Sure, there are all the great guided tours of Lisbon, the epic bar crawls the Portuguese capital has to offer, culinary explorations reminiscent of the country's rich colonial past, foodie tours by Segway, hop-on-hop-off city tours by boat or bus ... The Lisbon Bay is full of beautiful surprises, the food and life in general are good, while it all unfolds with 10 to 11 months of sunshine a year.
There is a new article of mine online on PokerFirma with loads of cool archive pics and an English text version is available below on this page.
After a brief introduction to Portugal's poker scene in a previous post from September 2022, I take readers to my personal favourite area in the zone. Estoril is about a 25-minute drive outside Lisbon on the Atlantic coast. The seaside resort is located on the Portuguese Riviera, in the municipality of Cascais. The town has a rich history dating back to the 18th century, when it was a popular destination for wealthy travellers and European nobility. Estoril was also a popular destination for European royalty in exile during the Second World War, making it a hotspot for spies.
Today, Estoril remains one of the most prosperous and well-preserved places in Portugal. A popular tourist destination, it is known for its beaches, restaurants and the magnificent casino, one of the area's landmarks. Nightlife is not as big as it was in the early 2000s. Many club licences have not been renewed and there are virtually no new party venues. Practically the entire nightlife scene of Cascais and Estoril has migrated to Lisbon. Politicians seem to have opted for the development of a quieter zone that favours family life, welcomes expats, accommodates the elderly ... and drives up property prices.
As a result, Estoril also has a surprising number of great international hotels mixed with delicious local restaurants. Nevertheless, what makes Estoril a pleasant place to be among the rich is the fact that it is not common in Portuguese society to splurge. Going out and visiting restaurants is never insanely expensive. It's not really proper. Besides, "expensive" and "rich" have different proportions in Portugal. The country still has one of the weakest economies in the eurozone. The financial crisis of 2008 and the Covid pandemic have not improved the situation.
The proximity to the capital makes commuting very easy, either via the motorway further from the coast or by train, which runs along the coast most of the way. Taxis and ride-sharing services are very cheap compared to other countries. You can roughly expect to pay 1 Eur per minute (early 2023). A train ticket for a trip between Lisbon "Cais do Sodre" and Cascais main station costs about 2 euros and takes about 40 minutes.
Lisbon also has a large casino: Casino Lisboa. It is located in the "Parque das Nações" district (Park of Nations). The whole thing was built on the occasion of the World Expo in 1998 and the casino was opened in April 2006. It is operated by Estoril-Sol, the same company that runs the Estoril Casino.
The casino offers a wide range of games, including slot machines, table games and (almost never) poker. It also has a number of bars and restaurants, as well as a large function room used for concerts, shows and other corporate or public events.
Casino Lisboa is best known for its architecture, designed by the famous Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei, who also designed the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. Although Casino Lisboa Lisbon (owned by Estoril-Sol) and Casino Lisboa Macau (owned by STDM Macau) have nothing in common, there is the connection that the money ultimately ends up in the pockets of Stanley Ho's family. Incidentally, Pansy Ho, Stanley Ho's eldest daughter, serves as chairman of Estoril Sol. The Lisbon casino features a modern and sleek design, with a large glass dome at the entrance that allows natural light to flood the interior of the building. Normally it's quite unusual to let light into a casino, but with the kind of light that can be enjoyed in this city all year round, it would be madness to deprive people of it.
For poker, Estoril is the hotspot in the area. The poker room rarely offers tournaments, but cash games are held daily from 3pm to 3am and there are occasional poker nights until 6am. The usual blind limits are between 1/3 and 5/10 for NLH and PLO games.
Popular tourist activities in the Estoril area include a visit to the Estoril Casino, which offers one of the largest gaming and leisure halls in Europe with casino games, music concerts, theatre performances and half a dozen restaurants. In addition, the casino is located in a public park that provides access to Tamariz beach - a dream location. The relaxing beaches on the doorstep, golf, the former Formula 1 circuit where numerous races are still held, the ATP tennis matches and Estoril's super-modern and versatile convention centre, among many other things to do, are already a solid base for finding something to do without even visiting the nearby main town of Cascais, known for its picturesque old town, charming fishing village, renovated marina and endlessly beautiful beaches.
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