With my intense dislike of crowds, and visions of the packed train station from yesterday, I set off as early as I could this morning. I had two places on the visit list, both high above town and near to each other, Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle. When the bus to go up the hill arrived at my stop, it was packed, and I had to stand at the very front next to the driver as he carefully drove up the winding, narrow, hairpin-turns road, sometimes having to do little back-up, go forward, back-up, go forward maneuvers at the tightest turns. And this is a normal large-sized bus! On a two way road! Impressive.
Being at the front of the bus meant not only did I have a perfect view of the drive there, I was also first off, first to the ticket stand, and almost first inside the palace grounds – such good luck!
The palace is situated atop a hill on about 500 steep acres, land that was formerly dry and barren, cultivated over the centuries into a gorgeous green utopia. I spent about seven hours here, but could easily stayed many more were it not for the other place on my list (and for which I had already bought a ticket!). Throughout the day I asked Palace employees for their advice on where I should go, and I got tips that proved wonderful.
After the Palace, I hiked over to the Castle, along its ramparts and up and down its towers, giving both my calves and fear of heights something to munch on.
The weather was perfect again. In some places I had a 360 degree view to the Atlantic, the surrounding countryside, and even back to Lisbon.
Lastly, I hiked back into town down a steep six-mile path – this is cliff-climbing country – which sometimes consisted of stone-pavement, and sometimes mud, rocks, too-high steps, and sometimes creeped under overhanging boulders. Ah. May. Zing. I certainly felt sorry for the ill-informed heading up the hill late in the day, in sandals no less.
A wonderful day.
Oh, and I rescued a lost little boy, too.
Here are some photos:
Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.