Portugal Travel Series

Portugal travel series

In case this is your first visit to my blog… the month of November 2010 was been about Portugal. This month long series included travel tips and photo highlights along with special “Story Behind the Photo” posts.

Go back and read more or click on the name of one of the cities below for a direct link to the post. Enjoy!

What was covered this month on Portugal:

–      Lisbon

–       Sintra

–       Porto

–       Coimbra

–       Palace Hotel of Bussaco

To see more photos of Portugal visit The Monica Store or my stock photography site.

Travel Tips for the Palace Hotel of Bussaco in Portugal

Bussaco Palace Hotel in PortugalPalace Hotel of Bussaco – Portugal – Photography and Travel Tips

Palacio do Bucaco (Palace Hotel of Bussaco) is another fairytale palace in Portugal. If you have been following this Portugal series you will remember the post on Sintra, which described three storybook palaces, well the Bussaco palace is another one.

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Last summer I went to Coimbra and knew I wanted to see the Palacio do Bucaco and actually went within an hour of arriving in Coimbra. Luckily I went to the tourist information office for a map of Coimbra and inquired about the bus to Bussaco only to find out I had to go right away in order to see it, as the bus does not run on Sundays. Also the bus to Bussaco runs at odd times leaving you at the Palace for about four or five hours before you can return to Coimbra. (Buy the bus tickets at the bus station, which is about a 20-minute walk from the tourist information site).

The bus ride to Bussaco is quite nice with country views and you pass through a few towns. You also have the option of getting off to see Luso, the town below the Palace Hotel of Bussaco and the surrounding park.

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Bucaco Palace is now a luxury hotel and unless you stay there or eat an expensive meal at the restaurant (which serves small portions with strange sauces) you cannot see much of the inside. But it is worth stepping into the lobby and poking around before you are politely asked to leave.

There is a Carmelite convent attached to the hotel. The convent was established in 1628 and is now a museum. The hotel building itself is like a storybook palace with many carved details, gargoyles, and a twisting tower reaching towards the sky. The covered corridors outside are beautiful and one features panels with azulejos depicting scenes from Portuguese literature and historical events.

The surrounding grounds include hiking trails. The gardens right in front of the palace are beautiful and include a well-manicured maze of hedges.

Overall the Palace Hotel of Bussaco is an interesting place to visit and a bit surreal to see in person let alone in photos.

Travel Tips for Sintra, Portugal

Sintra, PortugalSintra, Portugal – Photography and Travel Tips

Sintra, Portugal is a charming town not far from the coast. I went to Sintra via the train from Lisbon – an hour ride with rural scenery. Although not far from the coast you can’t really see the ocean from Sintra and the town is located in the mountains so even in the summer’s it is cooler then expected.

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What is there to see in Sintra, Portugal:

1 – Pena National Palace – Perhaps the main attraction, this Palace is certainly not to be missed. The palace is a whimsical fairytale castle that looks like a mish-mash architectural styles.

— Brief history of the Pena National Palace

The complex started with a 15th century chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena and a monastery was added later on. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After the Earthquake of 1755 the monastery lay in ruins until 1838 when Ferdinand II decided to build a palace around the ruins and the chapel to be used as a summer residence for the royal family. Now the palace is owned by the Portuguese state and stands as a museum.

— Visiting the Pena National Palace

The Pena National Palace sits atop a mountain above the town of Sintra and I advise you take advantage of the bus that delivers you right to the Palace gates. You can walk but I think this would take a couple of hours. (The bus tickets can be purchased at the tourist information center and the bus stop is right across from it. And remember to bring a sweater, as it is quite chilly on top of the mountain and windy!).

You do not need to take part in a tour, you can simply roam through the palace and every room has information in English. It does take a whole day to see the palace, the monastery and the gardens, which are very extensive (you need to use the map provided at the ticket desk to navigate the garden paths).

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2 – Castle of the Moors – A castle that dates back to the 9th and 10th centuries with a long squiggly wall that provides wonderful views of Sintra and the Pena National Palace. The castle suffered from neglect and little use after the 15th century until King Ferdinand II started to renovate it.

3 – Quinta da Regaleira – This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and this palace and gardens is yet another whimsical site in Sintra. The Quinta da Regaleira is an estate that was owned by three different families and constructed and reconstructed throughout the 1900s. The gardens ascend up a hill with several tiers, caves, tunnels, ponds, and fountains. The whimsicality of the gardens continues in the palace where elaborate carvings and colorful tiles decorate the rooms and twisted and playful chimneys are guarded by sweet gargoyles that are bunny rabbits and kangaroos. The Quinta da Regaleria is strangely fascinating and a must see!

4 – Sintra National Palace – The Sintra National Palace is in the center of town and appears rather subdued from the other sites as it is all while and features few adornments on the façade. However the interior has a few stately rooms with decorative tiles. I found the kitchen rooms particularly interested with the large smoke stacks for the fireplaces – these chimneys rise high above the palace and distinguish the palace from afar.

For a brief History of the Sintra National Palace (also a UNESCO World Heritage site) click on the link below at the end of this post.

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A few practical tips: Make sure to wander around and see the local houses with the tiled details. There are many steep paths as the town is built on a mountain so I advise good walking shoes. As for food, the cuisine is good and fresh and there are of course many seafood options. The tourist information center is not only useful but in a very nice building with clean public restrooms (always good to know). And a final tip – try to see the Moorish fountain which can be reached by following the road leading to the train station for it is really a work of art.

Overall Sintra is lovely town perfect for romantics and those who want to live in a fairytale world even just for a day.

To see more photographs of Sintra visit themonicastore or my stock photography site.

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To read more about Sintra, Portugal click on the links below:

 

1 – Read more about the Pena National Palace

2 – Read more about the Castle of the Moors

3 – Read more about Quinta da Regaleira

4 – Read more about Sintra National Palace

5 – Read more about Sintra

Portugal Travel Series

Portugal - by Monica GoslinPortugal Series– Photography and Travel Tips

November 2010 is going to be about Portugal. This will be a month long series with travel tips and photo highlights along with special “Story Behind the Photo” posts.

I have only traveled to Portugal twice so far, so of course I have hopes of going back to see more. Portugal has an old-world charm.

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What will be covered this month on Portugal:

–       Lisbon

–       Sintra

–       Porto – click for part one of a three part series

–       Coimbra

–       Palace Hotel of Bussaco

So keep an eye on the blog for these posts along with the “stories behind the photos.”

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Enjoy! And remember to see more photos visit my other sites:

-The Monica Store – to buy canvas photos, framed photos, books, cards, magnets, and more!

– Monica Goslin Photography – stock photography