The fragrance of pasteis accompanies me to the station to catch the train to Cascais. It is a cloudy day, perfect for taking pictures along the Atlantic coast.
Cascais is a town located 25 km west of Lisbon, easily reached by train. It’s my first time in Portugal and I cannot miss out on a trip along the coast.
When I arrive at the station, the beach is almost right in front of me. I had heard about a bike sharing service, where you just have to register by showing your ID, but you have to get there early because the bicycles available are few and the tourists are many.
By 8.15, it’s all done and I can use the bike until 6.30 pm. A practical bag, a towel, a camera and a tripod for my long exposure and studied photographs.
With no wind whatsoever, the air is calm; there are only a few people on the beach and the resorts are ready to start a new summer day, despite the light covering of fog.
My objective is clear: to manage to get as far as possible along the coastline, taking pictures of places I only know from the internet. There is only one way of really understanding a place, and that is to travel there in person, in order to experience the smells and the sensations.
Having seen the first beach, the one in front of the station, my route took me through the town along mainly pedestrian, narrow streets. The unmistakeable colours of the azulejos are a definite must-see. These ceramic tiles are characteristically arranged in an apparently random fashion, capturing the attention of every passer-by with their suggestive colours that paint the whole town to give it a unique appeal.
Coming out of these narrow streets, I find myself on a small and welcoming beach, its rounded shape created by the cliffs that surround the whole town. I’m attracted by the sound of two ladies strolling slowly through the shallow water, that echoes against the rocks covered with vegetation, accompanied by a series of reflections that make me even more curious to continue my bike ride in discovery of new sensations. The road carries on up a hill that looks directly down over another beach, to which fishermen are returning with their daily catch.
The fog thickens and the sun paints a great ball in the middle of the sky. The cliffs become more jagged and drop more steeply to the sea and the horizon begins to fade. I see a group of people who are walking towards a flight of steps, in front of one of the few bars along the route. At the bottom of the steps, there is the most surprising view: you can see the whole of the coastline in an atmosphere that almost makes it appear suspended in mid-air.
Carrying on my journey, the uphill steepens and it’s like living in one of those fictional stories in which time stands still and the panorama becomes surreal, almost metaphysical, enriched by the unusual natural forms combined with the few human interventions that bring me back to reality.
I realise that I would like to stop every 100 metres, because the landscape changes continuously, but I try to limit it to the absolutely necessary.
Imagine one, long road, where every view over the sea has its own natural alleyway dug out of the rock face, telling the story of a place that is totally different from the one before.
One of these clefts in the rock leads me to a flight of many steps. I hoist my bike onto my shoulders and climb down this narrow path. When I get to the bottom, I find myself in front of a wrought iron gate rusted with dried salt; I look down and see that the path continues over an infinite series of rocks, from which I can observe the coastline, looking up from down below.
Everything is calm, in the same way that I calmly open my tripod, onto which I mount my camera. The shot is long exposure, capturing the movement of the few waves with a predominance of low saturation colours, due to the soft light created by the fog.
The journey I imagined took an unexpected turn, not only in terms of curiosity, but also towards a fairytale world.
The increasingly dark and jagged rocks become, in my mind, a series of great waves.
I get lost in time in the fog that becomes so thick that I can barely see anything beyond a couple of metres. I carry on until I reach a landscape made up entirely of sheer cliffs down to the sea and beach.
I continue downwards; the waves grow but there is still no wind.
I jump into the cold sea for a cold, calm break; behind me, the great rocks down which I had climbed turns into fantastical shapes of animal faces carved into the rocks by the sea.
I have been so gripped by my emotions that lunchtime has been and gone long ago.
I walk on in search of a place to stop and eat something and, only then do I notice that the coastline gets ever smaller, making way for the beaches and a stretch of sand dunes that, in combination with the fog, creates a feeling of peace.
I watch the sea, whose waves draw shapes that seem almost like abstract paintings in this stretch of deep yellow.
There is just time to eat and then it’s time to turn back. The closer I get to the town, the more the sun opens up this day that has been until now so gloomy. I arrive at the station, where I notice that the town has filled with tourists since the morning, and that they are all in the water to cool down from the heat that I didn’t feel earlier.
Return journeys are always sad, but maybe this is the beauty of travelling; the memory of the feelings and the photographs taken are what remains.
I don’t know the names of that beach and the places I visited, perhaps because I was never interested in knowing them. I take with me the certainty of having visited places that I could never have imagined.
I wanted to tell you this story, not just to share my feelings with you, but also to make you understand how important it is to see places with your own eyes and to interpret them through the use of your camera.
There is no instruction booklet for taking photographs of your travels; it’s down to you to capture the details and peculiarities.
With this article, I have shared with you how my obsession for the sea has taken over the stories I tell and I hope that you can use this as inspiration for your future travels or projects.
Professional photographer whose studies in architecture caused him to rediscover his love for his homeland. This led him to engage in a long journey through the field of abstract and architectural photography of landscapes, especially on water or at sea, and to tell stories made up of simple elements.
His main publishing channel is Instagram, by means of which he works with various internationally recognized magazines and brands.