June 18 Lisbon
We started our day with breakfast in our room. I am loving toast and jam with cheese. Everything is so good and fresh. Most things are local. Portugal grows almost everything they need.
We have a giant cruise ship blocking our view of the harbor. Neal and Ryan have enjoyed watching all the activity. Yesterday there was a big navy ship. We hope the cruise ship will leave soon. When we were getting ready to go out we noticed a giant white bus taking people off the ship. We did not know where they were going but it was not on the narrow streets around here.
Sergio, our driver and guide for the day, picked us up right on time.
We headed on our way to Sintra.
Sintra is attached to Lisbon. We quickly were in the big residential neighborhood. Eventually we were in the lovely green area where the mountain begins. This mountain was all rock with no vegetation. In the min 19th century a king decided they needed trees. He imported trees from everywhere including sequoias. I have never been to California so I saw and touched them here. Most of the trees are pines and Eucalyptus. You can just imagine the fragrance. It was really foggy. Everyone was almost as blind as me. We could not see the castles at the top of the mountain.
First we went to Pena Palace. This was a fortified residential palace. It is completely furnished, maybe over furnished. We saw so many stunning pieces of furniture and over the top dishes and glass where. This palace was completed mid-19th century although it was built on to a monastery from hundreds of years earlier.
Towards the end of the tour there was a tactile replica of the palace. It was fun to retrace our steps with my fingers.
Next we had lunch. It was another amazing meal. I had the fish stew that is baked in the special clam shell sort of copper pot.
Off we went to Montserrat. This palace belonged to James Cook but he was visited often by Robert Burns and someone else I did not know. Maybe they both actually lived there. I could easily have lived here.
I need to back up just a bit. I have another great bathroom story. I went to use the bathroom before we started hiking to the palace. I had trouble locking the bolt on the door. There was a panel that opened on the upper half of the door that exposed lattis work that you could see through. I opened it kind of by mistake and closed it and fiddled with the bolt again. It seemed to lock.
When I went to leave I slid back the bolt and the door did not open. I opened the upper panel and I had an audience. Neal told me there was another lower bolt. I know I never closed that bolt. Maybe it closed itself or that panel closed it. One way or another I was locked in. I could not stop laughing and my audience also could not stop laughing. Neal went for help. It seemed that I was not sliding the bolt hard enough. I did eventually get out. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard.
Now we started the walk through the huge gardens. Of course the entire walk was down steps roughly carved out of rocks. Some trees were marked with a code. We downloaded an app that let us read about them. It is an app that works lots of places. The information could be read in synthetic speech. After a while the speech seemed to intrude into the peace of the garden and Neal’s constant instructions telling me where to step.
Then came the stepping stones over the river. There was a lovely water fall and the river was very shallow. I knew I would not fall in past my knees. This kind of thing was so much easier when I was younger. Honestly being blind does not hold a candle to aging. We did make it across. Ryan is learning a lot about being a sighted guide.
We came to a very relaxing fish pond and stopped for a while. Then came the palace. It was not so very large. Just kind of a tall house. Walking into this place struck us speechless.
There is no longer any furniture. It was sold piece by piece so James Cook could survive. I guess he did not consider getting a job. However all the interior has been brought back to its original glory. I am serious about using the word glory. Every space on the walls and ceiling was covered with painting, tiles or carving. In some cases all three. There is a beautiful staircase to the second floor. Shockingly there were very few people here. The earlier palace was packed. I could touch all the walls I could reach. No one was there to say don’t touch. I could have stayed there all day. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that I might have to go back over those nasty stepping stones. This was not the case. There was a lovely little cart thing to drive us back.
We were off to the old part of town. We were taken to a shop for a wine tasting. We bought a bottle of port, some very soft cheese and port wine reduction jam.
We also had some local pastries that were fabulous. I was about to drop. How did it get to be 6:30 and we had not had a nap.
I was surprised not to sleep on the way home. Ryan sat in front with Sergio and they talked football all the way home. It was fun to listen to them. Sergio was also giving him tips for Ryan’s trip to Spain and said Ryan should call him with any questions. Sergio was in some kind of sports match that night and Ryan was going to watch it on Facebook.
We were so tired but needed to get out a bit and get something simple to eat. We thought pizza would be kind of fun. We found a place very close through Trip Advisor. When we got there they were full. Shortly they found us a table. The pizza was really good. Without quite realizing it we order one without any cheese. We were surprised at how good it was with only sauce. We had a second one with spicy meat and cheese.
Then it was off to search for a few groceries but everything was closed.
Wat least Neal and I went right to bed. Ryan stayed up for a while.