Sunday 22/05/2011 Sesimbra: visiting Lisbon

We decided to stay another night and visit Lisbon by land, as Cascais sounds mighty pricey and we weren’t sure how secure the anchorage there would be. We could have taken Planet up the river Tejo to Lisbon itself, but with weather and time we decided not to add on the extra miles. Sesimbra is only an hour or so from Lisbon via bus and ferry so it seemed to make sense to go from here.

As we were going to a big posh capital city I thought I’d have a shower in Lisbon’s honour, just quickly before we got the bus. Showers in Portugal have so far been great, with unlimited hot water and cubicles where you can hang your towel without it getting soaked and everything. Unfortunately, the only cubicle shower in Sesimbra was out of order. The rest are open plan and changing room horrible, and produce scenarios that make you dress in a panic whilst still actually wet and nearly trip over the leg of your own trousers in the effort of hiding underneath a slightly too small towel. I had thought that the ignominies of post PE cloakrooms were past, but by the time I got back to Planet I was in a rage at the Sesimbra under 10 Optimist sailors with whom I had been reluctantly sharing the facilities.

Who would have thought that three ten year old girls could take so long to change into wetsuits, splash tops and shorts, the necessity of which I dispute in 30 degrees of heat and balmy waters.

 

We finally made it to Lisbon, and arrived at Cais do Sodre on the ferry, hereafter to be known as Kaiser Soze quay (ref. The Usual Suspects, moral of the story – know who made your office coffee cups and don’t trust Kevin Spacey).

We wandered around the strangely empty shopping streets, everyone seemingly spending their Sunday at the beaches we had just come from, and had a coffee at the beautiful A Brasileira bar, where Fernando Pessoa, Portugal’s most famous poet used to come for elevenses each day.

Lisbon is a lovely city, although I’m sure we only saw a tiny fraction of it today. There are interesting modern buildings interspersed with incredibly ornately tiled old works of architecture in various states of repair.

The yellow trams that run through the city are rivals to Malta’s buses and the inhabitants of Lisbon seem to be as casually stylish as the buildings that surround them.

We got the train down to Belem, another district down by the water, and looked around the very interesting maritime museum, housed in what has to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Lisbon.

Then we got Calippos and wandered through the park past families having picnics and people walking dogs. We were following a strange noise that sounded at best like high pitched singing and at worst like a Yorkshire terrier being strangled. Once we got closer we guiltily realised that there was some kind of mini regional festival going on with a stage and people dancing in the traditional costume of Viana do Castelo in Northern Portgual.

Once we’d adjusted to the singing, which I feel we reacted to in much the same way as a foreigner confronted with Morris dancing would, we had a lovely time watching the dancing and the spectators and finishing our ice creams. There was a small group of older women dancing under the trees, and a couple in baseball caps waltzing in time. At the end of the performance the pros grabbed partners from the crowds to join them and the little stage was filled with people, seemingly all knowing exactly what to do and when, with the exception of one maverick in the shape of a bronzed man in his seventies dancing around in nothing but a pair of checked shorts. He was having a lovely time doing as he pleased, and swinging his hips at every female passer by, especially the embarrassed looking ones. The old goat.

We got back to Sesimbra to find that a tall ship was anchored off the beach, and that a band of drummers with whistlers was having an impromptu party/rehearsal in the fishing port. As is normal for a Sunday night at 11pm…. but it made the walk home much more interesting. And then we set the alarms for five o’clock and wished it didn’t have to be quite so early…

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