The streets meander down the hillside, enclosed between stone walls, small apartments or villas. The showcase of the shops' windows show a variety of small businesses: cafes, a tool shop, a craftwork atelier, a little bit of everything. In between the housing, snippets of landscape are a mix of natural and artificial: against the ondulating growth of vegetation, the buildings rise, irregularly placed, shaping the land with their sharp angles; overhead, clouds gradually gather up, unthreatening for now, as if waiting. An hour ago I was climbing the district of Cascais, from a lush park to the outskirt neighbourhoods, and I am now heading back towards the seaside, around Monte Estoril. The afternoon falls gently, leaving everything under shade.
It takes a while before I get a glimpse of the sea. Very close to Avenida Marginal, the main road that follows the coastline, there is a square, a central spot that is mostly a garden, Jardim Carlos Anjos. Branching out around it are several streets, leading to stores and residential areas. Its uppermost entrance is a sort of balcony, where a kiosk is located, from where you are offered a higher view of the events that take place and seem like routine. The playground has been taken over by children, playing around with their parents. Ceasing their laughs for a moment, two dogs start barking at each other, until the owners pull them apart. The joyful commotion then returns, and the birds hidden among the autumnal foliage return to singing.
Following down one last street, I notice how the big mansions and villas have become more present as the sea got closer. Each impressive house and hotel sits within a lush profusion of plants, growing high and wide, as if sprouting from the city. Then, I meet the sea. Closest to me is the busy road, with cars continuously roaming. But behind it there is a fantastic sight of the Estoril coast, with its beaches, its forts, and the spreading city, all colored in warm light and bathed by vibrant, agitated waters. The ondulation, that I cannot yet see, resounds vigourously.
A couple of tunnels under both the road and railroad lead me to the seaside walkway, and as I get there, I realize I just missed the sunset over Cascais. The sunlight can no longer sneak past the silhouette of the city, and instead it splashes the sky with a palette of orange and purple, an impressionistic painting. Along the entire seaside wall, spumous waves hit the rock, producing a continuous rumbling sound that will accompany the rest of the hike. A single fishing boat floats in the distance, and looming over it are clusters of clouds, ready to precipitate over the landscape. People walk calmly or ride their bycicles, and their passage denounces the grains of sand scattered on the wet floor.
At the pontoon of Praia das Moitas, the pathway widens up to a kind of tiny square. There are benches above the puddles, inviting to sit for a moment. As the beach loses its sand to the curling sea, cafes and esplanades serve their last drinks, waiters pack up tables and chairs, and owners close down the shops. Soon the street lamps turn on, beaming tones of white and orange that reflect on the puddles. Further ahead, people interrupt their stroll to take pictures of the still oceanic pool, contrasting with the nervous swelling of the sea. And right around the corner there is Praia da Duquesa, the closest of the several sandstrips that gather under the trendiest part of town.
As nighttime begins to settle though, the atmosphere is one of a quiet autumnal end of day. Mostly backlit against the intense sky, the town of Cascais is speckled with dots of light. The urban glow begins to overlap the natural light that still lingers, and both splash caotically on the shoreline, turned into an canvas of reflecting radiances. A group of elderly men sitting by the sandstrip walls discuss joyfully, while the passersby head home or towards the train station. I glance over one last time. The waves drag themselves up the sand. As dusky as the sky, the offshore sea vibrates in quick shines, faint mirrors of the nearly full moon. A gentle rain finally starts pouring down.
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