Fw: 21 Aug – Discovering Lisbon


August 23rd, 2017


North Atlantic 2017 – 2019, Portugal

Written by

Richard Farrington

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By Richard. Posted on August 23rd, 2017 in North Atlantic 2017 – 2019, Portugal.


38:40.6N 009:19W

We sailed from Leixoes on 17 August, bound for Lisbon.  The weather was kind to us initially and for the first 18 hours or so we made good progress with the wind behind us.  We decided to push offshore a little way in order to reduce the chances of snagging
one of the many fishing floats that inhabit the continental shelf off the Portuguese coast.  Generally speaking, they are less common once the depth reaches 100m, but Julie reported seeing a couple go past in waters with a charted depth of over 500m!  I can
only think that these were either marking drift nets, or perhaps associated with illegal activities.  Either way, we biased out track offshore until the water was some 1500m deep before gybing in the night in towards the Tagus estuary.

Friday morning was grey and damp, with thick fog.  The wind dropped for a while and we motored for about three hours whilst keeping a close lookout for floats in visibility of about 50m, but the wind returned as we closed the coast.  By late morning, Julie
was just a couple of miles offshore and the wind was up over 20 knots as she caught glimpses of the coast a few miles north of Cabo de Roca – the most westerly point of continental Europe.  As I climbed out of bed and took an interest, the wind continued to
increase and we decided to reef down as the boat was surfing at over 9 knots and the autopilot was starting to work fairly hard.  Quite quickly, Cabo de Roca appeared out of the gloom and we could see the high hills around Sintra with thick cloud on the north
side, but clear blue skies to the south of the ridge.  Close to the cape, the wind reached 35 knots, but then eased off as we started to get into the lee of the land and the visibility improved.

It’s behind you!  Emerging from the fogbank off Lisbon

By the time we rounded Cabo Raso and entered the River Tagus, things were more or less back to normal.  We shook the reefs out and stormed past Cascais and into more sheltered waters.  We berthed at the marina in Oeiros in baking sunshine, with light airs in
the harbour and a rather smart line of bars and restaurants just a few yards in front of us!

The boat from the Duty Watch Bar

Lisbon is a lovely place to visit.  I’ve been here several times over the years and always quite enjoyed it, but Julie has not visited before.  We have spent a couple of days exploring the main areas of the city.  The Alfama district around the Castelo de Sao
Jorge has fine views over the city and the river; it is built on a steep hill, so narrow cobbled streets and tempting glimpses are the order of the day.

Top left is the hotel room from the opening scene of ‘The Night Manager’.  (Spotter.com)

There are plenty of boutiques, bars and restaurants and we stopped at a few for medicinal purposes on account of the heat.  One of the best had a band from Cape Verde playing their upbeat brand of Brazilian/Afro music just alongside and offered truly splendid
freshly squeezed, chilled lemonade (not a drop of the hard stuff in sight!).

Our new Cape Verdean friends

A view from the Bar…

We thought about listening to some Fado music in one of the numerous venues in this part of Lisbon, but it was hard to find one where you did not have to eat dinner as well – and we weren’t sure that it was quite the experience we were looking for.  We’ll try
again elsewhere, but frankly we’d both rather listen to some jazz or those chaps from Cape Verde than to anguished storytelling in a language I don’t understand whilst eating food aimed squarely at the American cruise ship clientele.  Oh – and you aren’t allowed
to talk whilst they sing!

Downtown Alfama district, Lisbon

Closer to sea level, the Baixa area is more prosperous and laid out in a grid following the disastrous earthquake and fire of 1755.  We went looking for shoes for Julie and found Lisbonense, a shoe shop I last visited with the Honourable Michael Cochrane in
1993 when we were running the mighty FEARLESS to our entire satisfaction.  I think they may have been his personal shoemakers or something and I still have the excellent shoes I bought there that day!  No such luck this time around, but we soon prevailed –
in the shop next door!

We spent Sunday ‘just chillin’ on the boat and entertained a German couple we met in Leixoes and a Kiwi we met in the laundry (the social hub of any marina) for a fairly comprehensive examination of various Spanish and Portuguese wines we had all collected.
On Monday we returned to the metropolis for some further retail therapy.   I now have a new wardrobe of lightweight shorts (I have not worn long trousers for two months) and T shirts.  We had a classic Portuguese lunch (grilled fish, salad, and the best creme
caramel I’ve tasted since my mother’s) in the Bairro Alto area and had a splendid afternoon wandering around the sidestreets and glitzier parts of Lisbon.

 On the way home (basically a 20 minute train ride) we stopped at Belem and looked at the hugely impressive monument to the Portuguese era of Discovery which features Prince Henry the Navigator and his followers, and the ornate
Tower of Belem a little further down the river.  Old paintings show this tower well out in the river, but today it is firmly on the southern shore as a result of a hundred years or so of land reclamation.  We found the Ministry of the Navy, the War Museum
and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but missed the parliament buildings at Sao Bento.  Verdict: Lisbon would make an excellent ‘weekend city break’ and is thoroughly recommended.

Julie the Navigator

We will stay here at Oeiras for another day or so in order to spend a day in Sintra, the summer retreat of the kings of Portugal.