Regular readers will know that I stand firmly in the camp of those who argue that with spontaneity comes the best experiences, and this Saturday was proof of that yet again.
I love the ‘old’ resort town of Cascais, with its legendary bay, the beach and charming pedestrianised streets, but having grown up in Lisbon, I don’t actually know it all that well and always seem to end up visiting the same places over and over again.
Earlier this week, both Charlie and I were in Cascais with a few hours to kill on a stormy, yet warmish day, looking for something fun to do. I thought I’d just take him down to the bay for a little play in the sand, when I noticed a family with some micro scooters entering a park. I thought we’d follow, just out of curiosity. Little did I know that we had just found Cascais’ famous city park – Parque Marechal Carmona (also known as Gandarinha Park).
As we discovered, this isn’t just a little park with a playground, but an immense green area which marries up the gardens of the Condes de Castro Guimaraes palace and the Visconde de Gandarinha gardens, resulting in vast green lawns, beautifully cared-for flower beds, a large playground, duck ponds and a wooded area with dedicated walking path with traces of romantic architecture.
Cholly and I spent hours exploring the park, with absolutely no rest in between the playground, the maze-like woodland area and running like a dog on the lawns.
There is a large parking area (free, I think/hope, because I didn’t pay!), and a decent café with some outside tables serving the usual pastries and toasties, which I confess didn’t look great, so we didn’t try.
We were lucky to have visited on a saturday morning, which meant there was also a charming organic market, with a good variety of local produce, biscuits, bread and olive oil. We ended up taking a gorgeous corn bread loaf and some organic olive oil home, which was perfect for our cosy Sunday night soup & tapas night.
Conveniently located just next to the Cascais fort, and within walking distance of the pedestrianised streets and bay area of Cascais, the house of Paula Rego and the junior library, the Parque Marechal Carmona is a morning well spent in this quaint and elegant town.
If you’re including a visit to Cascais (and you should), then I can’t recommend this park enough.
Are you local or do you know Cascais well? What else are we missing out on?
HOW TO GET THERE:
WHERE TO PARK:
On site. We parked for free just outside the park, although if full there is also underground parking just by the fort.
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