Long time, no blog. You may have guessed, I’m back at work! Not too long ago, however, I was living it large in the sun.
I never really expected to be the kind of person that has ‘summer holidays’ where, you know, I actually went on holiday! I tend to be more of a staycation kind of a gal, truth be told.
Mr H and I have had one hell of a hectic first year of marriage, and the only improvement we would have made to our last holiday, our honeymoon in Warsaw, would have been to have been able to have a few days beside a pool. So we booked two weeks in Portugal with that very goal in mind.
We were delighted to be joined by my fabulous sister T, who managed to wangle 2 weeks leave and joined us from Australia, to celebrate a belated birthday with us. Result!
The first week of our break was spent in Estoril and Cascais, both along the Portuguese coast, about 30 minutes drive from Lisbon. Estoril has a sleepy sort of resort feel about it, and is most famous for the Casino Estoril, said to be the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s Bond novel Casino Royale! Very glam.
Mr Hello and I were booked into a studio apartment in the Hotel Amazonia Estoril. Having booked our August trip in February, we got an excellent deal, and while I wouldn’t necessarily class it as a luxury hotel, it was spotlessly clean, with helpful staff and had a quiet, boutiquey feel about it. It was exactly what we wanted – nothing too crazy or busy, and there were about 10 or so other groups staying at the same time, who, over the course of our week’s stay, we grew to be on polite head-nodding terms with. The exact amount of getting to know people on holiday I wanted to do! You may not believe it, but I occasionally lean towards the antisocial side of things….
Cascais is definitely more well known for it’s beach and party scene, and this is where we spent most of our time in our week there. It’s very touristy, being a holiday hotspot for the Portuguese as well as those of us from overseas, but very pleasantly so, in my opinion.
We walked and walked and…..walked over our first week. Mr Hello lived in the area for a few years as a child, and so we spent some time exploring his old haunts. We also drank quite a lot of Super Bock, a rather lethal local beer. It was quite delightful!
If I’m totally honest, the area is not full to the brim with ‘sights’ – and if that’s what you’re looking for I would head closer to Lisbon, but it was absolutely perfect for a relaxing holiday (just what I needed).
There are a few things I would recommend that you do if you do find yourself in either Estoril or Cascais though:
- From June to September, Estoril is home to a wonderful artisan’s fair – Fiartil Feira de Artisanato do Estoril – which is home to some excellent open air restaurants, local street food vendors, arts and crafts to die for and if you’re lucky, some traditional rancho dancing and fado. A must see.
- Mercado de Cascais – this is a huge food, fish, flower and general goods market in central Cascais. It feels like a real local market, and can get incredibly busy, but is worth a wander around if you want to feel like a local and marvel at women standing on tables and shouting at the top of their lungs with a baby on their hip.
- Head to Masala in the centre of Cascais. Living in England, I’m certainly no stranger to a spot of Indian food, but our meals (yes, plural) were incredibly delicious, and I’m pretty sure the term ‘service with a smile’ started off in this restaurant. The team at Masala were fantastic, so good, in fact, that we returned a couple of days later, where they continued to win us over by remembering us! They are always busy, so try and get down there before 9pm, but even if you’re later, the queue moves quickly. I highly recommend the 5 euro gin and tonics, too. They are quite *ahem* large.
We had a fantastic time in this part of Portugal and I would not hesitate to recommend it. It’s clean, the public transport is cheap, it feels like there are things going on but not too many, and there is also an atmosphere of active relaxation. I highly approve.