It's 4 o'clock in the afternoon and I am just below the Paço de Arcos train station, right by the busy Jesus dos Navegantes avenue, at the center of town. The town is located between Lisboa and Cascais, in the district of Oeiras which is becoming increasingly popular each year. I am right at the spot where the denser cluster of housing begins to form, going downhill, towards the Tejo river. The train station itself has a distinct, bold modern design, a mixture of shapes and colours, and a stairway-like rooftop. Like a viaduct, the train tracks and the arched walkable pathway pass over my head, giving a much welcome shade in this hot day. I have already planned my course for today's hike, and decided to do the hardest part first, so my direction is upwards, along the avenue.
I follow the sidewalk, along a large construction of modern shapes, clean straight lines and geometric explorations. It includes various towers for apartments or offices, barring the view to the rest of the residencies. On the other side of the road there is a hill, where vegetation grows free. Even if just for a moment, the urban buildings share their ground with the natural landscape, giving a more airy feel to the area. There is also a sort of large silver pipe, coming from the city centre behind me, climbing the hill and continuing ahead. This is actually a short railway track for a peculiar public tram that never got completely developd, spanning about 1000 meters only.
The road eases up its slope to reach an oblong roundabout packed with trees and the Estrada de Paço de Arcos, sided by more tall apartments. The ground floor stores are mostly motor car workshops, mechanics and stands, and one or two restaurants. The presence of vegetation is continuous, making the avenue less gray. Around the main road grow the neighbourhoods. Buildings have no less than ten floors each, and the inner streets, where people stroll by, have lovely little gardens, cafes, and it is a pleasant place, even if the road brings constant agitation.
I move on, still following the same street. It keeps climbing softly, and starts describing a slight curve. The brownish brushwood to the left gains protagonism once again, and at the same time the residences give some way to businesses and companies, with warehouses growing behind each entrance gate. Getting to a crossroads, the closest scenery is very green, with well-kept trees, bushes and lawns that freshen up the street. The housing lines up in rows, and to the right sits a new series of automobile businesses. My hike takes me to the left, because this is where I reach the uppermost access to Parque das Perdizes.
The fitting singing of birds greets me as I enter. The park grows up a hill, next to and behind some of the houses. The grass has been trimmed recently, and the distinct scent that emanates from the green follows along as I climb the pathway. Undulating in small highs and lows, the lawn has a few spots where the cut revealed some dryness, so the light green colour that fills the area is sometimes patched with ocre. Wooden benches are scattered about along the flat stone path, perfect for cycling, giving different vistas over the neighourhood and the hillside.
Parque das Perdizes, or 'partidges' park', is a very welcoming and peaceful garden, and the constant murmur of the vehicles passing below, which is never truly gone, isn't enough to spoil a relaxing stroll. After the first 200 or so meters, I come across a strange ritualistic scene, a circle of thin, wooden menhirs around a fallen trunk. Around the natural ceremonial, the lawns, trees and flowery bushes continue to spread, now under the big, light blue walls of the Oeiras Parque shopping complex, where more construction works are taking place. I wasn't finding many people enjoying the park before, but closer to its final stretch they are starting to show up. An old man is sitting taking a rest, three youngsters walk about.
The city buzz gets much louder. The garden pathway ends by a road heading straight to a big roundabout to my right. I leave the park behind and cross the road to reach the canopy of the town hall building, where I can take break. From here I can see the sudden stop of the tubular railway from the beginning of my stroll, the roundabout with a large water fountain and sculptures of wings, around wich a kit of pigeons flies in circles. And in the distance, beyond a landscape of buildings and countryside, the Moon Hill of Sintra bears the romantic palace. But there is still something to see around here - I am right by the entrance to one of the highlights of Oeiras, Parque dos Poetas, and that's where the second half of my hike around Paço de Arcos will take me next!
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