logo Lady Stardust Faro-Portugal to Barcelona - 2010
Date: 19 Aug 2009 13:42:06
Title: Cascais

POS 37:4.689N 8:7.215W

Beautiful Cascais.


Paul did a short watch last night to get us through a couple of islands which might have proved to be a bit tricky for me.  I did the 1-4 am watch and spent much of it as usual, juggling with Harriet’s strings, but there was a full moon and lots of stars so it was very bright and pleasant.  I could see the fascinating sparkling phosphorescent plankton in the water, too and sat outside for a while with my hot water bottle to keep warm in the chilly wind, watching and wondering about it.  It was easier to sleep when I came off watch because the sea was so much calmer and I slept until 8 when Paul woke me to look at the picturesque shoreline and to help with the preparations for entry into Cascais marina.

The morning was bright and sunny and there was a warm breeze blowing when dolphins paid us a visit just before we turned the corner for the entrance – a nice welcome to a place that is now on my list of the best places I’ve ever been to. Unfortunately, I made a hash of cleating the line properly on the visitors’ berth much to Paul’s (and my) frustration and our ‘discussion’ about it provided some amusement to the couple on a neighbouring boat (I think they might have had similar discussions themselves!).  After sorting things out with the port authorities we followed the harbour master to our berth and I was first struck by how warm and sunny it was and then by the beauty of our surroundings. Lovely buildings caught my eye everywhere I looked.  One of them, directly opposite our berth looked just like the fairytale palaces described in Hans Anderson’s or Grimms’fairytales and I nicknamed it Rapunzel’s tower.  We had a short sleep after getting the boat shipshape so it was late afternoon before we set off for a proper exploration of the town.  Twenty minutes walk from the marina, Cascais – a suburb of Lisbon - is a typical seaside town but with none of the tackiness that has come to be associated with them.  The beach was clean and well kept, the seafront buildings looked stylish and full of character thanks to their being individually designed by architects from various periods and the streets were neatly cobbled.  We found a small park which led to the entrance of a maritime museum and had a look around that before returning to the boat for a late lunch of cheese and biscuits and a few glasses of wine. After doing a few more boat chores we went back into town at 9 o’clock to find a good restaurant for dinner. We found a nice-looking place off one of the cobbled streets further back from the main town and it turned out to be great – the waitress was friendly and informative about sights we shouldn’t miss and got the chef to prepare a lovely vegetarian meal for me (cous cous with roasted veg and feta cheese). Paul enjoyed his sea bass and then we had a pleasant walk back to the boat for a brandy and sat admiring Rapunzel’s tower which was by now lit up.


Saturday 8th August


We were up by mid-morning in order to set off to find the local fruit and veg market recommended by the waitress from the night before.  Armed with her directions and a map of the area, we headed to the area we thought we’d find it but still had to ask directions from a passer-by.  It was a lovely walk anyway and we grew more iumpressed with Cascais the more we saw of it.  The market was amazing – it had a huge variety of colourful fruit and vegetables, flowers, cheeses, fish and meat.  Everything was so cheap, too and we had to walk back laden with gorgeous fresh produce which included aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes and peppers for a dinner of vegetarian Briam, some olives and fresh fruit – all for less than ten euros.  On the way back we stopped for a drink at one of the pavement cafes and read the Guardian, a bit pricey at 3.80 but good to catch up on some news.  Lunch on the boat consisted of local cheese, tomatoes, olives, bread and fruit and then I handwashed some clothes while Pail cleaned the lifejackets and boat cushions and planned our next journey. At 3.30 we went to visit the inside of one of the fairytale palace buildings and it was very impressive, especially the library.  So impressed are we with Cascais we decided to stay for another day and then went for a paddle in the water next to a quaint little beach attached to Rapunzel’s tower.

Back at the boat I got on with making the Briam while listening to Radiohead and Paul checked weather, maps and charts for Monday’s journey to Albufeira. After dinner we went for a long walk, finishing up at a late night hypermarket to buy things we needed for when the children arrive on Thursday.


Sunday 9th August

Another lovely sunny day. We had a lazy morning: I showered and washed my hair while Paul worked on the genoa sail and the bilges. We had a late breakfast and browsed the internet for a while and then decided to visit nearby Estoril. The hour-long walk there was lovely because it hugged the seafront promenade.  The beaches were full of families enjoying the sun, sand and sea but weren’t overcrowded or noisy. Halfway along we stopped at a bar for refreshments and spent a pleasant 30 minutes watching holidaymakers on the beach below making sandcastles, jumping into the water and generally enjoying themselves.  Estoril has similar grand palatial buildings and is almost as charming but we ended up near a rather garish modern casino and were so hot and tired by this time that when we spotted a park close to us that seemed to be attracting a lot of people we decided to have a closer look.  It was 2.50 to get in but was well worth it because inside there were bars, cafes and stalls – a bit like a miniature Glastonbury without the music stages, although authentic Portuguese music playing in the background was very apt.  At one of the cafes we attempted to order some light snacks containing no meat or fish but had trouble making ourselves understood so when the order arrived it was a nice surprise to get some battered veg, and some battered fish for Paul along with delicious home made fries. We watched the staff continually making sugary doughnuts which were selling as fast as they could make them so we must have chosen the ‘batter’ café. It went down very well with a carafe of wine anyway and then we had a look round the stalls feeling slightly tipsy. At one of the stalls we spotted some beautifully decorated hand made plates which we knew would be so right for the boat and it didn’t matter that they were ten euros each – the boat needed them so we bought 4! (they do look very good actually).  We left at 6 and caught the train back to Cascais, stopping at a supermarket for journey provisions.  By 8 30 we were back on board listening to Nick Cave and had a late supper of salad, cheese and olives while putting some photos of the trip onto the blog.


Monday 10th August

At 9 o’clock we got up and got ourselves ready to depart for Albufeira.  We were sailing away by 10:30 on another blisteringly hot day, hoping to reach our destination by lunchtime on the following day.  The sail was lovely – laid back and relaxing and was made all the more special by a visit from some huge dolphins at 4 o’clock. These were bigger than we’d ever seen before and they put on a great show.  It was calm enough to sit on the bow for a closer look at them which was wonderful – we saw them in great detail and they seemed to be looking up at us.  We finished the Briam for dinner (Paul had fish with his), watching the sun set and I stayed up late typing up more for the blog ready for when we have internet access again.


Tuesday 11th August  - Albufeira


When I took over from Paul’s 1-5 watch I immediately noticed the warmer temperature.  I sat in the cockpit for the whole time and the sunrise at 7am was wonderful because there were no clouds to impair it.  Paul got up at 7:30 in order to check we’d cleared Sao Vincente’s head and to oversee the course change and then went back to bed because he was so tired.  He slept until 10:30 and during that time I had to keep my wits about me because of all the fishermens’ pots and nets in the water. It’s essential to avoid these because if they become entangled in the propeller it would be disastrous so a few times I had to take over the steering from Simon -  and there were also more boats around now that we were approaching Albufeira so it was a constant watch for those, too. I checked the engine regularly for signs of overheating, did the next course change all by myself and sorted out some rope that had gone overboard so felt quite pleased with myself by the time Paul got up.  He came up and promptly pointed out that I should have noticed that the mainsail had backed because it was probably slowing us down – I felt a variety of emotions at that statement – probably best to ‘let it go’ as they say J.


The coastline became more picturesque as we went along – caves and beaches and lovely buildings on the cliffs appeared.  I didn’t bother getting any sleep because I didn’t want to miss anything so we sailed into Albufeira slowly and steadily, relishing the sunshine and admiring the views along the way.  As the heat increased off came our layers until we were in the shorts and T shirts we’d imagined we’d be wearing on this holiday.  By 4:30 we were safely tied up in the marina, after a faultless cleating of lines by me! It was sweltering hot still and we were exhausted and sweating after sorting the boat out.  First impressions of the place were that it’s very touristy, busy and noisier than the other places we’ve been to.  We are surrounded by brightly coloured holiday apartments, nicknamed Legoland by the locals. It reminds me more of Noddy’s toytown with its pastel colours and irregular shapes but for all that it’s not too bad.  The facilities are good and it’s not overly noisy.  In the evening we met up with Paul’s brother and his family who were nearing the end of their holiday in nearby Faro so had dinner in one of the marina restaurants. There was rather a long wait for the food but it gave us a chance to chat, and afterwards we walked along the length of the marina looking at the stalls and watched Paul’s nephew, Stephen and his friend enjoy themselves on the extremely popular Segway machines.  It’s very nice to experience hot, balmy evenings once again.

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