Day two of our trip was by far our favorite amongst the 10 days. I mean, when you have a personal guide who has the inside scoop on the best overlooks and sights and is willing to shuffle you around, how can you go wrong? Xavier went over and beyond, and we were truly touched by his generosity. We arrived in Cascais around 10:30am, where he picked us up and whisked us away in his car. Our first stop was the sandy beaches of Cascais, where beachgoers shared the ocean with fishing boats. We ended the sightseeing in Sintra, but the day was not over. He invited us for dinner at his abode and we eventually made our way to Lisbon’s Fashion Night Out. It figures that we would attend one several thousand miles away. We were fashionably late, of course- the event was from 6-10pm and we arrived near 11pm. Xavier and his friends introduced us to “buckets” aka buckets of vodka + juice & strawberries. It was a memorable way to end our stay in Portugal. Luckily, we did not consume the whole “bucket” and made our flight to Madrid just several hours later, hangover free. Score.
Mouth of Hell (Boca de Inferno)
Cabo de Roca
Santini (Ice Cream)
Restaurante O Pucaro
Cascais is a coastal town just 30km west of Lisbon where its fishing village gained fame as a resort for the royal family in the late 19th century. Even at first glance, it’s apparent that this is one of the richest municipalities in Portugal. Today, it’s a popular spot for natives and tourists alike.
Cascais Shop – Open April to October
Av. Valbom, 28 F
Phone: 214 833 709
Dubbed as the “best ice cream” in Portugal, Santinis is that ice cream parlor that gushes massive lines out the door on warm summer days. The first ice cream parlor was set up in 1949 in Tamariz. Today, there’s a few locations with one in the ritzy Chiado district of Lisbon. This is considered high-end ice cream in Portugal, and I’d venture to say that it’s some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
On days where lines are minimal, Santini employees indulge you in tastings. A copo pequeno (the smallest size for under 3€) will allow for two flavors. The employees are quick to tell you when you’ve chosen an undesirable pairing, such as in my case, which I wanted to get the milk caramel and dulce de leche. “No, no. Why would you do that? They both taste nearly the same!” I followed his recommendation- strawberry and dulce de leche. It was indeed the best strawberry ice cream my mouth has ever touched and the pairing was delightfully sensuous. Sabrina got the pistachio and hazelnut, which in its own right was equally as mouthwatering.
Restaurante O Pucaro
Estrada do Guincho 13 Foz do Guincho
Phone: 214 870 497
Our visit to Restaurante O Purcaro was simply by chance. On that fateful Thursday, Xavier’s restaurant recommendation happened to be closed, so we wandered around a bit before settling at this place. This allowed us to drive along the coast. Unfortunately, the restaurants that dotted the shore were immensely overpriced. This restaurant is hidden in the shade and while the ocean isn’t within view, it is certainly within walking distance.
Bacalao with cream
Portuguese love their bacalao or cod. According to Xavier, one popular dish is bacalao with cream, which in my words, is a glorified tasting mac & cheese (but obviously with fish). It’s rich and gooey and screams “comfort.” I was nearly sure I could finish the whole thing, but by the time I got halfway through, I had to surrender. Xavier took over, commenting that this was “good” though it could be better. I thought it was outright delicious.
Grilled fish of the day (serves 2)
Xavier and Sabrina split a giant grilled fish, which was served simply with some melted butter and lemon. There’s not much to say about this. I grew up in a family that eats a ton of fish. This was refreshing and delicate, but I’m more partial to roasted fishes that my mother makes.
Mouth of Hell (Boca de Inferno)
After lunch, we were on our way to visit the Mouth of Hell. The first reaction was, “Damn. This actually does looks like the mouth of hell!” The waves strike into the rocky walls of the chasm. On windier days, waves engulf the entire mouth, making front-row standing a hazard. But on a sunny day, the water within the chasm sparkles green with a tint of orange. It is truly a magnificent experience.
Cabo de Roca
Cabo de Roca is a cape that sits on the western most part of continental Europe. As we drove to the cape, we exited Cascais and entered into the municipality of Sintra, or 42km northwest of Lisbon. Apparently, the cape has been overrun with an invasive plant species known as the Carpobrotus edulis. Be prepared for droves of tour buses and tourists hunkering for photos. Ladies, the breeze here is strong enough to knock your skirt up.
It was also here that we found out the 14€ bandaids that Sabrina bought for her blisters were not indeed bandaids (duh, what kind of bandaids cost 14€?!). Xavier’s impression is captured in a few photographs below. “These are not bandaids! They’re for muscle pain!” This explains why Sabrina’s blister grew only bigger until she painstakingly peeled off the adhesive which took the blister along with it. Bye blister!
Peninha was our own getaway. Xavier drove through some wooded areas to the highest point of Serra de Sintra, where we were awed by a majestic overlook of Lisbon. Squinting into the sun, it’s possible to observe the pseudo-Golden Gate Bridge far off in Lisbon (its actual name is 25 de Abril Bridge, the day the Carnation Revolution occurred). This is a necessary stop for anyone driving throughout Lisbon. The camera doesn’t even come close to the sheer beauty of the view.
Rua das Padarias
(centro histórico da Vila da Sintra )
2710 – 803 Sintra
We eventually made our way to the famous palace (where we stopped shortly for some pictures) and then to the town center. This is a great place for souvenirs. The shops aligning the narrow streets are brimmed with ceramics, figurines and the usual postcards/keychains. One place in particular- Cantinho Gourmet- stuck out. We went in to try their famous liquor shot that’s poured into an edible dark chocolate cup (1€). I came out with souvenirs of tiny jam jars made from port.
Rua das Padarias 1
Phone: 219 230 626
Casa Piriquita often appears on guidebooks, which all write that you must try their travesseiro (pillow), which is a light puff pastry turned, rolled and folded seven times, and then filled with delicious almond and egg yolk cream and topped off with a dusting of sugar. They are indeed divine although a tad bit sweet. There are also the queijadas, which are tiny treats made with cheese, eggs, milk and sugar. These too, are also sweet delicacies, but most certain worthy of a try.
The Piriquita pictured below is the original cafe, which is usually stuffed with a large line. Skip the line by heading up the street just a few hundred yards where a second location awaits, free of any crowds.