The Portuguese Riviera

Trip Start Oct 07, 2006
Trip End Oct 15, 2006

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Oitavo día
Sábado 14
Originally we had planned to visit the Belem area of Lisbon today, but with our brief drive around Cascais, we decided we had seen enough of cathedrals and palaces for the time being. It was a good decision, as Cascais and its elegant neighbour Estoril, are charming places.

We start our day visiting Boca do Inferno, a cliff-side geological attraction. On rough days there is an impressive blowhole. Today is calm, but the views along the coastline are beautiful. It helps that there is a great handicraft market nearby. We purchase the majority of our souvenirs here.

Continuing to Cascais, we park beside the Igreja da Assunção. Parking is free on weekends, but later when we return and find we have been blocked in by a wedding party.

We stroll along the shore to the town centre. Everything is incredibly picturesque. The weather is perfect, in fact, it's rather hot (but the water, of course, is freezing cold). The town centre maintains its historical character, as this was originally a major port and fishing centre. In spite of being so close to Lisbon, and having become a dormitory suburb with a short one-hour train ride to downtown Lisbon, it has retained most of its charm.  

We drop by the tourist board, where the young lady convinces us to do the 20-minute walk along the promenade to Estoril. It is a good decision, though it takes us far longer than 20 minutes as we linger here and there. At the end we are quite exhausted and catch the train for a €1.00, 5- minute ride back to Cascais.

We enjoy a late lunch at Largo de Camões, which is reputed to really swing at night. I select a seafood soup and the obiquitous sardinhas assados (grilled sardines). These are not your wimpy tinned sardines, but four large fish grilled to perfection. Delicious.

After we extract our car from the wedding party, we return home to pack. Tomorrow is an early departure. Later in the evening we revisit Largo de Camões, which is now a rowdy soccer fest with large TV screens in each sidewalk café showing different European games. We visit our first shopping mall. A mall is a mall is a mall. Here the only difference is that everything is in Portuguese and Euros, and much more expensive than back in the USA. We enter a vast Jumbo supermarket to buy a few beers for the evening back at the flat. Portugal has a really complicated tax system. You hardly notice it at all, as taxes are included in the sales price. We found that 21% is added for booze, sodas, candy and cigarettes, 12% for wine and restaurant tax and 5% for food and magazines. We never did find out the tax for clothing.
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