Nothing beats waking up to the sound of the ocean, more so when you have arrived in the middle of the night after a flight from London, renting a car and getting lost. Our tempers by 3 am in the morning were to put it mildly frayed.
Our spirits picked up when we saw our hotel Sana Sesimbra was bang on the sea and the very warm welcome we received at that late hour from the reception. Our room large with a decent size bathroom and a great balcony with a million dollar views. We slept with the French doors open onto the breeze.
We really had no expectations of Sesimbra. We had heard it was pretty and decided to spend a weekend end there before we went to Lisbon. Its only 45 minutes from the airport if you don’t get lost and the drive is easy.
Our first morning we just sat on the balcony watching the world wake up before we got the energy to go down for breakfast. This hotel is a family hotel. Its comfortable rather than luxury and the breakfast reflected that. A buffet with the usual breads, pastries fruits, eggs, bacon beans. It was fine not lush but perfectly acceptable . We sat on the terrace which became our favourite place in the morning and the only thing missing was a freshly squeezed orange juice.
Sesimbra‘s focal point is the coastal narrow road by the wide beach. It has shops , hotels, restaurants and bars and is aimed primarily at the family market. Everything is clean gentle accessible. It had a really nice feel and I have to say the seafood we ate was exceptional.
We loved O Rodinhas. We had been walking along the narrow meandering streets above the hotel with no thought of anything when we spotted queues outside this restaurant which is always a good sign to good food.
We waited until we got in to this tiny restaurant which was a hive of activity. We ordered clams and razor clams which were fresh simple and absolutely yummy. A plate of real chips piping hot and a tomato onion salad made this meal perfect. It was good and surprisingly very cheap. We loved it so much we went again the next day.
The food here is very very good and I learnt for the first time that they have a distinction between fish restaurants which serve fish and seafood restaurant which is more about shellfish.
One evening we went to Ocanhaoi which is on the main beach road and had a delicious Arroz with Lobster and a great wine called Quinta do Carmo and it was then that I discovered that the area Setubal was known for its vineyards.
The flagship wine is Moscatel. You can drive along the Setubal Peninsula wine route pass by Azeito where the Jose Maria da Fonseca vineyard is located. There also wines from Bacalhoa. Because of the micro climate the grapes grown on the slopes of Arrabida mountains are of superb quality . The whole area is just ripe for exploring and I am planning to go back to explore more as they have many natural parks and breathtaking scenery.
The Setubal area is very popular with Portuguese living in Lisbon who frequent the area in the summer and weekends and I can well understand why. There are so many beautiful villages and small towns that are dotted around the coast and inland in the natural parks.
We spent the weekend exploring the area and found some spectacular scenery and beaches. Cabo Espichel where there is monastery was fabulous. The whole area is being developed and the monastery is being turned into a boutique hotel on the cliffs.
This is very much a family place gentle leisurely and so good for the soul. We would just walk along the wide sandy beaches watch the boats in the marina stop and have an amazing great ice cream at Gelataria Frutochocolate. Again we saw it was a popular place and though I am not ice cream fan this was so so good. Salted caramel and chocolate mint were divine.
I loved the Setabul Peninsula. There is so much diversity and lots to do if you want or nothing if you just want to pass the time of day gently. The luxury boutique hotels have still not arrived but I suspect they soon will.