubos ended two days ago. We missed Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton, the world’s top surfers. One of the accidental hitchhikers assured me that last week during the competition there were six meters high giant waves. The atmosphere of competition definitely eased off, along with the waves which with an on-shore wind break down sooner and their shape does not resemble the famous Supertubos.

We pass Peniche to reach the cape of  Cabo Carvoeiro. Dark rock formations riddled like Swiss cheese create  numerous natural hideouts. A bit further we discover a cliff-side descent to the cave of Cova Dominique. Every few seconds potent waves splash powerfully here. It is the constant erosion already lasting for millions of years.

Peniche, depending on the point of view can resemble a seaside tourist resort, or not at all. The charming maze of well-maintained streets leads to the city park. We sit comfortably in one of the local pubs. On the wall hangs an old-fashioned television. Local customers focused and full of emotion are watching the Portuguese league match.

Powerful waves smashing against the shore of Cabo Carvoeiro

Opposite my seat there is a darts game and a videogame Puzzle Bubble. A random Portuguese guy is passionately hitting its buttons and melodiously singing along a hoarse track in radio.

The bartender brings some snacks to my Sagres beer. The bar seems to be quite unprofitable, because in five hours I could barely see two or three paying-customers. I assume that when the Portuguese league plays, usually more people come to buy their drinks.

Pudding cookie pastel de nata and mikly coffee galão is a vital element of the local culture of spending mornings in coffee shops.

On the Baleal spot we get know a Czech couple, the hippies traveling through Europe in their Volkswagen T3 Westfalia. I curiously listen to their story about the French hospitality, especially the part about a police helicopter tracking their camper down with a searchlight for half an hour until they arrive at the compulsory campsite.

Let us rejoice over being here, in free and liberal Portugal. We drink wine and it is getting late very quick. When it’s about the bedtime, we fall down from exhaustion and fall asleep in three seconds.

Versatile fortress

Sunlight on the surface of the ocean

We visit the Fortaleza de Peniche, the sixteenth century fortress built after the Portugal being released of the Arab domination. Throughout the centuries, the fortress served for various purposes. Initially as a stronghold against the attacks of pirates, later it became an important military base and a strategic point of military actions. With time, the fortress was transformed into the shelter for refugees from South Africa. During World War I, it was detention center for the Austrian and German prisoners of war and later it served as a political prison and a refuge place for families from the former Portuguese colonies.

In 1984 the bastion has been transformed into the municipal museum. Also, there is a worth-a-while section with an interesting exhibition of navigation, radar and probing equipment to catch fish, communicate and if necessary, call for help.

We walk around the fortress and admire the pastel-chalk walls of intense colors. Many things are saved in untouched condition from the previous era. For example, it is interesting to mention the public toilet which consists of four rock-holes arranged in a row with outlet being fifty or sixty meters clearance before dropping down straight into the ocean.