Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our Portuguese Mini-Moon Road Trip; Part Two

I hope you enjoyed Part One of our Mini-Moon posted earlier this week. Next on to part 2. Heading southbound, with hardly any traffic, we made really good time arriving at our next spot in just under 1.5 hours. I had heard from a friend a good place to visit was a town called Sintra which is just outside of Lisbon. The town is famous for multiple palaces and castles that sit atop the Sintra mountains. Until this spot, we really felt like we were in a ghost country. Hardly anyone was in Porto, no one on the road, and quiet beaches in Nazare. The moment we landed in Sintra, the people appeared and boy was it crowded!

It took us a while to find a parking space and make our way to the first castle, but once we arrived the views were worth it! The Castle of the Moors sits atop the mountain and walking around the ruins was really neat. It was built in the 8th century, so being as old as it is there is still a lot of the castle left to explore. We spent about an hour walking around the castle enjoying the views from the different outlooks. 



 

It was quite windy at the top so I really had to watch my hat from flying away! 



 

  Views of the town of Sintra below



After exploring the Castle of the Moors we headed to the next stop, Pena National Palace. We had heard that this was the Portugese response to Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle, and since I had visited that when I was 14 I was really excited to see what Pena had to offer. We ended up taking a bus to the entrance as it was a really steep climb to the top. 
On the way up we could see views of the Moorish castle and Sintra below us.

I was really excited as you can tell from the photo below, and kept my hat close as the wind picked up!
It may be due to the fact that I have been to Disneyworld 7 times, but I often find myself feeling like I am walking through Epcot when visiting places in Europe. This was no excption as Pena Palace was filled with tourists and was overwhelmingly colorful!

I really loved how decorative and detailed the Palace appeared. I learned that the Palace is even used by the President of the Portuguese republic for state occasions.
Parts of the palace were open air with lots of plants, making it feel like a living garden.
 

After exploring the interior rooms, we ate lunch on the outer balcony. The views were really amazing!
 
 We were eager to get to our next stop which we knew would be memorable so headed out shortly after lunch. There are other castles and palaces to tour in Sintra, but we really were ok with just seeing the two highlights. One could easily spend an entire day exploring the city, and it is an easy stop if ever visiting Lisbon.
 
Side Note: You are able to rent electric cars or Tuk Tuk's to get around portugal. I must admit if I had knows we would have opted to tour Sintra in one of the electric cars for the day. You don't have to worry about parking as they fit almost everywhere and were a good option to save walking time on the hills!

From Sintra we headed towards the coast staying within the National Park. We arrived and checked into our B & B (more on that in a moment), and headed to the beach for a nice sunset.

The cliffs in Portugal at the coast really offer spectacular views!

We went to Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost point in continental Europe. It also may be the windiest in my opinion as you can see from my scarf blowing fiercely in the wind below.

The sunset was really beautiful, and it was a very memorable moment for Christian and I during our mini-moon. 

Christian tried to get a picture of me and the sunset, but my hair really would not cooperate.


The second attempt was a bit better! 


After the sunset we went for a seafood feast at one of the local places near B & B. 
 I couldn't get over the size of some of the crab claws! 

For me, this day was probably the highlight of the trip. I loved exploring Sintra and making it to the westernmost point of continental Europe. But the added bonus of our B & B really put it over the top! We arrived at Casal St. Virginia, a B & B situated right on the cliffs of the west coast. Being from Virginia I was excited to stay there because of the name (OK; I know, it's a little geeky) but really didn't know what to expect. Upon arriving we were welcomed by an upgraded room, beautiful red roses, a bottle of Portuguese wine, and box of Belgium truffles. I was almost in tears when I saw the place, it was so beautiful and the staff were so welcoming and kept congratulating us on our marriage. We normally stay "on the cheap" as we feel we only need a place to sleep as we explore during our holidays, but this place was so worth a visit. The views from our bedroom and private balcony were spectacular and I really could have imagined living there the rest of my life! I think the pictures can speak for themselves...
Our private balcony
There were only a few other guests in the house, so it was really quiet and relaxing. At night we heard the waves crashing into the rocks and could see the sea right from our bed. I would recommend this to anyone visiting this area without a doubt.
Pool view with the house behind right on the cliff
View of our B & B from the rocks below
The next morning we woke up and headed towards our final stop- Lisbon. Along the way we visited a few beaches.

Surf school




Someone is happy!
Here is a picture of rental car, who we named Esteban, parked right at the beach.
We made our way along the coast for around an hour until making our way to Cascais. This is a fancy sea town right outside of Lisbon.
We spend the afternoon hanging out at the beach before heading into the city.
The few days we spent at the beach were really special! We were so lucky with fantastic weather and sights to see. I love mixing a bit of city and culture with R & R at the beach. Next up on the blog is the final part of our mini-moon, Lisbon.

Until then, we will see you on the internet!

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