July 9, 2008
We accomplished our itinerary today! The first time this trip that we did not bite off more than we could chew. However, it did take us until 9:10 pm to succeed.
We are on the train back to Lisbon from Cascias. I have decided to write about our trip journal while all are awake and we are captive for 40 minutes on the train. Today was our day trip to Sintra. We were finished with breakfast, on the train and at Sintra station by 9:40 AM. We had a little trouble finding the train station, because it was not on the maps in Lisbon. It appears that the station was not printed on the maps last year because it was closed for renovations. Someone forgot to update the maps and signs around the city. Bob took charge and walked into a Western Union were he was able to find one fluent English speaker and directed us the two blocks to the train station.
In Sintra we boarded the 434 route bus to the Palacio de Pena. This should be labeled as an amusement park ride. Joseph and I both thought the extremely narrow roads and 180 degree turns on cobbled streets would be great as a main attraction for coaster rides. We unfortunately got off a stop to early at the Castelo de Moores. We decided this would be OK, and purchased our combined visit ticket at the office. We then waited for the next 434 bus, and were very rudely passed by. The driver did not even stop. Had I known he was going to pass us by, I would have jumped into the road. We had to wait another 30 minutes for the next bus. Bob talked to the office ranger at the desk, and they said that is unusual and that if someone is standing there they should have stopped. Spilled milk.
The nest bus stopped and we road to the top of the mountain where we arrived at the entrance to the Palacio de Pena. Once through the entrada, we found another step climb to the top and a waiting trolley. This kind and considerate trolley relieved us of an additional 2 euro each to take us to the top. This ride was much more calm and not as bumpy or fast. Bob did not like sitting next to the open door, especially with the drop off cliff outside. The fantastic palace awaited us at the top.
This is not the Palace that inspired walt Disney, but it may have inspired the Austrian who Disney did draw his inspiration from. A mix of Moorish, manualine, and Racocco architecture blended together in this fantasy palace by Dom Ferdinand II. We were only able to spend 2.5 hours on the palace, and never made it through the grounds, but what fun. Joseph and I walked the walls, Bob joined us to climb to the chapel, and we photographed every square inch of fun. The inside of the house was a homage to pack rats of the Victorian era. They had great taste but obviously had to little space for all of their possessions. Mom, Judith, Loretta, and those of you who share this trait realize that it may have been passed down to you from 200 years ago :-)
When we completed the tour fo the inside of the palace, we grabbed some tortes and tarts at the café to tide us over until dinner. Then we proceeded to the Castelo dos Mouros which Ferdinand had reconstructed as a romantic setting for his queen. Bob decided to sit out the extensive stair climbing, and Joseph and I went on. However, Bob was not too displeased considering a modeling shoot came through with American models. He got to converse with a small blonde from near his once home in Dallas, TX. She is raising labs and Bob was able to give her some hints to help keep her puppies from gaining to much weight. He also got to speak to a model who had a spread in Playboy, he considered her to high maintenance. Although he couldn’t miss the big diamond naval piercing when she stretched out on a rock in front of the office and her belly shirt, oops, came up. Models, sheesh.
There are plenty of hair raising pictures of Joseph and I traversing the walls. Please, all mothers be aware, we did everything with safety in mind and did not take any undue risk in all of our escapades. Joseph says, “or maybe we did”. Dad reply’s, “Not on your life, or the hair on your lippy, lip, lip.” One hour and 15 minutes later, we were back at the office to re-group with Bob and catch the 434 back down the mountain. At the bus stop we grabbed the bus on route 403 to Cascais. We jumped off the bus at Cabo da Roca, the edge of the world, or lands end for Portugal at the beginning of the Age of Discoveries. The western most point of continental Europe. Joseph received his certificate from the tourist’s office, as having officially been at the edge of the world. Then we walked to the cliffs to get our picture by the monument and be buffeted around by the wind. We did meet a nice fellow, Boca, from Hong Kong. Joseph write about him in his blog, so I will let you learn about Boca in Joseph’s words.
One word of high praise for the man, he did keep our group from heading the wrong way on the right bus. To explain: the 403 bus route goes North and South, but you have to look carefully at the front of the bus to know which way. I neglected to do this and seated the three of us on the wrong bus. Boca was getting on and said one ticket to Cascias and the driver said he was going to Sintra the other way. Well Boca held up the driver from leaving and kept the doors from closing as we got off the bus. We owe him a lot for that save.
The correct 403 bus took us to Cascais and we went straight to tourist information. We began our encounters with Baco, which happened several times in Cascias. It appears we were off to see the same landmarks, but in different orders and different speeds. Our furtherst distination was “Hell’s Mouth” at the edge of town, but we did not make it. Instead we turned back to preserve our time and enjoy a nice long dinner. Although I was skeptical at first, because the place was on a main tourist route, had a sign in both Portuguese and English, and had a tacky chef statue, it ended up being terrific. The view was great, the food exceptional, and the atmosphere inviting. I could not have been more surprised or pleased. I usually try to find someplace small and dingy where the staff can barely make out what I am ordering, yet serve me an authentic meal in an atmosphere where I am the only one speaking understandable English. This place proved my theory has its exceptions. Read Joseph blogs for some highlights.
We grabbed the second to last train home, after having utilized a Golden Arches for it’s only appropriate purpose in a foreign country; a potty break. To our defense, we did search each car on the train before resorting to this common American travelers sin. The ride to Lisbon was backwards, and we blogged almost the whole way. Thus, another lengthy narration for all of you to read. I am not sure how much our next couple of days will provide, since it is the relaxing on a beach section. This is Europe so you never know :-) Tomorrow we drive back to Sintra for a couple of hours so that Joseph can see the National Palace, and then off to the Azores in the South.
Thanks for all your words of encouragement. We all thank you, it is really exciting to know that you are following along with us during our travels and sharing some of our experiences. Until next time.
JOSEPH”S FIRST BLOG
Hey people, today was a busy day, we took a train to Sintra at 9:00 in the morning and arrived at 9:40. We took a bus up a mounted to Pena Palace; it was like a roller coaster ride fast with sharp turns and lots of bumps. When we got up to Pena Palace, we bought are tickets and started, up to the palace with the assistance of a trolley thing we took a lot of pictures. When your looking at the palace you could tell was for a Frenchman, it was pink, BLAH, we also went to the Moorish castle ruins, well Bob stayed at the ticket area not being able to climb and while me and my dad were reconstructed a bit he had his own experience seeing a American photo shoot and met a skinny blond who lives in Bob’s old home Dallas, Texas and trains labs. He also saw another model stretch out on a rock “accidentally of course” showing a naval piercing as her shirt went up a bit. While bob was having his little mini adventure me and my dad were climbing up to the Moorish castle taking pictures of all the ruins and as we climbed up I got some pictures of some amazing views showing the ocean, Sintra, and even Pena Palace. Then we took a bus to Copa de Roca the 15th century end of the world and got my diploma signifying I’ve been there and we met a man from Hong Kong named Baco, he had just graduated college and starts his job in August so he is seeing as much as he can before he starts. It’s amazing he has seen more places then my dad. He's been to Egypt, interned in Germany and traveled to a lot of other places. Dad's jealous about the Egypt part. Plus while we were there I got some cool shots of the ocean and a picture with Baco. Just a sidebar but the wind there was really hard and it never ended it tried to fool you by slowing down but it never stopped and it was always blowing really hard. After that we took a bus to Casias and what a relief to get away from that wind. We walked by the docks for a while then found a place which served very good food, I got fried squid, “ very buttery”, my dad got gilt-head fish which I preferred to my squid, and bob got vegetable soup and a salad, for desert we had 2 chocolate mouse cakes and a melon, plus coffee and hot chocolate. In the middle of our desert the owners grandson came in holding a fish he had caught, everyone clapped for the small boys good catch. I even got a picture of the owner’s grandson holding the fish. All in all it was a very, very good restaurant which I recommend to anybody in that area if you ever get to that area. At the end of the day we took a train home and I hoped for a nice peaceful night but instead here I am blogging.