After I posted Home Sweet Home I received multiple messages asking me to share pictures of our new apartment. I thought I’d go one step further and include pictures of our neighborhood and town too.
To start, we live in Monte Estoril. I have embedded a navigable Google map below to help you place where we are. The Portuguese pronounce Monte Estoril, mauntshtrril, emphasizing the first word, but jamming them both together and pronouncing the first two letters in Estoril as “sh” and rolling the r’s. We are about a 30 minute drive from Lisbon. Monte Estoril abuts a very popular and historic seaside town called Cascais. This is pronounced kushkeish (kush like hush) with the emphasis on the first syllable and using a long ‘i’ sound like in kite in the second. It took us weeks to learn how to pronounce both correctly. I won’t even begin to try to describe how they pronounce our street name, Biarritz. You’d think it would be easy, but trust me, it’s not.
Here is a description of our town that I found on Google, which is far better than I could have written: Elegant Monte Estoril centers on sheltered Praia das Moitas, a beach with a seafront promenade backed by al fresco bars, fine-dining restaurants, and upscale hotels. Hilly streets are home to design stores and indie boutiques, plus the Moorish-style Casa Monsalvat. Blue azulejo tiles cover the interior of Santo António do Estoril Church, and the Museum of Portuguese Music displays antique mandolins and violins.
We have a 106 square meter (1141 square feet) 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment on the 6th floor of an 8 story building which means we are actually on the 7th floor since the Europeans don’t count the ground floor as the first. Our unit has been completely renovated. This is a good thing, because the building is circa early 1970s…not such a great era for architecture. On the plus side all the public spaces, stairways and external window sill aprons have swanky marble. It also comes with two tiny little 70s era elevators that require you to close an accordion-style gate from the inside before they will operate. I wasn’t so sure about them the first couple of times I used them, but I’m fine now. Here is a floor plan of our place.
Our front door is a heavy wood-paneled number with an impressive key and locking system. You’d think we lived in a less-than-desirable area, but no. We live in a lovely, upscale neighborhood so I’m not sure why the quadruple lock, but it certainly makes us feel safe! And, yes, that is our front door key. It comes in at a healthy 9 cms (3-1/2 inches)! There’s no losing that in the bottom of your handbag.
Our apartment came almost fully furnished with brand new furniture as well as artwork, window coverings, and decorative items like pillows, rugs, and vases. We’ve added a few things and have begun to furnish the second bedroom, which was the only room left untouched before we moved in. Unfortunately, that room doesn’t have a closet. A bummer since the extra storage space would have been a real bonus.
We still have some things we’d like to do to finish decorating, but that is mostly artwork. Our goal will be to use our upcoming adventures to find special pieces we love so it will be awhile before we are completely done.
The following are pictures of our living and dining rooms. All the floors in the apartment are a finished concrete with the exception of the bedrooms where they are hardwood in a herringbone pattern. All the rooms have beautiful, double-pane casement windows and the ones in the living room and kitchen go from floor to ceiling.
The kitchen is very modern with marble counter-tops and back splash and all new Bosch appliances. We have an induction cook top (which is amazing!), a dishwasher, oven, microwave and a pretty big refrigerator and freezer. There is ample storage. The only thing missing, which I covered in Home Sweet Home, is the dryer. It’s tough to see, but just beyond the built-in kitchen table is our outdoor laundry line. The windows face mostly west so we get great light throughout the day. Unfortunately that made it hard to get good photos because the light outside was so bright. The windows have roller shades for both privacy and light control, but I wanted to leave them open for these pictures.
Our bedroom is spacious with a king-size bed, full sized, lighted closets with built in drawers and a large master bath with two sinks, large window, towel warmer (a real luxury!) and a walk-in shower. A very nice feature in the bedroom is the external roll-down metal shutter that is activated using a switch next to the window. It blocks out all light and I LOVE that. There is also one in the second bedroom. These are common features in this area and in Lisbon. I suspect it helps to keep apartments cool in the warm summers when people are not at home.
This is our second bathroom and is very similar to our master bath in style and finishes. The drawers under the sinks in both bathrooms are huge.
Our neighborhood is very walk-able and includes a small market called Spar within about 100 meters of our building (less than a two minute walk). It has all the necessities including a good wine selection (and to me, that’s a necessity!). It also has a few specialties like Mimos de Limao, small yummy lemon cakes rolled in sugar. We’ve had to put a moratorium on those because we were blowing through a 1/2 dozen every week.
Just across the street from Spar is a pretty little park, called Jardim do Lago that has a cute cafe. We like to take Sweet Pea there and let her explore off leash while we sip espressos. And, yes, I have begun to drink espresso! Decaf, but espresso nonetheless; it just seems appropriate here and tastes better. Spring is already beginning and the trees are about to explode with green and color. I can’t wait to see how pretty it will be when that happens.
If we exit our building through the front and turn left up the street (we can also exit through the back), there is a little market with a delightful selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, breads and cheeses. Have I mentioned how good the bread is here?? O.M.G. Sooooo good. We’ve found a great local restaurant very near to this place called O Braga. It has been there for decades. The staff is comprised of older gentlemen who must have worked there since it opened. They de-bone your fish and the wine is served in glazed pottery carafes. Here are a few pics of the little fruit and veggie market. The oranges, clementines, and tangerines have been outstanding.
The main area of commerce for Monte Estoril is a 10 minute walk from our place down Avenida Seboia. At the end of that street is a charming neighborhood park called Jardim Carlos Anjos (jardim is the word for garden). The most surprising thing about the park is the aviary! It also has a water feature, coffee kiosk, and play area for children. It is a vibrant place that locals clearly enjoy. They have an open air market there every Thursday. Folks greet each other, come together and chat, or just sit quietly and take in the environment. Dogs are allowed off leash so we bring Sweet Pea to play. Dogs are a great way to meet people.
Another 5 minute walk and you are at the coast! The train station is conveniently located right there too. We often walk along the esplanade, sit and enjoy, let Sweet Pea run and scamper in the sand, or stop for a coffee and a nibble.
We are very happy where we landed. Cascais, a very nice but much larger town, can be pretty busy due to its draw for tourists. Monte Estoril is quieter and more relaxed and that suits us just fine.
From Portugal with love,