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A Family Adventure in Cascais and Sintra, Portugal


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    Portugal is the primary destination for international visitors wishing to explore Europe. The country offers something for all ages from history, shopping and culinary adventures to beaches, hiking and panoramic views from castle walls. Portugal is a great value for the money, is the 4th safest country in the world and English is widely spoken, all things that make it ideal for families. www.visitportugal

    seal  of cascais

    Cascais, Portugal’s wealthiest suburb, is 20-miles from Lisbon and offers world class accommodations, international cuisine, 17 museums, opera performances, a symphony orchestra and a plethora of historic villas and national architectural treasures. Cascais is located along the North Atlantic coast and was a quiet fishing village until it was discovered by the king and became the premier summer residence in the 18th-century for the rich and the royal. The first wealthy residents rented the fishermen’s cottages but soon began to construct elaborate villas that remain standing. www.visitcascais.com

    The 5-star Martinhal Lisbon Cascais Family Resort provides both unique and ideal luxury accommodations for a visit to this region for families, couples and individuals. The experience can be tailored so that both adults and children can maximize the deluxe offerings in a variety of ways. Child care is offered free of charge in the form of babysitting, baby room and crèche and the 7,700-sq. ft. Raposinhos Kids Club. Hands-on, age appropriate, workshops include hiking, biking, surfing, horseback riding, Lego robotics and a Football Academy (soccer). Adults can spend the day as a family and /or also have worry-free travel free experiences knowing their children are safe and active. #martinhal

    Accommodations are luxurious villa and guest rooms outfitted with amenities such as luxe linens and designer bath products and amenities. A golf course, spa, pool, gym, bar and Oterraco Restaurant make the Martinhal a family destination in itself. www.martinhal.com/cascais

    Woman sitting with words Experience is the new sexy

    woman at mike with phone

    As part of Matinhal’s commitment to giving back they are engaged in supporting community and global social initiatives. This year the Martinhal Resort Cascais held its 3rd annual conference. This year’s Entrepreneurship Event presented international speakers focusing on the need for and the special skills and talents that female entrepreneurs bring to the work force. The conference showcased best practices, personal testimonials, networking, guided discussions and statistically based information. Research supports the facts that successful companies have at least one female in its team of founders and the number of female entrepreneurs has doubled in last 7-years.   

    detail of moorish palace

    In 1995 the Cultural Landscape of Sintra was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site based on its standing and influence as the first European center of romantic architecture. The city center, Pena Palace and the medieval Castle of the Moors make Sintra an absolute must-visit.

    pena palace with visitors

    pena_palace dining room

    pena palace kitchen

    pena palace fountain


    pena palace gate

    Pena Palace, built in 1840 by the “Artist” King Ferdinand II,  is the most visited palace in Portugal. The surrounding 500-acre labyrinthine park showcases the palace’s blended architectural styles, Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish, Renaissance, and extremely colorful exterior. It was constructed on the site of a 1500’s monastery  nestled 1600-ft. high in the mountains. The palace, preserved as the royal family left it in 1910, is entered through the Moorish “ Door of the Alhambra”. Highlights of the self-guided tour are the largest room the kitchen, the private apartments, Moorish inscriptions and the magnificently glazed tiles. Tip: Park the car and take bus 434 from Sintra.

    muslim_script on wall

    The Moors occupied Iberia from 711 until 1249 and a pivotal event, the 12th-century surrender of the fortress the Castle of the Moors, to the Christians took place 11-miles from Cascais. On a 1,350-ft. peak  8th-century an “unconquerable” castle was built to protect the trade center Sintra. After the conquest the fortress feel into ruin until restored in the 1840s. The stabilized ruins are explorable via cobblestone pathways and evidence of Moorish building techniques, high walls and looming towers, are still visible. The panoramic views are spectacular. 

    Portugal was neutral in WWII and many of the crowned heads of Europe took refuge on the Portuguese Riviera along with the spies of all nations tasked with keeping tabs on them. One of those spies was British spy Ian Fleming who used this experience as a basis for his James Bond novels. He began the first novel here and based Casino Royale on Casino Estoril, the largest casino in Europe. Allied spies and European royalty tended to room in the Hotel Palácio and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was filmed there. A visit lets you live the dream.

    deep cavern rumored to be the mouth of Hell

    Many sites can be seen from the 1904 red and yellow electric carriages that travel 9-miles through the Village of Sintra to the seaside. Stops include Boca do Inferno, the Mouth of Hell, a tiny bay on the Atlantic Ocean with a small cave. Legend has it that it was the gateway to the underworld.

    tall verticl monument wiht cross atop

    base of monument wiht inscription

    Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in Europe, served as a landmark for sailors. A monument and rest stop are located at the site. Less than 1-mile away sits Europe’s westernmost village, Azoia, named by the Muslims.

    door with two cats images

    Play room with red kids car in front


    If you decide to divide your time between Cascais and Lisbon the 5-star Hotel Martinhal Chiado is a great option. The Chiado neighborhood is filled with 18th-century buildings reconstructed after a 1988 fire. with no loss of integrity. The hotel is situated in the center of Lisbon within walking distance of shops, restaurants, the National Theater and public transportation. The luxury apartments range from studio to family apartments. There is a Kids Club on the premises as well as the M Bar Family Café. www.martinhal.com/chiado

    sign saying smile you are in Lisbon





    Renee Gordon has written a weekly travel column for the Philadelphia Sun Newspaper for the past fifteen years and has published articles on local, national and international travel in numerous publications. Her columns focus on cultural, historic and heritage tourism and her areas of specialization are sites and attractions related to African American and African Diaspora history. Renee has been a guest radio commentator on various aspects of tourism and appeared in a documentary, "The Red Summer of 1919". As an educator for thirty years she was an English teacher, event and meeting planner, served as an educational consultant and intern-teacher mentor. She contributed to textbooks on women's history and classroom management and has facilitated workshops on both subjects. Renee considers herself a "missionary journalist" and as such she continues to promote heritage and sustainable tourism.

    2013 Recipient of African Diaspora World Tourism Flame Keeper in Media Award for Travel Writing

    IFWTWA - International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association
    IABTW- International Association of Black Travel Writers
    PBJ - Progressive Black Journalists


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