Friday, 25 November 2011

Lisbon and Sintra (November 23-24)

Double blog day!

Yesterday (November 24th) was lovingly dubbed my "church" day because I went to so many Basilicas! I did try to hit a Museum and an old Jewish cemetary, but I forgot that public workers were on strike, so churches it was! I went to the Igreja de Sao Domingos first, right by the Praca da Figueira. The inquisition used this church to do nasty things, but it´s really nice looking! It is one of the only churches that survived the 1755 earthquake, so it´s one of the few that hasn´t been restored. Next was Basilica dos Martires (Basilica of the Martyrs), which has little inlets around the whole church depicting different martyrs. Igreja da Encarnacao (Church of our Lady of the Incarnation) (not incineration, which was my translation) was my absolute favourite, it has pink marble and gold trim, plus they play Baroque chants in the background to put it over the top.

Then it was time for lunch. I sat down in the Praca de Principe Real to try and find my way to the restaurant in Estrela, but I was totally lost. So, I set out in the "general" direction and eventually found it. It´s a small vegan/vegetarian buffet called Terra and is absolutely charming. I ate out on the enclosed patio, with the birds and some classical music. I had iced jasmine tea and passionfruit mousse for dessert! I did some more wandering around Estrela after that and finished with the Basilica da Estrela, one of the most famous Basilicas in Lisbon, and it´s a giant. It was here that I accidentally wandered in on a wake (I thought I was heading towards the tombs), so I don´t have many pictures!

Today (November 24th) was my "Climbing" day in a city about 40 minutes outside of Lisbon, called Sintra. Here I climbed a 3km hill to get to both the Castelo dos Mouros and the Palacio Nacional da Pena. The Moorish Castle was built by the Arabs in the late 8th century and is totally overgrown with forest, which of course makes it 1000 times more awesome. Apparently these cliffs are usually shrouded in mist, but on this day it was clear and sunny (every day here has been beautiful weather, though I don´t want to jinx it). Parts of the watchtowers were a little high for my liking, but I did get some stellar photos. After the Castle I walked (more climbing) to the Palacio Nacional da Pena, a candy coloured fortress that looks like it´s straight out of Disneyland. What a peculiar and delightful place! The scariest part was the wall walk, which takes you along the perimeter of the castle (perched on a precipice, of course). I had to run toward the end of the trail because it was WAY too high and too narrow. There was a video of it, but I deleted it because it was totally embarrassing. The tour through the castle was great too, all of the wood and plaster details are stunning. If I had a billion dollars I would deck out all of my ceilings just like that.

After exploring the palace I headed through the Parque, which is filled with all sorts of treasures, including a meditation cave for the friars. At the winding top of this trail (more walking!) Is the highest point in Sintra, where they built Crux Alto, a white cross. The last picture was taken from this vantage point, I definitely think it was worth all that climbing :)

Later days,
P.S. I have NO idea what I want to do tomorrow, so stay tuned (hopefully something that doesn´t involve building upon my already massive blisters?)

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