Cliff & Natalie
are getting married!

Manka's Boat House
Inverness, CA
September 22, 2012

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nataliegrae

NRW

Thank You!

To our family and friends:

It meant the world to us to be able to share our wedding day with you. Thank you for the support, encouragement, and love & laughter you have contributed to our lives. You are our teachers, partners in crime, and all around favorite people in the world. We hope you enjoyed our wedding weekend in Inverness. We’re looking forward to celebrating with you for years to come!

We’re sending out thank you postcards with photos taken on our honeymoon. Browse through our posts for more photos and stories of our adventures in Portugal and Spain.

Lots of love,

Cliff & Natalie Whearley

10.1.12 Praia da Rocha & Sintra

We had another amazing brunch at Vista and then walked along the strip with an eye out to pick up a few souvenirs. We came back empty-handed except for a few bottles of water for the road trip back to Lisbon. We checked out of the hotel and packed up the car with our backpacks. I set the GPS towards Lisbon and we were off.

We had taken the backroads on the way down to Sagres, but for sake of speed, decided to take the toll roads back to Lisbon. It costs about 20 euros in road tolls to get from the beach into the city. We even drove across the bridge that looks uncannily like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Once we were back in the city, we dropped the car off at Budget car rental and caught a cab to the Rossio train station.

There was quite a bit of hustle and bustle at the station and we stopped to ask a woman who worked there where we could purchase tickets to Sintra. She motioned towards the ticket window on the second floor and told us that their was a strike, so the trains weren’t running very often. Once she was satisfied that we weren’t trying to get to Sintra and back in one afternoon, we walked towards the ticket window. 

We only needed to wait about 30 minutes for the next train to Sintra. Apparently, the train we caught is also the train that all the school kids catch out of town and home to the suburbs on the outskirts of the city. We sat next to two girls who looked like they were in seventh grade — both studiously working on homework and pausing to chat every now and then. Five rows behind us were some kids who would lean out the doors and windows to get a few puffs of a cigarette before the train conductor walked by. They were rowdy and boisterous. At one point an eighteen year old boy sat across from me with his art portfolio in hand. It was interesting to see how the city changed from the old buildings and cobblestone streets, to huge apartment complexes, to the charming village and parks of Sintra just 30 minutes from where we stayed the week before.

We got off the train and started walking in the same direction as everyone else, unsure of where to go. We hailed a cab to give us a sense of direction in the new city and so we didn’t have to carry our backpacks while we got lost. Apparently, the cab driver wasn’t too sure either and we rang the bell of someone’s home before realizing that our bed and breakfast, Casa Miroduoro, was just up the street. The house looked like a giant cake with yellow and pink stripes — should be easy enough to find later.

We put our bags in our room, changed our clothes, and were off to see the Palacio Nacional de Sintra. We walked through the Palace snapping photos and admiring the architecture and furniture. Several of the rooms almost had a theme — there was Sala dos Cisnes (the swan room) with 27 golden swans and the Sala das Pegas (MagPie Room). Lore has it that the Queen caught Sao Joao I kissing one of her ladies in waiting. The king claimed all kisses were innocent and all “por bem” (for the good), then commissioned one magpie for every lady-in-waiting. One of the most iconic features of the palacio are the conical shaped twin chimney towers. 

After touring the palacio we headed across the street for a bite to eat and a glass of wine before wandering back to our hotel as the streets were getting dark. 

9.30.12 Praia da Rocha

We started another late morning off with an amazing brunch at Bela Vista — eggs benedict, fresh fruit, and fresh squeezed juices. And then we set off for a walk down the beach. We started at Praia da Rocha just by our hotel and walked up the beach and to Praia de Tres Castelos, named for three rock formations that look like sand castles jutting out of the serene blue water. 

Walking along the beach felt like the most relaxing thing we had done so far. The sand was warm, the water was pleasantly warm, we could see for a few miles along the beach, and we didn’t have a care in the world. We picked up shells and stones as a momento — I’ll probably add them to our terrarium at home, so I can recollect our walk down the beach when I look at it.

Once we got to the end of the beach, we went for a dip in the cool, blue water. We walked back toward the hotel to lay out by the pool again for a few hours before our spa appointment. We had made appointments to go to the spa at Bela Vista for some much needed massages. Cliff was booked at 4:00pm and me at 5:00pm. We went in together and were  shown the spa room, complete with mineral baths, a sauna, and a steam room. We tried out the mineral bath and the sauna before Cliff was called in for his appointment. Another dip in the mineral pool and a cool, fragranced shower later, I was called in for my massage. It felt so nice to unwind and be pampered and truly relaxed after all the craziness leading up to the wedding and then last minute preparations for our honeymoon. 

When I emerged from the spa, I wasn’t sure where Cliff was and checked in with the woman at the front desk. “Did my husband already take care of everything?” I asked. I think it was the first time I had said the words “my husband” out loud to anyone besides Cliff. “Oh, yes,” she said. “He already checked out and wanted me to tell you he’ll be by the pool.”  I walked up to the pool and we ordered champagne and enjoyed the last hours of sunshine before it disappeared behind the sea.

Then, we went back to the room and dressed for dinner at Vista. When we were seated, we were the only people in the room at 8:00pm, but soon it filled up with other couples. We ordered the five course pre-fixed menu. First up was an amuse-bouche fo gazpacho, then goat cheese with tangy apple and fruit, then grilled fish, duck, and a chocolate dessert. The food was beautifully prepared and was equally delicious. 

9.29.12 Praia de Rocha

We packed up our little Ibiza this morning and made the hour long trek over to Praia de Rocha at Portimao. Cliff wanted to go back to Praia do Tochoa and try some surfing, but we woke up late and hurried to pack our things before check out. I wanted to stop in Luz, a vacation town about halfway between Sagres and Portimao.

We took the exit to Luz and were pleasantly surprised by a white washed beach town that seemed to be full of British beach-goers. The place I wanted to stop at for lunch was closed, and after trying our luck at a Mexican restaurant, what was also closed for lunch, we settled in as a British gastropub witha  view of the beach and had sandwiches and beer. The sun had finally come out after the few days of rain and showers and we walked down to the beach. The water here already seemed much bluer here than in Sagres. Luz would definitely be worth another visit on a future trip to Portugal.

About 45 minutes later we were in Portimao. We drove around in a few circles trying to find our hotel and I was starting to get a bit nervous about the location. Portimao definitely is to Cancun, what Sagres is to Sayulita. We had left the rugged Portuguese coast for high-rise resorts and tourist town. After asking in at a hotel, and then a restaurant, we finally found Bela Vista. What a relief! The hotel was like a little oasis in the middle of such a built up beach resort. 

We were greeted in the lobby and asked to sit down in the Grand Parlor to check in, after which we were brought chilled welcome beverages. The woman who checked us in told us that we had been upgraded to a sea view room. Cliff thought it was because of his newly grown mustache, but I’m pretty sure it was because I had told them it was our honeymoon when I made the reservation.

Someone escorted us to our room with all our luggage and told us the original house had been a vacation home for a family from Lisbon. The place where we checked in was the main house and where we were staying was originally the pool house. They had also added a new wing, which housed a new spa and additional rooms. Our room was pretty amazing. We had a beautiful view right over the beach. And the bed was the most comfortable I had felt so far on our honeymoon. (Not rock hard and without a crack when they push two twin beds together and call it a double.)

We quickly got situated and decided to go lay out by the pool. As I was getting dressed, I realized the top of my Betsey Johnson swimsuit had somehow gotten torn. There were several little places on the main strip, so we went to check it out. I bought a black and white polka dot suit. We went back up to the hotel to lay out by the pool and ordered Capairanas and beer. Once the sun started to go down, we went back to the room to get ready for dinner. There was a bottle of champagne and white-chocolate dipped dates waiting for us, courtesy of Bela Vista to wish us a happy honeymoon! We drank champagne and enjoyed the view of the sun setting over the water. We got ready for dinner and walked up and down the main strip a few times to scope out the scene. Signs for 8 euro steak and drinks wasn’t too appetizing and before long we were back at Bela Vista. We asked the waiter for a recommendation for dinner and then made reservations at Bela Vista’s restaurant Vista for the following night. 

9.28.12 Sagres

We hung out at the beach again today and drank a bottle of wine out of paper cups. Wine at the supermarket is cheap here - ridiculously cheap. It’s 1.20 Euros for a bottle of vino verde (one of my favorite white wines) while it’s $8-10 a bottle at home. 

Cliff shaved his growing scruff today and left only a mustache. It’s pretty different, but he’s excited about it. I guess we’ll see how it goes. I bet he’ll shave it off the second we get home and he has to meet with a client.

We went back to the pizza place for dinner tonight and finished off our pizzas with some port. Tomorrow we’re off to Praia de Rocha and our five star hotel experience.

9.27.12 Sagres

The next morning, it was evident that Cliff had a cold - stuffy nose, hacking cough, the works. We took it easy in the morning, eating a late breakfast at the hotel and spending soem time reading and surfing the web as it rained outside. In the late afternoon, when it cleared we took a walk to the farmacia for some vitamin C tablets and sunscreen.

We took a drive to the cape, Cabo de Sao Vicente, the western-southern tip of the European continent. There is a naval museum there with models of Portuguese ships and old parts detailing the evolution of the lighthouse. We marveled over maps of the European and African coastlines and wondered how they knew where to draw the lines. 

Perhaps the most captivating part of the museum to me was a small statue from the 15th or 16th century of St. Vincent, the patron saint of wine and sea voyages. St. Vincent was a Spanish preacher who was killed by the Romans in 304 AD. He was burned at the stake, but maintained his composure as he continued to pray in the final moments of his life. Following his martyrdom, Portuguese history claims that his remains washed ashore near Sagres and were protected from scavengers by two ravens. Portugal’s first king had the remains moved to Lisbon in 1173. The ship was accompanied by ravens. St. Vincent became Portugals’ patron saint and his remains are said to rest in the Igveja de Sao Vicente de Fora.

We got hot dogs from the German food truck and sat down in the whipping wind. The local stray dogs begged for food - so adorable, yet rugged looking with their thin, wiry hair. It made us miss Ruby, who we hoped was having a good time back at Miles Ranch in Gilroy. 

We drove over to Praia do Tocha, the best place to go surfing in the area and checked out the scene. Australians with blonde hair and tanned bodies along with many others were parking and unpacking campers and changing out of wetsuits. There were a few still in the water for the last waves of the day. We decided to come back the next day if Cliff was feeling better. 

We ate dinner at a cafe that served “natural food” - salads, wraps, and things. We decided to turn in early with hopes that Cliff’s cold would be better tomorrow. No beach adventures tonight. 

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