Day 29 Cascais Portugal

Today was one of two halves. It started badly. It had rained heavily overnight, with that hard pitter patter sort of rain, that had made such a din on the roof of the pop-up that it had kept me awake. Then just as the rain had started to ease, an owl had planted itself in the tree immediately above our heads, and proceeded to tu-whit-tu-whoo for the next hour and a half. I had never before appreciated how loud an owl can be – very loud. To add to my misery, I had discovered just before I went to bed that I had managed to use up my entire quotient of data allowance for my phone for the month in just eight days – so I wasn’t very happy. I think a combination of frequently resorting to Google Maps when both our bickering satnavs can’t between them seem to be able to find the camp-site, and transferring photos off my phone to the blog, often using the phone as a hot-spot because the campsite WiFi’s are so hopeless, had completely eaten away my allowance. So within the space of half an hour, both my phone provider and our MiFi provider announced that we were stuffed, leaving just Howard’s phone with any resource. This had caused me great dismay, since I have been really enjoying catching up with all my friends on What’s App or via email. So needless to say, I woke up this morning in a bit of a grump, and to add insult to injury, it was still drizzling.
Not deterred, we changed our plans from going bike riding to visiting the UNESCO World Heritage town of Sintra, a few miles north of where we are staying. It sits on a steep hill rolling down to the Atlantic, and is famed for it’s Moorish Castle, palaces, huge mansions, and gardens thick with ferns and lichens. It was a famous haunt of Lord Byron, who even referred to it in one of his poems. Certainly is was very different from any other place we have seen yet in Portugal. It felt like a mix of Portmeirian, with it’s pastel coloured houses, and yet the gardens brought to mind a sub-tropical rain forest. Particularly so as the cloud was so low this morning, that we felt like we were climbing through it, as we marched the I km up the steeply wooded gardens to the 10th century Moorish castle. I felt that I certainly earned my cake this morning, although the local delicacy here is a type of small cheesecake, made from a marzipan like mix of cheese, sugar, cinnamon and flour, which neither Howard nor I particularly took to.
By the time we had climbed all the way back through the tropical gardens, the rain had stopped and the sky was starting to clear. We then headed back to Cascais, stopping at the shops on the way. In desperation, we purchased a local sim card valid for15 days which would operate a local hotspot. So at least we are back in contact, for the time being anyway.
By the time we arrived back at the campsite, the sun was shining, and we both felt considerably less cut-off from the outside world (and, as Howard was quick to point out, at least we might be able to catch ‘Call the Midwife’ on Sunday!). So felling much better about the world, we got the bikes off the back of Oscar, and went for a splendid cycle ride along the cycle path that leads from our campsite, and all along the coast road into Cascais. By now the sky was blue, and the Atlantic waves were crashing on the rocky shore. If I say so myself, I think I did a good job of keeping up with Howard, although some of you may know why that is! Save to say, the bikes functioned well, and mine is now waiting to be re-charged before it’s next outing.
Tomorrow we are off to Lisbon, and have opted for a hotel for a couple of nights. Hopefully though, we can find somewhere better to park Oscar than his last city adventure!

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