Day 32: CascaisMarch 19, 2017 in Portugal
Nice sunny Sunday, what else to do but get out of the city and head for the beach! Cascais (pronounced Kash-Kaysh) is about 30 minutes train ride to the west of the city, and has long been the hangout for Lisbon's wealthy elite. Apparently it's one of the richest areas of Portugal. We figured we'd check it out.
Getting there was fairly easy as there was a train station only 10 minutes walk from our apartment, though the walk was quicker than usual as the Lisbon Marathon was happening today, and it ran up and down the waterfront right next to the train line. Lots of streets blocked off, sweaty people with pinned bibs, that kind of thing. But we battled through and made it to the train, which wound its way along the coast westward from Lisbon, through some fairly grungy looking suburbs. Reminded me a bit of Alexandria in Egypt - faded waterfront glory facing the Med.
Cascais was very different though, once we alighted from the train and walked into town. Loads of tourist restaurants and souvenir shops, buskers and street performers, and of course thousands upon thousands of tourists. Lots of Portuguese though, so I guess a trip out to the beach on a sunny Sunday is a good idea for locals too! The whole thing had a very Manly vibe to it.
Shandos wanted fish & chips for lunch so we found a suitable place and sat down. We both had a decent-enough meal and carafe of wine, though the restaurant itself was quite touristy (called John Bull and decorated in black & white mock Tudor style, ugh). Walked down to the beach and dipped a toe in the water - freezing cold! Probably about 15 degrees, though a couple of hardier souls than me were swimming.
Walked along the coastline to a fortress which wasn't super interesting, then further around to a place called Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell). It's a series of large caves where the waves crash violently, roar loudly into caves and cliffs, and sometimes spray water high in the air. I think it was an English Romatic poet who coined the name, maybe Lord Byron? Wikipedia will know. Unfortunately for us the sea was quite flat, and the Mouth of Hell was more like the Mouth of a Placid River.
Wandered back into the main area of town, past all the gigantic houses peeping out from behind high hedges. Some nice views and it feels like a nice area, but I wouldn't want to live here and be surrounded by the swarm all the time. Grabbed an icecream and headed back into town.
We were back at our stop by 4pm, so decided to visit inside the Monastery we'd been to a couple of days previously, mainly because today we didn't have Schnitzel with us and of course dogs aren't permitted inside. The church we'd been to the other day was free (and not overly interesting), but we bought our tickets for the inner cloister and headed in.
Happy to report it was beautiful inside, though perhaps not worth the 10 euros per head. Although I have no problem with paying governments to view attractions, I'm not real keen on the idea of paying one of the world's richest organisations (the Catholic Church) money to see their buildings. It's not like they need the money while the Pope sits on a solid gold throne.
The best part though, was that the monastery closes at 5pm and there didn't seem to be any security guards herding people out the exits. So we took our time and managed to get some pretty good photos & videos once most of the crowds had departed.
On the walk back to our apartment we stopped by Pastries de Belem, the original Portuguese egg tart stall. Apparently they sell 20,000 of these per day!! Very delicious though, and the reason they exist is because the monks used egg whites to starch their robes, leaving excess egg yolks behind. Rather than toss them, someone mixed the yolks with sugar and water, put it in a crispy pastry and the egg tart was born! They're very common everywhere in Portugal, but this store has been selling them since the early 19th century and is very famous. Queue was out the door and probably 50 metres down the street, but it actually moved quite quickly and we were served fairly quickly. Interesting use of pricing too - you can buy a single tart for 1.10, a box of 6 for 5.50, or a box of 50 for 50 euros. And it didn't look like they did other size combinations! Very delicious though, delicate flaky pastry and warm egg custard filling. Glad we bought six!
Back to our apartment where we crashed pretty hard again. For dinner I cooked spaghetti with chorizo and tomato puree - nothing fancy! We're in a slightly odd spot here without many restaurants around, hence why we haven't really headed out in the evenings for dinner (that and it's not fair on Schnitzel for him to be alone all day and then alone in the evening as well).Read more