Alex decided we did not want to be at sea on my birthday so we delayed leaving Cascais until Saturday. What’s one more day when you’ve already been there 27?
After a lovely breakfast that I made for myself – eggs, smoked salmon, cheese – my style, we jumped on the bikes and headed out toward the beach I’d read about where all the surfers and kite surfers go. It was out the western end on the bike trail we’d ridden to the Fortalesa da Jorge. It was quite a long way out, about 10 km from Cascais. It was the perfect day for it. Overcast – not hot and not windy.
We rode out past the inferno and the big house, now full of shops and restaurants, and past the Fortaleza. That road is lined with mansions on one side and rocky coast along the other. Beautiful. We kept going until we got to a block of buildings nestled around a converted fort that is now a hotel. Just beyond that was the beach – Guincho Surf Beach. Beautiful, backed by high dunes and rocky promontories on either side. From there we could see Cabo da Roca, Continental Europe’s westernmost point which we had visited on the way back from Sintra.
There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of surfers in the water and many more on land having lessons before plunging into the chilly waters. It wasn’t very boisterous that day and the surf was relatively small – good for newbies and there were plenty.
We walked the length of the beach to the opposite end where there are umbrella set ups and tiki bars to satisfy the less adventurous tourists. Everywhere we cautionary signs. The waters here have swift currents and strong rips.
We then walked up into the dunes along a circular boardwalk trail. It was lovely and about as much desert as I’d ever like to see, especially when you could see the ocean from most points. This is a protected area, home to nesting birds, rabbits, lizards and snakes. We saw many birds but not much else. Lovely wildflowers everywhere.
Lunch was at the 'interpretive center' which was really a lovely spot high in the dunes. It was packed by the time we were done. The food was even quite good but the view was spectacular over the dunes and out to the Atlantic.
We rode back and Alex stopped at the hardware store, so I stopped at the tourist stand at the Inferno and also at the shops by the once private estate. Didn't buy much but was tempted. Back to the boat to relax for a bit. Just as we got settled the skies opened up and heavy rain washed the air of its staleness. It had not rained in many days. The freshness afterwards was welcome.
Alex had made reservations for dinner at the South African restaurant. Scott and Kristin Alyn from O23 were to join us. But first, Scott brought over the makings of Margueritas and we sipped happily aboard Aleria , discussing the challenges of cruising as a lifestyle, until it was time to go. We learned the origins of the boat name The Other Two-Thirds and discussed the merits of shortening it to O23, at least informally.
At the restaurant, the woman at the table next to us tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Are you sailors?” and I said yes. They were in the marina in a catamaran called Spirit of Africa. It turns out Miki and Rowland are members of OCC and had just completed a circumnavigation from Cascais to Cascais. Small world. They invited Kristin and Scott to come visit them to ask all their questions. OCC mentoring at its finest.
As we walked back, we reminisced about our time together and promised to stay in touch and meet up on the way to the Med. It looks like they’ll be stuck in Cascais for a while now with repairs that didn’t go well the first time around. But they’re not unhappy as they love Lisbon and Cascais, as most people do. We’ll remember our time there with joy.