Once we had our fill of Lisbon, Reini picked up a rental car and we headed west to the Sintra area to tour some castles. This particular region was ripe for beautiful castles, most with views out to the ocean. After a brief stop for lunch (we ate at a restaurant that served Italian and Indian food – go figure), we landed at the Palacio da Regaleira. Its owner, nicknamed Monteiro the Millionaire, made his fortunes in Brazil and then moved back to Portugal around 1900 to live the high life! And man! He must have really enjoyed this place! The palace, incredible alone, is enhanced with gardens containing so many interesting things. There were secret grottos where you’re sure Ariel and her mermaid sisters would pop out of. There were magical wishing wells, watch towers, and gardens galore.
We were spending a couple of days at the beach (just maybe 20 minutes away) and the next morning the weather was pretty gray and a bit chilly. So… we decided to visit another castle! Regaleira was on Reini’s list but Palacio da Pena was on mine! We could see it glowing is orangey hue from the Regaleira palace and thought it would be worth the short drive. I love Disney a lot, but I was amazed that I was in a totally real fairytale princess castle. This castle was built in the 1840s and 50s by King Ferdinand and his German architect. The building is incredible and very bright, even in the gray sky. During the inside tour, Reini questioned the king’s need for so many ‘sitting rooms’ but I really enjoyed the richly adorned interiors. Once the place started to get crowded (we were very happy we got there early), we ventured into the park. Because Reinhard is Austrian, we had to hike to the highest point. Though the climb was longer than we thought, the sun greeted us just as we got to the top.
There are a few more castles in the area like the Moorish Castle and the National Palace of Sintra, but we didn’t have time for it all. I was happy, though, that I got a little time to pretend like I was a Disney princess 🙂