The royals of Portugal often traveled from the heat of the Lisbon summer to cooler palaces as the one we visited today, the Pena National Palace. It’s lavishly painted towers are very “Disneyland”-like and are a testimony to the “Artist King” Ferdinand II who built the palace with his own money and designed many of its features. Busts and paintings of Ferdinand are very visible in the halls and rooms of this wondrous palace. Since it was built in the mid 19th century, there are even bath tubs and toilets! After wandering through the palace, we descended the mountain on which it is situated, stopped for a quick tour of the remains of the Castle of the Moors, and walked back to town for lunch.
Our bus took us to Casal Santa Maria vineyard and winery which is owned by a 104 year old gentleman (it was his birthday!) who besides being a 30 year pancreatic cancer survivor is a believer in mystical powers. He built the winery only 9 years ago on a property that was once a horse farm. The wine cellar in actually the original stable! His very soft-spoken wine maker/vineyard supervisor strolled with us through the vines and gardens. There were some grapes still unharvested and we tasted them. Of course, we had a wine tasting, but it was in a cavelike grotto and not a big fancy room like most vineyards use. Casal Santa Maria vineyard is certainly a casual place! Our farewell dinner was at a local restaurant.