Monday found us in the delightfully picturesque mountainous town of Sintra. We hiked up a mountain-much huffing and puffing involved here-to Pena Palace and the Moorish Ruins. The view from the palace was quite spectacular. You could see all the way to the coast! Apparently the Moorish castle used to offer protection to the coastal towns (which you can see in the vista shots) and once a year they would burn a huge bonfire to remind the towns people they were being protected. So, kind of a threat as well.
Pena palace and castle grounds were interesting because the King Ferdinand who designed them, had quite the vivid imagination. The palace was a mishmash of all different kinds of decorative and artistic influences. It looks Moorish and Arabic and exotic on the outside of the palace and the inside is all modern plumbing and Victorian bric-a-brac! The grounds are a mix of native Mediterranean flora and German countryside because dear Ferdinand wanted to import his favorite trees from back home into his own fantasy forest. King Ferdinand sounded like a whimsical character and we got the impression his contemporaries must have rolled their eyes at him a time or two.
Sintra was adorably quaint and had a sleepy, dreamy atmosphere. Naturally we managed to go the looong way up the mountain but leaving the Moorish castle ruins we met up with a man we just happened to have bumped into earlier in the day. He was from Brazil and living in London and very kindly showed us the way back to Sintra which turned out to be quite the speedy shortcut! Sadly he was neither young nor handsome but our tired little legs were very grateful nonetheless!