Thursday, August 22, 2013

Quinta da Regaleira - Sintra

Sintra is located about a 45 minute train ride away from us.  We have read wonderful things about this little town so we decided to venture out to see it for ourselves.  We had to ride 3 different trains in order to get there.  The transportation in Lisbon is different from other cities that we have visited in that there are many different companies that serve the public.  We are familiar with buying a pass and being able to have access to buses, metros, trains, etc.  In Lisbon, there are 3 different companies running the Metros, more companies running the different train services, etc.  We do have a pass that allows us to ride a train from Lisbon to Cascais, but other than that we have limited access.  Traveling to unknown places always takes a little longer the first time as we figure out where/how to buy tickets, which platforms to access, etc.  Thankfully, even with having to walk to different train stations to make the transfers we did not have to wait for the trains for very long.  We barely made it to a couple right before they pulled away which always makes us laugh!

Our host, Antonio, was the first person to direct us to Sintra.  He even recommended a pastry shop.  Once we arrived in Sintra, we had lunch at the pastry shop (who also served sandwiches).

You can see the ham and cheese sandwiches on Amelie's plate as well as the delicious pastries.  
We meandered through the streets enjoying the views of the castle on top of the mountain and the beautiful views of the large houses built into the side of the mountain.
Liam was a little worried about the shark overhead to look at the camera.
Who needs a sidewalk when you are small enough to squeeze?
Hills don't stop Liam from running.
View of the palace from the gardens.
We started with visiting a palace, Quinta da Regaleira.  It consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park featuring lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. The palace is also known as "Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire", from the nickname of its first owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.  Bobby's comment during our tour around the gardens was if he was a millionaire he would build more than just a large house, but a playground for adults.  He was referring to all of the grottoes and tunnels built throughout the grounds. It really was fun exploring through the caves.  There were benches and columns built into the rocks here and there.  It was absolutely stunning.  Some parts of the cave had "Christmas tree lights" (in Amelie's words) stretched along the wall to help see, but other parts were completely dark.  Bobby led the way with his phone's flashlight while Amelie and I (also pushing Liam in the stroller) followed.  I laugh at all of the places our poor strollers have had to venture through!

Amelie with map in hand loved leading the way.  In the background you can see the chapel. 
We were able to tour through the palace and end up on the roof.  Most of the palace is a museum to the construction of the palace and grounds, which we were not able to read because we had to keep up with a certain 1 year old who loves to run and doesn't stop.  :)
Near the opening of one of the grottoes.  There is a waterfall with a bench carved in the rocks. You can sit and watch the ducks playing.  Perfect place to read a book if you ask me!
This picture was taken with the flash but without it is completely black! 

Amelie and I inside "Leda's Cave."
Bobby and Liam at the top of one of the towers.
Liam and I were inside of a cave with a waterfall coming over the mouth.  Bobby and Amelie continued along the path and found an opening in which to walk on stepping stones to the other side of the lake.  There is also a foot bridge seen above them that we ended up walking across later that had spectacular views of the waterfall.
Inside the "Initiation Well" (sometimes referred to as the "Inverted Tower") looking up.  It is a 27 meter staircase that leads straight down underground and connects with other tunnels via underground walkways.

Liam fought going to sleep because he was having so much fun exploring, but once he was out...he was out!
Amelie and Bobby peeking through some of the openings in another well.
Once we walked around to the top of the "Initiation Well" looking down.
View from one of the towers.

There was so much to explore that we ended up not having time to do anything else in Sintra.  We are going to have to venture back so we can see other palaces and possibly the castle (if we want to walk up the mountain).
If you look close enough you can see the castle nestled on top of the mountain. ;)
We ended the day having dinner outside of a pub on the sidewalk.  We at the traditional Portuguese food of steak, eggs, and french fries...delicious!  As we walked back to the train station we happened upon some Tango dancing in front of the National Palace of Sintra while also watching the clouds descend down the mountain.

Tango dancers with a myriad of onlookers.  
You cannot see the castle any longer, but the views of the clouds approaching us was really neat.

1 comment:

A. Nevels said...

I love steak, eggs, and fries. That was one of my go-to's in Chile. Mmm.