Monday, February 11, 2013

Cabo da Roca

We couldn't miss the opportunity to visit Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of the European continent. We caught the train for Cascais, a seaside town, about forty minutes from Lisbon.  The train hugs the coast and the view was much nicer than that on the train to Sintra, which takes you through a string of dreary suburbs.

In Cascais, we had to catch a bus to the cape. These buses fall outside the range of Lisbon public transportation and have their own ticket system but you can buy a day pass in Lisbon that  includes the train and the bus.  At the train station in Cascais, (the Portuguese pronounce it "Kush-kai" there was no clear indication as to where to catch the bus, and the guy in the station did not speak English. We found a stop on which our bus number was printed, and were a tad disconcerted when, a few minutes later, it roared past us without stopping.  The bus to the cape runs just once an hour, so we really didn't want to miss it.  Fast forward over some panic and fruitless questioning of shopping mall clerk who did not speak English, we eventually blundered into the bus station, where our bus was still waiting.

Once out of the town, the bus ride is extremely beautiful, although eventually you end up on one of those scary, switchbacking mountain roads with toy-sized guardrails and not quite enough room for two vehicles, especially when one of them is an enormous bus.  Our driver, at least, took the precaution of slowing down and blowing his horn on the curves. 

Cabo da Roca is another place that is usually mobbed with tourists--but not when you visit in January! On this day, it was mostly occupied by a friendly dog.

There's a small, pleasant vistors' center with cleanish bathrooms, and a cafe that we did not investigate, as we'd packed a picnic.  Other than that, you are on a bare cliff overlooking the Atlantic.  What does the westernmost point of Europe look like?

It looks like this.

It was cold and very windy.  We ate our picnic standing on the cliff top, taking care not to let our litter blow away.  Suddenly there was an explosion of dogs, as some local people arrived with theirs who joined the resident dog in an energetic romp along the cliff.  One of them was an old English Sheepdog, which is my favorite breed, but I couldn't get a picture because he was moving so fast.  After about fifteen minutes, the torrent of dogs rushed past us to the parking lot and were driven away, to the great disappointment of the dog left behind.

Ian, Grace, Brigid, Seamus

Latitude 38, due east of Charlottesville

Shoot, I can't remember what these flowers are called. Sea gorse?

Back in Cascais, I wanted to walk along the beach to the next town, Estoril, and catch the train back to Lisbon from there.  The tide was high and the waves were splashing over the boardwalk, and it's nice to be in a place with such an excellent public transportation infrastructure that you can do something like that.  The rest of the family was a little tired, and we were all windburned, so we ended up taking the train from Cascais after all.  I resolved to come back later and do the walk myself, but never found the time.  


  1. Lovely!

    I'm enjoying your travelogue, and am so glad you're recording it for your own memories, too. My efforts to journal while traveling always have a really long first entry, and then sort of a "oh, screw it" second entry ... and that's it. Kudos to you!

  2. great pictures....what an adventure!!