Cascais, Sintra & Lots of Wine!

Another warm and sunny day. We're heading west this morning and our first stop is the coastal town of Cascais. Once a sleepy fishing village, Cascais gained fame in the late 19th century as the holiday resort of Portugal's royal family and it hasn't looked back since! It is popular with both locals and tourists who flock to the sandy beaches and enjoy the cafe culture and lively nightlife. We park our coaches near the fort and walk down the hill to the centre of town. After an orientation from our local guides we are free to explore ... and perhaps enjoy a coffee or an ice cream. Richard and Dawn are seen cycling around town, presumably counting guests?!

From Cascais we continue a little further to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sintra, known for its many 19th-century architectural monuments. Our guides recommend we tour the National Palace after lunch, when most of the morning crowds have left. Good advice. We enjoy some free time for lunch in the meantime. One of the hotel cafes on the main square seems very popular with our guests, in fact we're occupying most of the tables. The food is great and the company not bad either. After lunch we re-group on the steps of the National Palace and enjoy a guided tour inside. There are no queues and few visitors, so plenty of space. There are, however, 100 steps, so we take it slowly! One of the features of the palace is the two chimneys, built in the fourteenth century to keep the kitchens smoke free. You can stand directly underneath them and look up 35 metres to the hole in the top.

From SIntra we returned to Lisbon and this evening we dined at Cervejaria Trindade, a restaurant that was formerly a convent and subsequently a brewery! As we set off from our hotel in our private coaches it becomes apparent that the centre of Lisbon has some traffic issues! We make slow progress and our coach drivers chat to their colleagues to discover there is a road block ahead. It is beyond the restuarant but has backed everything up. We continue slowly. A few yards progress, then we stop for a while. There is an occasional near miss when impatient drivers try to cut in, and there is an occasional policeman on a motorbike doing nothing. Finally we reach our drop-off point and walk a short distance to the restaurant. This involves passing by a couple of shops selling very skimpy underwear (and a few other things too) so everyone begins to wonder where Richard and Dawn are taking us! Our restaurant, however, is perfectly acceptable! It is a busy place and obviously popular with locals. We head for our reserved dining tables. A rather strange meat croquette was already on each side plate as we entered. Most of us left if there. However, fresh shrimps were served next and they proved very popular. Beef and chips followed, and a creamy trifle or chocolate pudding to finish. Local beer and substantial amounts of red and white wine were consumed. Really substantial quantities of wine were consumed. Amazingly substantial quantities in fact. In other words, lots of good fun!