• Sintra and The End of the Earth Portugal

    March 16, 2018
  • Sintra, Cape Roca, Then End of The Earth Portugal!

    This day we were venturing on another day of sightseeing. We were really cramming in the bus tours but you never know when you are going to get back to such wonderful places so we really felt we had to see what we could! This day would be Sintra, Caba Da Roco, Cascais, Estoril and a place called the End of the Earth! We awoke very early and had a nice breakfast which was included in the price of our hotel room. We don’t usually avail of breakfast but today we knew that we were in for a long day so we made it a priority to get up and have a good start to the day food wise! The buffet breakfast was magnificent at the Hotel Fenix and very orderly with lots of food and beverages! There was eggs of every kind, sliced tomatoes, churizo, meats of all kinds,  crusty bread, toast, many varieties of cheese, cold meats, bacon, coffee, tea, milk and yes orange juice and champagne! A very nice way to start the day for sure! And the staff were magnificent as well, topping up whatever you wanted! I must say it was a great breakfast!

    On the Bus Tour To Sintra!

    After breakfast we went over to the square across from the Hotel Fenix to catch the bus to Sintra at 9:45 AM, a very reasonable hour! We secured nice seats on the upper open air deck! It was another nice, warm day at 25C and sunny. We just love the Portuguese weather in May! The bus departed on schedule at 10:00 AM and it was about a 45-50 minute drive up to Sintra through the suburbs of Lisbon!

    Entrance to Sintra! Takes a Bus to Get You to the top! Its Pretty Steep!

    We arrived in Sintra around 11:00 AM. Sintra, generally is a very touristy area located just north of Lisbon. It’s feature attractions are the Pena National Palace, the Sintra National Palace, and Medieval Castelo Dos Mouros. There are other royal retreats, estates, castles and other buildings as well. It is definitely now a major tourist centre for Portugal! We first noticed Castelo Dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors), where our bus made its final stop in Sintra. It was built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries and is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over the centuries various monarchs had a go at restoring or remodelling this castle. They took great effort to restore these castles because of the very hot hot summers in the cities and towns of Portugal. Moving to the hillsides and mountains in the peak of  summer meant they were cool without having to avail of today’s modern air conditioning!  The 1755 Lisbon Earthquake caused considerable damage. Since then the Portuguese have conserved and improved the condition of the castle! They are still working on it!

    Hubby Making His Way Up the Hill! Entrance to the Sintra Castle!

    The Pena Palace (Palacio Da Pena) is the major attraction though! This castle stands on top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the Town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be seen from Downtown Lisbon. It is one of the seven wonders of Portugal and you guessed, another UNISCO World Heritage Site! Our first impression after reaching the top of the mountain (with the assistance of various sizes of motorized vehicles) was that it was a castle right out of a fairytale! All kinds of vivid colours with browns, yellows, purples, blues and greens. It was certainly different from many castles and basilicas that we have visited in Europe. Thats for sure!

    Pena Palace Sintra! A colourful Palace with many Abutments!

    The Pena Palace history dates back to the Middle Ages, when construction started after an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The 1755 Earthquake levelled the palace . Nothing happened for a century until King Ferdinand hired a German Architect and decided to build a castle between 1842 and 1854. The Royal Family of Portugal frequented this Palace up until the Republican Revolution in 1910. In fact the last Queen of Portugal spent her last night at the Pena Palace before leaving Portugal in exile!

    Some Scary Ornaments here at Pena Palace, Sintra!

    The interior of the Pena Palace seeks to visualize this palace as a summer residence of the Portuguese Royal Family. Lots of amazing stuccos, paintings, furnishings and various royal collections. The palace was interesting but not much different from many other historical attractions which we have visited, but I have to say that the spectacular colours seemed to make it stand out a bit from the crowd of history for sure! Its way more colourful than the palaces you see in Ireland and Scotland which are very dark and sullen and you surely know that death had taken place there!  Not so with this colourful castle in Portugal.

    Interior Views of Pena Palace, Sintra!

    After a couple of hours of traipsing through the Pena Palace, we had a break around noon for some refreshments on an outdoor patio overlooking the palace grounds!  This was very nice. Hubby got us a snack and couple of cold beers which were very much needed because it had become quite hot by noon! You could see the Atlantic Ocean in the distance and yes some fog! Right at home we were!

    Foggy Day Off the Coast!

    Beware if you need to find a bathroom in this place, be sure you can walk a few flights of stairs. Everyone needed a pee break by this time and the line ups to the bathrooms on the patio level would have made you pee in your pants! I found a bathroom on two floors below and it was a welcome relief!

    Amazing Views From Pena Palace, Sintra! Young Ladies Restoring the Floors!

    After finishing our tour of Pena Palace we were free for lunch in touristy Sintra. Lots of choices all over the place, up and down side streets and alleys! Most  were very pricy though! The most expensive places were located on the main street near where the buses had parked! We settled on Adega Das Caves, not quite on the main street. Not a bad place though! Hubby ordered a nice big cold beer and I had a glass of the house  white wine!  For lunch Hubby had a Franco A Sintra (chicken) and I had Codfish Cakes with rice. A small side salad and black eyed peas came with mine as well. A good lunch for 30 Euros. I liked mine more than Hubby did!

    Lunch in Adega Das Caves, Sintra!

    After lunch we had time to browse the shops and attractions of Sintra. There were many shops selling local crafts and many street vendors  as well selling purses, wallets and cloth located along the street fences of Sintra! We walked around the grounds of the Pena National Palace which were very pretty. I checked out several shops and parked Hubby on a street bench and I picked up a few mementos to take home! Hubby needed a shade break becasue the sun was quite brutal this day!

    The Small Alley Ways of Sintra!

    The plan was to rendezvous with the tour bus at a specific spot to resume the afternoon itinerary. We were next going to visit Caba Da Roca, Cascais and Estoril. We got underway around 2:00 PM and it was another 30-45 minutes out to Cape Roca. Along the way our tour guide pointed out cork trees growing along the hillsides. They were like ordinary green leafed trees but the bark of the trees is harvested for commercial use as cork which you might find in the top of your wine bottle. Nowadays cork has somewhat been replaced by screw caps in wine bottles! But it was all very interesting to see where corks actually came from! Portugal produces half of all the cork harvested annually worldwide!! Bet you didn’t know that fact!

    On the road To Cape Roca!

    Cabo Da Roca is the westernmost point of land in Europe. It is the European version of Cape Spear in Newfoundland and Labrador! It is not as rocky as Cape Spear though! Temperatures out at Cape Roca were a lot cooler than in Sintra down to 15 C and this place is quite windy, just like Cape Spear! There are more commercial developments like a gift shop, ice cream parlour, snack bar, wine shop (the wines were really pricy), a restaurant and museum. The crafts were also quite expensive here as well.

    MK at Cape Roca!

    There were loads of tour buses parked in the gravel parking lot and it was a very busy spot. Our tour guide told us that Cape Roca back in the days of discovery was regarded as the End of the Earth because the Portuguese looked out and thought there could be nowhere else to go!

    Cape Roca or The End of The Earth!

    All the signs say its the End of the Earth which I found to be fascinating thinking back to when people who could not travel like we do now must have felt! A cold stark, windy place looking out onto a ocean expanse! An eerie  feeling actually! How wrong they were though! After our 45 minute stop to Cape Roca, our tour bus took us along a scenic coastal road, very winding and narrow. Too small really for tour buses, as we had to back up a few times to let others pass and the mirrors of the buses almost touched as they went by.

    Cape Roca Looks A Lot Like Cape Spear Newfoundland!

    Our next stop was Cascais, which is only 19 miles west of Lisbon. Cascais is one of the richest communities in Portugal. It reminded us of Florida in terms of leisure boats, condos, and commercial development and the beaches were spectacular. Cascais has a history of catering to the wealthy. Portugal’s neutrality in World War II enabled the exiled Royal Families of Spain, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria to find perfect peace in Cascais to hang out!! We had a brief stop here in Cascais to have a bathroom break, grab another beer and pick up a few souvenirs! Then it was back out onto the coastal road back to Lisbon along the Portuguese Riveria via Estoril. Estoril  has a similar past as Cascais but because it is even closer to Lisbon it was regarded during the second world war as a playground of the rich and famous! An international tourist destination complete with Casino Estoril, Europe’s largest casino! And the beaches are an added bonus too!

    Cascais Town Centre!

    On the way back to the bus terminal we passed a monument to the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974 which removed the Dictator Antonio Salazar from power without a shot being fired! We arrived back at the bus terminal around 7:00 PM. It was a really long day. We stayed in that night and ordered room service and enjoyed our patio deck overlooking Edward VII Park. It was then to bed. We had an early flight the next morning to Rome.

    Ocean View and Street View of Cascais, Portugal!

    Goodbye Portugal! Hello Italy!

    MK