Cascais

Jo’s Monday walk : A brief sojourn in Cascais

Since I very first heard the name, suggestive of seashells, I’ve wanted to visit Cascais, on the Lisbon coast.  That was many years ago, and so I had just a hint of doubt that it would still satisfy my expectations.  A harbour full of boats, a swathe or two of sand, and beautifully cobbled streets where I can wander at will, all are conjured in my mind.  A haven from the beautiful but busy streets of the city.  But how will I view the reality?

Boarding the train at Belem, I watched the estuary widen, caressed by shimmering sunlight.  With rapt attention I counted off the stations, until at last we reached the end of the line, Cascais.  It was late in the afternoon and I needed to find my accomodation.

Instructions in hand to head steadily upwards, I climbed the steps and streets away from the centre, taking note of interesting street art and entertainers.  A quick introduction to my room and I was back on the street.  Time for a proper look around.

The main square is an attractive space, with wide views out across the bay and locals comfortably ensconced on benches, passing the time of day.  A solid fortress protects the marina.  It dates from 1488, but was inadequate for the task, succumbing to invasion by Spanish troops in 1580.  It was subsequently enlarged by King Philip of Spain, and has the characteristic star-shaped floor plan of a Renaissance citadel.

The light was already beginning to fade as I rounded the headland, only to be enchanted by the sight before me.

A fairytale palace and a delightful cove, with the soft lap of the sea.  And an alluring lighthouse, waiting to beam gently at me.  Noting the restaurant, nestled above the rocks, I head on round the bay, following the setting sun.

All along the shoreline people are pausing to take in this splendour, some settling down on the rocks for a grand finale.

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As the light fades, I take in the majestic proportions of the Casa de Santa Maria.  Where better to sip a caipirinha, as the lighthouse blinks slowly at me, than the restaurant in the cove?  Just time to slip into the park before the gates close for the evening.

And then wend my way back, passing the marina, and the floodlit fortress with its neon support act.  I think I’ve fallen a little in love.

Is it any wonder that King Luis I decided to make Cascais his summer residence in 1870?  The citadel was equipped with the first electric lights in the country in 1878, and with the advent of the railway in 1889 this former fishing community acquired cosmopolitan status.

Next morning it’s time to leave, with not a little reluctance, but I have more to see in Lisbon, and a coach home to the Algarve that evening.  I draw out every last bit of pleasure by walking along the coast to the station at Estoril.

Passing the quiet beaches of Rainha and Conceicao, I revel in the late October sunshine.  A surprising number of people are taking their morning exercise on the promenade, and one or two inviting cafes beckon, but I resist.  Breakfast, not long ago, was spent talking to a lovely young Austrian woman.  All too soon, ahead of me, the distinctive structure that signifes Estoril to me.

I hope you enjoyed my brief visit.  I’d love to have seen inside the fort and some of the museums, but there simply wasn’t time.  Why not pop over to Sami’s blog.  She knows Cascais much better than me.

One week nearer to Christmas, and I still have so much of Lisbon to share.  Thank you so much for all of your support and for walking with me.  Pop the kettle on and enjoy my companions, won’t you?  Details on joining me are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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And sprinkling on the fairy dust, lovely Pauline in Oz :

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That’s it for another week.  Are you feeling festive?  We have just a scraping of snow here this morning.  It’ll do me nicely.  Have a good week, everybody, and take care out there!

A Sunday silhouette

What to do when a good friend becomes so obsessed with squares that she wants to turn the sky square?  Humour her, of course.  This photo was taken in Cascais.  All you need is a Square Sky photo and you can join in, any day in December.