Portuguese SAGAS – The Praia

24th June 2018

Yesterday I went to the beach. It was hot in Penela and that is when we take refuge at the beach.

Praia Da Vieira Da Leiria is my favourite and has been for many years. I came there seven years ago and fell in love. The people are wonderful, the beach is beautiful and the food in some of the restaurants is amazing.

Perhaps this will be my only trip to Vieira this year but even so it was worth it.

It was 30 something here in Penela when I left in the morning. It takes about 90 minutes to drive to Vieira and slowly it got cooler. The windows open and the wind blowing through made the drive quite pleasant. When I arrived at Praia it was just 25 degrees. Wonderful!

Usually, when going at this time of the year to Vieira it would be packed and difficult to find a parking spot.

I had been a bit worried about that but hoped I would not have to walk too far if I was not feeling too well.

Strange, it was just like an ordinary day and not like it was June, when I looked at the cars. I drove through the village, just to make sure. Yes, something was different.

Few people at the beach and not many were walking around.

I don´t like sunbathing. I find it boring and walking around is interesting. Since my skin is delicate and I have already had skin cancer there is not much that drags me to lie down and lick the sun. I have always a hat in my car and most of the time I forget to put it on, and if I put it on my head it goes off quickly. Hats are hot, I mean they make my head hot and I don´t like the water running down my face!

This time I forgot the hat, so nothing to worry about there, except the women I passed all had a hat on their heads and I admit I felt a bit guilty not taking care of myself.

My legs are like white corps, they never get any colour, but I like having them without socks when it is hot, like yesterday. Of course I am wearing healthy shoes. Since I broke my shoulder I am extra careful with my footwear and really don´t care if they are beautiful or not. Comfort is the word.

Breathing in the smell of the sea is something.

Listening to the sound of the waves dancing around the beach is the love of my live.

The fishermen were preparing to go out again. This was the second time; they go early in the morning and then again more or less at lunch time.

The boats are not big.

They are small and I always wonder how the brave men dare to go out on these tiny vessels. The sea is rough. When I watch them, the boats, disappear and I think about how far away they are I get a knot in my stomach and pray they all come back.

There was still some fish at the market but since I did not have anything cold to bring them in back to Penela I did not buy anything, but it was tempting.

I was getting hungry and had decided to try something new.

While I was contemplating where to sit down I passed an elderly lady sitting on a chair with an umbrella to shield her from the sun. She was trying to get her jacket around her shoulders and I asked if she needed help.

She looked at me and smiled. 2 teeth smiled at me. She was grateful and showed me what she wanted me to do for her. It can be difficult when you get older to move your arms around to put the jacket around the shoulders, and then it is good to have some strange foreigner passing by who can ask in Portuguese if the lady needs help.

The wind was blowing from sea and although I found it pleasant she did not. Just an ordinary day!

I came to the restaurants. Last year I had already been in the first one and had a salmon, which was ok but today I needed something special.

I looked at the menus; the waiters came and asked if they could help. I told them I was thinking.

After thinking and walking around I came back to the one at the corner, the salmon one. Everyone was sitting inside, the view is amazing from there but I wanted to eat and prefer to watch the sea from outside. I could have the whole aria outside for myself!

I looked at the menu.

50 euros for one person!

That is too much!

I’m not going to eat for 50 euros plus water and desert and everything, I would end up paying 100 euros and I can eat for that 10 times at least. The waiter came to me. I looked at him, perhaps a bit devastated and he said: Look, we have something amazing not so expensive.

There was a pricelist on one of the pillars.

Yes, this was different. 7, 5 euros and up to 10.

Of course this was just the main menu but who cares. I might end up paying 16 for everything, including desert and I knew the food was good.

I ordered and got snails for appetiser with bread. They did not have goat cheese and I did not want the olives. The olives are everywhere.

My God, the snails were yummy. I will definitely have them again, the next time.

Then it was time for the main course. It was some kind of fish, I have no idea what, but it was delish and white beans with wonderful sauce and white rice. I asked for the rice, I like rise with my food but sometimes, well most of the time, here in Portugal it is cooked to hell but this one was not. It was fluffy and wonderful.

I could not eat half of my main course but that is simply because I don´t eat much. I asked the waiter to give my compliments to the cook.

For desert I had a Brule. Oh, my day was just like in heaven.

The cook in this restaurant is an elderly Portuguese lady. In the other restaurants the cooks are young and in some of them even not from Portugal although making “Portuguese food”.

Usually I don´t like Portuguese cooking. They kill the food and it does not taste of anything except salt and oil. Sorry.

Yesterday was different. The wonderful lady that is the cook in my now favourite restaurant knows how to make proper food.

It was not too salty and it was not too sweet. It was not floating in oil. It was just perfect. I have to meet her the next time. I want to see her and give her a hug. It is so rare to get Portuguese cooking like this.

The waiters, 2 of them, told me what I could have next time and I am definitely going to take their suggestions into account. Fish on spear! Yessss! And not filthy expensive, just a tiny bit, but well worth trying.

So after dinner I left and walked around, met some people and I asked them why there were so few people at the beach this time. They told me that this year and last one fever tourist came. They did not know what happened but this was the case.

One young man told me that when he and his friends were children they got into the pinewoods for playing. He said with so much sorrow in his voice that his children would never see the pine woods. They would never be able to play in the woods like he had. He shed a tear. Just imagine the tragedy of the destruction of those old trees which takes centuries to rebuild. The cleaning has begun and it is devastating to look at the gaping holes.

This is where I came every summer and collected pines for the winter to use in my fireplace. No more pines there. No more live there, just horrible manmade destruction. Madness and nothing else!

Will the criminals be put in jail?

I asked the young men I was talking to.

They said no.

The criminals have got money and they bribe the judges, they said.

So sad, but the reality is in front of us when we drive through the destruction. The history has been put on fire. Lives were lost and nothing can be done.

The criminals get away and everything pretends to be normal again.

I will go back to Vieira later in the summer. There is no way the criminals will keep me away. They cannot!

I hope all the brave fishermen came back yesterday and next time I will go down to the boats and talk to some of them. I want to know more about the fisherman’s life in my little land.

I might need to bring sandalias with me next time!

 

Hulda Björnsdóttir

Author: hulda9

I am Icelandic but live in Portugal. When I was young I had a dream. I wanted to travel around the world. I wanted to experience different cultures. My dream came true and I went to London. When going through the Chinese display in the British Museum I began to cry. I cried and experienced this longing and sadness. At that moment I knew I had to go to China. Arriving there for the first time I felt finally at home, a feeling I never had in Iceland. In Iceland I was an outsider. My mother passed away and I decided to move. My destination was China. I lived there for a while but had to sell my house and move because permanent residence was not granted to me. I moved to Portugal and that was 6 and a half years ago. In China I taught English and dance. In Portugal I am a retired resident. Now I am 72 years old. I love to write and want to share with you some of my experience in those 2 countries and also just my simple thoughts. Portugal is my final destination on this earth. Even though I have many years behind me, my mind is clear. I enjoy the life and make the most of every day. I love to sing, to study and most of all I love to be alive. I hope you will enjoy reading my thoughts that I share with you.

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