7.06.2014

Quinta Da Regalaira Travel Diary

 Here it is! Photos from our day trip to Sintra to check out the Quinta Da Regaleira. To be honest, we could have spent a few days just exploring the town of Sintra alone (the whole town is pretty much a UNESCO World Heritage Site)--there is SO much to see and do. Don't get me wrong, we loved Lisbon but Sintra is straight out of a fairy tale.

Getting to Sintra is pretty easy, you take a train (about a half hour ride) and then hop on a bus to see the specific sight you want to see. I guess you could walk to the different sights but the town is really hilly and a few of the places are legitimately on top of a mountain. No thank you.

Anyway, when I was planning our trip and googling "best day trips outside of Lisbon" seeing the Quinta Da Regaleira in Sintra was highly recommended and I can definitely see why.  The QDR (too lazy) is an estate that was built in the early 1900s by a guy who was super into things like Free Masonry, the mysteries of the natural world, Knights Templar stuff with a dash of iluminati mixed in for good measure. Wild stuff, right?
One of the little chapels on the grounds. The manueline architecture mixed in with the forest-y, kind of tropical foliage made this place seem even more mysterious and amazing. 
Moss growing everywhere
One of the many random towers that peppered the grounds replete with treacherous, impossibly steep spiral staircases leading to beautiful views of the surrounding hillside
Ugh what a view!! On top of that hill is the Castelo dos Mouros, an old Moorish castle
Okay so this was a really cool feature. You walk into the doorway and are greeted by a pond and a pitch black tunnel leading to who knows where. As you descend further and further into the darkness the air gets cooler, the ground and tunnel walls are slippery with water, water drips overhead onto you, and as you start to wonder how long this tunnel go on for--BAM! A beam of light shines onto the ground and you realize you're in the most incredible Game of Thrones-esque tower with a spiral staircase chiseled into the rock beckoning you to climb to the top.
Yeah, unreal. The Dragonstone vibes are strong here
These little flowers were growing on the sides of the walls

Just me casually posing by this waterfall, you know.
We saw people walking on these stones and had to give it ago

So many water fountains, ponds, and lush ferns everywhere
A pup friend
D'aww :*)
The tiles!!
Inside the estate

Sigh, what a dream! These photos don't even do this place justice, truly one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to and I do hope we come visit again!

6.25.2014

Lisbon Photo Diary

I'm back with another installment of my European photo diary. This time (as promised) I'm sharing a few photos I took in Lisbon. Please excuse the photo quality, a bunch of shots were taken with my phone!
Ahh...beautiful Lisbon!
Beautiful tiled building as far as the eye can see! It was hard not to take a picture of every different azulejo tile design I came across.
A pastel de nata was pretty much the #1 must try dessert that I came across while doing my research on what sort of food things to try in Lisbon. There are tons of little bakeries that sell this  sweet but Pasteis de Belem is supposed to be THE best. So of course we had to find this place. Luckily, there are lots of sights in the little district of Belem, but even if there weren't I think making the trek to check out this bakery would have been worth it. These tarts are rich with a creamy, eggy custard filling atop a flaky pastry shell. They are not too sweet (which we loved) and I liked mine with an extra sprinkling of cinnamon on top.
The Torre de Belem, a prime example of Manueline architecture. It was blazing hot this day and I wanted nothing more than to walk into that water...
The famous yellow tram! 
Exploring the Alfama, the oldest part of Lisbon.
I had read about the Alfama neighborhood and made sure to make it a priority to check out. This neighborhood is no joke. It really is a labyrinth of super old, extremely narrow, but entirely picturesque streets and buildings. Lisbon was totaled in 1755 after an apocalyptic earthquake/ tsunami/ fire trifecta totally destroyed most of the city. The Alfama district was spared. 
We had no real agenda when we were checking out the neighborhood (and I was feeling too lazy to suggest making the hike to the Sao Jorge castle) so imagine our delight when we turned a corner and came face to face with a gorgeous view of the water.  
Poked our heads into random churches
More tile love. 
It's almost too pretty

Here is a takeaway point: Lisbon is HILLY. We stayed in between the Bairro Alta and Baixa neighborhoods and found ourselves climbing stairs upon stairs upon stairs. Locals must have really great legs. 
Anarchy in the streets
We stumbled upon a few skateboards on our night time walks. Lisbon is almost all cobblestone streets (yay) which makes skateboarding inconceivable. We found these guys skating some of the only smooth flat ground we had seen in the entire city. This spot is right in front of the museum of archeology. After watching for a bit Grant made friends with the locals and joined the festivities.
We were determined to go to the beach so off we went to Carcavelos. Although it was sunny and hot the water was freezing so we laid out and enjoyed the sun.
I miss skinny European coke cans! Even the shade of red is better. 

All in all, we loved Lisbon! It was definitely one of the most romantic cities I have ever been to. I had little knowledge of what Lisbon/ Portugal would be like besides what friends had told me who had been previously and of course the parts in Love Actually when Colin Firth goes to Portugal to propose to his housekeeper.  Let's see, the whole Romance of decay vibe was STRONG here. Many buildings were a bit faded in their glory with crumbling tile facades and graffiti tagged walls but that just added to their charm, in my opinion.  Also, we appreciated how inexpensive the city was (a welcomed respite from the prices of London--GEEZ). I would love to visit again. Maybe hit up the Algarve next time too? 

PS: Didn't include any photos from our day trip to Sintra--that's up next!