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Published: April 22nd 2014
Last night we once again had a bit of trouble getting to sleep on account of some man screaming outside. At first I thought, how nice, some late-night Fado! Nope, just repeated yelling of the same unintelligible, though somewhat lyrical thing. We still managed to get up a bit after 8 and head down to our gourmet breakfast of assorted breads, yogurt, and sliced cheese. Once showered we started to make our way West toward the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, the National Azulejo Tile museum. Lisbon's azulejos are iconic and ubiquitous throughout the city, so it was interesting to see their history and evolution. The word itself comes from the Arabic 'azzelij' or 'az zuleycha' which means small polished stone. It was cool to see the various styles and influences, from Arabic geometric patterns to Eastern flora and fauna inspired by the conquest of Macau in the 16th century.
By noon it was time for some food so we headed back toward the city center to find Sol e Pesca, a bar/restaurant that was another recommendation by Anthony Bourdain. What's on the menu? Canned seafood, literally hundreds of kinds from smoked mussels to grilled lamprey. Portugal is known for its
high quality preserved seafood, and I was in heaven. My Portuguese was also super good this afternoon which heightened my dining experience. We started off with dois imperiais de Super Bock, two drafts of Super Bock, and some olives. Then came pâté de ovas (cod roe pâté), bacalhau assado em azeite (grilled cod in oil), and finally enguias fumadas (smoked eel), all served with some nice toasted bread. Everything was absolutely delicious, though someone whose name I will not mention did not have an appreciation for the roe or eel. Whatever. We sat outside in the sun, but the inside is quirky with tons of old fishing gear and thousands do cans of fish line the wall.
On our way to the Caisson de Sodré train station we stopped at the Mercado de Ribeiro; an indoor market. I was hoping for something along the lines of Barcelona's La Boqueria, but it was pretty underwhelming and large parts of it were being renovated. Oh well, it was off to the train station for a 25 minute trip along the coast to Cascais.
Cascais is a seaside town at the very edge of the peninsula where the Atlantic meets the
Rio Tejo. It was initially an important fishing port, but then gained notoriety as an upper class resort town when King Luís began to vacation here in 1870. Today it's economy is largely tourism, with many long sandy beaches, restaurants, and hotels dotting the coastline. It is somewhat reminiscent of Newport both in its history and present-day status. We started with a long walk up and down the gorgeous coastline, passing the former citadel-now-hotel as d coming across the Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães, a cool (and free) 19th century mansion constructed by some count. It had a beautiful Arabic-style cloister and fantastic azulejo tile work, not to mention centuries old Indo-Portuguese furniture.
Further along we came across an awesome coastal rock formation known as Boca do Inferno - Hell's mouth, where waves crash into ominous-looking caverns. The coastal walkway combined with the scenery was a cross between Menorca and Santander for me. As we backtracked, we thought it would be a good idea to try to even out the tank tans we had just obtained, so we lay out for maybe 45 minutes at the Praia da Ribeira and relaxed a bit. Nice and toasty we backtracked a
bit to the Museu do Mar, the Sea Museum, which did a really nice job presenting Cascais' maritime history with fishing tools, nets and boats, and stories from local fisherman.
We then grabbed a cup of coffee and attempted to do a bit of shopping. The only thing if interest we found was knock-off Nespresso pods for half the price at the supermarket. We will be picking some of those up before we leave! There didn't seem to be too much else to peruse, so we sat down to an early dinner at O Pescador, a seafood place right next to the fish market. What an incredible meal. Chris had cod cakes with tomato rice, and I had grilled octopus in oil and garlic with farm-style potatoes. After watching a fisherman decapitate the octopus he had caught right by the water I had had a taste for octopus the whole afternoon. We washed the meal down with a bottle of the house white and then shared a troçinho do céu, literally "a little piece of the sky." What happened next had Chris vomiting in his mouth.
Waiter - "Are you Portuguese?"
Me - "No, I'm American."
Waiter - "Do you live here, though?"
Me - "Nope, in Boston."
Waiter - "But you have Portuguese parents?" Me - "No, my family is Polish."
Waiter - "Wow, your Portuguese is really good. You studied it in school?"
Me - "For a year in university, yea"
I WON PORTUGUESE. GLEAMING.
Instead of hopping right back on the train to Lisbon, we walked about 2km down a boardwalk/path to the neighboring town of Estoril. Estoril doesn't seem to have much more going on than its casino, which is in fact the casino Ian Fleming based Casino Royale off of, so we didn't do any exploring. Back in Lisbon we stopped for some chocolate and cheap rosé port to have in the too . We need all of our things in order to leave in the morning for Porto. Perhaps we'll head out for a nightcap in a bit! Até Porto!
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