24 Aug - At Cascais
On Wednesday we returned the hire car, embarked essential supplies from a local supermarket, took coffee and delicious Portuguese custard tarts (the Tarte Citron survey has now been replaced by the quest for the perfect custard tart: Kam’s Palace in Sarisbury Green has been toppled off the top spot by the Pingo Doce coffee shop in Oeiras), paid the marina bill and got underway. We moved three miles down the coast to the famous resort of Cascais, where we anchored off the beach for lunch and a siesta.
Sunset at Cascais
In the evening we went ashore to explore. It was the town’s Festival week, so the place was heaving and cluttered with temporary stalls and a big stage (the sound checks had punctuated my afternoon nap). It’s a very pretty place, clearly well-heeled but without the brash bling of Sanxenxo, for example. Not all of it was as smart as it could have been: a couple of fine palacios in prime waterfront positions were gently falling down – I just hope they are not replaced by ugly apartment block as was the fashion in Galicia. We listened to a bit of Fado, rather well delivered by a group sitting in the windows of the beautifully tiled Town Hall Museum. That drove us in search of a drink and after a short recce we found a splendid little wine shop offering tastings of wine and other local goodies. The husband and wife team (I assumed) running it were excellent hosts and we enjoyed a wine, cheese and smoked meat tasting. We learned about the ‘green grapes’ used in Vinho Verde (white, red and rose, it turns out) and the laws that prohibit small producers like these two from selling their excellent tapenades because they contain dairy products which are very carefully controlled. Like our friend Alberto in Vilagarcia, a case of small businesses being stifled by bureaucracy. We bought wine and a Madonna ornament to enhance our small collection of Christmas decorations which the husband made out of ceramic and papier maché.
Shy guitarists disguised as plant pots playing Fado
Too late to return onboard to cook, not quite hungry enough for a full meal ashore, we thought that a plate of ‘chipirones’ (floured, fried baby squid – yum) would just about fit alongside the wine and cheese. The Flamingo Café looked about right… so how wrong can you be? Jolly nice waiter, but the squid rings that turned up would have been rejected by ‘Iceland’ on humanitarian grounds and were quite the worst either of us had ever had. Period. We explained this to the waiter, who tried to offer us more, but all we wanted was the bill. A while later he returned: the manager had said we could either have more food or just walk away without paying anything. We opted for the latter course of action without hesitation or deviation. What a shame, that in a place famous for its seafood, they could dare to inflict such rubbish on the casual tourist trade. We returned onboard rather disillusioned.
Cascais with Estoril (Grand Prix town) to the right
Time to head south.