Last week I was able to meet up with my friend, Samar, once more. I took the train to her stop at Santo Amaro where we met and then drove her car on to the popular beach town of Cascais.
Like so much of what I’ve seen in Portugal, the town was absolutely picturesque. It’s a vacation (or “holiday,” as they say) destination for Portugeuese and other Europeans, and Samar told me that many American expats lived there as well. The town sits on the ocean and is dotted with small sandy beaches, palm trees and is packed with great little shops and restaurants.
We parked and strolled through the streets, taking in the ocean views, eventually coming upon a restaurant with a rooftop area (always a bonus). The restaurant (Cafe Galeria House of Wonders) is owned by a business-savvy English woman, who has expanded it to included multiple dining areas and a small (and expensive) shop on the first floor. Samar commented about how expensive the place was, but I had seen the look in her eyes – expensive though it may be, it was also very, very good with the most perfect setting you’d ever seen. Besides, I owed her a birthday drink, so in we went!
We vowed to have “just one drink,” first ordering beers and two small pastries (of course) filled with spinach and cheese. But after lounging on the rooftop, gabbing like old friends about life, love and travel, we decided that we’d also need a pitcher of sangria. It was a fantastic afternoon and I could have sat there all day, but alas, we needed to feed the meter.
We wandered a bit more, looking in at the shops. All over Portugal you’ll find beautiful hand-painted tile shops, all varieties of sardines in pretty, brightly colored tins, as well as cork shops (Portugal is the major producer of cork products because of their bounty of cork trees). Since many winemakers are moving away from using corks made of actual cork, the Portuguese are using cork in different (and beautiful) ways. Bags, shoes, cases, jewelry – anything you can imagine, all made of short, pliable cork. At Samar’s urging I purchased a small cork makeup case and tossed the yellow and pink free-bee I’ve had for way too many years. Worn out from shopping we decided sweet pastries and coffee were in order from Bijou de Cascais.
That evening Samar walked me back to the train station where I headed back to Lisbon, but I knew I would be back. I enjoyed the town so much, that the very next day I packed my beach bag and, after a quick workout, headed back on the train. I spent the day lounging, people watching (yes, some people were topless, Dad), and, when I finally got hot enough I’d work up the courage to dip in the water, which was very cold, but very refreshing.
The day was rounded out with dinner at the hostel cooked by mama, a bar crawl in Barrio Alto and down to a club at the docks, and late night walk home with a hot Greek named Rico that’s none of your business, thank you! 😉