Lisbon, one of the most influential historic metropolises of the last milleniums, has undoubtedly had bigger issues to deal with than the leisure-seeking BUNKER/S UP! crew. Boosting a wealthy selfesteem due to their influence on the new age revolution of golf, their appearance may not exactly be classified among folks like Vasco da Gama, who set sail to develop the fortune-bringing spice and ore trade in India and other distant places. In this very port the likes of us rather enjoyed a cold beer and grilled fish in the sunset instead of preparing for battles against pirates and enemies in the unknown. Nevertheless navigation is not only important in seafaring. Winds must be thoroughly considered on fairways near the ocean when approaching targets with golf balls and golf carts must be carefully steered not to spill precious drops of beer and whiskey over board.
There are more similarities between the new age golfer and the ancient monarchs in the aforesaid country, such as their penchant for games, narcotics and women. Take Ferdinand I. aka the handsome: Instead of marrying Leonora of Castile for the sake of peace with his fellow neighbours in Spain, he fell in love with the local prime specimen of a female and married her instead. Ferdinand paid the dues for many years to come as Leonora/s father Henry II. King of Castile paid revenge by plundering Lisbon every now and again. Battles have to be fought, and golf wasn/t golf if it wasn/t for the money. A well stroken putt tastes just better when it plunders your friend‘ purse. 5 Courses in 6 days was another tough schedule for the BUNKERS/UP team considering that an early morning surf in Peniche – one of the world/s prime surf destinations, a fresh bacaljau (cod fish) a la plancha and one or two late night drops of sweetest port wine must not be missed. Watching fishermen throwing their bait from the high rocks around the corner of Cascais as the big November swells hit and tower in fountains of 10 metres in the sunset releases a mixture of apocalyptic feelings and pure freedom.
Peniche is a little fishing town about an hour/s drive from Lisbon. Besides being the second largest reloading point in Portugal for sardines, the town is rather quiet and relaxed. In fall though, when the first storms hit, surfers from all over the world travel to town and one of the world/s greatest beach breaks offers the pros hollow barrel rides. 8 feet, 15 secs, offshore – this will raise any surfer/s heartbeat. The measurements refer to swell size, period and wind direction respectively and were the conditions we found the day we were to play the beautiful Golf links of Praia del Rey. Beckna and me just knew that we had to hit the water before the golf ball. The 10:30 am tee time was early and not changeable on the top ranked golf course in Portugal. We organized boards and paddled out as the sun wasn/t even about to rise in the cold November water. Life is tough but nice when you don/t give yourself the choice. But some things in life you just can/t buy… The other two boys chose to nap two more hours in the van. Nice as well, maybe not so tough.
That image of a surfer crossing the fairway during a European tour event had been in my mind for ages and I felt even happier to do two of my greatest passions in the same place the same day. This truly makes the Peniche region so special, and even more when you are served a fresh Bacaljau a la prancha (grilled Cod fish) and a sweet drop of port wine for dessert after a fulfilled day. The images in all the travel agencies of the famous golf course speak for themselves. Praia del Rey offers it all, Iberian links feeling at its best and a fresh smell of pine trees in the forests of the coast combined with a superb layout. No surprise that this course has hosted European Tour Events.
Only a few drives further up the coast lies the newly opened resort Royal Obidos. Seve Ballesteros himself drew the course layout – a splendid championship course. The resort offers it all: Oversize Mona Lisa like barock paintings, port wine in golden cups, a Roman like warpainted swimming pool and a majestic terrace overlooking the course, the ocean and the sunset. SPA good, all good – we treated ourselves to a single malt at the bar, sporting nothing but a bathrobe…
Estoril has a long tradition as a retreat of the beautiful and rich in Portugal. The casino grande is the largest in Europe and was the inspiration for the Bond novel Casino Royal. The Palacio do Estoril is where Bond stayed on his secret mission. Staying here is still a throwback to the 1950s. An amazing entrance hall reminds of all the celebrities who walked in here over the years. Just across the street lies the Casino and as not all members of the team were equally impressed, some tried their luck at gambling. Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.
Another superb Golf facility lies behind Estoril/s neighbouring city of Cascais. Following the steep cliffs along the Atlantic coast one finds Oitavos dunses very soon. Paving its way through the characteristic umbrella pine trees one soon finds the ocean view towards Cabo de Roca, Europe/s westernmost point. With the BUNKER/S Up boys, we really spent a perfect summer/s day on Oitavos Dunes in late November. A little nap in the sun on the perfect grass and some cold beers on the back nine made our trip complete. Have a look at the footage, Beckna killed it!
The city of the seven hills has overcome more ups and downs than most cities. Wealth and prosperity through international trade followed by disease, plunderings and new reigns. In an era of tranquility that had lasted for quite a while, one of the largest earthquakes in history hit the town in 1755. Two thirds of the city were destroyed and death tolls rose up to 60/000, putting Lisbon back to square one. The reconstruction shaped today/s inner city called the Baixa, the true definition of «downtown». It is sprawled with cafés, old cable cars, street artists and the famous Castanheiros, the chestnut roasters. Hipsters can get a nice beard cut for a few euros, the hatlover his tweed and the fancy one any kind of haute-couture design. We went for some chestnuts and a Super Bock beer next to the castle and watched the street lights turn the lanes and houses into a festival of colours.
Summing it up, we especially want to thank Thomas Bächler and Golf and Travel for making this trip real. Just have a look at the footage: This is what you can get when booking your next golf trip with them.
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