Holy exhausted batman! Daylight broke on our second day in Portugal and after an eleven hour sleep (we had only slept a few hours on the red eye the night before, so totally warranted!) we were ready to explore the castle scene. Day 1 in Portugal was spent traveling and scoping out the scene, so we were ready! Our Airbnb, the Wood House, had the perfect amount of amenities, so after showering in the almost big enough for Mike shower, we headed out to breakfast. Having slept until 9 didn’t feel like a waste – we were rested and ready for Sintra.
Our host had recommended pastelaria Gregorio- a small pastry and coffee shop less than a quarter of a mile from our digs – with amazing cakes, pies and empadas. She wasn’t kidding!
We ordered two goat cheese, honey & walnut pies, a sweet roll and two coffees – what a decadent treat!
Although we realized we’d be hungry in less than two hours, it was a beautiful breakfast, one we savored during our luxurious morning.
Our plan for the day involved Pena Palace & Pena Park in the morning (or early afternoon in reality, as we didn’t leave the house till 10!) then checking out Quinta Regaleira in the afternoon. Having WIFI at our Airbnb allowed us to download directions to Pena Palace, which was extremely convenient and extremely different than what we had tried to figure out a la wander yesterday.
The actual road we wanted was steps away from where we were staying, so we’re on our way in minutes, rather than miles. As we made our way up the hill, it was comical how off we were the day prior. We were staying on Bairro Andersen and the street adjacent to ours, R. Dom Joa de Castro, took you directly up towards the Parque Palacio Nacional de Pena. As we climbed, winding through narrow streets, steep one ways and trying to avoid the tuk tuks (which fly around the corners and stall on the hills) we realized how close we were to all of the historical sites. Crazy how a little perspective and a lot of google maps helps out!
After about 30 minutes of steep, humid climbing, we saw the swarms of tourists parking any which way along the sides of the narrow streets and knew we were close. The weather wasn’t exactly hot, but the humidity really gets you sticky when walking straight up!
At the top of the hill, we were slammed in the face with tourists – they were all visiting Pena Palace. Every last tourist in Portugal was in line to see the beautiful red and yellow wonder. Oh well, it was on the list of must sees. For only 28 Euro, we both were in! Around the palace lay 90 acres of park, with winding trails taking you to a holy cross, valley of the lakes, tank of the seven pines….but first the palace!
The ornate palace only had a few rooms to view, but was absolutely gorgeous. Immediately entering the palace, you walk around a tiled cloister, and could see up to the second floor. The line looped us through the rooms, with old artifacts of King Don Carlos I.
There was a chapel in the back of the palace, with beautiful stain d glass and a gorgeous alter. Then of course, the spectacular views on the terraces, in which you could wonder about. It was completely beautiful and worth the crowds!
For the next hour or so, we wandered around the park, climbing hills, winding down mossy paths….and zero crowds. A little tip if you want to avoid the rush: walk places and take the road less traveled. Typically that’s how we roll when traveling- off the beaten path is the way we like to go!
Famished after 3 hours in the park (and miles of walking in the Forrest to get back down into town) we headed back into the town center for a wonderful meal at a terrace restaurant. White wine, Super Bach beer, breathtaking views. It had been an amazing afternnoon.
Lunch had revived our aching legs and spirits (when checking our mileage at the end of the day, we had racked up 10 miles on Saturday) so we decided to check out Quinta – even though it was after four pm at this point. At least we’d know where it was for the morning if it was too late to go in. And up the hill and around the bend we went, hitting the Quinta da Regaleira, a beautiful ornate palace with multiple steeples and dripping with goblins and creatures of all sorts. Truly a site to see. We were in fact too late, and would only have an hour to peruse if we decided to enter, so we passed, as we’d go fresh in the morning to wander at our leisure.
Headed back into towns center, we stopped at a local mercado for some vino – verde y rojo- & local Portugal beer. The white wine is what they call green – and both red and white were under 5 Euros a bottle! And were actually really good!
We took the bottles back to our little wooden house and decompressed from the day. The nights dinner would be the fanciest we’d been to in Sintra – Tabernacle Criativa, with chef Vitor Rocha. Passing it earlier on Friday, while we were still getting our head about us in our new digs, I took note of the lovely ambiance and knew I wanted to experience what they were serving. It was delicious and where we sampled our first port – a dry white while we perused the menu. The night was perfect and we headed back to the wood house to listen to music and drink more wine!