Portugal Day 2: Sintra

If there are spelling errors in this, keep it to yourself. I’m tired. It’s late, and I’m not going to reread this again.. Kisses…. xxx

On my second day, I went with a girl from Sweden to Sintra. We were staying in the same apartment. We took the train out to Sintra, an easy 40 minute journey. It was lightly raining and we hoped it would subside by the time we got to Sintra. It kind of did…kind of didn’t. In any case, we got off the train in what looked like any normal town. We chose a “hop on-hop off” bus tour and climbed aboard. The bus circled around some buildings and went up the hill. We made a stop in the town center which reminded me of an Italian village, clutching a hillside, save the wide open space in front of the Palacio Nacional de Sintra. Our bus made a stop and the proceeded up many windy streets. We were headed for the Palacio do Pena, a richly colored palace on the top of the highest hill in Sintra. As we climbed, nearly every view was photo worth. I was vibrating looking at everything, seeing all kinds of shots I wanted to take but couldn’t! Save for later…

We got off at the Castelo dos Mouros, the Castle of the Moors, an 8th century castle built during the Muslim occupation of Iberia. We did not go into the main section as each monument costs 6-10 Euro to enter and we had to see a couple more places. Next we stopped at the Palacio do Pena, the first stop I was definitely going into. The palace is accessed by walking a very long while (or you can pay to ride a bus) up a fairly decent hill. You have to really want to see this place. But believe me, it’s worth it. The site originally started as a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena. It was mostly destroyed during the earthquake of 1755. It remained in ruins until King Ferdinand commissioned it to be rebuilt as a summer home for his family in 1842-1854. It was rebuilt with Medievel and Islamic elements. It is painted several bright colors. And photos do not do the structure justice. I’ll let some of the photos do the talking.

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Our next stop was the one I was waiting for….The Quinta da Regaleira. I wanted to see the Initiation Well. Little did I know the entire property was magical. A bit of history: The Quinta originally belongs to the Barons of Regaleira from Porto. In 1892 it passed to Carvalho Monteiro who built it up into the wonder it is today. He contructed a maze of structures reflecting his interests in alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, and Rosicrucians.

We were told the last bus was coming in an hour, so we ran up to find the initiation well. But along the way, I couldn’t help but stop almost every 20 feet, taking photos of dozens of buildings and winding staircases and towers. Everything there is stunning! We finally go to the Initiation Well. It’s called the Initiation Well or inverted tower because it was used for initiations into Masonic rites, whatever that may entail. At the top, you look down into a chasm, 50-60 feet deep. The bottom is barely visible in the dark. A set of stairs winds around the edge of the well. As you descend, it gets darker and darker and smells a little bit rank. But the smell subsides as you reach the bottom. Looking up, I was treated to a gorgeous spiral, light by the light raining down from the sky above.

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Behind me was a dark hole and people were walking down it. You must be kidding! A tunnel! Oh this was better than a pirate ship! I had no idea about the tunnels!!! We walked down the tunnel in utter darkness. There are supposed to be strings of lights, but some were apparently not working. I had to turn on my phone flashlight to keep from walking into a wall. After a few turns, there was a dim light at the end of the tunnel. We walked out next to another point of interest on the property (that I had read nothing about in my rush to get to the Initiation Well): the Moss Pond. Yes, a pond covered in moss! The pond was fed by a waterfall, but was so still that it looked like a carpet of solid green. There were a few stones laid across one section where you could walk from one side to another. Don’t fall… Because even though it looks like a solid lawn, I assure you it is not.

Again I will let some photos do the talking.

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I fell in photo love with this place. And I hope I can make it back there again before I go.

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