Sintra - Quinta Da Regaleira

Susie and Adam (both think they are skipper)
Thu 16 Sep 2010 09:19
Today we planned to go up to Sintra which is a town about 20km from Cascais - very pretty and the place where the 19C rulers of Portugal had their palaces and a must-see of the area - we will be going back for another day as we haven't done half of it yet. We had to sort out our anchor before we left as it was rather windy and rainy here this morning (after 32 degrees yesterday, we were in 'British summer' today!) - we had the bright idea of putting out an anchor buoy to mark our anchor when we arrived and also to allow us to trip it if it got tangled in ropes etc on the bottom - the trip line ended up mangling itself around the chain and anchor so the whole mess had to be hauled up and put out again as it turned into a big ball of string and chain (not very professional looking at all) - we couldn't leave the boat like that for the day as it may not be there when we got back. . . .
Sintra is up in the hills, it gets more rain but is really green as a result - the hills are covered in deciduous woodland and fern.  Susie wanted to visit Quinta Da Regaleira which is a house and gardens up in Sintra.  It isn't a normal house and gardens though - it was built about 120 years ago by someone who clearly wanted an Alice in wonderland type place, the garden is build on steep ground so is terraced but is full of grotto's, folly's and caves - great for kids and for kids like us. Many of Portugals famous artists and designers of the time were commissioned to design various bits.    It was actually good that it was a cool and cloudy day since we did a lot of walking.. . . . 
This is the house and little church in the foreground - would suit us I think?
Inside the house there were various towers and turrets - going up one tower we found the libaray.  The picture isn't very good but it was kept very dark in there  - this was to confuse.  The floor in the library centre was slightly raised but dropped by a few inches for the last foot all around the edge, where there were mirrors.  It was horrible to walk around in - it took a while to work out that the books didn't descend downward and it was just mirrors, can't really describe it well enough but it was very wierd.  Wish one of us had been on the picture but it was so dark we didn't think it would come out at all - but you can see the 'floating floor'.
One of the best features of the garden was the spooky well - this was very deep (about 90 feet)  with steps all the way down - at the bottom various tunnels lead out to different parts of the garden - must have been a lot of work in making those. Some of the tunnels were not lit and we had no torch so no idea where they went, you had to blindly walk down them only to emerge somewhere completely different and spend the next 10 minutes trying to work out the map as the entire garden was rather maze like.
In order to get into the top of the well was an entrance only ever seen on cartoons and Indiana jones films - a revolving 6 inch thick stone door, a must in every garden, here's a villain making good his escape - may look innocent but don't believe it
Building Paths around ponds would just be too easy - much better to pick your way through various tunnels and then emerge at stepping stones - much more potential for embarrassment - the water was a lot deeper than it looks!
All over the garden were various folly's - not one or two, that would be boring - but turrets and towers with spiral staircases to climb - but how many Susie's are looking out of this one? - in the centre of this folly is another tunnel to the well.
View over the garden and up to the Pena Palace on the hill top which we will visit on our next visit to Sintra.