Lisbon is a fabulous city. It’s one of the oldest cities in the world and the oldest in Europe. It enjoys a Mediterranean climate and has the warmest winters of any other European city. The Port of Lisbon, located at the mouth of the Tagus river and is one of Europe’s busiest.
Cascais is a coastal town 30 kilometres west of Lisbon and one of the richest municipalities in Portugal. It is located on the Estoril Coast (also known as the Portuguese Riviera). Cascais is situated on the western edge of the Tagus estuary, between the Sintra mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.
Yesterday we decided to take a stroll along 12 kilometres of this coastline. It was a balmy 24c… the sun was out, the sky and the sea were both very, very blue and it was quite simply a beautiful day.
Gerry had been looking forward to today’s excursion for ages. We planned to visit the nature reserve in the estuary of the Tagus River. It’s a sanctuary for fish, molluscs, crustaceans, and a stop-over for birds on their migration between northern Europe and Africa. It is the largest estuary in western Europe, with about 34,000 hectares (84,000 acres), and regularly hosts 50,000 wintering waterfowl (flamingos, ducks, waders). We’d seen lots of photos of walkways across sand dunes and migrating flamingos wandering around the salt flats… we packed our walking boots and two flasks of hot water… today might be the perfect day for a cup of tea beside the sea.
To reach the reserve we crossed the Vasco da Gama Bridge, the longest bridge in Europe with a total length of 12.3 kilometres… it’s quite impressive! Interestingly, for a girl who doesn’t like heights I quite enjoyed the trip across. I’ve borrowed two photos from wikipedia… mine weren’t quite as good.
The blue skies from yesterday had been replaced with a grey cloudy sky and a rather brisk breeze but it was dry and great weather for exploring. We headed off to Alcochete first and followed the signs but the road ended at a little deserted boat yard, complete with processional caterpillars.
We turned around and plotted a new course. We tried to head off towards Porto Alto but struggled as our GPS was sending us to closed roads… but after a few false starts we were off again. We turned off for another access road but it turned into a track and more closed gates… we followed another and more of the same. In the end we gave up and turned back towards Alcochete and stopped by the waters edge for a cup of tea and we hatched another plan.
This time we turned towards the salt flats around Samouca. We wound our way around unpaved roads to a small beach. We walked along and stretched our legs but there were no flamingos. Driving along a little further, under the bridge, we parked and wandered around the small port and boat yard. This little town could not be more different than the glitz and sparkle of Cascais… but nonetheless it had a certain charm… but no flamingos or footpaths (that we could find).
We gave up and decided to head home… we never had our second cup or tea, such was the disappointment.
Driving back over the bridge, as if to taunt us, we spotted flocks of pink flamingos bathing in the salt lakes below! No matter, we did have a very nice drive and we did get to see large sections of these salty flatlands… and a few distant flamingos!
p.s. still no Pastels de Nata!!