October 24, 2012 – Sintra, Portugal

Today started out quite rainy. When we got to Sintra it was really pouring. We were looking to visit the Palacio Pena and it turned out we were in the wrong place. Rather than dodge raindrops again we decided to tour the National Palace built in the early 15th century. Later in the day we found the Palacio Pena and took a tour of that as well. Here are pictures, first of the National Palace and then of the Palacio Pena.

The National Palace might be called the Palace of ceilings. This room is called the swan room…

because the ceiling is covered with swans.

Here’s John swanning about by the fireplace.

Next we pass the water grotto. Actually today almost any space outside is a water grotto.

Next is the magpie room because…

the ceiling is covered with magpies.

Here’s the Gold Chamber. It has a king-size bed made for an actual king!

Then there’s the mermaid room with mermaids on the ceiling.

This is the Galleon Room with ships painted on its interesting barrel ceiling.

Here are two of the ships on the ceiling of the Galleon Room. John points out that the flag on the righthand ship has a flag like the modern flag of Turkey (but Turkey didn’t exist when the room was decorated.)

John has just smacked his head on a low lintel but he continues to take notes. This is the Coat-of-Arms ceiling. John is happy that this ceiling is vaulted.

We continue along through many sumptuous rooms and finally end up in the kitchen.

They are obviously cooking for a crowd.

It has stopped raining as we finish our tour of the National Palace. We decide to continue our original quest and find the Palacio Pena. We drive up and up to the top of a high hill. Along the way we pass many folks tramping up the hill. We decide they must be Germans. We park as close to the top as we can. What’s this? For 2 Euros each we can get a bus the rest of the way? Why, yes, we will buy those tickets along with an audio tour of the Palacio Pena.

By this time it is around 2 PM. We decide to avoid the bad food at lunch problem by not eating. 🙁

The Pena Palace was built in the 19th century by Ferdinand II. It was only occupied by royalty for about 60 years. In 1908 King Carlos I and his son were assassinated. King Carlos’s other son was only king for two years before the republic of Portugal was declared. The palace itself evokes a feeling of Neuschwanstein in Germany, kind of a crazy quilt of turrets and tile. No pictures were allowed inside.

Approaching Palacio Pena

Entrance to the Palacio

John on the rampart looking toward the Moorish ruins
The triton, a transitional figure between sea and earth

A view of Palacio Pena

We are looking forward to dinner tonight. Our plan is to have some bar snacks and a couple of tapas plates. This works out fine except for the fact that the World Real Estate Agents have taken over the bar. They appear to all be American. The waiter in the bar leads us to the dining side of the floor since it is much quieter there. He calls us by name. That’s really nice. We were only in the bar one night and only ordered wine and tapas. We order a glass of champagne to celebrate our last night in Portugal and tapas. Portugal has been scenic and interesting from a historical point of view. We only wish that either we had ordered better or that the food that we ordered had been better. One stop tomorrow in Portugal and then on to Spain.

This has been a great hotel. One more shot of the stormy Atlantic Ocean off our balcony.

Atlantic Ocean waves crashing on the rocks in Cascais, Portugal

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