Off the beaten track in Portugal..
Don’t you want to escape the “tourist traps” the places everyone goes? Surely enough you know these places don’t show you the realism of the county they just look fancy and rip you off ! There is a little fishing village just outside of Lisbon (Portugal) called Cascais.
Cascais is a one way train ride from Lisbon it’s literally the last stop so you cannot miss it ! The train takes about 30-40 minutes along the most beautiful coastal line and once your there it will be hard to leave.
So I am half Portuguese and half my family live in Cascais. I also have lived there for 2 years, let me tell you it is a different world they drink wine like water, party like there is no tomorrow, a “cafe” (expresso) seems to fix everything , cheese, olives & bread is a BIG deal! (Although I will let you know now at a restaurant they will put this in front of you and if you eat it you will pay so be careful, it can get expensive) it doesn’t matter how poor these people may be they are so rich within life and happiness it is incredible. Cascais is a places where the days are short and the nights are long don’t be surprised to get home at 7, 8, 9 in the morning ! Aside from the atmosphere it is a picturesque village, the ground is lined with cobbles, the buildings are old and colorful some even with tile, there and hundreds of tiny tiny roads which make up Cascais with vines growing up the walls and tiny houses, bars and restaurants in the wall. The best part amongst all this is the beaches there everywhere and always punping with people there is a coastal walk along all of them with bars, restaurants, music, parties and of corse activities such as a huge blow up arena to play on in the middle of the ocean.
Now I bet you’re thinking where do I go?!
Well if your looking for scenery you take the coastal walk to boca do inferno (the Devils mouth) this is a beautiful natural rock formation with a very beautiful story behind it.
Just past this is a place called Casa da guia which is a magical spot with a few indi style cafes and the most spectacular views. You can also rent bikes for free here to continue your adventures!
My favorite cafe/restaurant is a little further you need to have a car to get to it but it is one of the coolest and most colorful spots around its called the Moinho de Don Quixote or windmill cafe it’s a little up in the mountains however you have the views over the whole of Cascais if you have the time it’s a must!!
There is a place called Sintra it is another small village within Cascais the old town there is like nothing you will have ever seen before its spectacular. Sintra is filled with palaces and castles and magic gardens including the “Pena palace” this was voted most spectacular castle to visit in Europe! It is a vibrat castle best time to go is midday this is when the fog has cleared and you can indulge in the views! The castle is up in the mountains so the drive up there is just mesmerizing. You can catch a 30 minute bus ride up from the center of Cascais it is a really great day trip that you will not regret!
Now while you are sitting at your resturants, cafes with your wine and your beautiful views there is a few things you MUST TRY!
Snails – there is a special way the Portuguese cook snails which make them the perfect snack for any occasion they are absolutely delightful, I know what your thinking “ew” I thought the same but they are just tiny ones they literally just slide down your throat but they have this addictive flavor trust me once you have one you will agree they are not what you expected!
Octopus – now as Cascais is a fishing village all the sea food is really fresh and some of the best in the world however octupus is something people generally don’t want to try. Let me tell you first hand they way they cook the octupus brings out the freshness of the flavor, it’s not rubbery or chewy it is grilled to perfection every time and is a MUST to try is Cascais!
Sardines – if you are a patient eater and your all about the flavor of the fish make sure you try the sardines they are not like the little ones which come in cans these are fresh and big, they have lots and lots of bones so be careful, but the flavor is to die for !! *tip if you get a bone stuck in your throat make sure you have some bread handy roll it in a ball and swallow it hole it’s catches the bones and unsticks them.
Ginjinha – this is a cherry based liquor however doesn’t have a very potent cherry flavor it is however delicious. You will see liquor stores with this out the front it comes in a shot glass made from chocolate so you take and shot and eat the cup after. It’s great for desert and only costs 1€ try it out and thank me later
A few last tips !
- if you pay more then 7€ for a bottle of wine you are getting ripped off
- if you pay more then 12-14€ for a meal you are getting ripped off
- always try to learn a few words of the language “ola” hello. “Obrigada” thank you. “Adios” good bye. “Quanto” how much.
- enjoy yourself ! Cascais is a very safe area.
So so please get off the beaten track lose yourself in the euopen culture and take one day at a time, aborsb the experience. The world is your playground and you are all children exploring it.