Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sintra with Kids- Pena Palace

Today we left Lisbon and adventured on to Sintra via Uber.  We had planned to take the train and knew the kids would have enjoyed that ride, but a) we were dreading lugging our bags/ carseat/ stroller/ kids to and from the train station and b) it was raining.  It was easier and totally affordable to order a door to door ride (about $25 Euro for about a 25 minute ride).  We traveled in the rain but it stopped just as we were arriving. As we ascended up the winding roads into Sintra I was amazed how lush and almost tropical the countryside was.

We checked into our cute pink hotel, Quintas das Murtas, then walked into town through a pretty park (Parque da Liberdade) to get lunch and then catch a bus to Pena Palace.

The bus drops visitors off at the base of the Pena grounds, downhill from the palace, where a huge horse waited to pull riders in a carriage. We opted for the short hike up the winding cobblestone driveway, which our 6-year-old did in a sprint and our 3-year-old rode out in the toddler carrier.  The palace appeared around the last curve:  Deep red, bright yellow, patterned cobalt tiles, landscaped with lush palms and mounds of flowers, ornamented with carvings.  It looks like a cartoon palace.  Beautiful and over the top.  The palace was commissioned in 1842 by King Ferdinand II, who wanted the the palace to reflect that of a scene from an opera.

We let the kids lead the way and we followed as they climbed up along the castle walls, ducked into arched doorways, and peeked out of windows.

 The kids loved being in charge of the navigation (especially our six-year-old map reader!) and were excited to plot our course back down the mountain through the palace grounds.  The grounds are fun to explore: towering trees, winding paths, mossy stone walls, waterfalls, duck ponds with little duck palaces, bridges to cross.  It's hard to take a wrong turn since the general rule is- just keep heading downhill.  After maybe 45 minutes of skipping along through it all along we came out to the road, and the bus stop.

After freshening up at our hotel, we walked into town for dinner near the train station and got back to our room just before dusk.  We were all ready to rest and excited for more exploring of beautiful Sintra tomorrow (see post here!)

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