Cascais!

Lisbon to Cascais

After 2 days in Lisbon, we packed up our belongings and caught a train to Cascais, an idyllic seaside town, just under 17 miles along the Lisbon coast.

Across the River

Do you remember that old slogan: “Let the train take the strain”? Well there’s definitely something to be said for rolling along a railway track,  gazing out of the window the entire time, with not a care in the world!  No fiddling about with maps, or having to figure out how to drive on the wrong side of the road.  No stressful arguments with your spouse about navigation.  No sense of concern about how much a taxi fare might end up costing.  So relaxing!

Travelling by train is also a really good way to get snapshots of your surroundings.  Passing through pretty places, such as Estoril, only further convinced me that there is so much more of Portugal that I want to see.

Once in Cascais, we flagged down a taxi and made our way to our hotel.  The Villa Gale was good, but nothing to write home about – it was a bit dark and dated in places, and huge crowds of people made breakfast times feel like a military operation!  But it was clean and comfortable, and very conveniently located – and Emily enjoyed the swimming pool and the small children’s playground.

Cascais

Cascais started out as a typical Portugese fishing town, and apparently became the preferred summer retreat of the Portugese Nobility.  But over the years, it has grown into a wonderful fusion of 19th Century architecture, mingled with artisan shops, all kinds of eateries and an attractive marina.  There are beaches, museums and parks, so you can take your pick as to how you’re going to spend your day.

Pic 2

Pic 3

We strolled downtown just as evening was descending…

Celebrated Nathan’s birthday with an unforgettable meal at O Pescador, an award winning seafood restaurant, tucked down an unobtrusive little side-street,

Paella for two!
Paella for two!
Ice cream with hot chocolate sauce
Followed by ice cream with hot chocolate sauce – yum!  Spot the Beanie Boo in the background!

Mooched around the boutique style shops,

Cascais Shop

Took a ride on a carousel,

Carousel 1

And bumped into a big, grizzly bear!

Bear trouble

Floodlit buildings

Everywhere you looked there were smart hotels with floodlit terraces, and plenty of those typical Portuguese streets adorned with swirling mosaic.  Palm trees lined the central thouroughfare, reminiscent of the French Riviera.  It really was a very pretty place.

Downtown vibes

View around the bay

Walking back to the hotel, we kept looking over our shoulders to catch one more glimpse of the town – so beautiful with its lights mirrored in the stillness of the ocean.

Mansion

And stopped by the bridge, to take in the sight of this picturesque stately home.

Wonderful memories are made of such moments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Lisbon – A Grand Day Out!

After a good night’s rest, we were eager to head into Lisbon City Centre to see the sights.

We took the Metro to a popular area of Lisbon known as Baixa which is a busy commercial centre with plenty of interesting shops, eateries and charming cobbly streets that rambled uphill and down.

Cafe

There were so many wonderful shops to explore, such as this inviting bakery:

Cake Shop

Sardine shop

And this very quirky shop that sold nothing but tinned sardines!

Rossio Square

Fountain 2

Fountain 3Fountain

The elegant streets and city Squares, adorned with fountains and moasics, oozed history and charm.  And in the midday heat, it was difficult to resist the urge to stop for an iced coffee or a beer in the shade.

Pic 11

Pic 9

Praca Do Commercio

Many of the busy streets meandered down towards the Praco Do Commercio, which means Commerce/Royal Square.

Cobbled streets

This impressive, historic gateway into the City, with it’s smart yellow facade, is situated near the River Tagus and would have once been a place of bustling trade and industry.  Sadly, much of this area was destroyed in a great Earthquake in 1755, but was later rebuilt.

Lisbon - City Square

Main Square 2

 

River Tagus
River Tagus

Tram 28

And of course, no trip to Lisbon would be complete without a ride on the iconic Tram 28.

Tram

Even if it was a bit hairy at times!

Tight Squeeze
Tight Squeeze
Hold on tight
Hold on tight

And Relax…

As it was Nathan’s birthday week, we ended our grand day out with a glass of wine (actually one of us had two! ) in a lovely bar that had tables outside.

And Relax

Nathan couldn’t believe his luck when he got the bill –  11 Euros for 3 glasses of wine and an apple juice!   Not bad at all!

Nice Price

All in all, we had a fabulous and very memorable day in Lisbon.  For a country-loving girl, I was surprised at just how taken I was with this beguiling, old City.  Elegant, charming, and even a little bit romantic, in the evening sun.  Lisbon – we hope to visit again some day!

 

 

 

 

 

Whistlestop Tour of Lisbon – Arrival

When your teenagers go off to Bible Camp for the week, what on earth do you do with yourselves?  Well, you could stay at home and enjoy the peace and quiet….But when you’re married to a travel agent, that’s never going to happen!  Before I could say lickety-split, Nathan, Emily and I were on board an aeroplane.  Our destination – Lisbon!

Now I must admit, I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy a City Break.  Ask me what I prefer – city or countryside – and I would definitely say I am drawn to the green field, the running river and the rustic farmhouse!

Little did I know what a treat I was in for!

You can fly from London to Lisbon, quicker than you could drive to Manchester!   It takes around 2 hrs 20 mins.  There is no time difference, so you don’t even need to reset your watch when you arrive.  This was good for me, as naturally, with the kids away at camp, I wanted to make sure we could get back fairly fast in an emergency!

Outside the airport it was very easy to find a bus that would drop us to the door of our hotel.  It only cost around 2 euros each and the bus ride gave us a good view of the outskirts of the City.

The hotel Corinthia was modern, clean and comfortable and served a good continental breakfast.  Although the hotel was not in the heart of the city, it made an ideal base from which to explore.  The staff were helpful, and happy to suggest good places to eat, make reservations give directions etc.  It was also a calm and tranquil place to come back to after a day amid the hustle and bustle of the City.

Corinthia Hotel, Lisbon
Corinthia Hotel, Lisbon

The Corinthia is situated just across the road from the Metro Station, which was a real plus point.  The Metro is affordable and very straight forward to use – in fact, if you’re at all familiar with the London Tube, then it’s a doddle!

Come Prima

As we arrived in Lisbon fairly late in the afternoon, we decided to leave our exploring until the following morning.  However, we did go out for dinner.  The hotel recommended a good Italian restaurant, Come Prima, not too far away, which we got to by taxi.

If you’re looking for a bit of good, honest grub, then you must visit Come Prima!  It was wonderful.  Nothing too fancy on the outside – but everything was just how you’d want an Italian Restaurant to be.  The setting, with it’s dimmed lighting, felt cosy, authentic, and relaxing.  Our server, who was probably the Manager, was superb – extremely friendly, and he made such a fuss of Emily, even when she asked for Tomato Ketchup on her Spaghetti Bolognese!  Oh the horror!

Come Prima 2
10best.com

Come Prima

The wine and food were excellent and everything tasted fresh, delicious and home-made.  By the end of that first evening we felt like the whole trip would have been worth it just for that meal!

A great start to a fantastic week!