Our trip home from Lisbon took up through the historic village of Sintra a location in which Lord Byron wrote in 1809 “I must just observe that the village of Cintra in Estremadura is the most beautiful in the world.” – he isn’t wrong.
Our first stop was the Pena National Palace was last used by in the early part of the 20th century before the overthrow of the monarchy. This palace represented a lot of what you would imagine a palace to be; beautiful courtyard, large grounds to walk, and great views. The inside rooms all seemed connected and were actually typically smaller than I would have thought, but far more functional.
We spent hours exploring the palace, which sits onto a mountain that is just ripe for exploring. The palace actually sits near the old Castle of the Mouros (Moors), which was built in around the 9th century.
Quinta da Regaleira
Next up was the Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire, built in the late 19th and early 20th century with with the styles from the romantic era. The house was just one building on the entire grounds, which was the true canvas for this architectural artistry.
What was most interesting is the fact that the site if full of underground tunnels, and wells that offer sub-terranial access. There was no obvious purpose to these accesses, and the rumors are that the owner used them for ritual practices.
What they were fun for was exploring and it was a highlight for the boys who dragged us into every cave they found.
A day of adventure would not be complete without some dramatics, and we got that today. We first left Patricia’s bag at the coffee shop and had to return to get that, and then at the end of the day we left my wallet in one of the tunnels. Note: never use a wallet as a camera tripod in a damp, dark, cave. Just happy my passport was not with it and only a few dollars were left – the gardeners are looking but nothing yet and nothing expected.
So, with all our excitement over the last few days, all the tours, hikes, walking, it has been hard to keep the kids engaged. You can only tell them “don’t touch that” so many times!
So we took our day back in Porto a little easy and headed down, just the family, to a park to blow off some steam.
After that we attempted to go grocery shopping for dinner which was an adventure. We first had to find a grocery store, then order meat by the pound (really helps if you know your numbers), and then learn the different procedures in buying vegetables (which you have to get weighted BEFORE going to the cash register). We made it through and enjoyed a relaxing evening of stir fry and beer.
Now it is to the North that we travel next and the smaller mountain villages.