Road Trip to Portugal, Lisbon, Estoril and Cascais

Lagos to Lisbon, 303 km along  Atlantic Ocean coastline, 303 km full of wonders and surprises

At first glance, my trip might have looked a bit chaotic. Landed in Lisbon and went straight to Porto. From there I went to Algarve and now back to Lisbon. I admit. It does look a bit more than chaotic, but chaos is my middle name. I haven’t given too much thought to this trip. Which proves that I am not a good planner but I am a proud owner of a great nose in finding the most spectacular places anywhere I go. Sometimes pays off to be like a drifter, following the first wave I encounter no questions asked.

Anyway, the time to leave Algarve came. I was not very happy to leave but I had to say “goodbye“. This time, I was heading to Lisbon.

Zambujeira do Mar, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Zambujeira do Mar, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

It was raining, again. So, I decided to go more inland this time and see the mountainous area. The mountainous area it is quite beautiful and loved the winding roads but I had as a local guide a very persistent fog, therefore, I was not able to take any relevant photos. When I had enough of that fog I returned to the coastal area because after all, what I wanted to see was the Atlantic Ocean. Seems that no matter how feisty or moody the ocean might have been with me I was still so into it. This sounds like real love to me…

Zambujeira do Mar, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Zambujeira do Mar, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

This time, I was trying to cover the parts I haven’t seen on my way to Algarve. Apparently there were quite a lot. When I reached Cabo do Sardao it was still a soft persistent rain. The wind was stronger as I was getting closer to the shore…and then..there it was…

Cabo do Sardao, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Cabo do Sardao, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

I was stunned. So breathtakingly beautiful. With a ragged ocean crushing its waves on the cliffs. I was up on the cliff, but even there I could feel the salty drops taken by the wind landing on my lips and drizzling my face. Steadily I was becoming wet and I was not sure if I will be able to keep my camera dry and continue to take photos.

Cabo do Sardao, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Cabo do Sardao, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

The wind was biting giving me chills but nothing could convince me to go back to the car. I wanted to see more. I walked along the shore and somehow I felt the wave’s energy when it was hitting the cliffs being transmitted to me. I did not care about the rain. Rain who..?

Cabo do Sardao, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Cabo do Sardao, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

I was so impressed by the vertical cliffs, popping out from the ocean and I was  wondering about the forces that might have been the source of such rough beauty. It was a mesmerising scenery and despite my not very safe position on that cliff, I could not move and I could not take my eyes out if it.

Cabo do Sardao, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Cabo do Sardao, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

There were so many times during this trip when I wished I would have chosen another period of time to come to Portugal. But, here at Cabo do Sardao, I haven`t had one of those moments. I was actually grateful for the crappy weather because otherwise I would not have been able to experience all this.

Troia Beach, Troia Peninsula, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Troia Beach, Troia Peninsula, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Having enough of rain and cold and after feeling like becoming drenched slowly but surely I continued my trip to Lisbon.

Soon the scenery changed and I reached a narrow strip of sand called Troia Peninsula. Next to Sado river estuary and Setubal, it is facing the Atlantic and I was so surprised to see a sandy beach stretching our before me because this is not something you see very often in Portugal.

Troia Beach, Troia Peninsula, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Troia Beach, Troia Peninsula, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

The waters were having a Carribean blue colour. An entire wall of white-blossomed shrubs was separating the beach from the rest of the resort. it looked like a foggy white heaven with a hint of genista-cytisus scent.

The florist inside me could not help it and had to make a white cascade bouquet, well was not very hard to do it either.

On the road, Citisus and Ford Fiesta, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
On the road, Cytisus and Ford Fiesta, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

I like it so much I had to take it with me. It brightened that rainy day and let my thoughts dissipate into white.

I wandered on the coasts of Portugal and saw its wild side so by the time I reached Lisbon I had a shock. I was not ready to face such a big city. I felt lost.

Belem Palace, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Belem Palace, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Lisbon is beautiful but after being on the wild side of Portugal I felt it a bit overwhelming. Too many people and too many tourists for my taste.

Lisbon Old City, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Lisbon Old City, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

I walked on its streets followed by the rain. Followed on the old town`s narrow street the tram nr28. Saw the Baixa the stylish and hip district. Tasted the incredible food and I was a good customer to every Pastelaria I encountered. I could become diabetic with no regret from how many pastel de nata and eggrolls I have eaten. I loved Lisbon but I still wanted to get out of it as fast as possible

Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

I was feeling the call of the Ocean, Here I was in a middle of a bustling Lisbon and all I had in my mind were the sounds of the waves, the wind slapping my face.

Santa Justa Elevator, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Santa Justa Elevator, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

I had to get our of it and see the surroundings and I am very happy I did it I would not have discovered Lisbon surroundings otherwise.

Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

From traditional little towns growing close to Lisbon to a very modern and futuristic district Parque das Nacoes.

 Parque Das Nacoes, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Parque Das Nacoes, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Parque das Nacoes was the most surprising thing I found in Lisbon because I was not expecting to see this modern face.

 Parque Das Nacoes, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Parque Das Nacoes, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

It was built in the East of Lisbon on the North bank of river Tagus in 1998 for Wold Expo Fair. It can be reached by metro the station is called Oriental Station or in my case by car. It has a cable care which goes parallel to the riverside above the promenade.

 Parque Das Nacoes, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Parque Das Nacoes, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Not far is the longest bridge Vasco da Gama, it is 17 km long and I had the honour of crossing it three times. Once because I wanted, twice because I took the wrong exit. getting out of the bridge it was like getting out of a maze. Could not do it.

My Riad, Parque Das Nacoes, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
My Riad, Parque Das Nacoes, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

After getting out of the maze headed west because in the west was the Ocean and right then, the ocean was what I need it..Oh, and I forgot to mention, my hotel was also in the West of Lisbon, in Estoril.

Vasco da Gama Bridge, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Vasco da Gama Bridge, Lisbon, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Big cities can be sometimes a bit overwhelming and when this happen is better to stay either on the outskirts or in the little towns close by. I chose Estoril also because the parking place is quite a problem in Lisbon and since my rented car was my faithful companion I need it a place for it too.

Estoril, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Estoril, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Estoril was a good choice because it brought me that sense of quietness I was looking for. Whenever Lisbon was becoming too much for me I was returning to the West and heading to the Ocean.

Estoril, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Estoril, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Loved to drive along the coast and see the villas overlooking the ocean often wondering how the view must be like. In my search for the beSt view, I might have trespassed but that villa looked like a church and the gate was open.

Estoril, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Estoril, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

The owner was very nice though explaining that is private property. I felt a bit embarrassed thinking that I might look like a stupid tourist, but I could not resist the view.

Cascais, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Cascais, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

The road to the wild beaches of the West side is passing through Cascais also. Here I took my time and walked the streets despite the constant rain and tasted the delicious pastries  in the closest Pastelaria. God, those pastries are divine. Such a delight for the tastebuds.

Cascais, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Cascais, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Estoril and Cascais are the towns where the rich of Lisbon were finding their peace and quiet in the hot summer months. it used to be the place of retreat for the royal family in the 19th century.

Cascais, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Cascais, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

What use to be a fishing village now is a very cosmopolite town on Estoril Coast being very popular among tourists.

Cascais, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Cascais, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

I can say now I liked Estoril and Cascais more than Lisbon. Maybe it was also the fact that I could be closer to the Ocean and I was away from a massive number of tourist which were on every single street in Lisbon despite the fact that is was February and offseason.

Cascais, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Cascais, Portugal, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Probably that the best thing in staying in either Estoril or Cascais is the close vicinity to Sintra and the natural park of Sintra-Cascais. My next article will cover this marvellous place which remained in my heart and that I feel in love with instantly.

Lisbon, Estoril and Cascais needs some time to be digested, so when you decide to travel to Lisbon consider taking more than few days because it is not enough. Definitely, consider on getting out of Lisbon because without seeing the surroundings is less likely you will understand the pulse of Lisbon. You need to watch the Atlantic Ocean’s waves on one of the wild beaches on the west side or watch a sunset at Cabo do Roca for your Lisbon experience to be complete…not to mention Sintra…

 

 to be continued