Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Despite the rough travel experience we had to go to Portugal, once we were there, it was a nice and warm summer break. We stayed in a coastal town called Cascais which is about 20 miles outside of Lisbon.
One of the main beach areas in Cascais.
Cascais is a fishing village (now more a tourist destination as well) and elements of the fishing village aspect can still be seen in the area. The fishing huts line the shores of the water.
And just next door to the fishing huts are the myriads of traps and materials to catch the fresh fish on a daily basis.
Farol de Santa Marta Lighthouse in Cascais.
We had a delicious lunch on the water, overlooking the lighthouse on our first day. I had grilled chirizo and the most garlicky prawns.
Scott had the fresh catch of the day....the whole fish!
The streets signs in Portugal were so pretty - painted tiles on every street.
We stayed at the Grande Real Villa Italia Hotel in Cascais. It was a lovely hotel and the rooms were huge for a European hotel.
Just down the road from our hotel was a local seafood restaurant on the water - Mar do Inferno. If you are going to Cascais, this seafood restaurant was a great find. It was filled with quite a few locals (all arriving between 8:30 - 9:00 so go early if you want the servers to yourself!). We had king crab legs, seafood soup, and a delicious sea bass that was dished out to us table side.
Outside the restaurant was the beach. The beaches along this part of the coast were quite rocky and not very sandy.
Scott on the boardwalk area of the beach before dinner.

One of our days while we were in Portugal, we decided to take the train into Lisbon to explore the city for a day.
En route to the train station, we walked towards the main area of Cascais.
Catching the train into Lisbon....
We got off the train at the Belem stop in Lisbon. Our purpose was in search of food....the famous egg custard pastries at Pasteis de Belem. While en route to the cafe, we passed by the President of Portugal's house - Palace de Belem.
The streets throughout Lisbon and Portugal were all quite pretty - lots of tiles and many different designs.
We arrived at Pasteis de Belem and the queue was out the door! People line up to order their famous pastries for take away. The counters were bustling the entire time we were there.
We opted to take a seat in their main dining room and enjoy our pastries in the restaurant. Each table has a cinnamon shaker and also a powdered sugar shaker on the table, for dousing the delicious egg custard pastries.
Of course we ordered a plate of the house speciality and doused them in the cinnamon and powdered sugar...MMMM....CAN YOU TASTE HOW DELICIOUS THEY ARE?!?!? MMM!
Architecture throughout Lisbon was quite neat.

Blue tiles everywhere throughout Portugal - these seen inside a church.

More blue tiles at a scenic point...
We went to explore the castle in Lisbon - Castle of São Jorge, which has a fantastic viewpoint overlooking Lisbon.

The views from the castle. The strongly-fortified citidel, which, in its present configuration, dates from medieval times, is located atop the highest hill in the historic center of the city
More European stairs to climb....up to the top of the castle walls.
Scott climbing around the upper castle fort walls.

Once we climbed up, of course we had to find our way down....
Streets of Lisbon.
From a main square in Lisbon, looking up towards the castle on the hill.
While in Lisbon, a stop by another local bakery to sample more pastries was of course necessary....not quite as good as the egg custard tarts but good for an afternoon snack.

After our day in Lisbon, we headed back to Cascais and went out for another seafood dinner. We ended up at a restaurant that did not have any English menus (always a good sign in our book - not as many tourists!) and so the one waiter who spoke some English waited on us for the evening. As their main dishes were seafood, we asked for his recommendations. He then took us to the seafood display and pointed out various seafood items and we chose them based on his recommendations.
For the starters, he suggested a few grams of three various seafood items - the first being the "barnacles" above. We are still unsure as to what they are actually called but they seemed to be popular with the locals. They were interesting to say the least...they looked like sea fingers and then in order to eat the insides, we had to pull apart the barnacles and take out the insides which seemed to resemble black squid parts. After a few bites I decided I was a bit unsure about eating more of these local treats!
The other item our waiter recommended as a starter - "witches" was the English translation (or so he thought). I believe they are better known as crawfish to Americans.
And then for our main course we had another whole crab for dinner...2nd night in a row and we enjoyed every bite of it!
The pool at our resort. We spent a full day just reading our books and drinking fruity smoothies pool side to unwind...
Not quite a model but he sure does look good strolling in these beach towns! :)
A late afternoon stroll into the beach and town are of Cascais.

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