The sight of the coast was a welcomed relief after a slow, winding journey from Monsanto. Though tough, it was rewarding, driving through beautiful landscapes and many a relic or fruit stand and also discovering, in a small village on the way, the term ‘con pau’ which translates to on bread or sandwich. Any small cheap tapas can be made into a very cheap meal by just turning it into a sandwich… delicious and filling. We found a guarded 24 hour car park where we could sleep less than 200m from the beach and town centre of Cascais (kush-kaish) and bizarrely directly opposite Eduardo Souto de Moura’s, Casa Das Historias e Desenhos Paula Rego. Immediately we jumped into ocean in time for the setting sun.
Once a sleepy little fishing village on the outskirts of Lisbon, it now attracts many holidaymakers wandering its pedestrianised old town winding lanes, all dotted with designer boutiques and seafood restaurants. Most though come for its trio of golden bays, three beaches lined with grand houses and masses of people (most from neighbouring Lisbon on the connecting train I suspect) all diving into the crystal clear water. Staying a full three days there, we managed to get moments when we had it to ourselves – the town only waking up about midday. We were particularly enjoying just doing nothing (something we had done little of so far); just swimming, eating, drinking, and wandering in this pretty town where there was very little to do but relax.
One thing we did do was visit the Casa Das Historias e Desenhos Paula Rego (an art gallery devoted to famous Portuguese artist Paula Rego). Though after enjoying ourselves hours later, taking in from the beach another beautiful Atlantic sunset over the small fishing boats dotted in the bay, we visited the gallery hurriedly again after searching our backpacks and not finding Sarah’s handbag which would usually be hanging from her shoulder – the contents including Sarah’s wallet and most importantly both our passports (oh dear). The gallery was closed and set our minds into racing; was it in the car? – no; was it stolen from our bags at the beach? – maybe, but surely no, we took care to have one of us near at all times; was it in the gallery? – the place Sarah last opened her wallet, we hope; and if so, if someone picked it up were they honest enough to hand it in? Was it somewhere else entirely? After going to the police and being told that the ‘tourist’ police office does not open again till the following morning. Doing the only thing we could do to settle our nerves, we used some emergency money hidden in my wallet to buy a couple of beers and stop running around – Sarah by this stage shaking with bad thoughts. After tracing and retracing our steps and deciding to wait till the following morning after the gallery opened to cancel our cards (possibly only losing 300 euros and small sums of foreign money in the twelve hours until it opened), we drifted off to sleep.
Waking the following morning we saw, from the van window, movement in the gallery and quickly ran over – the gallery, not to be opened for another hour and a half. In broken Portuguese and English we told the security guard our story and he lead us over to the lost and found box, all the while I tried to read his face to see if he knew it was there, but nothing. And then, fumbling, he pulled Sarah’s handbag out and we collapsed into each other. It was 7:30am, we had money again, and so, excitedly, we splurged on breakfast and returned to the beach. Lessons learned and again welcomed relief.