sail down to Lisbon, by which we mean ‘Cascais’, exclusive (well once) seaside
resort of wealthy Lisbonites, and now favourite hangout of cruising yachties.
Super marina with great facilities, and (almost) the kind of welcome that you
used to see on American Express ads. Huge choice of restaurants and a cunning
absence of bread and grocery
train ride takes us into any of the main Lisbon districts. To get an overall impression
of the city we decide to take an open air bus tour, and then take an
old-fashioned tram ride up the hills to the old quarter of Alfama……”a maze of
winding alleyways, once the most desirable quarter of Lisbon”, now run down but
still very atmospheric. In any new
city visited I like to check out the area that I think
would be the most interesting in which to live. Just in
difficult doing the tourist / cultural visit, as even in our small party of
three our interests and attention spans vary so much….....galleries, gift-shops,
museums, monuments, Macdonalds; how to prioritise, and have a happy day? Maddie
likes and is very focussed at museums, I like (museums and galleries and)
observing ordinary everyday life, but move far too slow, and tend to wander.
Sally likes all the above, but also feels the responsibilities of an approaching
Christmas………and doesn’t like people who move too slowly, or worse still, wander.
We therefore set modest and achievable goals on our cultural
I like the
grand avenues stretching north from the sea are bounded by the rising streets of
its suburbs; the “Elevador de Santa Justa” (elevator !) connecting the
two…eccentric and outstanding. Lisbon seems to fit comfortably in its natural
geography, in the way that it must have done when it was first envisaged (are
great cities envisaged or do they evolve in envisaged bits !?)
maritime, and New World discovery monuments and references. Although obviously
not alone in discovering the new world, and the great European maritime trade
routes, Lisbon gives the impression that this was
Portugal’s great achievement, and
theirs the greatest contribution. Interesting, as always, to hear history
described from a perspective other than our own country’s.
Bullring, which is rather surprisingly based upon an ‘Eastern’ theme with
earthy-pink walls and blue/grey domes (I can’t remember the exact details of its
influences and inspirations, but worth finding out; probably Moorish).
We enjoy a
super lunch in a café/restaurant which is clearly patronised by Lisbon’s
At last I find a genuine Portuguese bean ‘stew’! Though superficially
experienced, we liked Lisbon and could list it as a good looking city
to live in!
days go by as we remain sheltered from big swells rolling in from Hurricane
Gordon (now over England? ho ho. Weak political joke.)
Sintra; one of those places that I cannot believe I have never heard of; it is
so unusual and engaging. In particular we explore the grounds of the Quinta da
the Palacio da Pena (the Pink Palace !)
is enchanting; an _expression_ of one mans “fantastic” imagination and sense of
fun. Full, as the guidebook says, of “esoteric” delights ! Lots of caverns,
grottos and waterfalls, one
emerging at the base of a deep “well” (The Initiation Well) which is an
extraordinary spiral staircase with carved balustrade, rising several flights to
a ground level above. At the top are cave–like entrances with pivoted stone
doors. We have fun manipulating a wheel-chaired visitor through the revolving
stone door to appreciate the internal view down the interior of the well;
wondering all the time how we are going to explain when we cannot reverse the
Palace is equally
enthralling; masses of interesting features, like crenellated turrets, Moorish
tiles, Arab styled trompe l’oeil frescoes, and German stained-glass ! Very
eclectic! Sally and I have a brief intellectual discussion about what the
difference is between “eclectic” and (deliberate) “eclectic style”……maybe you
excuse the former by calling it the latter (or the other way round) depending on
whether “it works”, or not! It is hard to imagine anyone taking themselves
completely seriously as “King” living here. Maybe that’s the secret of royal
to rounding Cape St Vincent and a significant turn east, away from the
Atlantic swell. No expectations, other than of
a place to anchor, however on arrival we find brand spanking new facilities that
demand full appreciation, so we take a marina berth. There is a buzz still
around the place caused by the previous day’s high jinx. In a show of misplaced
panache the local Maritime Police Force demonstrated the power and
manoeuvrability of their powerful launch by executing a high speed figure of
eight……… in the marina. The resultant wash was so huge that eight yachts were
damaged, one having various fittings ripped off its deck. Bashful police and
gleeful insurance assessors abound.
we have a 12 hour passage to get around the Cape. A strange day, with alternating fog patches and blue
Vincent is set
impressively against a blue sky, with a foggy cap, causing it to boom its fog
horn; dramatic, though fortunately unnecessary. To think, twenty years ago Sally
and I (+ wee Max) stood at this point, on land, looking wistfully out to
sea……..actually, in search of a barbecue beach, we had driven our overloaded
(with the Bellevue gang) motor up a steep path and almost straight off the edge
of the cliff. Happy daze.
enough time to reach Lagos, but decide to rest easy and anchor just
east of Sagres.
the best sail of the whole trip. Calm seas, 15-20 knots wind on a close/ broad
reach. A French Ovni (aluminium hull, swing keel like us) took up the challenge
and for an hour or so we neck-and-necked it. Moondance then opened the
turbo-charger (tightened the trim and unfurled the staysail!) to accelerate into
the distance. What fun; ok, a straight line sail between two boats of different
specs is not exactly a race, but we can write our own script. As we approached
the (potentially very gusty) point, and a tight turn into Lagos we eased the sails
and described an elegant arc…….. while, to their credit the Ovni threw caution
to the wind and screamed a tight turn….as an impressive consolation.
nods were exchanged at the check-in desk, but we knew……..
strange feeling arriving at Lagos. After the quite difficult and changeable
west coast the climate felt very different; much more Mediterranean and settled.
But everyone was English! Even the Portuguese. For a brief period, as we
refuelled stomachs this was marvellous; instant acknowledgement of the “I
want”…...Lagos had a lot to offer; great showers, nice old town, and a
surprising reunion with Mike (his wife and crowd of jolly Welsh “locals”) with
whom I had spent four difficult days studying for the Long Range Radio Operators
Licence in Southampton……… Mike and
Angela, both just retired from the South Wales Police Force, taking a slow boat
(“Tuppence”…think about it!) to the Caribbean.
here was fantastic;soft, clean sand for as far as we can see and the kids
enjoyed the space and sea.
after a couple of days recharging the batteries we felt the need to move on.
Kephri and Kalessin both arrived in Lagos and plans were hatched for a barbeque
down the coast……. We headed east with a view to discovering some of the more