Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2/21/14 Day 36 Sintra

Today is the day! We are going to Sintra! We catch a ride with Francisco to his University at 9:00 and walk the few blocks to the train station where we take a ride of just under an hour to Sintra. After getting oriented with the city, first thing is first we need to try the city's pastry, the travessoira. We found a cozy looking cafe and went in ready to order. Lookimg at the less than amazing specimen in front of us in their case, we decided that there must be a better place and left after thanking them. After wondering through town we came upon the next place that sparked our fancy, walking in we saw a very appropriate first travessoira to try. No disappointment here with a sweet pecan tasting filling and a perfect flaky crust, and even still warm from the back oven. The pasty and a cup of espresso, Yum! Ready for some hiking now. 
We head towards the end of the car parked roads and towards the forest, passing by this beautiful city building. 
With mazes of trails leading to 6-7 different main attractions throughout the national park boundaries we decide to head vaguely towards the National Palace of Pena. We begin to wind up the stairs through the trees. Our first decent view is of the always beautiful Sintra Palace dazzling white against the brilliant blue skies above us. 
    Kevin exploring the network of underground tunnels. There seemed to be running water everywhere and each one of these little tunnels was a connection to the water ways, where else they lead we don't know, the water would quickly become to deep and very dark. It was still fun to peek inside and act as though we were looking for a secret passage to the castle. 
    Our second look at Sintra a little higher up this time and the city unfolding behind it. Every time we got to a new lookout point the view just kept getting better and better. 

    The first of two outer walls protecting Castelo Dos Mouros. 

    Wild cats of Sintra protecting their castles
In order to break the rocks into bricks to use for the castle they would use natural fissures in the rock (or create new ones with tools) and insert wood planks that they would then soak in water and upon expanding would crack the rocks....oh science and history. 
After reaching the Castelo Mouros we soon found out that you must pay a steep 6€ fee to go out to the view point and after thinking it over for a bit we decided that there must be another way around to the front of the walls to see the view. We noticed many little trails leading off the main trail into the woods and after choosing a path and climbing through the woods we found ourselves right underneath Castelo Mouros, we stormed the castle and snuck around the front side for a better view!
A better view indeed you can see all the way to the ocean, over 12 kilometers away!
More wild cat action
Our first look at the beautiful Palace of Pena
And a look back upon Castelo dos Mouros. 
After climbing back down we headed over to the Palace of Pena garden gates to magazine find a steep fee of 11€ this time. Looking to one and other and thoroughly studying the map of the walled in garden we decide that yet again it time to storm the castle, there must be a weak point in this old wall. After a quick meat, cheese, bread, and wine lunch we began to walk around the wall and quickly came upon an easy entry point. Right after we easily hopped over the castle walls surrounding the Palace of Pena gardens this is the amazing scenery that greeted us. The gardens were huge with fountains, lakes, forest, and many other natural beauties. Well worth the hopped wall ;)
Here is a closer at the palace which we managed to get in for free to as well. A cheap and beautiful day for us. 
Just as we were heading towards the highest point in all the park the clouds came out of nowhere and began to drop a soft sweet rain. 
We took some last shots at the 500 meters we climbed during the day and hurried back down to the train station as dark was beginning to cover the landscape. What a beautiful day we had exploring the fairy tale like land of Sintra and storming two castles, but boy were our feet and legs sure tired. Time to head home and relax!

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