Three Castles A Day...

...could mean orthopedic surgery at some point.

Castle #1 - Pena Palace
It's bad news when even the kid is complaining that his ankles and calves hurt. Today (Monday March 3) we headed to Sintra, outside Lisbon, home to Pena Palace, the Moorish Castle, the National Palace, and assorted other "lesser" palaces, all situated in a hilly wooded park. Uneventful train ride was followed by a rather harrowing bus trip up the hill in narrow, winding, cobblestoned roads. Pena Palace started life as a monastery, and was purchased in the early 1800s by the Portugese king, who added more palace-y bits.

The tilework is incredible, and everywhere. Even modern structures here are covered in tile on the outside...the palace wasn't any different. The views from the walls were fantastic - we lucked out on the weather, although high winds filled out too much hanging out on the walls on in the courtyards.
Exterior tiled wall at Pena

Note to self: install tiled courtyard in next house. Also, gargoyles.

After clambering around Pena, we hiked down to Mouros, the Moorish Castle. The original fort was restored by the Portugese royals, who also added some romantic period elements including winding pathways and gardens. Amazing views from the ramparts...and another workout. Really need to start using the Stairmaster at the gym, holy crap.

The kitchen at the National Palace.
Important side note: And the shoes these women were wearing! Boots, with heels, it's just craziness. I felt old and unfashionable in my sensible walking shoes, but also...self-righteous and smug, knowing that while I would need a glass of wine and a couple of ibuprofen at the end of the day, those women were going to need a boatload of alcohol and a morphine drip. Ha.
We chose not to walk down to the historic center of town, and hopped back on the bus (which is so going to be a terrifying amusement park ride, coming your way soon). Lunch of "toasts," aka "grilled cheese" followed by gelato fortified us enough to head to Sintra Palace, the national palace. The most notable feature here are the whopping double chimneys, which vent the whopping kitchen. This thing has meat spits for about 6 cows, and a "cooktop" that can accommodate a dozen huge copper pots at one time.

And if it wasn't hills and cobblestone roads, sidewalks and squares, it was stairs and stairs and more stairs. And more of the same in Lisbon itself. Ow.
Moorish Castle view

The kitchen chimneys at the National Palace