Soaked Sintra, Captivating Cascais, Espionage Estoril

Sintra was wet, wet, wet, but with steep perseverance we were able to keep our heads above water and muddle through. At the end of our excursion into the center of town, the heavens finally stopped weeping long enough for us to walk around sans umbrella and get some decent views of the scenic albeit water-logged terrain. The views around city hall were particularly nice.

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Moving on, and with the sun finally starting to make an appearance as we drove further out, we stopped at the westernmost point possible on continental Europe, the Cabo da Roca in the Sintra-Cascais National Park. From afar there was an attractive barrenness to it that reminded me of Iceland — the views were just breathtaking. Lesson for the day: follow the sun, always follow the sun.

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To get the best views, I thought to cross under the wooden barriers separating us from falling over the edge. Though there was no sign saying not to, in retrospect it had the makings of a really bad idea as I saw several other people had followed my lead, with some carelessly walking close to the edge. I learned later on that a couple actually died two years ago after doing the same thing and stepping back one too many. Only goes to show that while the place was indeed gorgeous, it was also quite tempting enough to be dangerous.

From there we went further down to sea level to the city of Cascais with its scruffy but fearless seagulls and glorious views of the marina.

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And our final stop, Estoril, with its James Bond-inspired backstory as relayed by our intrepid driver. Not only did we hear about Ian Fleming being a former British spy, we also heard about the many subterfuge-filled machinations, tuxedos, and martinis that were par for the course at the Hotel Palacio and the nearby Estoril Casino. Whether or not what he said was true, it made for an interesting peek into another kind of life that most people can only read about. While most of the past 36 hours may have been a wash, Portugal on day 2 has been nothing but captivating. It would be easy to spy that the rest of our trip will be just as thrilling.

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