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We spend four days at Cascais on the coast near Lisbon - and visit Sintra

It was Devon who suggested that we spend four days in Cascais, a pastel-coloured fishing and tourist town on the coast near Lisbon. She gets some points for that.

She might lose some for suggesting that we take the 5:50 am Ryanair flight out of Marseilles to get there ... but hey.

Our AirBNB was quirky but lovely with a great garden, and so close to everything. And our host, Pedro, picked us (and my many bags) up from the airport.

We slept all morning on the day we arrived. Then Dev forced me up at noon to go exploring.

Around the block and down a street from our place we found a collection of great restaurants. We chose one that specialized in fried fish and it was delicious!

Then we took a walk around the town which is centred on a marina and a string of beaches. It was a favorite haunt of Portuguese royalty and there are many reminders of kings.

We bought a few things at a food market to have for dinner, but didn't end up eating them because sleep seemed more important.

The next day, our guide Bruno picked us up in Cascais and drove us to Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where he collected another couple and took us to, what he says, are the two most interesting of the four major castles in the region - you cannot do the whole of Sintra in a day.

This is the old National Palace, parts of which date back more than a thousand years, but we did not go inside because it is just an empty shell.

After taking us around Sintra's village, and treating us to some gastronomic specialties, Bruno walked us to the Quinta de la Regaliera. It is a gothic revival mansion built by a Portuguese businessman who was also a Freemason and who incorporated numerous places for Freemason rituals in the gardens that surround the main building. The most famous of them is this well - which initiates walked blindfolded. It was meant to represent Dante's nine levels of hell.

The cave that is reached at the bottom is absolutely spectacular.

As were the castle grounds.

Bruno then took us to lunch at an authentic Portuguese restaurant. We had the famous bacalhau a bras, and vino verde - which is becoming a favorite of mine.

Then he drove us to the Peña Palace which opened in 1854 and was the last summer home of the Portuguese royalty before they fled the country in the early 1900s as republicans were taking over. It has been maintained just at it was 120 years ago.

The palace is a long hike up a hill, and it is extremely crowded. Visitors snake through the rooms in a continuous line. But it does offer a climpse of Royal life at the turn of the 29th Century.

And you can get a great view of the castle that the Moors built in the 10th Century on the same hill, that now lies in ruins.

At the end of the day, Bruno took us to the windy spot that is the most westerly point of Europe.

Over the next two days, we explored Cascais and the surrounding area on foot. We had some great meals, bought a few trinkets that we will appreciate back in Canada.

And Dev got some beach time. She will kill me for posting a picture of her in her bikini ... but here she is lying on the sand.

On Thursday we headed to Lisbon ... where the journey continues.






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