Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 19 ~ Cascais & Sintra

This morning we traveled to Cascais & Sintra.  As we left Lisbon and approached the Atlantic Ocean, we could see a lighthouse/fortress where the Tagus River meets the Atlantic Ocean.


As we drove along the Portuguese Riviera, we passed through Estorial where we saw the famous Casino and Hotel Palacio.  This is the place American spies stayed during World War II.



Just 19 miles west of Lisbon, we stopped at Cascais, a fishing town and a popular vacation spot for both Portuguese and foreign tourists. Due to Portugal's neutrality in World War II and the town's elegance and royal past, Cascais became home to many of the exiled royal families of Europe, including those of Spain, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria.

We walked some of the narrow streets, shopped and took pictures. Various cork products are plentiful throughout Portugal. A cork purse costs about what a good leather purse would cost. Cork wallets, umbrellas, hats, and shoes can be found as well. 


On my budget, I purchased a cork bracelet.


Another important product found in Portugal is tile.  Many of the buildings have tile facades as seen in the photo below.


This building in Cascais only used tile around the windows.  What do you think of that sidewalk? 


As we continued our drive along the beautiful Atlantic Coast, we passed surfers, fortresses, lighthouses and the western most point of continental Europe. We rode through areas that reminded both Bonnie and me of the rugged Monterey coastline.


Once in Sintra, we visited the Sintra National Palace. It is the only surviving Royal Palace from the Middle Ages and initially was a royal residence of Moorish rulers. For more than 600 years, it was the summer residence of Portuguese kings and aristocracy. 


There were many beautiful rooms inside the palace. The Magpie room below is the only room that has retained its name from the 15th century.  It was the room where notables were received, and I included this photo to show that tile has been important in Portugal for hundreds of years. 


We climbed about 100 steps including spiral staircases to get to the top of the palace.  The view of Sintra from all directions was  beautiful.It is no wonder that in 1809 Lord Byron wrote that it was the most beautiful village in the world.


We arrived back at our hotel in Lisbon about 2:30.  Below is the view from our room.  Today was mostly overcast, but no rain, thank goodness!


We packed our bags and gathered for our farewell dinner. This is Filipa, our fabulous program director. Her enthusiasm, humor, knowledge, kindness and consideration made for a wonderful trip.  We would love to join her for a trip anywhere.


Before heading back to our room to call it a day, we went to the roof top of our hotel for this beautiful view of the Castle of São Jorge on the hill by hotel. It is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic center of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from the medieval period of Portuguese history.


Tomorrow, we are up at 3:30 AM for our 7:30 flight home.  We have about a three hour layover in London and will arrive in San Francisco about 5:30 PM. That’s 1:30 AM Portuguese time.  It will be a long day!  Here’s hoping for good movies.

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