7th October, Péniche ~ Cascais
Péniche was only going to be a short stop as we needed to be pushing on to get to our ‘jumping off’ point to sail out to Madeira plus Alan needed to get a flight out of Lisbon to return to UK and so, after only one night we set off for Cascais!
The winds were fairly fresh and expected to increase later in the day.
We put up our No.2 Genoa and away we went, covering the 52 nautical miles in 8 hours and 40 minutes with an average speed of 6 knots and with more exciting surfing, it was a great sail! With only one sail up, Musetta performed very well! We arrived in the bay at Cascais in the early evening and decided that it would be lovely to spend the night at anchor for a change!
The following morning we called up the marina and arranged a place for us to stay for as long as we liked! We ‘weighed’ anchor and motored into the marina and onto the waiting pontoon. All yachts entering the marina are requested to stop here so that formalities can be completed and a suitable berth found! We were soon in our berth and went to find some lunch at the myriad of restaurants surrounding the marina!
Not a bad spot for lunch!
9th October ~ Lisbon!
As Alan was going to be leaving me here for about 10 days so we first needed to look at the marinas in Lisbon to see which one would be a good one for me to be in on my own!
We took a train ride into the city from Cascais, a journey of only 34 minutes to do our research! The train was fast and efficient and absolutely on time and all for a cost for an OAP of €1.60!
Unfortunately the marinas would have still involved a train or bus ride into the city and so we decided that as the marina at Cascais was so nice and right by the town it would be best to stay put!! Such a hardship with vistas like this (photo to the right)! Alan and I tried unsuccessfully to have dinner here but it remained firmly closed! It was nice to look at though!
Having decided that the marinas were not suitable we then continued our day out in Lisbon with a visit to the Castelo de Säo Jorge, a national monument!
The route up to and back down to the castle was very steep and windy allowing tourists, like us to soak up the atmosphere as they walked!
The steep streets in the old quarter by the Castelo de S. Jorge
The Castelo stands at the top of the hill upon which most of Lisbon is built! It consists of a castle, the ruins of the former royal palace as well as a part of a residential neighbourhood where the elite of Lisbon lived!
Some views of the castle! It was hard to get far enough away for the shots?
This peacock was one of several in the grounds of the castle and at the cafeteria where we had a spot of lunch. He was as tame as could be and simply spent his time strutting up and down the rows of tables hoping for a morsel of something to eat!
One of the elite perhaps? He clearly thinks he is!
The Castelo de São Jorge was built originally by the Moors in the 11th Century. One Dom Alfonso Henriques then conquered Lisbon later in 1147 and became the first king of Portugal. This is when the Castelo entered it’s golden age as a home for royalty, continuing through to the 16th century when Portugal became part of the Spanish Crown and the castle took on a more military role! The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 caused c catastrophic damage and much of the castle was lost and ruined. Now after major renovation work the castle and former royal palace has been rediscovered, restored and opened to the public.
A view of the Castelo de São Jorge as it is today!
The views from the Castle down to the town and across to the Tagus river with the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge in the background were incredible! The bridge is likened to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco for it’s style and colour!
Looking down at the Praça do Comércio and across to the Ponte 25 de Abril!
Us in tourist mode and to prove we were there!
The Praça do Comércio is still commonly known as Terreiro do Paço or palace square as it was the location of Paços da Ribeira or royal Palace until is was destroyed by the huge Lisbon earthquake of 1755!
King José I commissioned the rebuilding of the Palace square to form a U shape as we see it today and as can be seen in the photo from the castle. The open side of the square is at the river where boats could dock and thus the city was able to trade with the rest of the world. This of course continues today but on a much larger scale obviously! The river frontage of the Terreiro do Paco no longer has any commercial trading, it is purely for the tourists! The commercial docks are situated elsewhere on the river.
After an enjoyable day, we hopped onto the train back to Cascais and Musetta to make a plan for the remaining days Alan before his flight!
10th October ~ Sintra!
This time we took a bus for the hour long journey up to Sintra from Cascais! Again the buses were the model of efficiency and although the route took us through some hair-raisingly narrow roads, it would probably have been better to face backwards in the bus, we soon arrived in Sintra! Our senses were ‘hit’ with the fairytale atmosphere almost immediately, the City Hall being the first!
The city Hall in the main part of the town of Sintra
Sintra is a resort town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains, near the capital, Lisbon and in our case an hour’s journey from Cascais! It was a longtime royal sanctuary and its forested terrain is dotted with pastel-coloured villas and palaces.
The Pena Palace on the top of the hill is full of mystique! Now used for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese republic and by government officials
It was amazing and a bit like stepping onto a Walt Disney film set!! We thought we would take advantage of one of the many car tours on offer when we arrived as it seemed the most obvious way to spend the afternoon! Here is our tour guide and vehicle…!
Gaelle and the Citröen 2CV, french pastry chef and informative tour guide extraordinaire!
Gaelle was a real find and took us on our tour up through the narrow lanes of the national park, stopping along the way to point out the various fairytale buildings, bridges we passed under and hotels which were once royal palaces.
The Monserrate Palace was intriguing. A 17th-century Moorish villa with apparently fabulous gardens! Sadly we only had this glimpse of it through the trees as we made our way up to the top.
Another glimpse through the trees was of the Castelo dos Mouros, a Moorish castle which sits on top of a mountainous cliff in the Sintra mountains and has panoramic views. It is surrounded by the lush and sometimes exotic vegetation of the National Park and exudes the romantic character of this whole area!
Our ultimate destination was the Pena Palace, a magical castle standing on the top of the hill and truly Disney-like! On a clear day it can be seen from Lisbon and the surrounding areas. It is a national monument and is one of the major examples of 19th century romanticism. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of Portugal!! We were to see two more of these later in our visit to Lisbon!
The Pena Palace is now maintained by the government! It’s brightly coloured facades have faded to grey over the years but have been repainted, probably in more weather resistant paint these days!.
Inside the palace and the entrance inside via this archway in the courtyard!
Gaelle’s tour ended here and she dropped us at the gates of the palace having pointed out all sites on the way plus the route back down to the town too if we wanted to walk! We did and so started down the steps……
and wondered at the time what our health and safety organisations would make of the irregular treads, some broken and some missing altogether?! ….and then we came across this villa which was beautiful but unfortunately had no information that I could find as to what it was….?
We eventually came back to where we had started and walked to the bus stop to return to Cascais, weary but having had a superb day in the rarified atmosphere of the Sintra National Park. It was somewhat surreal and magical at the same time and again we felt lucky to have had the opportunity to visit it.
13th October ~ A return visit to Lisbon!
We wanted to go to Bélem, Portuguese name for Bethlehem as here were several heritage sites to see! Again it was so easy to get there on the train. The train line runs along the coast from Cascais and then follows the river Tagus up into the city.
The Monument to the Discoveries!
This impressive monument, opened in 1960, can be seen from a long way off and dominates the riverside at Bélem. It is a tribute to the Portuguese ages of discovery in the 15th and 16th Centuries. The view is the same on both sides where there are sculptures of 32 historical figures from that time. At the peak is a 9 metre statue of Henry the Navigator holding a model of a type of ship called a “Carrack”
The Bélem Tower ~ One of Portugal’s Seven Wonders!
Next came the Belém Tower a little further down stream! Very different from the monument above and is an impressive building. It is surrounded by the water of the River Tagus and is positioned so that it has a clear view of the mouth of the river. It dates from 1514 and was designed to be a part of the defences of Lisbon, having positions for cannons which could shoot at invading ships! It was also a symbol of the power of Portugal at the time.
The Bélem Tower!
We wanted to see inside and so we joined the queue of people waiting to go in. As it happened when we were up on the terrace we became aware of guns being placed on the promenade below the tower? Then there was a salvo of shots followed by a Brazilian war ship entering the harbour and returning fire of it’s own!
The Jerónimus Monastery ~ Another of Portugal’s 7 wonders!
Finally the last site on our list was the Jerónimos Monastery. Set back from the river it was built from 1501 and was intended to be a place of spiritual protection for the sailors and explorers whose ships left from here during the Portuguese Age of Discovery. They would pray here just before they set off on their journeys.
The main double level cloisters of the monastery is what you can see these days and the architecture is stunning. The intricate details in the designs sculpted into the stonework are astonishing. The detail shows a mixture of nautical, religious and royal symbols.
The double level cloisters of the Jerónimos Monastery in Bélem
The whole monastery was absolutely stunning and again we marvelled at the detail and the craftsmanship around every corner we turned!
14th October ~ Preparing for Hurricane Leslie!
When we returned from our day out in Lisbon we found everyone busily preparing their boats for the the hurricane which had been forecast for a few days. We did notice that the clouds had been building during the previous day and now the wind had increased
Extra lines on Musetta
significantly! People were scurrying round dropping sails and spray hoods as well. For us to drop sails on Musetta would have been a major headache and so we lashed them as tightly as we could and crossed our fingers and toes!
Well, yes it was very windy and very noisy but nowhere as bad as we were all expecting! It seems that the worst of the winds hit Figueira da Foz which was much further north than Cascais. We hoped that they hadn’t suffered too badly but the news wasn’t good? The following day dawned bright and sunny and so we took a walk outside the marina to see what the sea looked like….
It is hard to tell from this shot how powerful the sea was? Musetta was just behind the marina wall, about level with that crashing wave?! It could have been a lot worse and so we were thankful that we had survived!
Home alone in Cascais!
Alan flew home on the following Tuesday and so I had time to have a look around Cascais! It was definitely the best decision to stay here. The marina is very close to the town and everything I wanted to see.
Cascais is known for it’s beautiful sandy beaches and the marina where we were moored. The marina which has 650 berths was opened in 1999 and hosts many international sailing events.
The beautiful beaches at Cascais!
The bay is also known for hosting ‘Iron Man’ events, a fact which came to our notice when our friend Dennis, who had sailed there non-stop from Porto aboard the ‘Mighty O”and dropped anchor in the bay in the middle of the night, was awakened by an official of the event telling him to move as he was in the middle of the swimming course!!
With it’s beautiful buildings, wonderful beaches and delightful park Cascais has become a major tourist destination! It has a history of being a haven for the rich and famous and this stems from when the Portuguese royal family made the town their summer residence. This of course attracted members of the Portuguese aristocracy resulting in some beautiful buildings such as this one which I passed regularly on my way into town!
Just outside the bounds of the marina was the Parque Marechal Carmona…..
….where I spent many happy hours, writing and reading either on a bench or in the cafe while drinking coffee and of course eating the traditional Nata pastries, like custard tarts but so much nicer especially when they are served warm! The park was home to many different species of birds, terrapins….. and also two great and free wifi zones!!
The Marechal Carmona park ~ my view from the cafe and the park bench!!
I did some cycling too and rode out along the western shore road, the cliffs were spectacular!
This sight was not too far along the road and one of those very unusual geographical phenomena, a bit like the undersea canyon at Nazaré. The Boca do Inferno is a deep sea chasm causing breaking waves at it’s entrance. I had to do some precarious rock climbing to get these photos but it was worth it!
The Boca do Inferno ~ Hell’s Mouth!
Alan returned on the 25th October and then we had to wait a whole week before we could leave for Madeira because of the very unsettled conditions, mainly very strong winds. The marina was filling up with boats like us, waiting to head south either to the Algarve or to Porto Santo or Funchal, Madeira.
It was while we were in Cascais that we caught up with Élise and Fabien again and their ‘Petit Goustan’. We had several meals together on board Musetta, including a full english breakfast which they seemed to enjoy very much! They also, very kindly treated me to dinner out when I was ‘home alone’! Sadly for me they set off for Porto Santo before Alan returned but it was a huge relief for me to learn that they had arrived there safely in 4½ days! Well done them!
One yacht set off in the sunshine immediately after several days of high winds – he was back two hours later, it was too awful outside the shelter of the marina!! There was quite a commotion on our pontoon as he left, all of us swapping opinions about the foolhardiness of such a venture! In particular we spoke to a Frenchman who thought his attempt was ‘audacious’!!
This Frenchman it turned out, was the very same guy who was the unlucky loser in Nazaré where we took the last visitor mooring! As he was on his own we invited him for an apéritif on board Musetta and which he duly reciprocated on his yacht Bon Vivant, a Halberg Rassy 46 the next night. It was then that the whole story came out!! He took it in good heart and even invited us to have a typical french supper with him! It was delicious too!
31st October ~ The Eve of our departure to Madeira!
Finally we had a window of weather to make the four day passage out to Porto Santo, 485 nautical miles! After nearly the whole month moored in Cascais we were going to leave! We had thoroughly enjoyed Cascais! The town had everything and was a very chic and lovely place to stay! Time to move on though!