Take to the road: driving out of Lisbon, Lisbon
Some 40kms south of Lisbon and a few kms west of Sesimbra is the remote, windswept Cabo Espichel and Santuario de Nossa Senhora do Cabo. Sheer cliffs drop away from the 17th century church (built with its back to the ocean) providing a dramatic location for this place of pilgrimage, and a place of lodging for the pilgrims forms a long line on either side of the church, creating a large open courtyard. The place became a site of pilgrimage in the 13th century when a local saw a vision of the Madonna rising from the sea on a mule. Legend is that the footprints of the mule are embedded in the rock. Interestingly, there are large footprints in the rock below the church - but these are now believed to be fossilised dinosaur footprints.
The whole complex is abandoned, adding to its air of desolation. Wrong country, I know, but it made me think of the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns - all it needed was the spiniflex to blow across the empty courtyard.
My husband loves to eat lobster and other shellfish... and so do I. This town of Ericeira located along the Atlantic Ocean... boasts a number of restaurants where you can sense the smell of seafood being grilled, sauteed or steamed. A restaurant called "Mar a Vista" managed by Eduardo... is superb. We enjoyed the lobster, crab and their delicacy, the barnacles. The chef uses a lot of herbs infusion... it really satisfy your olfactory nerves as well as your taste buds.
If you're planning to go to Cascais (or if you're staying in Cascais) save the end of one of your days for a delicious toast and sunset; or a night with a drink and maybe some live jazz act... It's my favourite place around Cascais for a quiet drink at night, a breakfast, a light lunch. It's a small, wooden bar, with a splanade on top of a cliff and the vast ocean in front of you. It's nice to stay in during chilly days and fantastic outside when the sun's shinning.
It's not very easy to get there. It's in São João do Estoril, if you're taking the train you just have to jump off S. João station and follow the road heading to the sea. Before the road ends you'll turn left.
the address is: Rua Vasco da Gama (next to Forte Santo António da Barra), Estoril (São João do Estoril).
Lisbon's long time aspiration to connect the two banks of the Tagus River was realized in 1959 when plans were made to build a stately suspension bridge. Opened in 1966 as the Ponte Salazar, this bridge was renamed after the 1974 Portuguese Revolution to commemorate the day of the Revolution itself, 25th April and to remove any reference to the former dictator, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. This suspension bridge was inspired by and is very similar in appearance to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and, indeed, it was constructed under North American management, beginning in 1962.
The De Abril Bridge across the Tagus - one of Europe's longest suspension bridges - is visible throughout much of Lisbon and carries both rail and road traffic. The entrance to the bridge is roughly a mile away from the river. Four lanes of traffic move up the approaches and on to this suspension bridge. The De Abril Bridge is high enough above the Tagus to allow Lisbon's shipping to enter the harbor.
It is 1.4 miles (2.28 km) long and is lofty as it leaves Lisbon above the Alcantara valley before making landfall at Almada on the southern bank. De Abril's center span, at 3,292 feet (1,013 m) was the longest central span of any European suspension bridge when it was built. This bridge crosses the Tagus River at a height of 227.5 feet (70 m) and its foundations, at 256.75 feet (79 m) deep into basalt rock, were also a world record at the time of their sinking. This bridge carries about 200,000 vehicles a day and over 50 million passengers per annum. It is a toll bridge and, at peak times, queues can be enormous.
The bridge is not directly accessible at Alcantara, as it crosses the area on tall concrete pillars. Road vehicles must head to the north west of the city to gain access to the high-level road across the bridge. The bridge itself provides one of the best overall views of Lisbon and of the Cristo Rei (Christ the King) monument at Almada.
We rented a car and explored a good portion of central Portugal and beyond. It was great to be able to get out the roadmap and just head in the general direction of a city, often taking small diversions in order to explore little hillside villages or other interesting sights that happened to catch our eye.
In most of the villages we encountered, the homes were right up against the road and many had small gardens and orange trees like this one.