Saturday, October 20, 2018

Sintra to Lisbon, Portugal, October 20. 2018

What a fucking day, that's all I can say.  Nothing bad happened, it just was difficult.

If every hostel were like Casa Azul, fancy hotels would not exist.  I had a great sleep and then Antonio was there bright and early to serve a fabulous breakfast.  After, I decided to leave my car parked and walk to Quinta da Regliera because parking is such an issue.  So many European cities were built long before anyone even dreamed of cars and so the streets are narrow and parking is often on the sidewalk.  It was a beautiful day so I was happy to walk.  Along the way, more sculptures-

Quinta da Regaleira was built between 1904 and 1910 during the last years of the Portuguese monarchy.  Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, or Moneybags Monteiro as he was nicknamed, owned the property last and it was his favorite country estate.  I guess he had more than one.  Luigi Manini was the architect of this weird place-

The Initiation Wells are really inverted towers.  They were never water sources but used for ceremonial purposes, including tarot initiation rites!  Tunnels connect the wells as well as different caves and towers.  

The larger tower has a 27 meter spiral staircase and many small landings-

Those are people on the ground floor-

Looking up-

Looking up from the smaller well-

 Its walls weren't nearly as carved and fancy-

And looking down-

Tunnels connect the wells-

Upon exiting the main well, I came out at these weird rock formations-

There's a bridge across water-

and the gardens are beautiful, filled with all kinds of exotic plants-

There's also a small chapel: the entrance-

A closer view-

Is this the evil eye above the entrance?

and the altar-

I also visited the mansion and for a while listened to an English guide.  The opulence is hard to imagine and today, such beauty would not be possible.  No one has the skill anymore to carve this kind of fireplace-

The tile work on the floor is incredible-

As is the parquet on the floor in the next room-

The ceiling is also carved wood-

The coat of arms of the family is all over the walls in one room-

The walls are nicely decorated in the music room-

And the ceiling is a concave shape to make the room acoustically perfect-

There are also many towers on the grounds-

I walked back to Casa Azul and picked up my car.  I drove up the mountain top to just take pictures of Pena Castle and Castle of the Moors.  It was a switchback one way road and luckily I got a parking spot right at the ticket booth.  It was a zoo!  I  and expensive when I've seen castles and palaces before.  However, I had hoped to be able to pull over and take a quick shot of both places but stopping was impossible.  I kept driving to Cabo da Roca which is the most western point of Europe-  

The views are awesome-

And the only plant growing is about 3 inches tall and very sharp to touch-

It was in bloom but only in two spots-

So then the shit show began.  I rely on to get me where I want to go.  It's awesome because wifi is not required, it just works.  It does however take me on some crazy routes- like today, instead of staying on the nice smooth highway, it had me divert through a village, only to end up back on the nice smooth highway.  Oh well.  I left Cabo da Roca feeling fine, knowing I only had 33 km to go to my hostel in Lisbon.  Well, I stayed on the freeway as long as I could, then manoeuvred down proper city streets until I got pretty close to the water and the streets narrowed and I was driving on tram tracks.  Fine.  Traffic was slow, almost not moving for quite a while.  Then, I was supposed to turn left but guess what?  The reason for the less than crawling pace was that the road was closed and all the traffic had to be diverted back to where we had come.  So now I had to figure out how to get to the hostel.  It is impossible to travel parallel to a route because the streets follow who the hell knows what so I zig zagged quite a bit trying to go east and ended up going the wrong direction on a one way street, then down a street that was only for the tram and then pointed down a big hill where I knew I couldn't go.  So I backed up, keeping my fingers crossed that some oblivious tourist wasn't wandering with his head up his ass, not paying attention to cars.  That is a problem here.  Eventually I headed north and went around the long way which is really how should have sent me in the first place.  So what should have been a 45 minute drive from Cabo da Roca to my hostel ended up being 2.5 hours.  I don't mind the city driving at all, I think riding my motorcycle has me well prepared, but I was only hoping I would get to Train Hostel before dark and I did.

Once checked in, I went walking through the Amalfa District.  I had a beer and visited with a woman from Mexico City, then came back to the hostel to plan my next 2 days in Lovely?? Lisbon!

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