Castles, medieval walls, and one gorgeous beach!
Sintra - Three Castles in One Day!
We left the house relatively early after having a quick breakfast. We were very excited for a long day-trip to the nearby town of Sintra. We had read about summer crowds and wanted to get a head start before all the tourists arrived.
Thanks to our Rick Steves guide, we found parking that we wouldn't have discovered otherwise. We took a city bus up some of the curviest and most narrow roads imaginable. The bus driver was amazing! Our first stop was the beautiful Pena Palace. This palace was created by relatives of Germany's Mad King Ludwig and the similarities were easy to spot. Pena Castle was colorful, a bit Disneyesque, and architecturally stunning.
We had a scenic snack at the castle before hiking about 10 minutes downhill to a completely different castle - The Moorish Castle. On the way, we ran into another family we knew! This time it was a family we had met through daycare years ago. So weird! The Moorish Castle was comprised of ancient ruins that were so much fun to explore. We climbed around and kept marveling at all the various viewpoints. It was so hard to stop taking pictures!
By this time, we were hungry. We took another bus down to the town of Sintra. We ate at the recommended Restaurante Metamorphosis. DH and I shared cataplana. It was a delicious fish stew full of seafood. Yum! DD#1 had a Portuguese sandwich called a Francesinha. The rest of the crew shared a yummy pork and clam dish. After sharing a bottle of vino and relaxing, we were ready for one last Sintra attraction.
Our last Sintra castle was more of a mansion called Quinta de Regaleira. The grounds surrounding the mansion were the best part of the attraction. We loved climbing up and down towers, upside down wells, caves, ponds with stepping stones, and hidden walkways. We kept losing each other and had to use our phone flashlights to find our way. It was exciting!
Finally, we made our way back to the car and drove to Lisbon after a very long and full day.
Last Day in Lisbon - Belem Neighborhood, Shopping, & More Alto Bairro at Night
We split up and took the subway back to the main part of town. DH decided to get a haircut so we met up later. Today was all about Portugal's famous pastry - pastel de nata. We found not one but two places that made them on site. Yum! Each one is handmade and is the flakiest and yummiest custardy goodness ever.
We met up and did some shopping along the main shopping street in Lisbon. The girls scored some new shoes before we finally took a tram to the Belem Neighborhood for lunch and sightseeing.
It was a hot day and the tourists were out in force. Luckily, we found a small local place for lunch and shared an appetizer of snails. The kids and DH really liked them. I couldn't quite get over their little antennae. My mom was a good sport and tried a little of everything new.
We checked out the huge Jeronimos Monastery church. Another gorgeous church with amazing ceilings and architecture.
We wandered to the nearby LX Warehouse Market for a little shopping. It wasn't quite what we expected. Too trendy and the destination brewery was closed. Boo! We found a grocery store and took a train back to the apartment.
Although we were tired, DH and I rallied and took the subway back into central Lisbon for a late dinner. We wandered the many tiny streets in the Alto Bairro neighborhood. We were offered illegal drugs multiple times. Creepy! Apparently, Portugal has decriminalized drug use making it easy to procure a variety of things. Nothing we are interested in, that's for sure! We had yummy sardines and and codcakes. We were ready to say goodbye to Lisbon, for now. I have a feeling that we'll return in the future.
Obidos and Nazare
Today was a short driving day. I picked up bagels and pastries from nearby shops. Every neighborhood has lots of bakeries. We drove a short one hour to the cute town of Obidos. It's a picturesque white town with red roofs surrounded by a cool medieval wall. We were able to walk along the wall for some great views. The wall didn't have a guard rail of any kind. We just made our way on some uneven ancient rocks and wore good shoes. I loved it!
Once off the wall, we took many pictures and did a little shopping. We found a few souvenirs to take home. DH was very patient with all the girls while we piddled and shopped.
We only had another half hour drive to the beach town of Nazare. After a few wrong turns, we found our way to our apartment up on a hill overlooking the beach. The apartment had a great view of the town below. We had a very scenic drink before taking the neat funicular down to the lower town. We had a casual dinner before finding Gelatomania for dessert. We walked along the sand and were eager for the beach day ahead.
Nazare Beach, Seafood, Swimming, & Shopping
I started the day with a long run to Praia do Norte beach. It is a famous beach that has some of the biggest waves and best surfing in the world. I was an early bird and shared the beach with just one guy and his dog. I also headed up to check out a small historic lighthouse.
We found a nearby bakery where we sat outside and had coffee and yummy treats. The coconut concoction was our favorite. We took the funicular back down to the cute town of Nazare where we did some shopping and parked on the beach for a while. The water felt great and we played for a few hours.
Until they were plain worn out.
We found a seafood place for lunch. The cockles were pretty good! The kids opted for grilled sandwiches at the cafe across the street.
I had to buy the local barnacles to try. They looked like dinosaur claws but were actually pretty darned tasty!
Luckily, there was some nearby exercise equipment to work off all that seafood.
After riding back up the funicular (I just like the word funicular!) we showered, regrouped, and got ready for a nice dinner in town.
We found a highly rated place on Tripadvisor and made it in without reservations. The place filled quickly. We shared seafood rice and grouper. The portions are big in Portugal so we've learned to order fewer things. Add some bread, olives, and wine and we had a great meal. After another walk along the beach, we called it a day.
Except that mom and I found a place for 70 Euro cent glasses of wine before heading up the funicular!
Nazare was the perfect place to take a little vacation from our vacation, so to speak.
Back to Spain tomorrow!