Lisbon-Lagos 17th -29th Sept

Chris & Sally Longstaff
Mon 9 Oct 2006 22:40
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From: moondance
Sent: Sunday, October 08, 2006 9:53 PM
Subject: Lisbon-Lagos 17th -29th Sept

Lisbon to Lagos


A motor 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 stores.


An easy 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 case.


Its very 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 tours.


I like the way Lisbon’s 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 !?)


Masses of 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.


Fantastic 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 own

workforce. 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!



Comfortable days go by as we remain sheltered from big swells rolling in from Hurricane Gordon (now over England? ho ho. Weak political joke.)


Visit 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 Regaleira

and visit the Palacio da Pena (the Pink Palace !)

The former 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


cavern 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 process! Fortunately…..





The Yellow 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 sanity.




Half way 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.


From Sines we have a 12 hour passage to get around the Cape. A strange day, with alternating fog patches and blue skies.


Cape St 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.


We have enough time to reach Lagos, but decide to rest easy and anchor just east of Sagres.


Sagres to Lagos

Probably 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.

Polite nods were exchanged at the check-in desk, but we knew……..



A very 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.

The beach here was fantastic;soft, clean sand for as far as we can see and the kids enjoyed the space and sea.

However 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 “remote” anchorages.