Portugal

The first day in mainland Portugal was spent in Lisbon. We spent the day using public transportation and seeing the main tourist attractions. The city is walkable, but very hilly, so say goodbye to your knees. It also has the most intricate sidewalks I’ve ever seen. There’s an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the craft of calçada portuguesa if you’re interested. Also, vintage port is served in little stands in the praça do comércio. Win.

Day two was spent driving (more carefully this time) up to Fátima and back down through Sintra. Fátima is home to a large Catholic shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In 1917, it’s said she appeared to three shepherd children on the 13th of each month from May to October. The Virgin Mary asked the children to do penance and told them three secrets, some of which foretold the end and beginning of WWI and WWII, respectively. For more details on Fátima and the Virgin Mary apparitions, check out the official website here.

On the way back down from Fátima, we stopped in Batalha to see the Monastery. A UNESCO world heritage site, this monastery took over a century to build (started in 1386 and finished around 1517) and is one of the best examples of late Portuguese gothic architecture around. There’s also a resident street cat that I made friends with.

Finally, we ended the day in Sintra. Home to more UNESCO world heritage sites (and cats,) we explored the Castelo dos Mouros and the Palácio da Pena. The Palace is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, and is stylized in the Romantic architecture of the era. The Castelo dos Mouros was built in the 8th century and encompasses much of the hill in Sintra.

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