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Date: 27 Aug 2012 01:59:10
Title: Cascais

38:41.43N 09:25.09W

We had such a good sail down. The wind was Northerly, like it should be, so we needed to gybe a few of times as we didn't like to go straight down wind. We helmed, as we wanted to get as close to downwind as we could, and Sadie the wind self steerer needs a bit of margin for error either side of the course and we didn't want to risk an accidental gybe, but it was no hardship as it was such a pleasure sailing in 15 knots or so of steady wind in the glorious sunshine. We passed a group of islands off Cabo Carvoeiro that were quite superb, very high rocky cliffs with caves and stacks and gorges running in, along with old forts. One of the arches on Isla de Berlenga looked rather like an elephant we thought:


The only disadvantage to having no auto pilot was any sail hoisting or dropping, and re-setting the sails when gybing, all had to be done by just one of us whilst the other helmed. So we arrived in Cascais tired but happy.

 What a contrast. 

I don't think I brought it across in the entry, but Nazare was not what you'd call a well off area, nor what you'd call upmarket, nor trendy nor modern. It was really quite rural, even just 2Km out of town. In the evening we walked around to the sailing club bar and had a beer, whilst we were drinking it a herd of goats came along, with their goat herd, between the crash barrier of the main road and a fence just alongside the marina. They came through the petrol station, over the road and disappeared down a lane to some small holdings just off the beach. Although waiters and shop keepers knew a little English, most of the locals we came across were fisherman, you would no more expect them to speak English than expect them to speak Chinese. It was also really quite run down. The marina had once had a smart pavement running alongside it, electronic cards to access the gate onto the pontoon, lamps along the paved area and landscaped palm trees. But the pavements are all broken up and used by the fishermen for untangling their lines, the lamps didn't work, were falling apart and rusted, the locks have reverted to keys and you have to lift the key, just a little, before it will turn in the lock, a bit of a knack, (as you stand their struggling Michael pops out of his boat and helpfully bellows "Lift, and turn! Lift and turn" at you!), and the palm trees are surrounded with weeds and stray dogs make dust beds at their bases.

Where as Cascais...

The Marina is seriously swanky - they gave us a bottle of wine when we checked in and, wait for it... it's as expensive as Poole!!! Everywhere there's English written, on the signs of all the shops, every cafe has a menu in multiple languages, if you accidentally say 'Pardon' when you bump into someone you get 'It's no problem' in return, and your 'ola!" receives a 'Good morning' in response. Beautiful old mansions lie alongside the remains of sea forts which lie alongside award winning modern architecture (part exhibition space, part underground car park). Everywhere there are middle class folk, dressed well, taking their leisure. I went to look at one of the mansions this morning - stunning. Built around an open courtyard with beautiful blue ceramic tiles, statues and fountains. Gothic arches in high ceilinged rooms where the ceramic skirting tiles reached half way up the walls, a room where they had removed the ceiling and installed a pipe organ to use as a music room, beautiful cabinets, solid silver dinning sets, balconies with wonderful views over the estuary, spiral staircases up to turrets. Everywhere superb paintings. And surrounding it wonderful gardens, with its own private beach.

We wondered into town, following the sound of the music, to find a big stage set up with four nights of gigs lined up for a festival of the sea, we've heard some great music: Mikkel Solnado, Zelia Duncan and finally seen some fantastic fireworks! It has to be said: Spain hasn't got the hang of fireworks. All they do is have a white flash and a big BANG, and, for variety, they occasionally alternate these with a series of smaller flashes and bangs, so it's something like: BANG, bang-bang-bang-bang BANG bang-bang-bang-bang. No colour, that's it. But this evening,after the last set, there was a good 20 minutes of wonderful fireworks set to music, crescendos of chrysanthemums erupting to James Bond theme tunes, showers of silver and gold, with golden sprays tipped in blue to gentler folk tunes... the images matched to music beautifully - Max would have been proud of it! Portugal understands fireworks. 


We had some supper at a cafe in the square - we stopped there because a guitarist playing was particularly good, when he stopped playing and came asking for coins I told him how much we'd enjoyed his singing so he sang me a love song, his own composition, making it clear he was speaking for Phil not himself. Afterwards the beach was heaving with mostly young folk having a good time. 


We cycled out of town this morning, amongst the sunday morning serious cyclists and runners, along a cycle path that runs along the coast out to the headlands we'd passed as we sailed in. The coast is jagged and tough, with heathland in a national park region north of the shore. Oh, and the lighthouse in this pic doesn't have ears! A sea gull happened to fly by when I took the picture, trying to add bunny ears to the lighthouse.


The heathland is amazing for one who has lived in Dorset, as it is so like the heathland we have there, and yet so different. Aloe erupts into giant asparagus like trees, the bushes are green like gorse, but have fleshy leaves like beach plants or little cactus. We rode by smart 'aparthotels', ancient forts and delightful five star hotels along the coast, old buildings rather than posh new builds, one with a beautiful stone sea water swimming pool. It had high stone walls to keep out the wind, and a sea water pool that's cleaned and re-filled by the tide each day. There were also old private houses rising up from the rocky shore, beautiful architecture.


 The beaches are curves of fine golden sand, flowing into dunes, with big breakers pouring in. Surfers have a great time. Here's Spike taking in the sea air:


Before we went into town this evening I went for a run in the gardens surrounding the mansion. It was great, through the trees, around the formal gardens, dodging a resident peacock and his peahen. When I got back to the ornate ironwork gate it was locked. I traced around the edges of the gardens, but every gate I got to was also locked. I saw a low stone wall and made for it, only to find a 15ft drop the other side. Eventually I found a keeper in a little hut 'Closed closed!' he shouted. 'I know!' I replied 'How do I get out?!' He unlocked the gate and released me, happily, as I was starting to wonder if raw peacock tasted good for supper. I think I'll take my run a little earlier tomorrow.


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