Thursday, July 4, 2013

Portugal Travelog: Lisbon to Sintra (Day 7)

We started our last day in Lisbon with a delicious breakfast at the hotel, packed our goods and hit the road. The Bairro Alto had been a truly special home away from home and they sent us on our way with advice on what to do in Sintra when we arrived. I fired up the TomTom as we headed out and after a lap or two around the Praça de Camoes, we were on our way. We drove down near the River Tagus and then west towards Belem. We stopped and visited the Belém Tower (which was closed on Mondays. Doh!).

Also at the site is a replica of the plane that made the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic from Portugal to Brazil in 1922 - five years before Charles Lindbergh crossed from New York to Paris.

This stop also afforded a view of the 25 of April Bridge along with the Monument to the Discoveries. This is a panorama created from three photos.

We hit the road again for a peaceful and beautiful drive out to the town of Cascais where we had a delicious lunch outside in sun. Cascais was gorgeous and looked to be a bit of an international playground. Lots of English establishments here, lots of sun and beach and boats and ... you get the idea.

After a long leisurely lunch we hit the road again for Sintra and to our dismay, the TomTom let us down. It routed us very carefully to the correct street address but in the wrong town! The roads in the area are serpentine and often one way and it took quite some time for us to locate and successfully park at the Sintra Boutique Hotel. We quickly checked in and got our bearings before heading out for some site-seeing. We had violated our own travel rule and scheduled only one night there so time was at a premium.

We first toured the National Palace which was nearly across the street from our hotel. 

Next we hailed a taxi and drove up to Pena Palace. This palace has a rich history and sits high on a hill overlooking Sintra. It is both whimsical and ornate and was a complete joy to tour.

We finished up the tour and exited the castle to find that all the busses and all the taxis which served the castle were done for the day. After letting this sink in we started hiking and walked back to town - about a forty five minute walk along the cobblestones.

Back to the room for a beer and then out to dinner. We took the recommendation of the hotel and went to Tacho Real for a very interesting dinner. There was very little english and the results were somewhat variable. I ordered the Tacho Real Steak which was an immensely thick cut of beef - cooked quite rarely - with mushrooms and ham. 

Another successful and eventful day. We retired to the hotel and rested. Tomorrow we would spend some more time in Sintra before heading inland to the town of Evora.

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