Do something for someone else! No bribery required, promise. Today Mr Elf and I have been building a fence with our friends and their neighbours. Why you might ask? Because the sun is shining, we’ve fired up the barbeque, there are power tools and we have music.
Seriously, lending a hand however you can have its own rewards. Helping those around us is good for the soul, which in its self is a little bit of a selfish thing to say. But I mean it with the nicest of sentiments. Really it is a lovely feeling to come together a s collective and help someone out. It doesn’t have to be a big job but I would very much encourage everyone to offer a hand if and when it is needed. Like moving home or clearing out a garage…many hands make light work.
I may not be the best person for a power tool but I can certainly char a sausage like a champion!
Sintra is a place from a fairy tale reached from Lisbon by a short train ride. It is magical but it is also very busy and seems to be designed for tourism and not all that much else.
The cheapest and most leg friendly way to get to the castle and to the Palace of Pena is to catch the hop on hop off bus. The bus starts just outside the main entrance to the train station and costs 5 euros. The bus goes in one direction around the sites of Sintra, you can get on and off the bus as many times as you like but can only do one round trip.
We got off at the Palace of Sintra which is impressive and gives a nice view of the valley and surrounding area, we did not pay to go in, but jumped back on the bus and headed up to the castle.
The castle of the Moors sits up on top of the one of the peaks of Sintra. It’s a meandering walk once of the bus to reach the entrance but lovely cool gardens and stunning views. There is not much inside the castle but the walls, but we spent a good hour clambering over all of the walks and following them up to the highest peaks. A lot of time, energy and money has been put into the restoration of the castle and taming the forest.
Next we head up to the Palace of Pena which perches like a set of colourful building blocks on the second peak in Sintra. The Palace has been renovated throughout so don’t expect an old world feel. The outside walls are bright colours and against the beautiful blue sky it is something wonderful. The rooms inside are set out as the Royal family had them in the beginning of the 1900. It really is lovely and not to be missed.
Elf’s tip: Save some money by buying a tickets to the monuments that you want to enter at the same time.
As a prelude to the blog on Sintra coming up this week, I would like to share the beautiful bit of poetry by Byron who visited Sintra and spoke lovingly of it.
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
– George Gordon Byron
Cadiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain and one of the loveliest seaside cities I have ever visited. It is perched on a spit of land narrowly connected with mainland Spain. It has a wonderfully wild feel to it. The streets are winding and channel the cool sea breeze which is a wonderful relief from the heat of high summer.
We follow a walking route from the train station to the city hall and then head along some of the back streets to the city walls that look out on to the sea and follow the coast. The view is lovely and made more beautiful as we come upon the well planned public gardens. We turn into the old town and make our way to the Camera Obscura.
You can go up into the Camera Obscura, there are two small exhibitions and a short show with the camera its self, along with the beautiful roof top view of Cadiz. It’s worth a look and the 6 euro price tag.
We head off to the cathedral, which is topped with a beautiful gold dome. Its 5 euros to get in and this includes the audio guide. This cathedral left a big impression on me, with its immense marble inside and the wonderful opportunity to head down into the crypt which was hauntingly beautiful and peaceful.
Definitely worth a day trip if you are in the area, but even better stay at least a night and enjoy this wonderful place.
Its exciting times, there’s a gigantor of a trip to plan (its okay we have 2 years to do it in) and we’re getting started!
Starting to plan the Elf way
Get some books – many books on countries, on cities, on the world! So many books.
Make a list of the “must not miss” places.
Get a map – because my geography is far, far worse than my GCSE geography teacher ever let on!
Decide on a colour scheme before marking the map, we’re not animals after all. Let’s be organised and sensible.
Argue about “must not miss” list.
Start marking places on the map (hurray)
Discover we are not using the same colour scheme…how did that happen and who marked Mongolia…I mean cool but it’s not on the list.
Argue about colour scheme, then concede and add extra 2 destinations to the “must not miss” list in penance.
Give up on colour scheme and “must not miss” list.
Go a bit crazy with the destination marking and realise need 3 years to travel and only have 12 months.
Repeat step 3.