Alsace et Bastille

Alsace & Bastille - Conseil en Stratégie. Paris, Estoril
-Consultancy in Real Estate and Residential Tourism, Consultancy in Export Strategy; E-mail: or to Twitter adress Vitor Pissarro @VitorPissarro

terça-feira, 8 de novembro de 2016

Recordar alguns episódios de Pedro Passos Coelho liberal, desumano e mentiroso

Pedro Passos Coelho foi muito mau para o PSD e para a social democracia porque:

 Erros de Passos liberal:
-bancos -1)  o Estado não intervêm nos bancos. Os privados gerem melhor que o publico. No caso do BES,  Passos ficou de férias na Praia e deixou que o prejuízo para os contribuintes e para a economia tenha sido imenso.
( O Estado devia ter capitalizado os bancos todos e, no caso do BES, nacionalizado-o)
2)BANIF - erro por negligência ou incompetência
3)CGD - negligência pura, a falta de vontade e de competência para fazer a sua capitalização.

4)- visão de selecção natural na sociedade." a lei do mais forte" - as empresas em dificuldades devem falir e nascerem novas e mais fortes. Por isso até aumentou o IVA da restauração para as matar mais depressa. E, a realidade foi que, como reconheceu Vitor Gaspar, as novas não apareceram.

Passos desumano -
1)quando o Ministério da educação errou na colocação de algumas centenas de professores, Passos disse que era uma pequena percentagem, e que fossem a Tribunal. O Estado, se causa dano  mesmo que seja só a uma pessoa, deve assumir as responsabilidades.
2)Caso da Hepatite C. Passos acha que há um valor para salvar a vida das pessoas.  Ele não disse qual era o limite , mas ao doente que pedia 20 000 euros, Passos achou que era um valor acima do que ele achava bem. Qual a sua base para esse cálculo?

Passos mentiroso:
Foram muitas as mentiras, mas relembro algumas clássicas:
1) É mentira que eu vá cortar o subsídio de natal e de férias aos funcionários publicos e pensionistas.
2) eu, como primeiro ministro, nunca inaugurei nada
3) o livro que eu estou a ler é a Fenomenologia do Ser, de Jean Paul Sartre. Este livro nunca foi escrito.
A crítica chegou de imediato. No mesmo dia, Pacheco Pereira respondeu no blogue Abrupto, ironizando sobre "a mania muito portuguesa do dropping names para mostrar cultura ". "Esta lista de leituras tem um pequeno problema para além da sua implausibilidade, é que não existe nenhuma Fenomenologia do Ser de Sartre, que eu saiba. Basta percorrer a lista de obras de Sartre para ver que não há nenhum livro com esse título, a não ser que seja um obscuro artigo que desconheço".
"Só quando não se faz a mínima ideia do que são estas obras, é que se pode falar assim delas, mesmo das inexistentes", remata.

quarta-feira, 31 de agosto de 2016

Cascais - one of the 5 Of Europe’s Best Urban Beach Towns

5 Of Europe’s Best Urban Beach Towns

Warm, clear blue-green sea lapping long, sandy beaches… Families eating and laughing together over slow, relaxed dinners with good food and even better wine… Markets packed full of fresh-caught fish, locally made cheeses, and a rainbow of delicious produce… When you live by the beach in Europe, life is simpler, happier, and healthier.
Below are five of the best urban beach towns to live in Europe, where Old World culture and beach living go hand in hand. Each town is small enough to be easily accessible to expats. They all offer warm weather. And spread across western Europe, they offer a variety in culture, language, and character.

Biarritz, France

Located in Western France, Biarritz has great weather and a low cost of living. Spring rainfall is still plentiful, but summers are more likely to be warm and dry, and sunny days are usual throughout the fall. On average, Biarritz gets around 170 days of sunshine annually.
Biarritz was made famous by the Empress Eugenie (the wife of Napoleon III), who attracted fashionable clientele to the resort. Queen Victoria and Edward VII, among others, slept in Eugenie’s villa, now the Hôtel du Palais.
The lower promenade, along the boulevard du Prince de Galles, leads past the foaming breakers that give the coast its name—Côte d’Argent, the Silver Coast. The lighthouse on the summit of Cap St. Martin has a splendid view.
A seaside resort, Biarritz has one of France’s largest beaches and offers the best surfing on the French coast.
Because of the good weather, surfers continue to chase the waves in the winter and the locals can be seen taking daily strolls along the sand.
IL writer Gigi Griffis spent a winter month in this beach town two years ago. Her budget came in at around $1,700 for the whole month—and that included renting an apartment two blocks from the beach and daily visits to the many crêperies and bakeries scattered around town.
“For me, this is the little-known secret of Europe: Its old-world charm, glamorous beach towns, excellent healthcare, and world-renowned food can also come with temperate weather and a reasonable cost of living, if you know where to look,” she says.

Taormina, Sicily

Toarmina, Italy
Conquered at one time or another by ancient history’s greatest maritime powers, Sicily is the Mediterranean’s largest island. The football at the end of Italy’s boot, it’s almost as far south as you can travel in Europe…it’s actually closer to Tunisia than to Rome.
On the east coast of Sicily, the town of Taormina is mesmerizing. Built on a mountain plateau, this medieval eyrie is the stuff that picture postcards are made of: steep streets climbing upward in steps, beautiful terraced gardens, and tiny piazzas filled with flowers, shrubs, and slumbering cats. Stairways and a funicular also plunge toward the coast and Taormina Mazzaro, with its small beach, clutch of restaurants, and Isola Bella, a bijou island nature reserve. Across the sea, the Italian mainland province of Calabria shimmers in the sunlight…this coastline is ripe with legends, including that of the one-eyed Cyclops.
In Taormina’s upper town is a wonderfully preserved Greco-Roman theater, where all kinds of performances are held in summertime. The views from here are incredible. Sit on its ancient tiers of stone seats and you can see Mount Etna. Down below, towns such as Letojanni and Giardini Naxos are strung out along the shimmering coastline.
As well as dramatic surroundings, the upper town has dozens of quirky bars, designer shops, and restaurants. It’s a nice place for a winter break. On Christmas Day, Santas stomp down Corso Umberto giving out free presents of panettone (sweet loaf bread) to children. A lot goes on…art exhibitions, people thumping out carols on pianos in the middle of the street, free classical music concerts, and tastings of cassata, Sicily’s famous sweet cake.
“The pace in Sicily is what I would call rural Mediterranean. Here, domani (“tomorrow” in Italian) is a common answer for many questions,” says expat Benjamin North Spencer of the island he calls home.

Lisbon, Portugal

Cascais, Portugal
The capital of Portugal is studded with ancient Moorish quarters and bordered by lovely beaches. Its National Museum of Ancient Art houses one of Europe’s best collections. Outside Lisbon are palaces that rival the châteaux of the Loire in France. And at the heart of the city are winding streets that pass medieval churches and inviting cafés.
Nearby is a fishing village that has been turned into a sophisticated resort, Cascais. A fine sandy beach lines its beautiful bay. Cascais has had an elegant air since 1870, when the court first moved here for the summer. A royal palace was constructed in the former citadel and is still used by the head of state.
This popular seaside town is only about half an hour by commuter train or bus from central Lisbon. The neighborhoods near Cascais’s coast have an old-style village feel, with tile-roofed houses and cobbled streets. A busy tourist zone near the train station is lined with shops and colorful outdoor restaurants, but move beyond this area and the old town is peaceful. Head inland just a few blocks, and you find a modern city with highrises, shopping malls, and modern apartment buildings.
Cascais has a sizable expat population, so between the British expats and the town’s lively tourism, you can get by easily in English. Short-term rentals abound here, so if you want laidback beach life but also want to be within easy hailing distance of a metropolis, Cascais is a good option.
“Cascais is one of the prettiest suburban beach towns I’ve seen,” says International Livingeditor Glynna Prentice. “It has its own personality…but it’s only half an hour from Lisbon. That’s a compelling combination.”

San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian, Spain
San Sebastián, just an hour’s drive from Bilbao and 12 miles from the French border, has been a chic beach resort for more than 100 years. Today it is also the high temple of Basque cooking, one of the richest culinary traditions in Spain.
San Sebastián’s old town, the parte vieja, is a warren of narrow streets perfect for wandering—the more so as the area is filled with tapas bars offering scrumptious creations that you can wash down with the local, slightly-fizzy white wine, txakolí.
Much of the rest of central San Sebastián is street after street of Belle Époque buildings, in creamy stone. Here you find apartments, high-end boutiques, the cathedral, the theater, and more.
San Sebastián’s beaches include its most famous, Playa de la Concha. Its perfect half-moon opens up to embrace the blue Atlantic. The bay stretches from City Hall to the Pico del Loro (Parrot’s Beak). Walk along the beach’s golden sand or, if you prefer, along the Concha promenade. In the center of the bay is Isla Santa Clara, with a small beach, an unusual lighthouse, picnic tables, and a bar. The island is so close you can swim there from the bay all year round.
In short, the city’s layout, with its sprawling pedestrian areas and its seaside promenades, makes it the perfect place to explore on foot. San Sebastián offers a range of activities for everyone.
“San Sebastian is arguably one of the world’s most beautiful urban beachfronts,” says Glynna Prentice. “For glamour, sophistication, and sheer beauty, the city is hard to beat.”

Split, Croatia

Split, Croatia
Croatia is one of Europe’s lesser known gems—but one of its most beautiful. Located on the Adriatic Sea—the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean—it enjoys a humid subtropical climate with average highs of 63 F to 72 F from April to May. Because it has flown under the radar of most international tourists and expats, it also remains one of Europe’s most affordable destinations. This is a country where you can cut back on the budget without sacrificing any quality of life.
In the city of Split, the country’s second-largest city, you’ll be in the center of Croatian life. The town is packed full of restaurants, bars, stores, inside and outside its grand city walls.
“The area in and around Split is very affordable and full of charm,” IL writer Gigi Giffis says. “Split itself is a large and bustling city with a truly ancient old town (with its UNESCO World Heritage Site palace), some really nice neighborhoods, waterfront views, and great prices. I lived there for a month one winter and only spent about $1,300—all while eating out, going to the movies (which are often shown in English), and generally living well.”
The best things in Split don’t cost a lot of money, Gigi says. “I visited a grand old abandoned fortress in the hills, but it didn’t even have an entrance fee and, thus, didn’t cost a dime. Dinners at nice restaurants were affordable as well.”
If you’re a sailor, a scuba diver, or any kind of water-sports enthusiast, this could be your dream destination (Split has four marinas and numerous major sailing events). But don’t worry if you’re not a sports fanatic. Split is a university town, too, and a lively cultural center. There’s a national, and several archeological museums.
The city has plenty of festivals, including the February carnival, the summer festival (an international festival of opera, concerts, drama, dance, and street theater, held regularly since 1954), and the pop music festival in June. And if you want an away day, plenty of daily ferries cross to the idyllic islands of Brac and Hvar.

sexta-feira, 26 de agosto de 2016

Marginal do Estoril é a melhor estrada costeira da Europa


Marginal do Estoril é a melhor estrada costeira da Europa

Por João Palma
Estudo internacional elege a Marginal, que também consegue o 2.º lugar em top das melhores estradas estivais, logo atrás da Estrada do Atlântico na Noruega.
Os 27 quilómetros do troço da EN222 entre Peso da Régua e Pinhão, com 93 curvas e vista para o rio Douro, já tinham sido considerados em 2015 como “a melhor estrada do mundo” num estudo conduzido pelo físico quântico Mark Hadley da Universidade de Warvick, no Reino Unido, para a empresa de aluguer de automóveis Avis. Agora foi a vez da Estrada Marginal do Estoril ser classificada como segunda melhor estrada europeia para viagens de carro no Verão.
Com o patrocínio da TomTom, fabricante de sistemas de navegação para automóveis, o psicólogo David Holmes desenvolveu uma fórmula para identificar os 25 melhores percursos europeus para os condutores desfrutarem durante a época estival. Os parâmetros compreendem: tipo de estrada, inclinação e obliquidade, volume de tráfego, pontos de paragem, isolamento da estrada, paisagem circundante e condições climatéricas.
Esses factores foram combinados com um inquérito da TomTom a 14 mil automobilistas e permitiram chegar à fórmula USD (Ultimate Summer Drive – Melhor Condução no Verão). As variáveis identificadas no estudo são: paisagens incríveis (prontas para o Instagram), 70% dos condutores indicaram uma paisagem fantástica como um elemento-chave para uma viagem de férias, com 16% a considerar que vistas prontas a fotografar são um factor decisivo; uma grande estrada, com duas faixas, bom piso, curvas suaves e uma boa vista em frente, é um factor essencial para mais de 20% dos inquiridos; estradas (quase) desertas, que permitem fazer um desvio em relação ao percurso principal e descobrir novos cenários são referidas por 15% dos condutores inquiridos; pontos de paragem regulares e bem espaçados, a cada 50km, com instalações básicas e vistas inesperadas são outro dos factores a considerar; boas condições climatéricas com temperatura agradável e brisa leve tornam a condução mais aprazível.
De acordo com a USD, as cinco melhores estradas estivais da Europa, combinando paisagens espectaculares, qualidade do piso e condições perfeitas de luz, são: 1) Estrada do Atlântico, Noruega; 2) Marginal do Estoril, Portugal; 3) Lago de Como, Itália; 4) Peloponeso, Grécia; e 5) North Coast 500, Escócia.
A TomTom, porém, foi mais longe e, para quem se deseje aventurar à procura de experiências inesquecíveis, apresenta, segundo os mesmos critérios, uma lista das 25 melhores viagens de Verão pela Europa, divididas em cinco categorias.
Melhores estradas costeiras: Marginal do Estoril, Portugal; Costa Amalfitana, Itália; Estrada Costeira de Darry a Belfast, República da Irlanda; Costa Brava, Espanha; Costa da Dalmácia, Croácia.
Melhores estradas de floresta: Lago de Como, Itália; Auto-Estrada 500 da Floresta Negra, Alemanha; A5 Chirk para Bethesda via Parque Snowdonia, País de Gales; Parque Nacional Los Alcornocales, Espanha; New Forest, Inglaterra.
Melhores estradas de montanha: Passo Furka, Suíça; Passo de Stelvio, Itália; Estrada Alpina Grosglockner, Áustria; Mont Ventor, França; Trollstigen, Noruega.
Viagens mais épicas: Estrada do Atlântico, Noruega; North Coast 500, Escócia; Estrada Nacional 1, Islândia; Rota Selvagem do Atlântico, República da Irlanda; Circuito Basco, Espanha e França.

segunda-feira, 22 de agosto de 2016

Lido em "31 da Armada". De acordo....

Não sei se repararam mas num país com a economia estagnada e um desemprego assustador a EFACEC foi notícia de telejornal. Houve despedimentos coletivos? A empresa fechou? Não. 120 trabalhadores ficaram sem carro, via verde e cartão de combustível. Um escândalo. Mais um. E tudo ilustrado com fotografias de Isabel dos Santos - que, no meio da Sonangol, imagino esteja mesmo apoquentada com a via verde dos trabalhadores da EFACEC. Ironicamente, em 2015, ainda andavamos nós de troika e a EFACEC ainda não tinha sido comprada, havia manifestações de trabalhadores da EFACEC a reclamar...aumentos salariais. Mas temos de ser justos. Na altura os trabalhadores "reconheciam" a situação "difícil" da empresa mas achavam escandaloso o "aumento da frota automóvel, proliferação de carros de luxo, cartões de crédito, vias verdes e combustível".

quinta-feira, 14 de julho de 2016

true love

Abidjan - Plateau, fotos de um casamento no jardim da marginal. True love. Felicidades para os noivos.

working together....

Abidjan - Ivory Coast - Hotel Sofitel. We are working together on the diplomatic mission. I and S.E.M. the Ambassador of Ivory Coast in Portugal Koffi Fana and the former Vice-Prime Minister of Portugal, Paulo Portas.

quarta-feira, 18 de maio de 2016

Podem ficar com eles.....

Por mim, o BNP Paribas pode ficar com todos os bancos nacionais que restam. Com o bom aspecto da sua Sede em Paris, tem a minha confiança. São, seguramente, bons gestores.

a Jaguar vai de mal a pior

Paris- Os indianos compraram a Jaguar e esta vai de mal a pior. Em Paris, já andam a fazer serviço de TAXI.

portuguesa Helena Almeida, no museu Jeu de Paume (Concorde)

Paris. Aproveitar a hora de almoço para visitar a exposição da
portuguesa Helena Almeida, no museu Jeu de Paume (Concorde)

quarta-feira, 10 de fevereiro de 2016

Paris - Cargaleiro a fait la plus belle station de métro

Paris. Station de métro de Champs Élisées - Clemenceau. La plus belle station de Paris,grâce a l'artiste Cargaleiro

terça-feira, 10 de novembro de 2015

Pensamento do dia



Temos a honra de exibir o testemunho do nosso prestigiado galardão - o "Condé Nast Johansens Award for Excellence 2016" na categoria de "Best for Meetings", um reconhecimento internacional resultado da avaliação criteriosa de clientes e experts locais e estrangeiros. We are proud to show up the prestigious award that has been granted in London last sunday, November the 1st: the "Condé Nast Johansens Award for Excellence 2016" in the category of "Best for Meetings"


domingo, 8 de novembro de 2015

Em África

Post para um amigo meu ( Pedro Merlini), que não sabe qual a razão pela qual o cacau só é cultivado em países sub-desenvolvidos ( por exemplo na África Ocidental, origem de 2/3 do cacau mundial). A culpa é nossa, dos consumidores que compram chocolates produzidos pelas multinacionais. O capitalismo é cego. Eu ando em África e tenho vergonha de algumas políticas de empresas europeias. No entanto estou neste momento a colaborar com bons exemplos de desenvolvimento destes países ( por exemplo, a Portucel em Moçambique). Há esperança.....

A produção de chocolate muitas vezes esconde uma verdade literalmente amarga. As multinacionais do chocolate ainda fazem uso da exploração do trabalho infantil para lucrarem tanto.
Hoje em dia muitas crianças ainda são tratadas como escravas e forçadas a trabalhar em condições precárias. Em setembro passado, foi arquivado um processo contra algumas empresas bem famosas - entre as quais estão nomes conhecidos, como Mars e Nestlé - que para a produção de seus chocolates, financiam o trabalho escravo de crianças na África Ocidental, de onde provêm dois terços do cacau utilizado no mundo.
As ações judiciais contra as empresas foram impetradas pela Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, sustentando que as gigantes do chocolate tendem a fechar os olhos para as violações dos direitos humanos por parte dos fornecedores de cacau na África Ocidental, sem nenhum problema. Estas empresas enganam os consumidores, porque elas se apresentam como socialmente e eticamente responsáveis, quando na verdade sabem que o cultivo e a colheita de cacau têm lugar em condições desumanas.
De acordo com um estudo realizado pela Universidade de Tulane, mencionado na denúncia, para as grandes empresas do chocolate, na Costa do Marfim, mais de 4.000 crianças estão em condições de trabalho forçado para a produção de cacau. Algumas crianças são vendidas para traficantes pelos seus pais desesperados por causa da pobreza, enquanto outras são sequestradas. Os comerciantes de escravos, por suas vezes, vendem as crianças para os donos das plantações de cacau.
As crianças são forçadas a viver em lugares isolados, são ameaçadas com espancamentos, ficam presas inclusive durante a noite para que não fujam e são forçadas a trabalhar por longas horas, mesmo quando estão doentes, de acordo com as denúncias apresentadas às empresas. As crianças carregam sacolas tão grandes e pesadas, que as colocam em risco de ferimentos graves. A idade das crianças escravizadas varia de 11 a 16 anos, mas também pode haver crianças com idade inferior a 10 anos.
Para aumentar a conscientização do consumidor, a US Uncut publicou uma lista das empresas que exploram crianças para a produção de cacau e chocolate, para que os cidadãos preocupados com este problema possam evitar a compra de seus produtos.
1. Hershey
2. Mars
3. Nestle
4. ADM cocoa
5. Guittard Chocolate Company
6. Godiva
7. Fowler’s Chocolate
8. Kraft
9. See’s Candies
Já em 2001, nos Estados Unidos, a FDA havia solicitado o rótulo “slave free” nos chocolates produzidos sem a exploração do trabalho infantil, mas as multinacionais se opuseram e a exigência da rotulagem ficou para até 2020, pelo menos.
Infelizmente, nesse meio tempo, entre 2009 e 2014 o número de crianças que trabalham no setor do cacau aumentou em 51%.
US Uncut também publicou uma lista das empresas de chocolate que decidiramevitar a exploração do trabalho infantil.
1. Clif Bar
2. Green and Black’s
3. Koppers Chocolate
4. L.A. Burdick Chocolates
5. Denman Island Chocolate
6. Gardners Candie
7. Montezuma’s Chocolates
8. Newman’s Own Organics
9. Kailua Candy Company
10. Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company
11. Rapunzel Pure Organics
12. The Endangered Species Chocolate Company
13. Cloud Nine

O que podemos fazer?

Podemos evitar de comprar das empresas que exploram o trabalho infantil com base em um sistema inaceitável para o cultivo e a produção de cacau, escolhendo as que ofereçam garantias de respeito aos trabalhadores, com referência aos produtos de comércio justo.
Para se aprofundar ao tema da exploração ligada à produção de cacau e chocolate, sugerimos assistir ao documentário "The Dark Side of Chocolate", no vídeo legendado em português, aqui abaixo.

viagem do dia!

sexta-feira, 6 de novembro de 2015

A brief glimpse into Cascais

We try to visit the Lisbon area at least once a year, often staying somewhere along the coast and we always have a great time. Last weekend, we had a short wander around the town of Cascais where we stayed at the Farol Boutique Hotel. We took a few photos as we went. The town is full of beautiful architecture, places of historical significance, coastal beauty and pretty streets. I’d definitely recommend it as a place to visit if you’re ever in or around the Lisbon area. Here is a brief glimpse into Cascais…
Pretty beach
Cascais 4
Cascais stalls
Cascais 6
Street scene
Colourful street
Historical statue
Crazy paving
Main beach
Another statue
There are many fabulous hotels to choose from in the area as well as countless restaurants to eat local, and not so local, food. It’s a really pretty tourist spot – perfect in season or out. I actually prefer it out of season because I’m not so great with hoards of people!
The beginning of November was perfect – even though we had some rain, it was still quite warm and there were even people swimming in the pool at our hotel, as well as loads of surfers riding the waves nearby.
Shopping is fabulous in this area – not only are there some really cute little boutiques scattered throughout the town, there are also some big shopping malls not too far away… which is where I can usually be found 😉
The train station is within easy walking distance of the town centre where you can hop onto a train and travel into Lisbon itself. It’s the perfect getaway!

Suzy x

Pensamento do dia


quarta-feira, 4 de novembro de 2015



Numa cerimónia que decorreu em Londres, o Hotel Palácio do Estoril foi distinguido pelos Prémios Condé Nast Johansens 2016 - que destacam os melhores hotéis do mundo - na categoria de Melhor Hotel para Reuniões.
Dos hotéis portugueses, apenas o Palácio Estoril, Hotel Golf & Spa e a Pousada de Lisboa, do Grupo Pestana, inaugurada este ano, foram distinguidos com o galardão. O primeiro na categoria de Melhor Hotel para Reuniões e o segundo eleito como o Melhor Pequeno e Exclusivo Novo Hotel.

O apuramento dos vencedores é feito com base nas avaliações atribuídas pelos hóspedes, bem como através de relatórios compostos por especialistas da Condé Nast, um galardão atribuído pelo segmento da Condé Nast, que é descrito como “o guia líder de referência para os viajantes independentes”. O Condé Nast é um grupo de media que detém ainda as revistas norte-americanas “New Yorker”, “Pitchfork Media”, “Vogue” e “GQ”, entre outras.

Os prémios Condé Nast distinguem anualmente os melhores do mundo em todos os sectores de atividade ligados ao Turismo, nas categorias de Hotéis, Resorts, Spas, Países, Cidades, Ilhas, Automóveis, Companhias de Aviação, Cruzeiros, Comboios, Tecnologia, Moda e Beleza.

Sobre o Hotel Palácio| Inaugurado em 1930 no novo Estoril que Fausto de Figueiredo projetara, assumindo-se desde então como uma das mais prestigiadas unidades hoteleiras do País. Ainda antes da eclosão da II Guerra Mundial começou a acolher estrangeiros em busca da segurança perdida nas suas pátrias, tendência depois reforçada pela assunção da neutralidade de Portugal. Durante o conflito cruzaram-se, no Hotel Palácio, empresários, banqueiros, políticos, reis, artistas, desportistas e até espiões, aí decorrendo, em 1955, o banquete de casamento do príncipe Alexandre da Jugoslávia e da princesa Maria Pia de Saboia, filha do rei Humberto de Itália, exilado em Cascais.

sexta-feira, 30 de outubro de 2015

Estoril: The ‘Rivera’ of the Portuguese Coast

Cascais Beach
Cascais Beach
Following three glorious days in Lisbon, I traveled 30 minutes west to the Estoril Coast — for the very first time. Surprising, considering its proximity to one of my favorite capital cities in Europe.
Despite its diminutive size, Portugal has always offered plenty to see and do; wine tasting in Alentejo and Douro, culture and gastronomy in Lisbon, port wine in Porto, beach culture and golf in the Algarve and dozens of tiny towns in between, each with their own distinct regional charm. Save for a brief day trip to neighboring Casçais and castle-strewn Sintra, I knew very little about this part of the country. Armed with a camera, smartphone, local contacts and a healthy amount of time, I was determined to change that.
On the way to my lodgings for the next three days, I observed the contradicting scenery; edifices and houses adorned with traditional, poetically- weathered, azulejo tiles shared the landscape with slick, modern condos, beachfront hotels and office buildings. The water, an inviting shade of sparkling blue, was the backdrop for leisure activities all along the Estoril promenade (extending all the way from Lisbon).
At first glance, Estoril looked unremarkable in comparison to other European coastal towns; lovely yes, but with no distinctive features to entice travelers into choosing it over its more glamourous counterparts in Italy, Spain and France. I soon discovered, however, that there is one true commodity that makes a destination stand out, the one ingredient that makes a holiday memorable years after your visit: its people.
Through the eyes of the locals, I learned about a place of great natural beauty, about past perilous, political intrigue to rival the most convoluted thriller novel and about the formidable Portuguese philosophy of peaceful –optimistic even—acceptance of economic and social strife.
I was mesmerized.
Old town center, Casçais
Old town center, Casçais

A Land of Kings, Queens and Spies

The Estoril coast is approximately 30 minutes (25 km) from Lisbon and extends west fromCarcavelos to Guincho beach. Casçais, arguably the most beautiful village along the coast, first rose to fame in 1870 when King Luis I decided to turn the local citadel into his family’s royal summer residence. Dignitaries and jet-setters soon followed suit and, by the end of the century, the once quiet fishing village had become a playground for the rich and powerful.
The old town center, Largo de Camões (an homage to Portugal’s most celebrated poet), offered the perfect starting point from which to tour Casçais. The area is full of shops, restaurants and bars. The stores, often painted in cheerful pastel shades, offered local souvenirs such as cork items and ornately painted tiles. I spent hours lazily taking in the shop windows and observing the beach culture all around me.
I was staying at the citadel (now a luxury hotel) and though it featured a grand entrance, a hauntingly, white façade, and cobblestoned grounds it was minimalist (with the exception of the old wing) and quite modern inside. Still, I enjoyed a tour of the premises and the adjacent art galleries and commune. As is often the case in resort areas, everywhere I turned people seemed relaxed and friendly. Everyone I spoke to had an entertaining story to tell about the edifice that was once also a fortification and a military base.
It was at this early point of my visit that a pattern began to emerge; the Portuguese enjoyed talking about their history – the good and the bad – with an honesty and sense of national pride that was more than refreshing. Case in point, during a conversation, I let it be known that I had just been in Lisbon. “Ah, Lisbon is wonderful” said a Portuguese visitor from Porto (second largest city in Portugal), “did you visit x? It is the most beautiful place!” Being used to city rivalries with varying degrees of acrimony I asked, “Didn’t you say you were from Porto?” To which she replied, “Yes, but above all, I am Portuguese and x really is incredible!”
Back in the early 20th century, progress extended to neighboring Estoril with the development of luxury properties and an upscale casino; Portugal’s neutrality throughout WWII allowed exiled royals to enjoy the coast freely. Ian Fleming, creator of the fictional spy icon, James Bond, is said to have spent many months here during his stint as a naval intelligence officer in the 1940’s and later as a writer. In fact the classic Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was, in part, filmed in Estoril.
I took the 20-min walk across the bay from Casçais to find out if I could get a sense of the glitz and glamour that once was.
What I got was much more than I bargained for.
José Diogo with the 007 martinis, Estoril
José Diogo with the 007 martinis, Estoril
I had planned a visit to the Casino Estoril – the largest in Europe– for a little slot machine action, but running late for my dinner reservation at the Palacio Estoril hotel, I decided to meet my companion and go afterwards instead. Though renovated several times since its opening in the 1930’s, the hotel still maintained its vintage, world-class charm. The elegant silver-haired doorman, dressed impeccably in coat and tails, greeted us warmly upon entering. While we waited to be seated, I chatted with the concierge and manager who proceeded to show us the suite where the King of Spain, among other distinguished figures, had slept. Next, they escorted us to the very lobby bar that Ian Fleming frequented during the war. We sipped ‘007’ martinis while being regaled with stories of the past.
At one point, José Diogo, the concierge, briefly excused himself and came back holding some old newspaper clippings. One was a still shot from the famous Bond movie featuring the actor playing Bond (George Lazenby) and a fresh-faced bellboy with a familiar grin delivering a message. It was José Diogo, who, now in his 60’s, still recalls the adventure as if it was yesterday. The dapper doorman had also been there for decades. In fact, so had the maitre d‘, the piano player and the sommelier. Suddenly, a cozy dinner in Estoril, turned into a fascinating trip to a more glamourous time. We stayed much later than anticipated and missed out on visiting the casino, but I had no regrets, the experience was priceless.
Sintra, although located in the hills to the north of the Estoril Coast, forms an important part of the inviting and alluring landscape. The stunning mountains and Sintra-Casçais Nature Park provide a majestic backdrop for the impressive number of royal residences, retreats and palaces strewn about. Notable structures include the whimsical Pena National Palace, the Moorish Castelo dos Mouros, the Quinta da Regaleira estate and the Sintra National Palace – all spectacular but with decidedly distinctive architectural features.
Sunrise in Casçais
Sunrise in Casçais

Life’s a Beach

It wouldn’t be a resort area without stunning beaches and the Estoril Coast has those in spades. In Casçais, the centrally-located Praia da Rainha is surrounded by small cliffs and a marina overlooking sparkling-blue green waters. To me, this felt more like a family beach but upon further exploration, I did find some ‘private spots’ for sun-worship. Praia do Guincho was also featured in the Bond film and is arguably the most popular beach in the vicinity (about 5km from Casçais) thanks to its strong winds and waves making it the perfect place for wind, kite and traditional surfing.
Nature lovers will appreciate a visit to Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth), a spectacular chasm located within the seaside cliffs. Another standout closer to Sintra is Cabo do Roca. Considered the westernmost point of continental Europe, it represents Nature at its dramatic best: granite boulders, cliffs, sand beaches and the sea all working together to form a stunning visual experience.
In Estoril, Praia de Tamariz is the largest beach on the entire coast. Though pleasant enough with a historic medieval castle in the foreground, it is not the most scenic beach. It does, however, offer more dining options than its more distinctive counterparts, so it all really depends on your particular needs.
Typical Portuguese Cuisine
Typical Portuguese Cuisine

Of Fish and Swine

As a tourist destination, the Estoril Coast offers many different international cuisines. But with fresh fish aplenty and centuries-old recipes available, why would you want to eat anything but Portuguese fare? Venture towards the more residential part of town and select eateries that locals frequent. Fish and seafood specialties include bacalhau (salted-cod), sea-bass and octopus rice. Meat lovers can indulge in regional pork dishes such as Leitão de Negrais.
I personally enjoyed Cataplana, a delicious seafood ‘stew’ that is made in copper cookware resembling two clam shells. I discovered it after asking my dinner companion to recommend something ‘typical’. In true Portuguese fashion, she suggested this Algarve Region (further south) favorite despite being from Casçais herself. “Can’t you recommend something from around here?” I asked, “Sure, but I wanted you to try one of the most ‘typical’ seafood dishes from my country.  And of course the meal was paired with Vinho Verde, the refreshing white wine from the (northern) Douro wine region despite a nice selection of local wines.
Now dessert was a different story.
We tasted a few local treats; Travesseiros de Sintra (pastries), Queijadas de Sintra (cheese tarts) and Areias de Cascais (cinnamon balls) followed by some tasty port wine (from Porto).
With mild temperatures year round, the Estoril Coast can be visited at your leisure. To avoid the crowds though, come between March and early June. But come you must because any area that offers so much natural beauty, culture and history without the usual pretense will not remain an under-discovered gem for long.
-Contributed by Jessica Benavides Canepa