Saturday in Portugal- the most active day of my life. It all began with an one hour bus ride to a beach about 30 minutes away from Sintra. The beauty of the streets takes ahold of you. The water follows the sidewalk and roads. Boats port about a half mile into the water leaving plenty of room for tourists and locals alike to swim.
We came across a beach half the size of a football field (hot dog length). At the far right of the sand were rocks. They stood 20 feet tall and were unlike any cliffs near water in the States. Many Portuguese guys and children were climbing the rocks and jumping into the water. Naturally, I headed over.
After scaling the rock wall, the view took your breath away. The birds flew overhead in the sunshine. The waves splashed the shore while the boats bobbed in the distance. Children ran on the sand and playing with their parents. Woman of all shapes and sizes laid topless enjoying the sun. The light breeze brought me back to my current height.
After several deep breaths and the chants from my friends I jumped. The chilly salty water caught me. The water’s current carried me back to the beach and I was hooked. The afternoon consisted of jumping, climbing and of course photo ops. With the help of a tall comrade I brought my Rebel XSI over to the rock. Like a real photographer I braved the elements of wind, rock and water for some amazing pictures. (check the flickr)
After a long day of activity we boarded the bus taking the 30 minute drive to Sintra. Sintra embodies the word hilly. This city is located in a mountain. Elevations rise and fall making the bus ride equivalent to a roller coaster. Possibly at the middle of the hill we decided we had to see the Castle on the hill. We caught the bus which flew up the mountain swerving curves my Rav4 wouldn’t make.
A cute trolly stood waiting just outside the gates after we paid a 8 euro entrance fee. This trolly is a tease because it is 2 more euro for its scenic ride. No trolly for us, how hard could a little mountain be for fit 20 year old Americans. Answer: hard. About half way up with calves burning and out of breath, I felt like a hiker but in a dress, bath suite and sandals instead of shorts, sneakers and a walking stick.
Turning the final corner, feeling I deserved a metal, everything became worth the pain. A beautiful 19th century summer home of the Moors stood proudly in front of me. 4 towers loomed thousands of feet above with hundreds of path ways aligning the sides at different altitudes. We walked up a long curving stone path with trees and bushes covering the sides. Crossing into the fortress everything came to life. The walls were white but had streaks of black from the years. Side walkways that wrapped around the towers had circular small towers that looked made for soldiers who stood 5’5 max. Through an archway there was a small church with a marble wall modeled in Italian fashion. It depicted 12 moments in Christ’s life. The view outside this church was one only eagles or high flying birds see. The forrest stretched on to the horizon. Following the pathways around to the front of the Castle we found the reason the Moors built the castle there. The entire city of Sintra was visible. Low laying clouds lightly blanketed the city. The bright red clay roofs and white buildings could be seen. After staring in awe we decided it might be time to head down.
The steep elevation of the mountain made running down easier than walking. The bus came every 20 minutes and it had just left. Wait? Nope. 45 minutes of avoiding buses, running past thousands of trees, hearing water trickle from brooks and seeing people who live on the mountain go about their days we made it back to the bus. Collapsing on the seats I realized how much I could really get done in a day. My body ached and complained but my heart raced which joy.