Friday, November 16, 2007

Cascais, Portugal

Forgive me for I have sinned. It’s been five weeks since my last blog.

We had just stopped in Cascais (pronounced kash-KAISH) to wait for more wind and introduce ourselves to Portugal. The wind arrived but we stayed – for a month! Cascais is a gem of a place. It’s an old fishing village that has grown over the last century into a sophisticated beach town. Colorful small fishing boats still fill the harbor but now the narrow winding mosaic-like cobblestone streets lead you through a charming downtown filled with tasty restaurants and modern shops.
After 5 days at sea, my first day strolling the beautiful sidewalks that appear to roll like waves nearly sent me to the ground.

October begins this area’s off-season so the crowds are gone but according to locals the good weather has lingered longer than usual, which has been nice since we didn’t get a summer in Ireland. My captain continued to work long hours with his day job but I tried to take advantage of my new surroundings and explore as much as possible.

Nestled between mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and Lisbon, Cascais is a perfect base for exploring Portugal’s wonderful extremes. Cascais is part of a large stretch of coastline - a mix of cliffs and beautiful beaches - west of Lisbon that has long been a playground for the wealthy. Most of the coastline is accessible to the public and ideal for walking or biking. There is so much to see and do that each day it was tough to decide where to go – stay in Cascais or journey further a field. There are free bicycle rentals for exploring Cascais while public buses provide scenic rides to places outside of town, including to the Cabo da Roca Lighthouse, mainland Europe’s furthest point west or to the fairytale-like mountain village of Sintra filled with palaces and parks. Or I’d take the local train east along the picturesque coastline and within 30 minutes was in fascinating Lisbon, Portugal’s capital.

Occasionally I hauled the camera along and I’ve posted the fruits of my labor on

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