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Azura 2015 – Lisbon

Today we did an excursion from Lisbon, to Sintra, Guincho and Cascais. it was due to last 4 and a half hours. It all ended up rather frustratingly.

The weather in Lisbon was grey and cool, and as we drove up into the hills to Sintra it started to rain. The drive to Sintra took rather more than an hour, and when we arrived we were told that we had just 45 minutes free time in the town. That, plus the fact that the rain was getting quite persistent, rather restricted our options. However, we walked around – carefully, because of the Portuguese tiled pavements which were very slippery in the wet – and saw enough of the town to realise that on another day, with more time and better weather, we could really enjoy it. Then back into the coach for the drive towards Cascais which is on the coast. On the way there we stopped at Guincho for ten minutes, for a photo opportunity. In some ways this was the best time of the excursion – the almost deserted beaches here, backed by rocks, with breakers rolling onto them and the grey sky behind them were very atmospheric. Then on to Cascais, where again we had just 45 minutes. We were told that it was a 20-minute walk into the centre of Cacais, but by striding out Val and I did it in just over 10 minutes, so we had about 20 minutes to look round the town. Again, we thought that it looked very attractive and we wished we could have stayed longer.

Some readers will be thinking that you can get to Cascais (and/or Estoril) on the train, and indeed you can. In fact a couple of visits ago we were going to do just that, from the Alcantara Mar station just behind the Alcantara berth. However on that occasion and on every occasion since we’ve berthed at Santa Apollonia, further in towards the city and not as convenient for the trains along the coast. In fact I gather that the Alcantara berth is being redeveloped for container ships only, and cruise ships will in future berth at Santa Apollonia.

Then back to Lisbon. This should have taken an hour along the coast road but actually took over 90 minutes, thanks to extreme congestion in the centre of Lisbon. What with that delay plus slow progress through the terminal security (to be fair there were three ships in port: Azura, Nautica and Explorer of the Seas) it was almost 3 o’clock before we boarded Azura. A visit to the cabin to drop our bags off meant that when we got to the buffet they’d stopped serving lunch, so we made do with some sandwiches. All in all, a frustrating experience.

This evening we will be eating in The Glasshouse – we’re doing one of their ‘food and wine pairings’ meals. We’re looking forward to it.

2 Responses to “Azura 2015 – Lisbon”

  1. Linda says:

    Sounds like you got a rough deal with that excursion Tom. We have done both places independently on different stops in Lisbon. Both easily reached by local train but from different stations in Lisbon but easily within walking distance of the new berth. You do need several hours to do them justice. The palace de Sintra is worth the journey alone. We often wondered how the ships offered both places in half a day and thought getting there by road must be easier than train. Obviously it isn’t and not worth the cost.
    What are your plans for Livorno? One excursion we have done that is well worth the expense is two Tuscan villages with a stop for lunch at a vineyard farmhouse. Volterra and San Gimingnano beautiful stops with plenty of free time to wander and take in the towns and amazing views. Lunch was at Ulignano and the owner .. Luigi .. A memorable character. This is one excursion that would be very difficult to do on your own and a full day. We were on Celebrity but guessing P&O will do similar.
    Hope the weather improves for the remainder of your trip.

    • Tom Burke says:

      The weather has indeed improved – sunny and dry today & yesterday, though windy.

      Livorno – this is where we’re supposed to be doing the Beautiful Cinque Terre excursion, which was originally booked when the port of call was La Spezia.

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