July 10-12: Portugal-Sintra, Cas Cais
Accommodation: Airbnb Carmo, 1 Rua do Duque. Excellent apartment (except for the two floor walk-up) in the bustling Chiado district. Five big windows opening onto the street offer plenty of people watching opportunity. Car, tuk tuk, taxi and truck navigation of the very narrow and steep two streets that come together at our apartment is challenging and entertaining. Lots of squeeking as tires rub against the curbs.
Sintra, Cas Cais
The day began with George’s expert navigation of the just wide enough for our Mercedez van transport streets from the Pousada out of Obidos. The final gate proved a major challenge—a kind cyclist helped us negotiate thru the gate’s two turns. WHEW!
After 90 minute drive we arrived Sintra. Unfortunately our high expectations were not met. This is a very small town with again the narrow roads and way too many cars and buses. It was like being in rush hour traffic at 10:30 in the morning.
And then there was the Moorish Castle straight out of Disneyland with its vibrant colored walls. The really cold weather didn’t help—nor did the throngs of tourists. Once down off the hill, it was a bit better strolling thru the few village streets. OK lunch and did pick up a special gift in one of the little shops.
Next Sintra stop was the estate developed with an Italian architect by a multi-millionaire that clearly had grandiose dreams. He created a many acre complex complete with caves, waterfalls, an unfinished well, (now very badly tended) boxwood garden, arches, paths and a castle-like home. OK way to spend a couple hours wandering, but all in all not a trip highlight.
So, if Sintra was a disappointment, Cascais was a real downer. Reading suggested a lovely drive along cliffs overlooking the crashing Atlantic waves. What we found was a beach resort town. Drive along the coast was at sea level in heavy traffic as it was Sunday and summer vacation. Struggled thru the traffic and headed for Lisbon.
An hour’s drive and we reached our final vacation destination—Lisbon.
George found our apartment and dropped us and luggage outside our secured door while we waited for our hostess for 45 minutes as we were early in our arrival. We then lugged suitcases up the two floors, settled in and collapsed for an hour.
George then picked us up for a dinner and FADO. We had no expectations so were delightfully surprised. The restaurant seated only about 30 people; is owned by a husband and wife who serve only 2-3 nights a week. Dinner was two tourines- one stewed pork and the other a seafood mélange. Both fantastic. It appeared that the only customers were those using our tour company-Experience Portugal. Owner Filomena with whom we’d corresponded for several months was there to ensure our enjoyment and to gather feedback on our experience with guides, cities, etc. A nice, unexpected touch.
After dinner, the husband, wife and a young man played and sang FADO for us. All about the romance and remorse of love, FADO is lovely for listening. Voices and guitar were magical.
And then George drove us home, we offered our thanks, said our goodbyes and then trooped upstairs. After a very long day that happily ended on a very high note, we all gratefully settled in for a good night’s rest.