Our second time in Portugal, this trip was our birthday present to each other. There are 10 days and 5 years between our birthdays and over the years we have dispensed with material presents and instead taken a trip. Bunny & Bearli love Portugal too, as you will see. In general, we are blessed when it comes to travel adventures... nearly all of our trips are motivated by knowing someone where we are going, Portugal for sure. We have the good luck to have a dear friend, Maria, who lives in Cascais, a most beautiful town by the sea. A serious adventurer and traveler herself, Maria describes herself as a child of the trade routes and every visit with her, in her turf or ours (and hopefully to come neutral places to be visited together), is an opening of the heart and mind. Practically speaking, she suggests great places to see, great place to eat, and the thoughts below are in large part thanks to her too.
A short train or taxi ride from the centre of Lisbon (and a direct train from Cascais) is an area called Belem. If you take the train, you have to go “backwards” to get to the sights and it is worth it, as the closer station (Alges) is not such a glorious walk.
Belem tower is worth seeing even from the outside (we did not go in).
Bunny & Bearli enjoy the tower from outside, they are not keen on lines
The area where the tower is has a full promenade with a lovely walk, a cool sculpture called the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (giant sized) and if the weather is good, it is worth it to sit and have a snack - we suggest Mister Tapas - or a beverage. We spent an extra bit of time taking in some shade here on the quayside as the forecasted 22-24 temperatures were actually 32 and we were hot!
On the non seaside of the area, there is the monastery and a museum . We viewed from outside and you can go in
A bit past the cafe is a research centre with a restaurant, Darwin LOVeLY and surprisingly affordable as while we were there the President of Georgia was there with a full table and bodyguards all around - and the week before the Queen mother of Spain was there (for which they actually closed the restaurant so she could have it all to herself). For us the scenery was the prime draw, the food was good too. See below
Orange cake with stewed prunes a romantic riverside sweet treat.
Part of the reason we returned to Lisbon, beside our friend Maria, is Cantinho Avillez . Still great (even if their web site is not, more info at a generic site), definitely book and if you can be in the side that seems older, it is less noisy. In any case, it is great.
The creatively presented fish soup is sublime, it is a must eat for me
The first time we came to this place, in February 2016, we were on what seemed like the family side of the restaurant and everyone around us was Portuguese. The servers deftly guided us through the menu and three hours later we strolled out of the Cantinho hooked for life. The owner, José Avillez, has other locations including one just down the block, Belcanto with 2 Michelin stars, Pizzaria Lisboa, Mini Bar in Teatro de São Luiz, and Bairro do Avillez a new concept kind of eating space. We have only eaten at the Cantinho and will be happy to hear your comments if you have been to the others.
Claudio (& Bearli) had tuna tartare, divine. As this was our birthday lunch from my Mom we shared a bottle of pink bubbles, made locally, delightful, we suggest it. As well a cool stroll on the street outside.
Gulbenkian museum is an interesting visit outside the city center so a taxi may be best, or there is a metro station close by. It feels like a voyage through time and history as well as location. You start in Persia, then the Ottoman Empire, then Italy, then France, then Holland/Belgium, then England. It is a private collection, interesting and worth the trip.
The Time Out market by the train station is all the rage right now, I found it noisy. There IS an amazing tartar place on the left side as you look at the building with your back to the train station. It is called Tartaria. There is a counter-like place where you sit. Even I, me who dislikes tartare universally, liked it. We had the Asian one, a bit spicy and I found it delicious.
Bearli can barely contain himself back there in my bag, he loves tartare especially this special Asian one complete with foie gras and basil.
Cascais, where we are lucky enough to have our base, is a short train ride away from Lisbon. If you are in Lisbon, it is worth going for 1/2 a day if you have the time.
Abatroz hotel is just across from the train station and it is a lovely setting right over the sea. We went twice, once for aperitivo and once to get out of the heat, have a cup of tea, and enjoy the sounds of the sea - including all the people frolicking IN the sea.
In the evening, there is a restaurant in the fish market itself, a skip from the train station, called Marisco na praça. It is absolutely divine for fish and especially for shell fish.
That crab looking out at you on the left, we ate that one.
If you go to Cascais on a Saturday, in the same place where the Marisco is, there is an actual market - fun and colourful as markets go. Be sure to make plenty of time for a coffee as it could take you more than 30 minutes to get one at the only place serving.
Left conch shells; right our crab, served stuffed.
The walk along the coast on either side of the main town of Cascais is fabulous.
The Paula Rego museum is meant to be interesting, a renowned artist from Cascais who now lives in London. They were between exhibits when we were there and I would check it out the next time for sure.
In the city itself, there are an overwhelming number of choices for eating. While Claudio and Bearli went off for a burger, Bunny and I enjoyed the haven of a vegetarian place, House of Wonders, divine! From just the right angle on the rooftop seating you can see the sea...strongly suggest this place.
Vegetarian plate of the day at House of Wonders.
This lovely cafe is the perfect place to end this Portuguese Bunny Chronicle......watch for Bunny's next adventure.
This post owes special thanks to Maria for writing, and living, Money, Love, & Virtue, which led us to meet you dear friend... and for being your inspiring self...for luxurious simplicities like breakfast on your terrace overlooking the sea, ever interesting conversation, and a heart full of love and compassion. It is thanks to you we have a love affair with your Portugal.
Pictured Claudio and Maria.
Thank you Maria for sharing your joy and inspiration for life