Aaaggh! I’m trippin’ out!

One of the goals of this blog was to keep track of all the places we’ve been. It can be a bit of a blur to try and remember each trip, especially when every couple of months we find ourselves galavanting around Europe like a couple of international jewel thieves evading Interpol.

But you know it’s really bad (or you’re just getting too damn old) when you forget to do the thing you’re supposed to do so you won’t forget the thing you did before you forget you ever did it. Or something.

Anyway, I realized the post before this was about Paris, including our unforgettable trip to Bruuuuuuuge, but that we left a couple of things out and I got so wrapped up in, um, being retired I guess, that I forgot to post them.

Like the Eiffel Tower here. I can’t figure out how my iPhone was able to see through my ‘shroom haze (to demonstrate my vast knowledge of hallucinogenics, I once called shrooms “stools,” to the great amusement of anyone within earshot), but obviously the Eiffel and I were tripping big time for a while. Fortunately, only good trips get blogged on Bald Sasquatch.

During our Parisian excursion, one of the places we drove to (apparently too quickly, I’ve now expanded my country speeding ticket collection to include Luxembourg, Spain, and France) was Fontainebleau, also known as “The Poor Man’s Versailles…” as long as your definition of “poor man” is “less rich than a couple of people in the world.”

The Palace of Fontainebleau served as a residence for a number of French monarchs, from Louis VII to Napoleon III to Fred KJSU (if they can use letters for numbers I can too!). As with Versailles, the palace is positively dripping with opulence. In fact, there was so much opulence-dripping we had to bring umbrellas, and while doing so I invented a new hands-free way to carry them around. ©2022 BaldSasquatch.com so you can’t steal the idea.

Carolyn, on the other hand, reacted like the mushroom tea just kicked in when the rain started pouring. After five years, I think she’s forgotten all about Oregon rain, so she was pretty amazed over the whole thing.

Fontainebleau translates to: “blue fountain.” (I bet you never could’ve figured that out… but it does mean every time you use the toilet in an airliner you’re pretty much doing the Fontainebleau. By the way, it’s good to announce in a loud voice that you’re “going to the Fontainebleau!” on a French airline so they’ll be impressed).

Fontainebleau is actually a welcome respite compared to Versailles, mostly because of the crowds, or lack thereof. Everyone goes to Versailles because it’s close to Paris, but apparently 55 kilometers (or 34 miles with the Caveman Measuring System) is too far to go to see even more, as the French say, of the “Three Big O’s:” opulent, ornate, and ostentatious. For some reason, the best words to describe these places all begin with an “O.” That’s why the royal seal has an opossum on it. Of course, the Brits decided to jab at the French by taking the “O” out of “possum.” But, did anyone ever pronounce the “O?” The Opossum/Possum saga has always baffled me. It is the same animal, right? No wonder they play dead all the time, we’ve confused the hell out of them.

Imagine driving to this home from a long day at work. I’d probably feel even more tired just realizing I was going to have to walk a half a mile to the bathroom. Keep in mind they hadn’t invented those speakers some American houses had, you know, the ones that no one ever used. I think the people who thought they were a good idea completely forgot that yelling had already been invented. Especially in big families.

If you want to know how effective propaganda can be, Napoleon (I get confused at all the Napoleons, III, IV, whatever. When I think of Napoleon I think of that short guy who conquered lots of places and was always itching his belly button when his portrait was painted), was actually of average height for the time. The Brits threw shade at him just to make him seem less impressive. Of course the French threw shade right back by making sure everyone in the world thought that English cuisine sucked. Oh wait, is it still propaganda if it’s true? Anyway, you can see here that obviously Carolyn could have pounded the crap out of the little guy, but since the average height of most people was two stone and forty quid (I don’t know what those things mean, but I like to pretend to sound like I do), it’s obvious he would’ve had to tap out while she squeezed the life out of him with her thighs. Sadly, if she would’ve really been alive back then at her current height, they would’ve probably either jailed her for being too threatening or used her as a circus freak.

Napoleon the Belly Button Fondler actually sat upon this throne.

Sure, they didn’t have telephones back then, but they figured out plenty of other ways to keep abreast of developments around the country.

It’s kind of funny to think that one of the world’s most powerful men used this as a bathtub. Based on all the other opulence, I would’ve thought he would’ve had a tub the size of an olympic swimming pool. Did you know they used to allow commoners to drink Napoleon’s bath water in order to “give them the strength and wisdom of an emperor?” No? I didn’t either, I just made that up. I have, however, always wondered if a Pope’s excrement is considered holy shit. Holy shit! I can’t believe I wrote that.

The first Royal Decorator who suggested the idea of “white space” was immediately beheaded. The subsequent designers got the hint.

Here, a globe symbolizes what the earth would look like if it existed in a wooden stand in a big long room.

Like Adolph Hitler, Napoleon was a wanna-be artist. But while Hitler had some actual artistic talent (gawd why didn’t someone give him a job as an artist- the world would’ve been spared a lot of misery!), the only talent Napoleon had was threatening to behead anyone who didn’t think his drawings were awesome. “Ooh, Nappy, you captured the splashes so perfectly!” she says as she silently puzzles over why the man is peeing out of his feet.

It’s a little known fact that the only reason Napoleon ended up invading a couple of countries is because he took a wrong turn trying to find his bedroom.

I took a picture of these guys just in case they are famous, because they were being filmed while performing a rap song in front of the palace. So if they are famous and you know who they are, be sure to drop me a line so I can add to my strut a little at having been so close to fame. Ooh, I get all tingly at the hopeful prospect!

Here follows the rest of the pictures of Fontainebleau. I completely forgot which hilarious and/or witty comment I was going to make about each of them. But trust me, you’d be rolling right now if I wasn’t too old to remember, um, whatever thing I was supposed to remember just then. Time for a nap!

This is the actual town of Fontainebleau. Nothing particularly special, the palace is the only reason you’d really want to go there I think. Although we had a delightful lunch.

Don’t follow my example. I learned the hard way what happens when you speed in France. I would’ve thought one cop van would’ve been enough, but no-o-o-o.

Oh crap- I almost forgot. That was going to be the end of this post, but I just saw my folder full of shots of the Louvre. I’ll make it quick, because I know you probably have a text to see on your phone or something to itch soon.

A very nice benefit of being at a place the second time is that you can just take this shot of the Mona Lisa from the entrance to the room and call it good. Either that, or I thought that bald guy was incredibly interesting and Mona was just photobombing me.

Napoleon also lived at the Louvre (clocking in at a paltry 652,300 square feet or 60,600 square meters) as well as Fontainebleau, because of course one ostentatious, opulent, ornate residence is hardly enough to befit an emperor. In fact, he only used this room to change his socks.

I took these shots because I had something hilarious to say about ostriches, but damned if I can remember what it was. So do me a favor and snort a bit for me while you look at these so we can pretend to wring a little humor out of it all anyway. Maybe it was ostrichtatious? Damn. I give up.

OK, I can’t top that ostrich joke (if I ever think of it), so here are the rest of the Louvre shots:

Last but not least, this is an actual picture of my eye. A store in the Louvre markets this, selling you both an electronic and printed image of your eye. But the actual truth is, now that you’ve looked into the all-seeing eye, I’ll always be able to watch you. In fact, there’s a little broccoli in your teeth. I’m glad to see you’re eating well, but you might want to take care of that before you get botulism. Or rabies.

In Bruges with Colin Farrell

Back in 2008, a movie named In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, was released to the theaters. As I watched it I found myself smitten by the scenery of the locale. It looked completely authentic; I was certain it wasn’t filmed on a sound stage. I left the theater hoping that some day I’d be able to see the town in person.

Like so many actors, Colin’s not that tall, but I still have a bit of a man crush on him. He is a hoot to watch on screen.

So when we ended up in Paris for the third time, I noticed that Bruges was only a three hour drive away. Since my friend Colin Farrell had been bugging me for a meet-up anyway, I decided to give him a call and we agreed to meet in Bruges. He said he’s always felt bad that one of his first lines in the movie was, “What a shithole.”

Because of course Bruges is anything but.

If you haven’t seen In Bruges, and can deal with a bit of violence and a lot of cursing (it’s about a couple of hitmen after all, and as we all know hitmen are always swearing up a blue streak; it’s why I never invite them over to dinner with my parents), then you’ll find yourself enjoying a delightful and droll comedy/thriller. The bonus is that the setting is so charming, even after over a dozen years its siren song was still calling out to me. I watched it again when we returned home, and sure enough, we had wandered through virtually every outdoor scene in the movie. Much of it was filmed right in the main town square. Additionally, the movie’s charm held up for me all these many years later, so it was a win all the way around.

Colin couldn’t spend all day with us because I’d already told him numerous times that no one wants to spend all day with an actor, but he did ask us for some photos because he understands that most people wouldn’t believe we are friends without the photographic evidence. We assured him that the evidence wasn’t really necessary, and that we’d be happy to confirm to any of his friends that we all knew each other. He seemed satisfied with that. We don’t only associate with royalty, after all; we can slum it with the best of them.

Colin poses with Carolyn after calling after us across the square. We didn’t recognize him at first, but fortunately this blog has made us world famous so he recognized us right away. Crisis averted!

Of course we had to get a shot in front of The Belfry of Bruges, a medieval bell tower in the center of old town, originally built around 1240. We didn’t see any bats in the belfry. But here’s a funny little anecdote: we decided not to walk up all the stairs to get to the top because, well, Colin’s a smoker and we didn’t think he could make it without hacking up a lung. The good news is some of the scenes in the movie were filmed right in the tower, so when I rewatched the movie I could see all the scenery we missed! There wasn’t as much shooting in real life, however.

Like just about every town in the universe with canals, Bruges is often called “the Venice of…” in this case, the North.” I suppose there must be a “Venice of Mars.” I call my inner ear “The Venice of my Skull.” The rest is alimentary, my dear Watson.

Here Colin is just being Colin, he simply had to take his shirt off to show off a little, joking that he was going to dive into the canal. Carolyn suggested he put his shirt back on, but only after tossing his shirt in the water so she could ogle his trim physique for a while longer. Oh behave Carolyn!

After drying off and making yet another wardrobe change, one of the horse & buggy drivers recognized him and stopped her carriage. Colin did what Colin has done for us numerous times over the years and bought us a ride. I mean, even I would have stopped for that hunk of roasted man meat if I were driving the carriage, so I can’t blame a pretty blonde!

He wanted so badly to ride with us, but we told him we really preferred a romantic ride on our own, and it was probably best that he be on his way anyway. I mean, you can only play with a Colin for so long before things get, you know, irritated. He begged to buy us lunch, but we demurred and I gave him a big hug and thanked him for the ride and sent him on his way. What a special treat to see such a charming city and at the same time catch up with our good friend! Good luck to you Colin! I hope your next movie is better than Alexander!

We finished off the ride with a nice tour of the town. It was not only romantic, but also helped us make sure that we’d seen all there was to see… although it’s not a very big town so it wasn’t a very long ride. But now that Colin was out of our hair (well, Carolyn’s anyway, but maybe my beard hair?), we were free to explore without any more interruptions. I mean, he’s a nice guy and all, but just a little clingy.

Swans live up to 20 years in the wild, and mate for life. Here’s some other swan trivia for you: the term “swan song” came to be because swans supposedly sing the most beautifully before they die. The term originated in ancient Greek culture, with the first written reference in 458 BC. That’s a couple thousand years of swan song hits!

Way down upon the Swanee River, far, far away.
That’s where my heart is yearning ever, home where the old folks stay
!

If you were to base your understanding of Belgian cuisine solely by using Bruges as your guide, you might come away with the idea that the three main Belgian food groups are waffles, chocolate, and beer (in fact, Belgium used to serve light beer to kids in grade school).

I’d never really given a lot of consideration to the thought that Belgian waffles were any more of a thing than, say, French toast or English muffins. But it appears the Belgians either take their Belgian waffles very seriously or simply got tired of answering tourists’ questions about where they could score some Belgian waffles. Also, it seemed as if every other store was a chocolate shop. We also saw plenty of macarons, which make for pretty pictures.

Here’s some true chocolate trivia for you: Belgium produces more than 220,000 tons of chocolate per year, and Belgium’s Zaventem airport has the highest number of chocolate sales in the world.

As you can see, Bruges is charming beyond words, it really is the quintessential medieval tourist town. In fact, Bruges became one of the world’s first tourist destinations back in the second half of the 19th century, so this town is old hat at putting out the tourist shingle.

In Dutch, the name is spelled Brugg, and is pronounced Brooj. The name probably derives from the Old Dutch for ‘bridge’: brugga. Why it was turned into “Bruges” in English is beyond me, other than maybe someone was confused about the two g’s and called it, you know, “Bru with the g’s,” and so eventually just became Bruges. But it’s still pronounced Brooj.

Bruges is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. While it was occupied by the Germans during the war, no significant damage was done either time it changed hands, even to the waffles.

A fitting picture for all the people who skimmed over all my words while only thinking, “Blah blah blah.” Yeah, well they named a hotel just for you buddy!

Third Time’s the French Charm!

For some reason it took three visits, but after our third visit to Paris I came away realizing that you know what? The French are actually a very nice and friendly people!

I have no idea if my belief that they were rude, snooty, and snobbish was instilled by the ever-competitive Brits or the Americana belief system whereby everyone who’s not American must have something wrong with them, but for pretty much all my life I have felt some degree of disdain over the haughtiness of the French. Indeed, if you were to go back into this blog, I’m sure I poked fun at that more than once.

We’d definitely rather deal with pickpockets than mass shooters.

But after some very enjoyable restaurant meals with animated and friendly servers, as well as interacting with helpful guides at the Louvre and elsewhere, engaging in friendly banter when buying anything, or saying, “Bonjour” to strangers as we passed by and actually getting the same in response, it dawned on me that we’d been giving the French, and especially Parisians, the short shrift all this time. Obviously, in any big city there are going to be people in a hurry, or who are abrupt, or who want to pickpocket you, but overall this visit completely changed my outlook on the French. I’m sure they can all rest comfortably now.

The funny thing about Paris for us is that only the very first visit was planned. We went there again a few years ago when our flight from Crete to Athens was delayed, so we ended up booking a flight to Paris because the next flight to Lisbon was god-awful expensive for some reason, and decided to stay there most of another week (one of the benefits of being retired!). This time, we only went because my son and his family were coming to visit so we thought we’d show them one of the world’s most beautiful cities, but alas, major surgery scuttled those plans and they couldn’t make it this time. But we had non-cancellable tickets we didn’t want to let go to waste, so here we go again!

Obviously, once in Paris, the first thing you enjoy seeing is the Eiffel Tower, even if you’ve already seen it multiple times. As we drove in from the airport, I couldn’t help but wonder why it looked so skinny as compared to my memory of it. It really flummoxed me until Carolyn gently pointed out that what I was gawking at wasn’t the Eiffel Tower. “Oh, of course I knew that!” I said haughtily while quickly pocketing my iPhone.

One thing we did experience in Paris this trip was a lot of crazy traffic. Traffic jams were everywhere. We saw more car accidents in five days in Paris than we have the previous five years in Portugal. And we thought the Portuguese were crazy drivers! I have no idea if what we experienced was the norm or if everyone in Paris was upset that there was an American couple using their roads, but I was just glad that we didn’t have our own accident, especially since many car rental companies in Europe pull out a magnifying glass and try to charge you for even the smallest scratch when you return the car. We used Sixt this time, but never again. I think it may be their business model to rent cars with the tiniest of dings on them and then charge the customers 300 euros for a ten cent repair that isn’t even needed especially because no one would have noticed it in the first place. But now, with the power of the BaldSasquatch blog, we’ll bring them to their knees! Take that you Sixt bastards!

During our first foray into Paris we turned a corner and unexpectedly directly up ahead was that iconic structure. Despite the fact that we’ve seen it now a number of times, it still looks impressive. There’s little doubt you’re in Paris when you see the Eiffel Tower! Unless you’re in Las Vegas.

In the wild, cranes flock together for safety.

The architecture throughout Paris is so striking and beautiful. This visit reminded us that the center of Paris, with its gorgeous buildings, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the gardens, the museums, the River Seine, and so much more, makes it one of the most beguiling cities in the world. Even UNESCO is headquartered in Paris. I’m surprised they have the time to investigate any heritage sites outside of the city!

Everywhere you look, there are flowers, expansive gardens, magnificent old buildings, old farts posing, and even Doors of the Day.

As if that weren’t enough, they even have one of the world’s longest urban motorway tunnels. Once you’re in, you’re committed to a 10.1 km (6.3 mi) journey underground, claustrophobia or no. The ceiling is low because it’s only for cars… and truckers who have been pining away for a convertible.

I suppose this is appropriate time for a segue to show pictures of the Catacombs, because, you know, it’s underground, potential death lurks around every corner, and no one’s driving an AMC Pacer.

First, they make you walk down 3 or 4 or 50 flights of stairs (we lost count when thinking about walking back up) and then about a hundred miles (lots of kms in old people parlance) through this tunnel.

Once you survive that, you come face-to-face, er, skull-to-skull, with thousands of remnants of people who used to breathe, fight, make love, kick their dog… but never drove an AMC Pacer. And yet died anyway.

It’s estimated that there are over 200 miles of tunnels underneath Paris. The Catacombs were originally created due to overcrowding in the cemeteries. By the 18th century, they had grown so overcrowded those who lived close to them complained of strong odors and even started to get sick themselves. Kind of like living next to Steve Jobs in his fruitarian heyday.

This is called The Barrel. I always wanted to be a bone artist. I wonder if the Portuguese would mind if I dug up a few graves?

I swear I didn’t notice anything amiss until after we got home and I saw it on my laptop and photoshopped it.

My final analysis is that if you are really itching to see human bones, the Catacombs will do the trick, although the Chapel of Bones in in Evora, Portugal will scratch the same itch for a lot less money and a lot less walking underground. Since we are veterans of the Chapel of the Bones, it didn’t do as much for us as it might have. But who knows, we might feel different to-marrow.

We’ll finish off this chapter with something much more pleasant, and one of the things that no one can argue with: French food. We ate too many pastries, but you know, when in Rome, er- Paris…

And here, Portugal was born

If you’re gonna explore anything, it can sometimes be beneficial to go all the way back to the beginning… just like when you go on an enjoyable first date and subsequently request all their birth records and visit their birth hospital just to make sure everything’s on the up and up before you agree to see them again.

With that in mind, during our wanderings around north Portugal, we made a pit stop in Guimarães, which is known as as the birthplace of Portugal, to see if we should give Portugal a second date.

It didn’t take us long to find the actual birthplace, mostly because they have a big sign that says Aqui Nasceu Portugal: Here Was Bornded Portugal.

(They must have cleaned up all the afterbirth and stuff because we didn’t see anything like that anywhere near the sign, but since the sign wasn’t graffiti we decided to believe them.)

The city was settled in the 9th century, and is believed to be the birthplace of Portugal’s first King, Afonso Henriques. Additionally, the the Battle of São Mamede was fought in the vicinity and is considered the seminal event for the foundation of the Kingdom of Portugal. Also, there is evidence that the first ever horse & wagon wreck happened there, which led to future generations of crazy Portuguese drivers.

You might be shocked to learn that other than that, our main interest in the town was the Castle of Guimarães. Who woulda thunk? Next to the castle is a 15th century Ducal Palace. It was a sort of two-for-one deal, so all the pictures are sort of muddled up together.

So hmm hmm, most of our pictures of the town were of the castle and palace. But it was a thoroughly enjoyable 10th century castle, preserved just the right amount, with of course the standard gorgeous views of the countryside. We were castle-sated that day!

As you can see, the rest of Guimarães, with its UNESCO World Heritage Site historic town center, is as charming and beautiful as any Portuguese town.

We interrupt this blog to present the view we had from our apartment rental above Braga. A treasured view every time we returned from our explorations:

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Of course, no visit to northern Portugal would be complete without a stop in Povoa de Lanhoso. We only say that because we did stop there.

But Povoa de Lanhoso is a great example as to the difference between living in Europe casually driving around without a plan, and visiting Europe from overseas and acting like a crazed Portuguese driver just to get to every one of the places on the Top Ten Best Things to See list you found on the internet. Because we live here, we’re able to wander around and find all sorts of treasures; places that wouldn’t otherwise have earned much of a mention. But some of these have become our very favorite spots.

For instance, we found a cute little monastery on a hill with a small castle, just minding its own business and not bothering anybody.

The views it offered were as good as any we’ve seen in even the most major castles in Portugal.

Although as usual we were endlessly fascinated at how little protection they offered between visitors and certain death. They had this little rope fence for part of it, but otherwise a toddler could easily wander out there, start with a small somersault, and not stop rolling until he became a hood ornament for one of those cars.

There was also a nice little restaurant on top of the hill. We decided to have lunch there and very much enjoyed the experience. They even gave Carolyn a rose, and we’re still pretty sure it wasn’t some sort of unusual North Portugal dessert. Didn’t taste like it to me anyway.

As you can tell by these photos, we really did like the food. Everyone always takes photos of their plates before they eat, but here at BaldSasquatch, we prove to you that the food actually tasted great by showing you the aftermath!

Ultimately, this tip of a hill with its tiny castle, monastery, and restaurant provided another great off-the-beaten-path place that we very much enjoyed.

Another excellent example of that is our visit to Citânia de Briteiros.

What is Citânia de Briteiros you ask? Oh, pshaw, who hasn’t heard of Citânia de Briteiros? For you geography luddites, Citânia de Briteiros is an archaeological site that dates back to the Iron Age. The Iron Age dates back about 3,000 years ago, which is the same as if some archeologist in the year 5000 finds this blog. Think about that. The year 5000. You have to go about halfway through the song In The Year 2525 just to get to that date, and they go all the way to 9595!

We honestly didn’t expect much out of Citânia de Briteiros, it simply popped up on Google Maps while we were driving around and we were in the vicinity so we tracked it down, thinking there might be a good fish & chips restaurant there.

Turns out it was an absolute charmer, despite the lack of fish & chips. It is one of the most excavated sites in the northwestern Iberian Peninsula, with evidence of settlements beginning at the Iron Age and extending into the Bronze and the Middle Ages, where it grew a little too much belly fat and died of a heart attack. Yes folks, middle age spread kills!

Essentially, one is able to wander around and imagine what it might be like to live in an Iron Age town. The inhabitants are believed to have been Celtic. One can almost hear the children playing basketball while one walks on the many paths that run through the remains of their village. Oops, Little Fattie Ferdinand just rolled off one of the cliffs… and he hasn’t stopped rolling! That’s pretty much all they had for entertainment back then: watch kids roll off the hills and make new ones.

The town was so extensive we even got lost. “Let’s see, I’m pretty sure we were supposed to take a right at the McDonalds…”

Fortunately, they left up the ancient signs for the toilets. I think it stands for Bowelevium Movium, but my Latin is a little rusty.

Last but not least, we’re happy to officially announce that Waldo has been found! Yep, he was working groceries in northern Portugal this whole time! Sorry you’re gonna have to throw out all those Where’s Waldo books, because the mystery is solved!

And thus completes our trip to the north of Portugal!

In Gerês, the Pretty Women Look Like Cows

I was under the impression that The Peneda-Gerês National Park (normally just called “Gerês”) was home to the Richard Gere family, and that we might experience sightings of either Richard or some hookers that look like Hollywood movie stars, because of course we all know most hookers look like Julia Roberts.

But we had to settle for a bunch of Barrosão (or Barrosã) cattle. They might also be known as Cachena, it’s a little confusing to us non-dairy creamer– er farmers. Anyway, whatever you call them, they are a breed of “triple-purpose cattle,” (I’m thinking the triple purpose means milk, meat, and playing extras in movies) native to Spain and Portugal. The ones we saw may not actually have been in any movies, but they sure meandered down the road like they were on a red carpet. Plus they refused autographs. Udderly entitled cows. Pssh.

Gerês is the oldest protected area and the only national park in Portugal. So we decided to take a drive through it and see what all the fuss was about. To be honest, there wasn’t any fuss. Sometimes we just make things up for dramatic effect. We like to horse around, like some of Gerês’s taxis.

The park covers an area of about 696 square kilometers, or 269 square miles, which is about the size of the country of Bahrain. While Bahrain is home to over 1.7 million people, only about 9,000 Portuguese live in Gerês. So I’m just spitballin’ here, but if Bahrain ever runs out of room… just sayin’. Anyway, above are the top scenic shots from the drive as voted on by so, so many of our loyal readers.

There are also a number of megalithic (which means “very big lithic”) structures and Roman ruins in the area, but we mostly just gawked at nature’s natural beauty because we couldn’t find any lithics at all, no matter how hard we didn’t try.

Dam.

To the west of Gerês, is the municipality of Viana do Castelo. With a name like that, we were pretty certain there’d be a castle in the vicinity, so we tore through the national park and drove like bats outa hell to see it.

Despite the impressive-looking sign and the promise offered up by a Very Old Wall (or VOW as we castle hunters like to quip condescendingly), the castle was a bust. Not a female-breast-bust, or a statue of someone’s head, but a pure, unadulterated, complete and total bust, as in well sheeit, we passed up additional views of Barrosão asses just for this? There was a hotel in there, but we were so disappointed at the lack of castleness we rated the hotel one star on Yelp.com, even though we never set foot in the place. From the depths of passionate spite came posts that the cockroaches were eating the mice, one of the bathroom tiles looked like it could come loose if you only took a hammer to it, and that there were human feces in the mini-fridge (although we admitted they could have been tootsie rolls). The fact that I accidentally posted all that on our own rentable apartment would actually be funny if I could only figure out how to take it down.

To make up for the lack of castely things in town, they built a big Santuario on top of a hill overlooking the city and the mouth of the Lima river, famous for not ever growing lima beans.

Human settlement in the area began during the Mesolithic (which means “very messy lithic”) era. The Mesolithic is also called the Middle Stoned Age, I think because that’s when they first discovered marijuana. Or maybe it was fentanyl. Either way, it’s obvious that the drugs were bad for them because not a one of those people is still alive today. See what happens when you do drugs, kids?

It was a nice area, but the best thing about it was the views. While we didn’t get our castle, we got 57.6% of what we usually look for out of castles.

This guy had a great view, but list that among the jobs I’d never take, right behind prostitution and being a handler for one of Richard Gere’s pet hamsters.

Why do the Portuguese want to bomb Jesus?

During our visit to Northern Portugal, we spent some time in the city of Braga. While we were wandering the streets, I was startled to discover a couple of signs imploring people to bomb Jesus! “What th–?” I stammered. I mean, the Portuguese are predominantly Catholic, so how can they allow this???

Now, if one were to print a picture of Muhammad for instance, even one where he’s uncharacteristically handsome, you can rest assured that a mob of Muslims will swarm your offices armed with pickaxes, AK-47s, grenades, maybe a small nuke or two, and at least one pair of opened scissors. But what happens when someone says “bomb Jesus?” Nothing! Today’s Christians always get the short shrift when it comes to killing unbelievers!

And so when I saw this restaurant had even changed its name in order to exhort people to commit that violence, I’d had enough. I stormed into the restaurant and demanded to see the owner. While I waited, I grew very suspicious because I noticed that they didn’t even have a water-to-wine bar. Ppphlphth.

Warning: Some Bad Jesuses have mean left hooks.

Well, ahem, it appears we haven’t been paying as much attention to our Portuguese lessons as we should. After hearing me out, he gently reminded me that “bom” means “good” in Portuguese.

To salvage my honor, I harrumphed just a bit and adjusted my pants. “Yeah but, if you’re saying there’s a good Jesus, you’re implying there’s a bad one as well, right? So where is this Bad Jesus?”

At that point, I launched into a diatribe that somehow led to referencing the former Major League baseball player named Jesus Alou. For some reason that only confused matters. Especially since the Portuguese know as much about baseball as Americans know about the color of Putin’s underwear. (My guess: It’s very, very black, just like his soul.)

Speaking of Jesus Alou, why is it mostly only Spanish-speaking people who name their children Jesus? How come no Hindus or Japanese ever do? Jesus Yamamoto would be a bad-ass name name for the leader of a Yakuza gang. Just sayin’.

Anyway, the Portuguese are unfailingly polite, especially to estrangeiros, but I’m telling ya, I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy who ushered me out of that restaurant was Bad Jesus himself. I dusted myself off and proceeded to walk around the sanctuary as if I were just a tourist. Which I was. And am. So there, you can’t take that away from me, Bad Jesus!

The Bom Jesus de Braga Sanctuary overlooks Braga, giving it some of the same appeal we get from castles: gorgeous views, a little bit of history, getting kicked out of restaurants, and being beaten up by Jesus.

Anyway, once we got all the Bom Jesus stuff straightened out, we realized that we were in the middle of another UNESCO heritage site. There are 1,155 of those in the world, and so every time we’re in one, we say, “Cool! That makes only–”(here we invariably find a reason to wipe our hand over our mouth) “…mmnmnmn to go!” All I know is at this rate, in order to see them all, we’ll be finishing off the last one on or about my 153rd birthday. And that’s just a guess because we don’t actually know how many we’ve already seen. Or even how old I am.

Like so much of Europe (actually all of it), it’s old. The occupation and subsequent development of the site as a holy place dates all the way back to the 14th century, when Joe Biden was still just a child.

Braga certainly does look bragworthy from this vantage point. By the way, do they call people who live in Braga Braggadocios?

There are parts of the Bom Jesus complex that are reminiscent of an amusement park, albeit without any rides like “the Roller Coaster of the Eleven Apostles” (Judas was of course kicked off), or the “Log in Your Eye Water Slide,” or “It’s a Small Purgatory.” In fact, there weren’t even any Mary-go-Rounds, which was a major surprise.

For those of you who can’t keep from stairing, there’s a whole set of them you can climb if you’re so inclimbed. I thought if you made it all the way to the top, you’d get some sort of ribbon or sticker or sucker, but no-o-o. Apparently our reward for that will be in heaven. Or maybe the prize was just to see the basilica at the top of the stairs.

I poked my head inside the basilica (note that I didn’t put my foot inside… I’ve sworn I’ll never step foot inside a European church or basilica again, if nothing else out of fear of getting basilicaitis, a known infliction of travelers who have seen one too many ostentatious displays of wealth from those who also tout the importance of helping the poor), and took a couple of photos of what made this particular basilica unique. So now I know how to sneak into a basilica without being caught… unique up on it!

While running up the stairs (okay, yeah, it was a slow crawl with a stop every four steps to put my hands on my knees, but let’s not get caught up in semantics, eh?), I noticed that some of the fountains had water pouring out of different orifices, so I took a picture of each one.

Turns out, it is a thing. The five flights of stairs are interspersed by landings with allegorical sources for the five senses: vision (well, maybe crying like a big baby is more like it), smell (never mind that it looks like he has a bad case of the snots), taste (never mind that it looks like he’s barfing), hearing (quite the bad ear infection!), and nice jugs.

Okay, if you’re skeptical that the last one really is nice jugs, I’d curious to know what sense you think this is portraying? I think they might’ve veered from the five senses idea to the seven deadly sins, and went straight to penis envy, even though the official description lists it as a water jug (yeah, right). Actually, the sense they’re trying to portray is touch, so, um, yeah. Frankly, there have been too many young lives irreparably damaged by predatory priests to make a joke here. Way too many. Truth be told, I’m still a little creeped out by this fountain.

Back to frivolity: if stairing isn’t your thing, you can always take a Tram-a-dol and save your lungs from breathing in all that extra air.

All in all, we felt Bom Jesus was a worthy addition to the “Sights of Braga: The Ones You Gotta See Or You’re Going to Hell” list.

Of course, if you do get sent down there you might meet this hamster, who tried to sneak in a bunch of popcorn to a movie theatre. Shame, hamster! Shame!

Go North Young Man!

During our time in Portugal, various Portuguese people have occasionally asked us where we’ve traveled inside the country, often followed by the question as to whether we’ve ever visited the north. Of course, they’re usually speaking Portuguese, so we just reply, “gracias” and move on.

Why we didn’t fly.

We had been up to Porto, but never much further north. So in order to allow us to offer a positive answer to that question (“sim” is much easier to pronounce than “não”), we decided to drive up there and see what all the fuss was about. It’s apparent that many Portuguese are proud of the natural beauty of that region, just like I’m proud of the natural beauty who regularly walks by my side, even when she fusses after I occasionally stick a foot out to trip her.

While we were there, we stopped in Barcelos, a town of over 100,000 that is best known in Portugal as the home of the Rooster of Barcelos. If you’ve ever been to Portugal, you will surely have seen all sorts of rooster imagery for sale. It is basically the national symbol of the country. Barcelos is also known as the town with the most parishes per capita in the country. Which may explain all the cocks.

Here’s some background on them from Wikipedia: One of the many legends of the rooster involves the town’s long history along a pilgrimage route. The story involves a wealthy man throwing a grand party, which ended after the silver had gone missing.

Among the guests was a pilgrim, who was accused of theft, and pleaded innocence before a judge. Unswayed by the pilgrim’s claims, the judge sentenced the pilgrim to hang. As final protest, the pilgrim invoked divine intercession: the rooster being prepared for the judge’s dinner would crow three times as proof of his innocence. As the execution approached, the judge at his dinner table watched the roasted bird miraculously crow three times. The judge quickly released the pilgrim, who would later return to Barcelos and commission a statue commemorating the divine providence.

(I don’t think that rooster was done being cooked. No wonder he was screaming like a banshee!)

Perhaps because we were there on a Sunday, we found it to be something of a sleepy little town. We knew there were supposed to be all sorts of examples of “figurado” style of pottery, which are comical figurines of various subjects. We didn’t encounter as many as we thought we would, but you, dear reader, get to avoid all that mucking about and just see ’em all in one sitting! Aren’t you glad you read Bald Sasquatch?

As you can see, there are certainly plenty of “figurados” littered about the town. Although I will say I can’t figure out why they chose a rooster as a national symbol over the guy playing the accordion. I’d take the sound of an accordion over a crowing rooster any day. Actually, maybe not. I just clicked on an accordion song on YouTube and after three minutes my head nearly exploded, and blood is still oozing from my ears.

We were quite excited to be able to wander around town with scant crowds, especially in the age of Covid. The extra nice thing is that it’s great to be able to walk around an open square like that and not worry about a sniper taking us down from one of those windows… like it was for me in the war, or like it is now in Ukraine, or a ton of video games, or Detroit. Not that we’ve ever actually been inside a video game, mind you. Or Ukraine. Or Detroit. But we have been to Barcelos!

For some reason the Portuguese gave us a wide berth when we wandered the streets. I wonder if it had anything to do with my sniper rifle?

While there, we stumbled upon a bike race. I mean, literally. I still have some tire tracks imprinted on my back. Apparently this event was for people who were really desperate to learn how to ride a bike- as you can see by the sign: all those desporto to learn were supposed to gather there. What? Oh. Carolyn just told me desporto actually means sport. “Never mind!” he says in a singsong voice. Anyway, I wonder if the Portuguese say, “Bom Desporto!” when someone doesn’t fuss after being tripped.

There’s not just roosters around the town, there are cranes too! Whoop! Whoop! (That was me whooping, not the crane.)

Someone was able to grow a potato that looks just like Putin!

So here are some examples of the typical Portuguese architecture, including some with that beautiful Portuguese tile, and others with doorways built for hobbits. Back in the last century, Portugal was ruled by a dictator, and as a result, nutrition was poor, and the Portuguese are still generally shorter than other Europeans because of it. It has taken them a long time to work their way out of that mess. Are you listening, Putin, you gigantic turd asswipe buttwad diarrhea-loving pitiful excuse of a human being who would be an insult to apes if we called you one? And that goes for anyone who likes that murdering thug. Or votes for dictators, wannabes or otherwise. Ugh! I mean, there is a reason why we call them dicktaters.

I guess my Russian readership may go down after that rant, but I don’t care, it’s hard to spend all those rubles anyway.

Okay, rant over. As you can see, it’s actually a very picturesque town. Obviously, because you’re looking at the picturesques now!

Okay, in a candid moment we can see Carolyn was perhaps a little disappointed that there weren’t more cocks for her to see. You can’t tell that about me because that’s just my normal resting face.

We also visited the city of Braga, a city of almost 200,000 inhabitants, making it the seventh largest municipality in Portugal. They are also home to the most braggarts in all the world.

As you can see in the background, we were astonished to discover the crane from Barcelos followed us all the way to Braga! Of course, with gorgeous mugs like ours what bird wouldn’t flip out over us? What? Storks you say? And hummingbirds? And eagles? And owls? And- okay, I get it. And thanks for the “All the Birds of the World” book.

Okay, I’m going to do all you Twitterers a favor and instead of making you read a bunch more stupid comments about various pictures, I’m just gonna put all the best ones in a gallery and be done with it. I will only add that if Braga was the first Portuguese town you’d ever visited, you’d marvel at the beauty and history, not knowing that almost every Portuguese town has those features. It also has a very nice area filled with shops and tourists and, sadly, a sole tower as a remnant of their castle. But we didn’t find anything excessively memorable, it’s just a pleasant Portuguese town. Maybe they should have called it Humblea.

Of course, as you can see, it is pretty. We may kid around, but we never take the beauty of Portuguese towns and cities for granted. Especially since there’s no one named Grant in all of Portugal.

Carolyn always tells me to smile for the camera, to which I often respond with a laugh, because with my beard and stoic-looking face, people can never tell if I’m smiling, grimacing, or awake. Of course, I usually don’t know either.

There’s more to come from Northern Portugal, don’t you worry about that! What? You weren’t worried? In fact you didn’t even read this? I’m talking to air? Well fine, then your father was a hamster and your mother smelt of elderberries!

Holy Toledo! And Áahhvila, Spain!

If I had a euro for every time someone asked us if we’d been to Toledo (pronounced tə-LAY-doh) Spain yet, I’d have a couple more euros. But it truly is one of the favorite places of some of our friends, and one of our sons says it has been a lifelong dream of his to visit there. So we did it for him.

Toledo is a city full of so much history that the entire city was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site. It’s located on the banks of the Tagus River, which means if we’d wanted to we could’ve procured (a fancy word for “stolen”) a boat and sailed all the way back to Lisbon. But then we remembered that Marco, our beloved VW Polo, can’t swim, so we opted to let him take us home on land.

Many Americans have heard of Toledo mostly due the phrase “Holy Toledo!” I looked up the origins of that phrase and found a reference to the 1920’s & 1930’s, when Toledo, Ohio was an agreed-upon sanctuary between cops and gangsters. But I also found another reference saying that it arose due to all the churches in Toledo, Spain.

However, it is actually Ávila, as you’ll see below, that is known for having the highest number of Romanesque and Gothic churches per capita in Spain. Still, I think we can all agree that “Holy Toledo!” sounds a lot better than “Holy Ávila!” especially since most Americans wouldn’t pronounce Ávila correctly anyway. But I tend to think it’s probably the gangster story that’s true. I haven’t heard any Europeans ever utter the phrase, even when confronted with something as amazing and weird as my bald head, so I’m pretty sure it’s an American thing.

So we viewed some of the obligatory cathedrals, etc., but truth be told, the cathedrals in Toledo kinda put us over our European Church and Cathedral Limit (aka the dreaded ECCL). Maybe it’s appropriate that it happened in “holy Toledo.” Truly, some of those religious structures are amazing, some display incredible riches (which we always find a little hypocritical), and many of them display the full extent of the architectural abilities of the peoples of that time. But after a while, they all start kinda looking the same. While I promise the above photos were taken in Toledo, you and I both know I could have pasted any photos from almost any cathedral and no one would’ve known the difference.

But the rest of Toledo was as beautiful as advertised. It’s quaint, charming, pretty, and clean.

A couple of hours away from Toledo is another town that looks a bit like a mini-Toledo, called Ávila.

Back when we lived in the states, I had never heard of Ávila. And I would’ve pronounced it “Aveela,” as most Americans would be inclined to do, especially since most of us find accent marks annoying and totally ignorable.(Oh those silly Europeans, can’t they just memorize the pronunciations?) But the accent mark on top of the “Á” tells us that it’s pronounced “AAHvila,” or if you’re old, sleepy, and Spanish, probably “Aaaaaaahvila.” And that’s exactly what it provided for us, an “aah” moment, as we appreciated the town’s beauty and splendor, highlighted by very well preserved medieval city walls.

When it was all said and done, we enjoyed strolling around Ávila (while mostly ignoring the churches, despite those being part of its claim to fame), and we loved walking on the city walls (where we took most of our pictures).

Orson Welles once named Ávila as the place in which he would most desire to live, calling it a “strange, tragic place.” The link there shows a very short clip of that part of his interview, but it’s kinda funny because it seems as if he has absolutely no idea why he’d want to live there, plus it sounded like he’d never even been to that part of Spain. Regardless, we kept looking for Rosebud, thinking that we may finally found the answer to that mystery, but alas, we remained Rosebudless.

The main landmark in the city is the imposing Walls of Ávila (11th–14th centuries), construction of which began in 1090. The enclosed area is 31 hectares (77 acres) with a perimeter of 2,516 meters (2,752 yd), 88 blocks of semicircular towers, 2,500 merlons, curtain walls 3 m (9 ft 10 in) thick, with an average height of 12 m (39 ft), and 9 gates. The walls represent the largest fully illuminated monument in the world. It is possible to walk upon the walls for roughly half their circumference. (per Wikipedia)

And of course no visit to any town would be complete without a Door of the Day.

We never could figure out why Toledians (Toledoites? Toledocans? Toledoese?) hate Texas so much that they prohibited the whole city of El Paso. We kept asking the locals, “Why do you hate Texas so much?” They only returned puzzled glances in response, and if they were with children they wrapped their arms around them protectively while doing so. We tried to tell them we weren’t Texans, only curious, but by that time most of them were trotting in the other direction. Anyway, I guess you won’t find any direct flights from Toledo, Spain to El Paso, Texas, but we’re at a loss to know what El Pasoans (El Pasoites? El Pasocans? El Pasoese?) did to deserve it.

Lastly, as most Bald Sasquatch devotees know, we rarely pass up an opportunity to wander through a castle. There was a ripe one ready for the pluckin’ just about an hour out of Madrid, called the Castle Manzanares el Real, because it is, of course, very real, so they had to let us know that in the name.

Turns out it was the most expensive castle we’ve ever visited because it’s where Carolyn lost her prescription glasses. So if you happen to be wandering around Castle Manzanares el Real and find a pair of glasses, please contact us right away. We’ll even give you a free subscription to baldsasquatch.com just for finding them!

Construction of the New Castle of Manzanares el Real began in 1475, and is now one of the best preserved castles in Spain, as well as a leading repository of lost glasses by former Oregonians.

…And we close with the last door of the day!

I think Carolyn has a future as a door model.

Seriously. Segovia, Spain.

We drove to Madrid in order to see that metropolis, but while it’s big and bustling and modern, we ended up using it mostly as a hub to see some of the charming little towns that surround it. The first was Segovia, Spain, which is famous for three structures in particular, as you’ll see below. It is also the capitol of the Province of Segovia, as well as the home of that famous women’s Roller Derby team, the Segovian Sluts.

The first of the three famous structures is an impressive aqueduct, which greets you as you drive into town. The aqueduct is so important to the Segovians that it’s even a part of the city’s coat of arms (although I have no idea how you’d fit an entire aqueduct into your coat). It is of Roman construction, estimated to have been built in the first century AD. The aqueduct is the city’s most important architectural landmark, and functioned for centuries. It runs a little over 9 miles (15km), delivering water from the Rio Frio river. Not sure if the water stayed frio during the journey, but this was before 7-11 invented Slurpees, so the Spanish didn’t care. But in essence, 7-11 killed the aqueduct. Think about that next time you push through the “Save the Aqueducts!” mobs when you decide to go into one of those stores.

You can see why the aqueduct is so important to Segovia, it’s pretty hard to miss. Can you imagine building something that is used for centuries? I wonder how many things we build today will be able to claim the same. Yeah, I think none. I might’ve said Betty White but she screwed that all up.

The second of the three structures is the Segovia Cathedral, which dominates the skyline and offers some impressive views of the landscape if you go to the top.

The church was built in the mid-16th century in late Gothic style, which by that time was out of favor in the rest of Europe. The Spaniards of the time didn’t care about that though, because that was a time when a lot of Spaniards had a mindset against hard work. Seriously. That’s covered in some detail in the 1,342 page History of Segovia tome we have on our coffee table, so you know it must be true.

Anyway, I don’t know how they built anything with that attitude. In this case, the powers-that-be decided to dedicate it to the Virgin Mary, which must have scared all the construction workers into making it because none of them wanted to die a virgin. It’s all in the book!

The third famous structure is the Alcázar of Segovia (Alcázar means “Fortress”). It is a medieval castle originally built to serve as a fortress, but has also been used as a royal palace, a state prison, an artillery college, a military academy, a museum, and as a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant (just kidding).

It also inspired the castle in Disney’s 1937 animated film, Snow White and the Seven Spaniards (the title was later changed to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves after a couple of drunken Spaniards complained loudly in front of Walt’s wife, Lillian). We never hear much about Lillian Disney do we? I wonder if that was because of the Spaniards…

Segovia is also a beautiful and picturesque town. We spent most of the day just wandering around gazing upon all the beauty, both manmade and natural. The more we travel, the more we appreciate the smaller towns, with their history and charm. Segovia definitely filled the bill!

Segovia is also the home of the Spanish Western Order of the Overcaffeinated Nuns (SWOON). You can see their headquarters here at the Eurostar Cappuccino Convent.

But perhaps the most famous Segovian architecture of them all is the amazing Gargoyle with an iPhone. It’s said that Steve Jobs took a trip out here in the late ’90s and was inspired by this incredibly prognosticative ancient statue, and the rest is technology history. Fortunately, the gargoyle obviously wasn’t looking at porn, mostly because that hadn’t been invented yet, and if it had, no doubt there would have been a little, ahem. physical evidence from a naked gargoyle, if you know what I mean. Of course, I’m talking about his expression… wait, what were you thinking? Oh shame! Shame! You disgust me!

Well that’s it for Segovia. We highly recommend it to anyone traveling in or around Madrid, as it was to us by some local friends. It doesn’t get much more picturesque than Segovia, Spain. Seriously!

We’re Taking a Break From Our Irregularly Scheduled Blogcast to Send You a Wave

Duuude, one of the things we were stoked to shred ever since we arrived in Portugal is to go see Nazaré, the home of numerous gnarly surfing records due to the bitchin’ size of the waves that seemingly loom over the entire town. But we had just never gotten a round tuit. Then we found one under the couch!

And so with tuit in hand and spurred on by news reports that the waves were crashing big, we knew surfers from around the world would be descending upon Nazaré like QAnon nutjobs invading Washington DC. So we set off on the two hour drive to see the biggest surfable waves in the world on what was a beautiful, sunny Saturday.

Visitors to the Nazaré beach are greeted by this surf monument that surely leaves many people wondering. But there’s a legendary back story behind it (click on “back story” to see the short article describing all of it), dating all the way back- and I kid you not- to Jesus’ father, Joseph the Carpenter. Of course, it’s a well known fact that Jesus was a big surfer dude; apparently he didn’t even need a surfboard. Or waves.

Because Portuguese is based in Latin, it’s often pretty easy for us to figure out certain Portuguese words and phrases. For instance, take this sign… please! No, I kid, it’s a great sign. Anyway, we already know that “antes” means “before,” (poker teaches us that- an ante is put in before the hands are played) so we can then figure out that this sign is telling us that the TWL gig happened before all of this, because “gig-before,” means the gig happened before (remember, in Portuguese the adjectives come after the noun). So voila! See how easy this language stuff is? The fact that I’m not any closer to understanding almost any bit of anything is irrelevant… it’s the system, you see? We’ve got this stuff down pat! Down Pat! Down Pat! Crazy dog. Oh, and don’t ask me who TWL is. It stands for The Wacky Linguist for all I know. Of course, “gigantes” could have something to do with being really big, how should I know? I don’t even know Latin!

The police keep watch over the waves to make sure they don’t trespass on the crowds. Fun fact: since their coats say “policia” means that on the other side of those bodies are four female breasts, because in Portuguese the feminine ends with an “a,” and the masculine ends with an “o.” Ergo, if those had been men, then their coats would say “policio.” Unless they’re cross-dressing cops, but I’m not sure that’s allowed. Anyway, a coupla tough-looking broads there, let me tell ya.

It was a little misty due to all the waves, but I think mostly because there were lots of water droplets in the air. In the distance is the town of Nazaré, as seen from the base of the lighthouse tower thingee that juts into the midst of all those waves. Speaking of poker, is that a great face for poker or what?

This is the same view without the big galoot in the middle of it and after we vacuumed all the water droplets out of the air.

The geography that creates all these waves means that the whole process is a bit haphazard. Huge waves come crashing in from the side as the water barrels through an underwater canyon, oftentimes looking like God put an invisible blender in the water and accidentally left it plugged in while he tended to the mess on the planet Foogeroe. Those damn Foogeroans are always causing trouble.

It looked to me that the amount of time you’d actually spend successfully surfing one of the waves is maybe 10-20 seconds. Afterward, you may need to hold your breath for up to four minutes, all while your body is being tossed about like a Raggedy Ann doll in a clothes dryer. Except nothing is dry, including deep inside whatever orifices you have. Fun fact: enemas were invented at Nazaré.

In fact, sometime on or about the time we were there, a surfer wiped out very gnarilly (yeah shut up spell checker, I can make up words if I want) and ended up in the hospital. Fortunately, and amazingly, given the treacherous conditions, no surfer has died at Nazaré. Yet. (Unlike most of the other fun facts here that one is actually true, thank goodness.)

Okay, I know you want to see the waves. So without further ado, here follows a gallery of pictures of the waves we saw. Wave everyone!

So that should give you some idea as to what was going on in Nazaré. In the bottom-most picture above you can gauge the size of these smaller waves by noting the little black dots on the water- those are the jet skis that tow the surfers out and save their lives when they crash.

A pano shot of the area above it all.

But be careful of the unstable Cliffs!

The Portuguese are kind enough to provide warnings about people named Cliff who are unstable. Of course, three of the above are dead and the other is fictional, so I’m not sure you should really be calling all these Cliffs unstable. Although it might just be a bad translation (maybe “unstable” was supposed to be “dead”), or maybe it’s an old sign; the Portuguese never tear anything down.

FYI, clockwise, that’s Metallica’s Cliff Burton (who died in 1986), the NBA’s Cliff Robinson (who died in 2020), actor Cliff Robertson (who died on Sept. 10, 2011… I think that’s pretty suspicious!), and Cliff Claven from the TV show Cheers, who never died and never will.

In order to make videos appear on this site, I have to convert them to a gif. The other videos we had didn’t really work very well in that regard, so this is the best live action shot I can post. It’s actually not the part of the beach anyone surfs on, but even a small wave is a kind wave.

Yeah I wish I took this picture, but I didn’t. And we didn’t see anything like it. However, this photo does give me an appreciation for camera angles and photography skill, because even though the wave here is big, they don’t really loom over the lighthouse quite like the photos would have you believe. Still, they are the biggest waves on the planet, so there’s that.

This animal was standing around making an ass out of himself. They even had an ass-hat sitting on the ground with a sign asking for donations. Assk and you shall receive, I guess.

In the end (no pun intended), I suppose I might’ve been better off just posting this video. This is the day we were there. We didn’t quite see things like this really… guess next time I’ll ride in a drone! And become a better photographer!

And now back to our irregularly unscheduled program.