To recap on our time in Cascais before our encounter with whales, one artist whose work we somehow missed seeing at the Berardo collection was Paula Rego. One of the features on our map of Cascais was the Casa das Historias Paula Rego. It was not far from the marina, so before we left for Sines, we decided to incorporate it on our walk to see Hells Mouth, a rock formation just up the coast. We were not sure what to expect, for all we knew there was just a house with a plaque saying Paula Rego lived here on it, but it was worth a shot. To get there we walked through the park at the side of the marina car entrance and were serenaded by the vocal duelling of the resident roosters. The Casa turned out to be another very impressive art space, house in a modern building that looked inspired by pottery kilns.
The exhibition we saw was based on work inspired by the librettos of operas, with the characters depicted as animals and sometimes fruit. There were some very witty characterisations, but while it was good to see the studies made in preparation, it seemed to weaken the presentation to give over so many large rooms to them. Still I should hardly complain, it was a lot better than just a plaque on a wall and free to view.
Out to sea we spotted the gaff rigged boat that is moored at the end of our pontoon taking trippers to see the arch from the water, after which they raised the sails and took them out along the coast the other way. We were back at the marina long before them, so it seemed a worthwhile trip.
We had an early night for next day we were off to Sines, birthplace of Vasco de Gama. I have already posted about our whale spotting en route as I could not wait. Sines is the oddest place we have been so far. There are oil refineries, some burning off gas and quite a lot of industry to see on the approach. Once in the harbour this is all masked by the town. This looks picturesque, ranged round the walls of an old fort on the cliff tops behind a flawless beach named after Vasco and overlooked by an impressive statue of him. The marina is tucked behind one harbour wall overlooking the beach and a fishing dock is across behind the opposite one. There was no VHF channel on which to contact the marina, but three marineras were waiting to direct and help people as they arrived, probably on account of the wind. The marina headquarters is new and everyone was most helpful. There was information about the extensive marine conservation activities that went on here. So far so good.
We walked into town along the beach and then up a steep winding road. It had no obvious centre and was not particularly attractive on close inspection as many buildings were rather run down. Further through there was a dramatic change to glossy new paving and a huge square modern building with no windows made from the same pink slabs as the paving. It was like walking into a Dr Who set where aliens had landed and set up a different civilisation surrounded by a high wall. The building houses a library and an art centre and was a clone of the building that housed the Barado collection, but here it looks much more dominant and out of place. It is as though money has been ladled into one building while all around it is chaos and lack of investment. We had a lovely meal in the restaurant by the Fort, but had only managed to find one restaurant amongst the smaller bars. Further exploration next day took us through some luxury apartments, all empty, through some rather nice town houses and then back into the warren of dilapidated streets. It has the atmosphere of the deserted Olympic venues in Greece. The fort itself was impressive on the outside and the walls hung with streamers of fairy lights, but inside was a barren space, which had obviously held an event, the detritus of which was left lying around.
Our next leg was a really long one, so we had stayed in Sines two nights to rest up and because there was better wind forecast for the following day, but all in all we were ready to move on.