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Published: April 20th 2018
OK, maybe the late movie wasn't such a good idea but we all awoke in good moods. How could a train ride through the Portugal countryside make you sad? Glen and Karen left early to look for something at the Flea Market, and then they would meet us about an hour later in Sintra. Mike and I set off via Metro to the main train station in Rossio. Even in Portuguese, the trains and platforms were clearly marked. Our Metro cards also worked on the trains so no dealing with the ticket machines. Platform 3, 9:41am train! Easy peasy. Mike was happy to announce that the mosaic floors were "prison clean" with someone knowing their way around a buffer!
After a pleasant ride, we got off at Sintra and went in search of the 434 bus to take us up the hill to the historic city center. We had read all the guidebooks that described the route and were mighty confused when nothing looked familiar. We even asked the driver, but, with our rudimentary language skills, that didn't help much. Still another life lesson: we forgot to check the official route map and the bus was doing the loop in
the opposite direction than we thought it would. Duh! Getting to the center in time to grab a coffee and sit in the sun, we saw Karen and Glen walking up the hill to meet us.
First stop, the National Palace which was built in Moorish times and has been lived in, until about 1910, by some member of the royal family. Lots of cool history in this beautiful place. These folks loved their ceilings! Every one had a story of its own, with the Swan Room and a princess so missed by her dad that he painted her fave animal up there; to the Magpie Room, where a King was caught by the Queen, kissing a lady-in-waiting and all the chatter it caused. My favorite room was the kitchen. It had two large conical chimneys that were designed to suck the smoke out of the room. There was a huge iron oven for baking, large spits for roasting, and long stovetops where the temperature could be adjusted. Many inside gardens and pools were there to keep everyone cool in the summer. There was even a water park, of sorts, with jets of water coming from the walls. Karen
and I had a great time.
Rejoining the boys, we walked down to the lower town for a yummy lunch of burgers and beer. Hopped on the bus and off to to our next Game of Thrones fix.
The Moorish Castle: the bus stopped at the bottom a long, winding stone path that we took up to the doors of this ancient castle. This is everything you would imagine a medieval castle being with ramparts, and towers, and keeps, and even a "traitor's door" that served as both an escape route and a secret message delivery spot. The maps, here, were excellent and really explained everything we were exploring. The cisterns were most interesting. In theory, there is a Moorish king buried beneath the dark wells and, even in drought years, they have never gone dry. Coincidence? I think not. Coffee shop for cappuccinos then back on the bus.
Since Mike and I plan to return w Gary and Marji next week, we decided to catch a glass of wine and check out the historic center. Glen and Karen trotted over to Quinta da Regaleira, another castle. We reconnoitered about an hour later and walked down to
the train. Back in Lisbon, we dined in Baix at a cute tapas restaurant, Dr Wine, and met a table of friends from London. A funny, spirited conversation ensued. Eventually, the four of us wandered back to the Rossio Square and caught an Uber home. No late night movies for these tired buckaroos!
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