Shearwin's in Europe 2018 travel blog

Pena National Palace from the Moorish Castle

Inner area of the Palace

The Moorish Castle

Kaye awaiting dinner


The visit to Sintra and the 104 km drive from our hotel got under way at 0930 hrs.

The motorway was a big aid to a relatively quick trip however when approaching Sintra, traffic and road conditions negated any time advantage.

The town itself was immediately impressive, an opinion formed from the old but substantial buildings that showed there was wealth when the town was first developed. It sits amongst steep rocky hills with tall heavy vegetation.

We needed a few navigation mistakes and a near head on collision on a one way intersection to briefly see the the town. We would loved to have had a night to explore further.

Maps.me was a big aid to finding the “ Pond” entry to the Pena National Palace and a car park nearby. The Palace is on top of a dominate hill which was reached by steep pathways cut through lovely planned but informal gardens. The Palace which had its origins in a monastery is Moorish in design and ranks highly amongst the many we have seen. It might not be Versailles or the Alhambra but it sits prominently somewhere in between. The crowds were large and entry to the Palace was slow but tolerable. The displays were interesting and informative, however, they could have been more so had we taken the audio commentary; the crowd the big disincentive. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit and have many a photograph to reflect upon.

We returned to the car via the Palace gardens and the Castle to the Moors ( Castelo do Mouros).

Situated on the hilltop opposite the Palace, this castle dominates to the sea and makes great use of the steep sides of the hill to negate an enemy’s capability to breach with either catapult or cannon from most angles. The visit of the castle entails walking the parapets that rise and fall with the line of the hilltop. The count of the steps was lost very quickly as up and down was either one step or the next. The day was warm and the activity of walking the wall relatively demanding. Once again I will rely on my many photo’s to remind me how interesting and impressive this castle is.

Fatigued ( not exhausted) from the climb we made it back to the car and the resort with only one navigation faux pas.

We arrived at 1630 hrs and rested until dinner at 1900 hrs. Kaye had made a booking at our third Marriott restaurant the Em Parata. She had the crayfish starter and pork belly while I had the roasted shoulder of lamb. No surprise, this dining experience has moved to the top of the list for both of us. Once again the service was tipable.

After dinner we walked the beach to photograph Kaye bathed in the setting sun against the solid rock cliff face. Photo taken, we retired to bed in anticipation of a quiet Saturday rest day.

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