Our next hotel, the Bussaco Palace from 1885 is a palatial structure once inhabited by the last royalty of Portugal. Unfortunately, the high ceilings (15 ft.) made the rooms cold with the rapidly falling outside temperatures. Lots of blankets and two space heaters served us sufficiently. We hope the last king of Portugal had the same added warmth! On our first night we had a tour of the hotel’s wine cellar with a wine tasting just before dinner in a grand dining room.
The sun was out at last in its full glory the next day and Tom wandered the halls and grounds to capture the splendor of this old structure while the rest of the group walked in the near by forest. We had lunch in the town and then headed off to the University where we saw students in cloaks (think Harry Potter). At the appointed hour, we went into the inner sanctum of the ancient library where millions of ancient books are housed. While photographs were not allowed, Tom managed to capture some of the gilded glory of the shelves of books and the magnificent arches of this treasure. As the group descended into the lower part of the library’s structure, we were crowded into a jail cell (maybe because Tom snapped pictures?). These cells were used to lock up rowdy students in placation of the locals.
Dinner that night was in Mealhada (a town of 5,000) at one of the famous suckling pig restaurants where we were treated to that Portuguese cuisine in a traditional manner with green salad, fresh potato chips (delicious!), and then the smoky succulent pig. Dessert was just as amazing with mousse in covered jars and cake that melted in one’s mouth.