суббота, 16 апреля 2016 г.

At the edge of the Old World (2.11.15)

Long ago, the Romans called that spot Promontorium Magnum ("the Great Promontory"). Many centuries after, the greatest Portugal's poet Luís de Camões referred to it as to the place, "where the land ends and the sea begins" in his epic work "The Lusiads". Just 80 years before the most famous work of Luís de Camões was published, nobody in that part of Europe knew that the land to the west of Cape Roca exists. 523 years after Christopher Columbus had discovered the New World, we stood in a few meters from the waters of Atlantic Ocean, at the westernmost point of continental Europe, and enjoyed the breathtaking views.
Even though the weather was terrible, lots of tourists crowded the cape. Just imagine, how popular that place would be before the Age of Discovery, if tourist industry existed at that time. I mean, you will more likely come to the edge of the world rather than just to the extreme point of Europe :)

We observed a curious fact regarding tourists. In contrast to most of the sights we had visited, where West European (especially, French-speaking) visitors predominated, here Russians and Chinese prevailed. I guess my nation and our south-eastern neighbors just appreciate achievements (such as visiting the particular spot) more. If not, why would people stand in a queue to have their photos beside the monument noteworthy only for a plaque proving that you are at the westernmost corner of Europe.
We also recorded our "achievement".
Most of the tourists just capture themselves on film and come back to the bus. Some of them buy a certificate of their presence at the Cape (is it for their incredulous friends who don't believe in photos and claim that "it is photoshop"? :) ). As usual, almost nobody turns out to be inquisitive, almost nobody notices the splendor of the surroundings.

If you don't want to be that kind of tourist, first thing to do everywhere is to look around.
 
After you have got to know how the land lies, start exploring it down to the smallest detail. Follow us and stroll along the shore.
In the place most tourists content themselves with, the stone wall separates us from coming closer to the ocean. Then it changes into a wooden fence which doesn't look solid enough to lean against. If you continue going along the fence, soon it will be over as well. No safety barriers, no supervisors. It looked really strange. Believe me, we haven't crossed any "do not go further, it is dangerous" lines. Still, if you are not careful, it can be. If you are wary enough, you'll be rewarded with the most picturesque sceneries Cape Roca provides immediately below your feet.
Look above, five minutes ago we were where those tiny creatures stand.

Even though we haven't seen other people daring to descend from that cliff, we definitely were not pioneers. Here is the proof.
If you don't know, it's an imitation of the Saint Petersburg football club emblem

It's funny to remark that I noticed that inscription only when I was reviewing the photos after coming back to Saint Petersburg. I'm still curious whether my poor eyesight or the greatness of the ocean distracting me from spotting the details was the reason.

You can reach Cabo da Roca from Lisbon in two ways: through Sintra or through Cascais. Since we'd visited Sintra two days earlier, we chose the latter option. My first memory of that morning is the bus from Cascais approaching the Cape via a serpentine road. This road is so long that you start thinking that the ocean doesn't want you to come.

On the way back to Lisbon we decided to spent some time exploring Cascais. You won't find any striking places of interest there but overall the town is a pleasant place.

Even the shopping center is worth looking at.
 
But the weather is getting a bit better, let's go outside. To understand how small is the town, look at its center:
In summer Cascais attracts the visitors by its sandy beaches and a large yacht harbor. Although we came there on a rainy day in November, we headed to the water. Obviously, most local landmarks should be where crowds of tourists usually are.  
Look to the left: the "fleet" is approaching! :)
And this one resides on the shore.
Have you ever seen giant binoculars?
And how about red trees?
The below photo wasn't noteworthy until my parents joked telling me that they see... hedgehogs amidst pineapples on it. 
Street art in Cascais is no less amazing than it is in Lisbon.
Need some action? Just imagine that this speedy bird on the photo below is running back and forth, escaping from the waves and presumably looking for the seafood brought by water at the moment when the waves receded.
As a conclusion of a story about Cascais, a minute of local humor:

The final pieces of the travel diary came up into place. Thank you for staying tuned for the last 11 posts! New stories on miscellaneous topics will come soon ;)

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