Our Saturday would be an easy start, as our arrival at the pilot station at the mouth of the Tagus River was scheduled for 8AM. We would sail 2 hours on the Tagus before docking at the St Appolonia pier somewhat east of the center of town at 10AM.
The best view of the Placa do Comercio, with the statue of King Jose I, is from the water. The entire waterfront is a capsule of Portugese architecture, some old, some new, some restored. Our berth at the pier was just aft of Sea Cloud II, a true sailing passenger ship, that arrived just before the Rotterdam.
The blue building behind Sea Cloud is the Lisbon train station for easy transportation throughout the city and beyond. Lisbon has roots dating back to 1200 B.C., making it older than London, Paris or Rome. The Age of Portuguese Discovery, in the 15th century, led to Lisbon attaining a “golden age” when it was the center of commercial trade, especially with India, and it’s dominance lasted until 1755, when an earthquake and tsunami killed some 30,000 residents. Lisbon has evolved into a hub for finance, commerce and international trade.
Our private tour today with Pedro of Sintra Magik Tours will take us outside the city to the western mountainous coast and the suburb cities of Sintra, Cascais (Kas-KAY-eesh), and Estoril, Cascais served as a refuge and gathering spot for European monarchs displaced during World War II, as Portugal was able to maintain neutrality and avoid the destruction that engulfed so much of Europe. In thanksgiving for escaping the war, high above the city and across the Tagus, Lisbon erected a statue of Christ the King (Christo Rei), patterned after a similar statue in Rio de Janeiro. We will visit that site tomorrow during our tour of the city.
In Sintra, the architecture reflects Moorish influence and tiles appear everywhere and decorate most every important building. The palaces of Sintra reflect an earlier time of construction of homes by the very wealthy high in the mountains above Lisbon.
Many are very ornate with carvings and very decorative windows and, of course, towers which add to the appearance of wealth.
Some have become 5 star hotels, with views overlooking the city below and magnificent gardens.
We traveled to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of the continent of Europe. Fortunately, the wind and seas were calm, and the views were memorable.
Pedro captured our arrival at this geographic point.
Lunch was shared at Pedro’s favorite Friday night hangout, where we enjoyed the Portuguese specialty of grilled sea bass with sea salt, a local commodity still in high demand. It was served with boiled potatoes and garlic green beans, and of course, a bottle of local wine.
Jamon, cheese, olives and Portugese bread.
We ended our day in Cascais, whose obvious charms made our day complete.
Pedro’s favorite restaurant, however, took first honors on day one in Lisbon.