Cascais Days

Sun 30 Jun 2013 06:01
Position: 38.41.431N 009.25.087W

Friday dawned, clear blue skies, sun already toasting our dew drenched decks
as I drank tea on the after deck. Nothing stirred in the marina, gentle
sounds of pumps and water below as the crew readied themselves for another
day. Today Ryan flies back home to the U.K. to take a windsurfer instructor
course, Rob to the car hire office and then a day reconnoitring the
mountains above Cabo Roca last visited twenty years ago. Lynn and I are
Lisbon bound, boarding the train in Cascais for the thirty five minute
journey along the Rio Tejo. Return tickets for two a frugal 5 Euros 20
Cents. Lynn last here an unbelievable forty eight years ago. Stone and tile
architecture well remembered. Everywhere mosaic limestone pavements and
squares of contrasting hues. As easily forgotten as the architecture
remembered was the steepness of the city hills. A shady courtyard found, two
delicious café freddo ordered, served in champagne flutes. Can this life we
now lead be real? A simple lunch of smoked salmon, onion and rocket leaves.
A long telephone call, mostly business, to a much loved son and then seek
out the number 28. One of the century old trams that circumnavigate this
vertiginous city. Circumnavigation complete we return to the station and the
train to Cascais. Meeting on our return journey the retired captain of a
Portuguese warship and spend a pleasant twenty minutes in maritime
conversation appreciating each other’s love of the sea.

Back in Cascais we head towards the Hotel Albatroz recommended by Rob.
Uniformed doormen smile and welcome us to the cool marbled interior. We pass
the reception clerks, they smile, the passing maître d’hôtel smiles, the
waiters smile. This is going to be expensive (it wasn’t!). Gently ushered
passed the dining room, and the swimming pool terrace where bethonged bodies
lie toasting in the afternoon sun we are led to a veranda that hangs
cantilevered above a private beach, where more scantily clad bodies, some
who should and some who should definitely not, bake. The voices of children
at beach time play gently rise from below us. Ahead in the gently rippling
blue waters of the bay ‘Radiant’ lies at anchor, all 351 feet of gleaming
topsides, registered in the Cayman Islands, bows to the gentle North West
breeze. “Afternoon tea Sir?” the waiter softly interjects our reverie.
Darjeeling served we sip from bone china drinking in every delightful moment
of our time on this veranda.

We meet Rob back aboard Pamarzi where he talks of mountain top palaces and
simple shore side fish restaurants of twenty years ago rediscovered, now
successfully swish. The sun easing its way to the horizon we arrive in our
Eurocar all looking chic and expectant. Swiftly seated prawns, goose
barnacles and goats cheese are served. Prawns and cheese delicious,
barnacles interesting but not a dish Lynn will cling to. Extensive menu
perused whilst watching anglers on the rocks below, all looks so good. Rob
suggests sharing a crab or two. We ask to view the creatures who will commit
to be our dinner. Sipping fragrant, effervescent Portuguese wine we await
sight of our nipperious repast. The waiter returns with a pair of monstrous
crustaceans fully 18 inches across there coral pink backs. We decide to
spare the life of one and dine on its cousin. Wine passes and the crab
returns pinker and in parts on a bed of ice and salad. A gluttonous hour is
spent delving into the innermost parts of the creature to extract and
consume the delicious, sweet meat. Simple chocolate desserts follow then
back to the boat’s cool, air conditioned interior for a small brandy on ice,
a Belgian chocolate or three and Mahler’s Symphony number 5. Soft pillow,
four hundred thread count sheets, gentle boat movements, alcohol numbed
brain, all soporific, drifting off, half a century of toil and risk has been
worth it.

I know, I know dear reader ( always assuming I have one since we lost
Mother!) this is getting boring: Saturday morning dawned, clear blue skies
………………………………………………………..etc. etc. Today we are for the mountains and the
Palacia Da Pena. An amalgam of ancient monastery and the egotistical,
architectural exuberance of D Fernando II (1819 – 1885) perched 4000 feet
above sea level atop a mountain surrounded by verdant, boulder strewn
forests. We hurry our hired Honda along the N427 coast road, smooth as a
moles back and host to peloton after peloton of would be yellow jerseys. We
turn off the main road packed with cyclists and weekend beach seekers and
climb higher and higher on a B road midst the trees and boulder stacks,
between unsharing estate walls. We arrive, park, only 400 metres of one in
ten to go. Thankfully an ageing charabanc, life spent hauling guests up the
half mile or so lends us its slatted benches for the final climb. I will not
attempt to describe the palace my friends for my descriptions would run to
many pages. Instead I encourage you to visit yourselves – amazing.

Down, down, down we meander, super market for provisions, simple lunch
aboard of ham and tomato and oh so soft and floury bread rolls. Back to town
to return the Honda and purchase thick, marbled fillet steaks for dinner
aboard tomorrow evening once we are moored in Sines. Then to the marina
office to again consort with dragons. No change, they still brood and scour
here. When, politely I state th we are leaving early on the morrow, she (the
skinny one) demands to know the name of the boat, as if we had not met but
three days ago and the movements of the more than half empty marina had been
so hectic that no memory however excellent could remember our former meeting
that had so abused my senses. “PAMARZI” she enunciates slowly and
deliberately with an unbecoming leer and a sideways sneer to her fat, scaly
companion. Screens are studied, papers scrutinised. Without looking up she
demands an exorbitant sum. I protest, she protests, her fire breathing
companion protests as she paces around the office. “No” I say gesticulating
at the tax inflated price list. She lunges an expletive (I think), I parry.
We joust dates and arrival times. I brandish indignation then try hurt
feelings and disappointment. They relent! Papers adjusted, card machine
thrust, numbers punched, receipt issued. I leave triumphant that they have
not managed to overcharge me! Only on my return to the boat do I remember
that we have been here four nights and not the three I insisted on.

A sound stage has been erected in the marina complex and as I write in the
cockpit the sun now less fierce as it slides westward, the air, the water,
the boat and my very being pulsate to the monotonous thud, thud, thud of
5000 watts of base beat and vaguely recognised vocals.

Back to sea tomorrow, further south away from dragons and pop stars.