Portugal – Ferry Ride to the Beaches of Troia

We were really enjoying our time in Setúbal and after breakfast and a bit of food shopping in the market hall we set off to the ferry terminal to catch the boat across to the Tróia peninsular on the south side of the River Sado estuary.

At the terminal a young man approached us and offered us a ride across the water in his motor boat and a slightly cheaper rate than the ferry so always with an eye to a bargain we gladly accepted.  The ferry fare is only applied going out so he assured us that we could return later on the ferry for free and we trusted him on this point.

The Sado estuary is home to a pod of dolphins and as we left the harbour he said that he had a good idea where they were this morning so plotted a course to find them across the two miles of water.  We stared at the surface for most of the journey but nothing disturbed the flat calm and as the destination got closer we gave up hope but just as we did a dorsal fin broke the surface and then another and then another and a small group of dolphins accompanied the boat for a few yards before peeling off and swimming back out to sea.  It is always nice to see dolphins.

Troia is really a giant sand dune with a golf course, a nature reserve and a modern concrete town with a ferry terminal.  On land we walked along a short boulevard next to the marina lined with bars and Cafés all on the lookout for business but we hurried by without making eye contact.

Actually, one of the nice things about Portugal is that unlike in other European countries such as France, Italy Spain and Greece the waiters are not at all pushy and mostly it is quite possible to saunter along a street of restaurants and examine the menu cards without being continually pestered to sit down.

One time in Naples we suffered the indignity of being thrown out of a restaurant by a pushy waiter.  The place advertised bargain price beer and wine and as we examined the menu the waiter gathered us up like a shepherd and insisted that we go inside.  He showed us to a table and provided us with menus.  We told him that we only wanted a drink and this tipped him over the edge.  His eyes began to swivel, his arms began to flay and he lost all sense of volume control.  This is not a bar it is a restaurant, he yelled, withdrew the menus, dragged us out of our seats, pushed us towards the door and slammed it shut behind us with a resounding crash that almost took it off its hinges.  

I looked back, the staff were sniggering, they thought it was amusing so I gave them a sarcastic smile and a tossed them a dismissive wave to tell them that so did I.

At the end of the boulevard there was a man selling dolphin watching boat tours and he did turn out to be a bit pushy as he tried to sell us tickets at €40 each.  He had zero chance of that of course and I told him that we had just seen some dolphins on the boat ride over so we didn’t need to out again.  He persisted by telling us that he would tell us all about the dolphins and I was close to telling him that I needed to know about dolphins then I would look them up on Google.

The Troia peninsula is the starting point of Portugal’s longest beach (the longest stretch of uninterrupted sand in Europe) that extends for forty miles south to the town of Sines. Troia itself has twelve miles of beach so we bypassed the beach closest to the town which seemed rather busy (there were at least twenty people on it) and continued down to the second which was practically deserted and prepared for a swim.

As with the previous day there were not many people in the sea and we were about to find out why.  It was bloody freezing.  What I call a testicle tester, a groin groaner, a finger wrinkler.    Earlier in the year we had been swimming in the North Sea in the UK and it wasn’t as cold as this.  We toughed it out for ten minutes (ok, I exaggerate, five minutes, maybe less) then retreated back to the sand to warm  up in the sunshine.

We didn’t stay long, we are not very good at sitting around on beaches so took a pleasant stroll through the dunes back to the town in search of a bar.  I found Troia a curious place, desperately disappointing even, just featureless high rise hotels, a soulless giant casino  and a swanky marina.  So boring that it managed to get my top spot just ahead of Vaduz in Liechtenstein and Klagenfurt in Austria.  Not our sort of place at all. 

Eventually we came across a bar, had a drink and a light lunch and then made our way back to the ferry terminal for the free ride back to Setúbal where we made directly for the market to buy some fish because tonight we were dining in the apartment.



27 responses to “Portugal – Ferry Ride to the Beaches of Troia

  1. At least you didn’t see Naples and die

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an enterprising young man, Andrew! The ferry company must love him. Needless to say, he wasn’t about on the soggy day we took the ferry. It’s a strange system though, isn’t it?
    You’re a golfer. Would it make a good venue? Not our kind of thing at all, too purpose built. And have you recovered from the celebrations on Sicily?


  3. Lovely beach but as for the rest………


  4. I’m waiting for the next installment. I’m guessing the ride won’t be free …


  5. You’re right Andrew, nothing like seeing a dolphin to make your day


  6. Love the azulejos tiles pic !


  7. Not at all, Andrew. It would have been awful if you’d had to put your hand in your pocket 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. From the postcard, it looks as if there was some good shoreline hiking to be done once leaving the developed area.


  9. I was waiting for you to say that the ride wasn’t free on the way back. Strange that the ferry company don’t insist on seeing a return ticket. I have to ask about the dolphin photo. Is it yours or a postcard? As for the swimming, it is of course the Atlantic Ocean. In Cape Town no-one swims in the Atlantic unless they have a very good wetsuit. I think I only paddled in it once up to my ankles and my feet were blue within minutes. We always swam in the Indian Ocean – much warmer!


    • The dolphin picture was taken from the advertising board next to the marina. I have seen a dolphin show like that but it was in Dingle in Ireland.
      The M4 into/out of Wales used to be a one way charge. I guess the ferry company just charges double for the crossing in the first place,


  10. Sounds like a good day!


  11. Yes, dolphins are always good to see. The Americans are doing research on their language so perhaps one day we’ll be able to talk to them.


  12. Wow, what a wonderful experience you had in Troia! I appreciate you sharing it in this blog post, it was very informative and enjoyable to read. I especially loved the part about the motor boat ride and the unexpected encounter with the dolphins. It’s amazing how nature can surprise us and bring us so much joy.

    I also found it interesting to learn about the difference between the restaurants in Portugal compared to other European countries. It’s good to know that the waiters aren’t pushy and that we can enjoy a leisurely meal without feeling pressured.

    I completely understand your disappointment with Troia. I have been to a few places that lacked soul and character, and it can definitely make a big impact on one’s overall experience. However, it’s important to remember that every place has its own unique qualities and charm, and it’s up to us to find them.

    Overall, I’m grateful for your blog post and for sharing your personal experience. It was a valuable contribution to the blog and I’m sure many readers will find it helpful in planning their own trips. Thank you for taking the time to write and share!


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