Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 08/04/10
IBERIA2001 #29 Sintra to the Capitol
We drove south then east and arrived at 8 PM in the old town of Sintra which is west of Lisboa (liz-bow). It took a little doing (the GPS sending us up dead-end streets) but we finally found the great Palacio de Seteais (set-aye-aye-ees = seven sighs) located 1 Km outside the old city.
It is now a hotel of the Tivoli chain and the most expensive night we have spent so far at $200/night. A little late to do anything about it now. On the way through town we saw a cute little place to eat so we went back there for dinner (Cafe Paris). I had the stewed kid (goat) again and it was good. Marcia had a giant prawn and then a steak (entrecote). I also had meat ravioli which was pure Chef Boyardee. After dinner we went to the bar downstairs called the Agave de Caves and later found out why it was called that. At midnight they closed the bar and told us all to go down into the caves below where there was a real bar and many people. We drank with some folks from Brussels and Marcia and I danced a little. We got out of there very late. The next morning I woke up at 8 AM and then again at 1 PM - I guess I was a little tired. I was in no mood for running so late in the afternoon so at 5 PM I convinced Marcia we should at least see one thing today. So we drove the car all the way up the mountain to the Palacio de Pena (pena = suffering/anguish). The King of Portugal used Sintra as one of its several palaces. He abdicated the thrown and gave it to his brother because he had no male heirs. When his brother became King, he locked him up in the palace here for the remaining 8 years of his life. As you can see from the exterior photos, it wasn't a bad prison, but what kind of brotherly spat could lead to that. The palace is way on top of the mountain Lua, with gorgeous views of the valley below (photos). It is really a fairy tale castle but beautiful inside (modernized by King Ferdinand II, an Englishman). I was in my running outfit so I ran the two miles down the mountain. My right knee is beginning to bother me and I wonder if it is due to all this downhill running I have been doing since Finisterra.
I met Marcia in town for a cap and a lady in a shop told us Cafe Paris was a rip-off and to go to Restaurante Tulhas (h = y; tool-yus). A very quaint little place for which we had to wait for a table. I guess the lady told a few others as well or the locals like it. For the first time a tried their national dish (ala pizza for Italy) called bacalha (bok-al-ya). It is dried salt cod mixed with potatoes, onions, etc in liquid and baked in the oven. To my great surprise it was fantastic (photo). So now I like 3 Portuguese dishes; frango chicken, roast goat and bacalha. We drove back to the Palace, had a cappuccino in the hotel bar and tried a typical Portuguese dessert called an egg sweet. Boy was it sweet - I could only eat two bites. Went to bed at 3:30 AM.
I woke up at 7:30 AM. Today we drive to the capitol, Lisboa, so I want to see a few more sights here, since this is where the kings and the royalty hung out. At 11 AM I drove over to the National Palace of Sintra which is located in the center of the town and toured the inside (It has two huge conical chimneys built by the Moors). They didn't allow pictures inside of either of these castles, but I got some video of this one. I drove back to the hotel to check out and pick up Marcia. I dropped her off in town for some shopping while I drove up to the fortress (photos) built on the mountain just below the Castle de Pena. I park the car in the lot and then there is a 1 Km walk in the woods (which was beautiful) just to get to the main gate. I buy my ticket and then there is another long climb to get to the ruined fort. It is spectacular but Marcia owes me one for not bringing her on this grueling exercise. I do the 15 min trek back to the car after crawling over most of the fort, pick Marcia up in town and she drives south then west then northwest to the lighthouse (faro) at Cabo da Roca.
Now we find out that this spot is the real most westerly spot in Europe, not Finisterre. We posed by the monument that states that fact (photos) and then headed back to the southern coast to aim for Lisboa. We first came across the vacation spot called Cascais which took 14 miles (Marcia). We walked around the pretty little town and Marcia had lunch at an English pub there called Chequers.
We then drove through the neighboring vacation beach town called Estoril where all the deposed kings of Europe hung out after their gigs were up. There is a famous casino there but we didn't stop to see it. We drove the coast rode, with the Atlantic always in sight, all the way to Lisboa. We did stop at the Boca Infermo (Mouth of Hell; they use Ms where we use Ns) (photo). When the ocean acts up this thing is very violent due to the waves crashing into this blowhole. We passed through Bélem (suburb of Lisboa) and the GPS finally got us to the Meliá Confort Hotel on Avenida Duque Loule. Paolo, who checked us in and got our room, was the friendliest and most helpful guy we have met in Portugal. I hadn't run so I was still in my running outfit the whole day even as I checked into the hotel. I noted as we drove in that the main boulevard Avenida de Liberdade was all downhill from here so I ran down it and got to the main Praça Restaurades, which is dedicated to the restoration of the Portuguese kings after 80 years of domination by Spain in the 1600s.
I climbed back up the hill and Marcia and I walked over to the Sheraton hotel, which is the tallest building in Lisboa. We went to the bar on the top floor and had a glass of wine and met and Englishman who recommended an Italian restaurant called Pasta Cafe in the Sardanha (sar-don-yah) area. The views of the city were spectacular. We then went to the Pasta Cafe because it was getting too late to shop around. The pizza was a joke and the rest wasn't much better. Afterwards we walked back to the Sheraton to "thank" the Brit for the recommendation and had a beer with him. We walked back to our hotel and got to bed at a reasonable hour.
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #30
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
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