Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Portugal - Sintra

After my daughter's birthday party a few of us went to drink a cocktail at the Hemingway Restaurant & Bar at the Cascais Marina.
The restaurant is well located, great views, funky decor, friendly staff and the biggest drinks/teas/coffee menu I have ever seen!
After one of the ladies visited the loo and raved about it, all the ladies had to go and have a look - the decor is feminine, the wash basin is set into a table full of creams, perfumes and lotions - which anyone can use of course, and I was actually surprised people didn't steal them...

Hemingway - dining room, bar, outdoor area and ladies room


On Sunday, we accompanied my daughter's in-laws on a visit to Sintra, a World Heritage Site village about 17km from Cascais.
Sitting atop the Sintra Mountain, the village is dotted with castles, royal estates and palaces, fit for any Royal family.

On the way there we stopped at Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of the European mainland. Located within the Sintra-Cascais natural park, at 150mt above sea level you can enjoy a view of the Sintra mountain and the coastline.

It's a very popular venue for biker's weekend meetings, so on the drive through the narrow winding roads we encountered many bikers who dangerously overtook us...

There is only a coffee shop, the lighthouse, and a Tourism office/gift shop. 
Unfortunately the best way to get there would be by car, as there is limited public transport to the area - only 1 bus per hour from Cascais to Sintra, and vice-versa, via Cabo da Roca, from 9am to 5pm.
The lighthouse was the first purpose built lighthouse in 1772, and it's 1000 watt lights can be seen from 46km away.

The thousands of bikers at Cabo da Roca

The Lighthouse at Cabo da Roca
The majestic rocks at Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca Monument - my husband, my brother in law and my daughter
This stone monument with a cross on top is inscribed with a quote from the great Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes (1524-1580) - "Where the land ends and the sea begins".

Time for a coffee stop at the nearby "Moinho de Don Quixote", a bar/restaurant housed in a windmill. The views from the terrace over the mountains and sea are breathtaking, lots of cosy spots in the garden, the decor is loud with Mexican artifacts and there are lots of cats running around (they get fed there). 
Don Quixote Windmill bar/restaurant
A view from the terrace of the Windmill restaurant
One of the areas of the garden with a fish pond (you can see the windmill behind)

Finally on our way to Sintra, we first stopped at a former 18th century palace - Palacio dos Setais (Setais Palace) atop the mountain with an amazing view all around surrounded by beautifully laid out gardens.

In the 1950's the palace was turned into a 5 star hotel - Tivoli Seteais Palace Hotel.
You can park inside and wander around the front garden and through the main archway to a terrace with a view to the back gardens.

                                                                                          Tivoli Seteais Palace Hotel
View from the back  terrace over the garden and other nearby villages
The  Pena Palace atop another mountain, seen through the main arched entry to the Palace
Pena Palace taken from the Seteais Palace

We wound our way down and up again to the Palacio da Pena (Pena National Palace), one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, used as a summer residence by the Portuguese Royal family, last occupied in 1910 by Queen Amelie of Orleans, before going into exile.

The Palace, built on rock,  has a mixture of styles from Neo-Gothic, Neo- Manueline and Neo-Renaissance, and is painted in the original colours of pink and yellow.

Entry to the Palace and gardens costs 14 Euros and there is a paid bus every 15 min., that can transport you from the entry to the top of the hill where the Palace is located, otherwise there is a long and inclined trail you can walk.

There are a couple of parking lots, but they were quite full, so I can just imagine that in Summer it would be chaos to find a spot. There are also hop-on, hop-off buses from Sintra, which would probably be the best way to travel to visit all those Palaces without worrying about finding parking in those narrow roads.

Palacio da Pena - view from above showing the various styles and different towers  (picture  from net)
Map of the Pena Palace and surrounding park
More to follow about Sintra in the next post.

Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 March 2015


  1. That sure is a fancy restaurant you went to, Sami!
    Oh, by golly, so many bikers!
    And a lighthouse 200 years older than me!
    The view sure is awesome! And the palace... wow! Love the colors!

    Aww, you changed to autumn with your design - I´d so love to say we go into spring here, no such luck (yet).

  2. The restaurant sure is different! Those palaces in Sintra are beautiful.
    Yes, I think Autumn arrived yesterday with the first rains the temperature cooled down too, so I decided to change the background in tune with the weather.

  3. I have been here a few years ago but the Cabo da Roca was not that crowded as now. I remember it was very cold and windy up there.

  4. Oh yes, Cabo da Roca is always windy and cold!

  5. Dearest Sami,
    What a beautiful location for this Palacio da Pena and also Cabo da Roca is worth visiting! Lovely photos you show us here with great information.
    Sending you hugs,

    1. Yes, it's certainly a place worth visiting Mariette.

  6. That castle is beautiful! Looking forward to more pictures of Sintra.

  7. I've only went to Lisbon and Cascais so far, but Sintra is defintely on my bucket list. Have a lovely weekend.

    1. Sintra is beautiful. Thanks for visiting Vanessa.

  8. Hope you didn't miss Praia da Ursa, right before Cabo da Roca, on the right. Some of its rock formations can be see in the "majestic rocks" shot.

  9. We didn't go to Praia da Ursa, what a pity. Next time...

  10. O seu blogue é um espetáculo. Bonitas fotografias e uma bela descrição. Permita-me, contudo, fazer-lhe uma observação: Ao descrever de como é feito o queijo da Serra da Estrela, quando diz "goat milk" deveria dizer "ewe milk". Os meus conhecimentos de inglês são poucos, por isso se estiver errado me desculpe. O queijo da Serra, uma maravilha da gastronomia portuguesa, é feito com leite de ovelha e, ao que parece, único no mundo. Estou com uma dúvida: A Nova Zelândia é um grande produtor de lã, e o que farão eles ao leite das ovelhas?
    Os meus cumprimentos´,
    Manuel Tomaz

    1. Tem toda a razao Manuel, o queijo e feito de leite de ovelha e nao de cabra.
      Sei que os Neo-Zelandeses tambem utilisam o leite ovelha para queijos, mas nunca provei. Tambem fazem leite em po para bebes.
      Penso que seria mais correct "sheep" em vez de "ewe", visto ewe ser a femea, e geralmente utilisa-se o termo macho.


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