Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sintra Wednesday

The first time I had ventured to Sintra, I had gone with the amazing tour company We Hate Tourism Tours. They had  a van and guided us into Sintra and took us to the Monserrat Palace, a beautiful palace in Sintra that has won awards for it's gardens. This trip to Sintra, I was on my own. I really wanted to see more of the beautiful palaces,  in this magical place. I woke up, ate some waffles at the hostel before walking over to the Rossion train station and took the train to Sintra. It was a rather straight forward journey and soon I had arrived. I picked up a ticket for the bus that would take me up to the Pena Palace, my destination for the day.

Arriving at the palace, I paid for my ticket and declined the little bus that could take you to the door of the palace in favour of hauling myself up towards the palace. The normal price to enter the palace and gardens is €14 but as I arrived at "happy hour" between 9:30am and 10:30 am I got in for €1 less.  When I finally reached it, I was blown away by its beautiful colours and architecture. 

The weather was truly on my side with beautiful blue skies and fluffy white clouds to frame the palace. We were high up and it reminded me a little of Castle in the Sky.  I ventured into the palace to learn about its history. The palace had started as a monastery but fell into ruin with the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Ferdinand II acquired the land of the monastery and it became a palace that would be the summer residence of the Portuguese royal family. Today it is one of Portugal's most visited monuments and I could see why.

I could not  get enough of photographing the colours of the palace against the bright blue sky. It was such an amazing day for my adventure of exploring the palace and its grounds. With a map in hand, I attempted to find my way across the large grounds to the stables. There is a shuttle that goes around the grounds and I wish I had known of this before I set about trying not to get lost.

I came across this very large fellow who was plodding along in front of one of the workers of the estate. Still trying not to get lost and find the stables, I admired the view of the palace from down below in the gardens.

I finally found the stables and managed to convince the woman working there to let me ride a horse. She told me I would need to wait an hour so I found myself wandering over to the Chalet of the Countess of Edla, the wife of King Ferdinand II.

My visit to the chalet was soon over and I managed to get a ride on the little cart that went between the main sites of the garden. It took me back to the stables where I climbed up onto a very large horse. Unlike in Ireland, I was unable to snap photos as we moved along through the gardens. I was more concerned with attempting to guide the horse. My guide did not speak very much English and I was all alone so I did my best. I really enjoyed it and only paid €10 so to me it was a bargain.

Managing to get another ride back up towards the estate, the lovely driver snuck off course and set me as close as he could to the gate so that I could leave.  I wandered out of the estate, a big smile on my face from the lovely views, my horse ride and the palace.

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