Sintra and Cascais, Portugal

“Bom dia” from Portugal! It has indeed been a good day 🙂 I’m currently writing from Lisbon where I’m spending the week with my family. Today we visited two beautiful cities, Sintra and Cascais with Inside Lisbon Tours*.

Our first major stop was Pena Palace, built relatively recently in 1854 and located near the top of the Sintra Mountains. Our tour guide Gonsalo described the palace as a “fairytale” residence for the royal Portuguese family. A fairytale? No wonder Disney’s Cinderella Castle was modeled after Pena Palace! Do you recognize the bright red and yellow Romanesque architecture in Disneyland’s famous theme parks?

From the balconies, you can spot the 8th-century Castle of the Moors (as pictured in the background of our family photo.) This medieval castle was built during the Muslim Iberia and then later turned over to the Christians in the conquest of Lisbon.

Views from the palace are pretty incredible, especially on a clear day. The bright colors are not what you normally expect when visiting a castle.

We also toured the inside of the palace which was decorated for the royal family. I loved this grand chandelier in one of the hallways.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about Portuguese architecture and decor, it’s that there are so many fine details. For example, this ornate design was found on the ceiling of one of the bedrooms. I appreciate all the thought that went into making this palace so beautiful from the inside and out.

After Pena Palace, we stopped for lunch at a small Portuguese restaurant. We ordered nine dishes- quite a lot for four people- but we had to try all the local specialties! Portugal is known for their codfish, particularly a dish that combines cod, fried potatoes, onions, parsley, and egg yolk. It’s a lot tastier than it sounds. Apparently there are 365 ways to cook codfish here in Portugal… one for every day of the year?

We made a quick stop at Praia do Guincho, the famous surfing beach on our way to Cascais. My friend Audrey actually got engaged at this location on a balcony overlooking the ocean. So romantic.

The last stop of the day was Cabo da Roca. This is the westernmost part of the European continent. How cool is that? The green scenery with the cliffs against the Atlantic ocean reminded me of the Marin coast in California. It made me a bit homesick, so I was grateful my family was with me on this trip.

*Thank you Inside Lisbon Tours for sponsoring this post!

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