April 2016, SINTRA Portugal
Photos by Mathieu Lebreton
This year, my birthday travel destination was Portugal. I was excited to discover Lisboa and Sintra in a real and meaningful way to me. Last time I was there, it was 2014 and while still relaxing it was only to spend three days laying by the pool in a resort near Faro. Not exactly the kind of meaningful experience you are looking for when there is such beauty to discover!
My original idea for destinations was Copenhagen or Berlin, but after looking at it in terms of weather, Mathieu suggested that Portugal would be a better option. And sure it was!
I decided to start by sharing my experience of Sintra. Less than an hour ride by car from Lisbon, there is a magical town were back in the 19th century, King Ferdinand II from Portugal decided to build one of the greatest expressions of romantic style of the century, the Pena Palace. This magnificent castle host a mix of different architectural styles; from North African Islamic through Gothic Medieval.
This landmark is one of those surreal experiences where you find yourself awing at every single angle you look at. To me, I felt like I was exploring the castle from a princess in a fairytale. There is a real attention to detail which can only be justified by the extreme importance King Ferdinand II gave to arts, literature and music. There is bright colored blocking around where every tower in the castle stands out by itself. The best part is the cheerful feeling when you walk around because who wouldn’t be happy and excited to be in a place like this?
After walking around the park and reaching the highest point to admire the beauty of it, we stay a few minutes to enjoy the breeze of the mountains on that particular hot day in Sintra.
The last part of our day trip was to visit the Quinta da Regaleira, another wonder of the region. Finished in 1910 by Augusto Carvalho Monteiro and similar to the Pena Palace, this once family owned mansion has many architectural styles as well and it’s part of the UNESCO’S World heritage sites. The fun part of this property is the hidden tunnels and grottoes inside where you can explore around in a spooky kind of way.
Exhausted but amazed by what we had seen and experienced, Ruy, Mathieu and I came back to Lisbon to enjoy a wonderful dinner. (Coming on the next post!)