Shh Sesimbra’s special secret!

We had arrived in Sesimbra in Portugal at the dead of night so when we woke in the morning it was wonderful to discover that our parking spot had the most magnificent panoramic view of the Atlantic ocean.

What a magnificent view to wake up to!
We were very happy to see the sea

Behind us we could see a lighthouse that was apparently built within the walls of a 17th century Fort.

There was a lighthouse behind us ….
….and the sea in front

We set off to explore the little town and on the way met three street cats that looked at us hopefully as we walked by. On the way back later we were glad to see a local man feeding them.

A street cat hanging out on the rocks
Dinner time for the pussy cats

There were some nice looking yachts in the snug harbour and next door were scores of fishing boats. We were intrigued to see fishermen winding their long lines into barrels ready to be hooked and baited the following day.

There were some nice looking yachts
There were also lots of pretty fishing boats
We were intrigued by how the fishermen sorted the hundreds of metres of longlines

As we walked passed we noticed fish split open and hung out to dry on the fence. In the little bay next door hundreds of seagulls and other seabirds waited on the sand poised for any opportunity to grab the parts of fish that the fisherman threw away.

Fish hanging out to dry
Seabirds waiting for fish scraps

A little further along we saw an enticing boardwalk snaking it’s way on to a beach. We followed the inviting path along around a headland on to a stunning sandy beach stretching all the way to the small town of Sesimbra in the distance.

The enticing boardwalk
Such a lovely beach

As we came closer to town we could clearly see, right in the centre of the beachfront, the 17th Century Fort – Fortaleza de Santiago – constructed in response to attacks by the Spanish navy during the Restoration War (1640-68) and to defend this important fishing port from pirates.

The 17th Century Fortaleza de Santiago
The solid looking 17th Century Fort

The solid looking structure now houses the Sesimbra museum of the Sea but originally the interior area was divided into the Governor’s residence, the garrison barracks, cisterns, a warehouse and a chapel dedicated to Saint James.

The fort now houses the museum of the sea
Just in case you weren’t sure

We really enjoyed our visit to the museum which was stacked with interesting exhibits relating to fishing methods and boats. Some of the rooms were furnished to show how the Governor and his family lived and the tiny chapel of St James was still preserved and open for viewing.

From the Museum of the Sea
The Governor’s residence
The Governor would have had a beautiful view
The town view from the Fort
We loved the colour of these roof tiles
The chapel
Another view of the fort and a moody sky

The town itself consisted of a maze of small streets and passageways with lovely marisquera (seafood) restaurants displaying their freshly caught wares to entice the customers in.

The hilly lanes and steps look charming but hard work when you’re elderly
One of the lovely lane ways
Seafood In the window of one of the marisquera restaurants
Delicious looking fresh fish
Shell fish of every variety available

We chose one with a view of the sea and between us shared a delicious freshly caught fish cooked over hot coals with all the trimmings.

Lunch table with a view
A good Portuguese vino
Lunch was amazing

One of the things we really loved about this town were the glorious Azulejo tiles on the exterior of many of the buildings. These beautiful glazed ceramic tiles made the buildings positively glow.

Glorious Azulejo tiles
Traditional tiles on one of the older buildings

Traditionally, azulejos tended to have simple geometric patterns and be in blue and white, gold or green and this simple colour palette was in very much evidence in Sesimbra.

More Azulejo tiles
Elderly gentlemen reading death notices together
Sardines flying out of their can near the fishing port

It had been a perfect day but Sesimbra wasn’t done with us yet! As we arrived back at the van we were treated to a most magnificent sunset.

Just a glorious sunset
The lighthouse at work
Nightfall in Sesimbra

What a great spot we had inadvertently picked to park at, especially as the following day we were treated to a glorious sunrise.

Good morning!

I think that’s the first time that I’ve viewed both the sunset and sunrise over the water from the same place. Surely there can’t be too many places in the world where you can do this? Shh it’s Sesimbra’s special secret!

Fantastic watching the sunrise over the water

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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