Day two of sightseeing didn’t start early enough for our planned hourly bus, but the 10.40 to Sintra didn’t take too long to reach the World Heritage Centre. We joined a snake of visitors at the tourist information office and eventually were given a map and info on the bus to the attractions. We stared with Castelo Mouros.
The bus wound its way up the narrow zig-zaggy hill road having to perform a three point turn on one corner. We hopped off into beautiful woods, their cool shade a welcome relief from the midday sun. The climb to the castle was rewarded by superb views as were necessary as probably built between the 8th and 9th centuries the castle served as an observation post for the coastline. The National Palace of Pena was also just one hilltop away looking like a colourful fairytale set at Disneyland. Satisfied after climbing up every tower like big kids we took the bus to Pena.
Between 1838 and 1849 King Ferdinand II built the palace at the top of a mountain range on the ruins of a 16th century monastery. It was originally only to be restored as a summer residence for the royal family, but enthusiasm took over resulting in a grand palace influenced by the romantic tendencies of the time. It was an amazing tour around the lavishly decorated and furnished rooms of past kings and queens.
After a lunch break in the historical town it was just a short walk to the truly wonderful Quinta da Regaleira. This was the summer residence of the Carvalho Monteiro family and designed by Luigi Manini and architect, painter and set designer. From 1898 the owner dedicated fourteen years to transforming his residence and the ornate neo-manueline style building was quite a picture. The garden however must have been a dream come true for the children with secret underground passages, grottos behind lakes, towers, caves, fountains and a ‘subterranean tower’ like a well, sinking 27metres into the ground with a winding staircase and secret entrances. With the feint light from the boat key we explored. (And yes of course, Simon did run off and leave me in the dark!) I was enchanted.
Unfortunately the royal palace in the old town was closed as although rather simplistic from the outside the pictures of the interior looked fantastic with amazing tiled rooms. With weary legs I ran around the little town trying to capture digital memories, then with plenty of time to our bus back to Cascais we walked back to our bus stop. We’d had a wonderful couple of days sightseeing but felt very cheated by our ‘Lisbon Cards’. The tram ride on the public tram would have only cost €1.40, the reductions on entry fees were minimal and the card didn’t cover us on the bus between Cascais and Sintra or the circular bus around Sintra. It was a very expensive mistake.