Thursday, March 31, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016: Sintra to Odibos, Portugal

The day began bright, sunny and comfortable, however it ended cold, rainy, and downright miserable. Ow ow

We checked-out of our lovely hotel/guest house, and drove down the street to the historical district of Sintra.  We toured the National Palace located in the heart of the village. Kings lived in this Palace for many centuries. 
Sintra National Palace

The Great Swan Hall

Swan Hall Ceiling

Courtyard and Kitchen Chimneys

Different types of Tiles

Design with tiles


From Sintra we began driving northwest so that we could drive the coastal highway (back roads) north along the Atlantic coast.  We stopped many times at overviews, enjoying the sea, waves & beaches.

We spent about 2 hours in the village of Ericeira.  It was an authentic little village of cobbled streets, white washed houses, and narrow streets.  We walked around the harbor area where fishermen were working, then along the street at the top of the stone faced cliff overlooking the harbor and sea.  At that point it was still sunny and comfortable, however the farther north we drove the cooler it became and the clouds heavier. 
Ericeira - White and Blue Buildings

Central Park

These back roads follow along the ridges, and this is also where the little villages are located. Between the villages there were fields going from the ridges down to the valleys, growing all sorts of agricultural items.  We saw fields of cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, garlic and lots of onion. This area also had fields of greenhouses in which they grow vegetables. 
Portugese Windmill

Walking on a Beach

Big Waves

Onions in the field

We went to the town of Peniche, located on a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic. As we entered town it began pouring and the wind was horrible. The town is partly enclosed by a 16th century wall. After we drove around the old town located inside the wall, we decided we did not see anything for which we had to stay overnight.  It was too miserable to get of the car, so we don’t know what we missed!  We continued driving to the village of Obidos located nearby.  

Obidos is a hill town enclosed with a 14th century wall. As we approached Obidos we knew we liked this town! By now it was about 5:00 and we needed to find a hotel for the night – we had no reservations.  It was still raining. Finding a place to stop/park along these narrow streets is a challenge in the best of conditions.   The first hotel was full due to a group reservation but she told us where to go for other good accommodations.  Jumping out of the car and running into hotels was a wet situation! We were so lucky at our second stop.  They do not open for the season until April 1, but she would rent us a room for tonight – She took pity on us being out in this weather!   It is actually a little one-bedroom apartment with a sitting area, table, and a loft where a single bed is located.  It is situated right outside one of the city wall entrances. 

After settling into the apartment, we decided to venture out to look for a restaurant inside the city wall.  Cars cannot drive inside the city wall, thus we wanted to find a hotel outside the wall – we did not want to drag any luggage around on a cold rainy night like today.

The temperature was dropping so that you became chilled to the bone with the dampness and wind.  It simply was a miserable evening!  One of those nights you simply want to stay inside, but we had to find food! 

We found a cute little restaurant where we sat upstairs - (a little warmer up there).

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016: Sintra, Portugal

I have not written anything about Sintra, other than that it is a mountainous area.  Due to being in the mountains it is much cooler in the summer, when the temperatures are HOT down in Lisbon.  So the kings, and wealthy, built castles, palaces, mansions and chalets, up here in the cool of the mountains.  The earlier castles were actually military fortresses, but later they were to entertain and impress!
The historical village of Sintra is below one of the most impressive Palaces – Pena.  Also above the village are ruins of a Moorish castle, which we can see from our accommodations.   This morning we drove part-way up the mountain to a parking area between the entrances of the two castle.  After parking we began walking! Mostly up-hill!! There really are no flat places in this area!  We walked on paths that climbed the mountain until we reached the Palace Pena.  Wow, what a beautiful place! The views of the valley, the coastline villages, and the ocean from there were lovely! We toured the Palace. What a place!
Pena Castle

Castle Chapel

Castle Cloister

After a lunch break, we began walking to the Moorish Castle ruins, which we could see across the valley. Between the Castles are vast Castle Gardens. The Castle Gardens covers a large area, of which we only hiked a small section.  While hiking in the Gardens we basically were coming down the mountain.

At the entrance to the Moorish Castle we began climbing.  And climb we did!  This castle had more steps.  We walked along the narrow fortress walls, climbing steps from one level to the next.  By the time we came back down the mountain we were EXHAUSTED!!! But we made it to the top! 
Moorish Castle

The Castle Gardens

Back at the hotel we crashed, before going to dinner! And now back at the hotel we are catching up on electronic messages, and giving our muscles a chance to rest. 

It was a lovely day, however it was a physical day! 
A look back at the Moorish Castle from Sintra

Rachel with a Tall cold one