Lisbon, Portugal

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February 25th 2016
Published: March 3rd 2016
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Thursday 25th February, 2016. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal, lying on the Tagus River. We have been here many times before and because of this M decided she would rather stay in bed than get off as she had a stinking cough and cold. D left to meet Pam and Stewart but about 10 minutes later M was woken by Pam who persuaded her that she would feel much better on-shore, away form the AC (which turned out to be correct). M made the effort and left the ship with Pam to join D and Stewart who were waiting in the cruise terminal.

We walked the twenty minutes or so to the train station. While D and Stewart went to get the tickets M and Pam went into a chemists and purchased some cough medecine and some cold/decongestant tablets. We all got on the next train from platform 3 which was to Cascais. It was only at this point that we realised that we had 4 pensioner tickets (M doesn't qualify - yet)! The journey to Cascais, a small resort on the west coast and next its more famous neighbour Estoril, took about 40 minutes.

We disembarked the train at Cascais (which was the end of the line) and walked the short distance into town and onto Rainha Beach. M remembered this from when she was here with her friend Eva, some 20 odd years ago. It is a pretty little cove with a large rocky outcrop in the middle, surrounded by pretty buildings with steps down to the sand. We saw a few people from the ship who were on the "Cascais on Your Own" tour which was over £20 (our tickets had cost 12 Euros return for 4 of us). We walked through the pedestrianised area which was full of souvenir shops and tourist outlets until we hit the main road where we turned left down to the seafront at Ribeira Beach. This seemed to be the main square where there was the Church, the Town Hall and a statue of Don Pedro I. We walked along one side of the square on the promenade next to Riibira Beach until we turned left towards the marina where there was a Monument to the Portuguese Discoverers which was a sculpture in the form of a mermaid. A little further on there was another imposing statue - this time it was of Statue of King Carlos I.

We approached the marina paassing some pretty blue and white striped beach huts (at least thats what we think they were). The marina was very busy and full of small pleasure craft and yachts. In front of the marina was Cascais Fort. At the fort we turned right along the edge of the fortified walls into the area called Palácio Nacional da Cidadela (Citadel National Palace) which is also known as the 'Art District'. This was a large square surrounded by colonial buildings, some of which had been converted into holiday apartments and restaurants. The square of the Citadel was dominated by a huge fibreglass pair of binoculars. We had hoped to be able to walk the Fortress Walls by following the Patrol Path that would have been used by sentries in the past. Unfortunately this was closed for safety reasons.

We exited the Citadel through a rear gate and continued through a leafy road following the path of the fortress walls until we came to the Memorial to 4 Wars monument which featured a large white statue of a soldier. This is a memorial to the Rousillon and Catalunya War (1793-1795), The Peninsula War (1809-1814), Some Annexation War in 1837 (couldn't quite translate the Portuguese!) and The First World War (1914-18).

We continued to follow the fortress walls, passing a statue of Pope Jea Paul II, on the outside until we came to the Municipal Park. This public park was dominated by a fantastic yellow and grey building with pointy turrets, domes, bell towers and balconies. In front of this fantastic building was a fountain decorated with the blue and white tiles for which Portugal is so famous. We didn't go through the park, but instead came out the same gate we had used to enter and walked around the outside where we crossed a bridge over a small river that was emptying into the sea. This gave us good views of the rear of the Park Building which was just as impressive as the front.

We continued along the coast passing the Casa de Santa Maria until we came to the entrance to the Farol de Sta Marta (St Marta Lighthouse). The whole complex had been beautifully restored to its former glory. We took some pictures of the lighthouse and then strolled around the complex finishing off with some photos of the rocks from which the light protects passing maritime traffic. We left the lighthouse complex and continued along the coast past the Farol Hotel (Lighthouse Hotel). Just as we were walking past the entrance a convoy of British registered spanking new cars started to arrive. We spoke to one of the guys who was directing the parking of these vehicles and he beckoned us inside. It turns out that they were making a movie for the launch of the new Mini Convertible which was due to take place in March. These were being test driven by various agencies and individuals, and had been brought down to Cascais on trailers (Britain is too cold in February to make a film to launch convertibles!).

We continued along the coast to Pedra da Nau which is a small rocky island between Boco do Inferno and Sata Marta's lighthouse. Sea crows are frequently observed here resting with open wings to dry their feathers. This is a preferential bird watching area. North of Boca do Inferno the castal cliffs allow the existence of avifauna that use the sheltered conditions of the cliffs to protect them form predators. The Peregrine Falcon, which is endangered, nests in this location. We decided not to carry on to Boco do Inferno (a rocky outcrop with a viewpoint) as it was a bit too far so we turned around and headed back to the town centre. Here we did a bit of shopping for our goodbye get together tonight and then continued to Mc D's where we grabbed a burger and a drink before returning to the station to catch the next train back into Lisbon.

We walked back towards the ship passing a fantastic museum building (not sure which museum) and the Praça Dom Pedro IV or 'Rossio' which is main square in the Lower City. We walked along taking in the atmosphere of the traffic and old trams as we went and Stewart took the opportunity to purchase a box of wine for 6 Euros. We came to The Portal of Our Senora Conceição Velha. This is all that remains of the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia (Church of Our Lady of Misericórdia), which the 1755 earthquake destroyed, and which had been commissioned in the late 15th century by the widow of King João II, Leonor, on the site of an old synagogue. It is decorated with a rich profusion of Manueline detail, with an emphasis on angels, flowers, armillar spheres and the cross of the Ordern de Cristo. The Gateway also displays in the tympanum, the Virgen Mary protecting with her mantle historical figures, namely the Pope Leo X. The original building must have been amazing if this gateway is anything to go by!

We stopped at a restaurant that we knew well but also had internet access (although it didn't advertise the fact). We ordered some refreshment and Stewart and M got online and did their thing. Stewart returned to the ship with the wine box (as it was too heavy to carry). When he returned we made oour way up one of Lisbon's famous 7 hills to the Igreja de Santa Maria Maior Sé Patriarcal de Lisboa (Church of St Maria Maior, Lisbon Patriarchal Cathedral). We took some photos of the outside before entering the church. Once inside there were some impressive stained glass windows and a small glassed fronted room containing the Processional Cross & attire that would be worn by the Cardinals at special occasions. We didn't visit the Cloisters as it was 4 Euros each and we didn't have time to get our moneys worth.

We exitied the Cathedral and continued uphill, passing some fantastic buildings covered in the traditional Portuguese blue and white tiles. We continued up the street knowing full well that there was a viewpoint there with great views of the Tagus River, the Docks, the Panteão Nacional and the Alfama District of the city. The view point is outside the Igreja de Santa Luzia which is a lovely church decorated with the ubiquitous blue and white tiles. The church is a national monument dating from the 12th to 18th century that was built by the Knights Templar from Malta. The viewpoint is on two levels and we wandered around and took pictures from both. We had great views of the Marco Polo from up there. When we had finished we returned to the lower level and took a free elevator that connects the high city districts with the low city districts (saved the walk). It was now getting late so we made our way back to the ship.

We went to meet up with our Scott's Bar friends at 7.00 armed with our snacks and Olives. Maureen and Les, Roy and Jo, and Christine and John were already there with a selection of goodies to eat. At 8.30 pm we parted company to go down to dinner. After dinner we gave Laurence Robinson a miss but Pam and Stewart went along. We did go to the disco with Danny later though.

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