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Estoril Beach - click for bigger! In early summer we took a package trip to Estoril in Portugal with Thomson Travel. We chose this resort as it is close to Lisbon plus a seaside location. Estoril has several small beaches, & a long promenade that links them all. At the end of the prom is Cascais, which is a younger resort with pubs, & more cafes. I would imagine that it gets very busy in high summer, but was OK when we were there. It does not get as hot as the Med resorts in say Spain as cool breezes usually come in off the Atlantic ocean.

We traveled by air to Lisbon, & then got a coach to Estoril as part of our package holiday. However, there is also a good train service. Estoril has a casino, which people come from far, & wide to gamble in. The casino also includes a picture gallery, restaurant, evening entertainment, & they have an open air craft/food fair nearby in the summer evenings. The resort has several fine buildings, although sadly some are in very bad repair. The people who own the buildings if they can be traced often cannot afford to, or just don't want to pay for the repairs to these unused buildings so the local 'council' is repairing some of them. There are also has some ugly concrete high-rise hotels. The area has been popular with the wealthy in exile from various conflicts over the years, or just looking for a mild winter. The race track is on the outskirts of town, & hosts regular motorsport meetings although I don't think they have the car Grand Prix anymore?

Estoril bikeshow - click for bigger!Whilst we were there the local bike show was on in the Casino Gardens. I think the bike in the foreground was an old Ducati single cylinder. The casino area is a good one to head for as the train, & buses stop there. The post office, several banks, & restaurants are here, & you can cross under the busy main road to the beach shown at the top of the this page.

Kings' retirement home - click for bigger! This building was if I understood correctly a royal retirement home where the monarchy lived out there years after Portugal became a Republic? It is now open to the public. You have to pay a small fee, but they give you a guided tour in English, or several other languages, & it is worth a look. It includes a lovely shaded courtyard at it's center. The Nobel's could approach by boat directly to the house in the old days, but now people use the tiny beach to swim. Surrounding the house is a nice public park with a few rather sad animals in small cages, & a tea shop. Whilst we were there several wedding parties came along to take photo's.

Old mariners' monument - click for bigger!In Lisbon you can go shopping, visit the castle over looking the city center, take a tram, cast iron elevator ride, or enjoy a pavement cafe. There are several splendid buildings including some that are tiled. Whilst we were there they were doing it all up for the '98 Expo. The Padrao dos Descombrimentos monument pictured right in Belém is for all the old mariners such as Vasco da Gama who went out and stuck the flag in various bits of the world, & brought back treasure,etc. You can go to the top for a small fee, but we decided to go up the nearby Torre de Bélem, which you also have to pay for. The tower was built to protect the harbor from raiders, & pirates. In the same area is the Jerónimos Monastery, an art's center, maritime museum, marina... It is in the suburbs of Lisbon alongside the Tagus River, & there is a train station nearby. Alternatively, you can catch a bus, or tram (number 15?) from the town center. The famous riding school is also nearby, but we did not visit it.

The local musical style is Fado, which is a bit like 'posh' flamenco, but we gave that a miss. We did try to find the Botanical Garden, but got lost as you do. The city is supposed to resemble San Francisco. They do have a big red bridge (although it only crosses the river), trams, & it's hilly. Close to the bridge is a a large statue of Christ like the one in Rio, & they are supposed to face each another. However, the one in Lisbon faces North, & the direct route to Rio would be South West I guess? So I suppose they used poetic thingy?

Pena Palace - click for bigger!I think this is called the Pena Palace, which is in the countryside at Sintra. You can get there by bus from Estoril, or train from Lisbon. It was a royal palace, & reminds me of Disneyworld , or a paint catalogue. The castle is a mixture of styles, & colours as it was added to by various kings over the years in whatever was the latest style. You can take a bus part of the way from the village, but then have to walk up a steep hill through the grounds. The view from the top on a clear day is well worth it. You can go inside for a fee. Every room is different, & they have a fine collection of china, etc.

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