The Summer Homes of Sintra: Pena Palace

A short train ride away from Lisbon is the city of Sintra. Located on the west side of Portugal, Sintra was once a summer retreat for the kings of Portugal. There is a lot to see and do here and certainly not enough time in the day to do them all. I limited myself to three locations hoping I could tackle them all in the time I had.

When the train pulled into the station I wandered out into the streets to find the local bus that would take me up the hill to Pena Palace. By starting at the top I could walk down to the Moorish castle and then into the heart of Sintra to Quinta da Regaliera. It was best not to look out the windows as these experienced drivers whipped up the hill along narrow, twisty streets.

National Palace of Pena

National Palace of Pena

Arriving safely (thank goodness) at Pena the photos I had seen did not do it justice. The unique architecture and colours of Pena Palace and Park are an example of Portuguese Romanitcism. Built in the 19th century it is one of the more popular spots here in Sintra and one can see why. Reds, yellow and blues merge together to create a one-of -a-kind castle. And, of course, the views from this far up ain’t too shabby either.

Looking out over Pena

Looking out over Pena

The crowds here were crazy but with a little patience I was able to get a few shots during some of the lulls. From the castle I walked down into the palace grounds. Pena Park, as its known, is very large and unfortunately I did not have enough time to explore much, but I did get some time to see a small portion of it.

Fountain of the Small Birds

Fountain of the Small Birds

This moorish building is called the Fountain of the Small Birds. Inside its structure is just that, a fountain. As for the small birds I did not see any but I”m sure they visit here during the quiet times. Heading out of the grounds I walked downhill to the Morrish castle. From its walls one can see Pena Palace in the distance. And it is quite a sight.

Pena Palace

Pena Palace From the Morrish Castle

In my next post I’ll take you through my walk at the Morrish castle.

Snow Day

Today the three of us headed out to Mizzy Lake trail to do some snowshoeing. Unfortunatley one of party had come down with a cold so we didn’t get too far down the trail before we headed back. In lieu of the trek through the forest we opted to see if we could find and photograph the elusive Pine Marten. When we got to its favourite spot all we found were Blue Jays flicking peanuts and snow into the air.

Flicking Peanuts
Flicking Peanuts
Successful Capture of the Peanut
Successful Capture of the Peanut

After spending some time here we decided to warm up at the Visitors Centre and see what the views were like from there. 

Snow Covered Valley
Snow Covered Valley

Let’s just say they were pretty darn good.

There was a light snow falling by this time so we decided to head back to Bongos and see what we could find for dinner. We decided for tomorrow we would check out the Visitors Centre for some bird photography and get in another trail before heading home.

Onwards to Cape Breton

With the alarm going off before the sunrise we quickly packed up and headed straight to Peggy’s Cove for one last visit. It was still full dark out when we arrived in town which gave us the opportunity to spend some quiet time in town before heading up to the lighthouse.

Early Morning at Peggy's Cove

Early Morning at Peggy’s Cove

Sunrise at the lighthouse was not spectacular – again we were denied some clouds to help make the skies more dramatic so it was time to head straight up the coast to Cape Breton.

Surfer

Surfer

We decided early on to drive along the coast rather than take the faster route inland to ensure we had some photographic opportunities.  One of our stops was at a random beach where we ended up photographing some surfers and stand up boarders catching some waves.

MacKenzie River Valley

MacKenzie River Valley

Then it was onwards to Cape Breton. I highly recommend a visit here. The views are amazing from pretty much anywhere. You need to get yourself here immediately. I’m already planning my next trip. 

Beaver Valley Views

Parts of the Beaver Valley section on the Bruce Trail offer some spectacular views. Today I was lucky to come across one of these views. Hiking along the west side of the valley the forest sprawls below. In the distance the two towers I visited not too long ago stand tall above the forest.

View of Beaver Valley

View of Beaver Valley

On the trail its not long before the views change from wide open escarpment views to the towering forest looming above you.

Trail to the Fae

Trail to the Fae

It’s like walking through different worlds. I love the changes one can hike through during a day’s walk.

Winter in Limehouse

Nigel and I headed out to Limehouse Conservation Area to photograph the old ruins. I’ve been here a number of times and it can be difficult to find a new way to shoot the small bridge that stretches out over the river.

River at Limehouse

River at Limehouse

We lucked out with cloudy skies so that the dappled sunlight wouldn’t blow out the highlights causing a high contrast scene. I decided on a long exposure shot looking upstream.

After getting some shots here we decided to hop in the car to find an old bridge not too far away. As we drove I realized that I couldn’t remember where this bridge was. So instead of worrying we did some roadside shooting instead.

Winter Roadside

Winter Roadside

We found this small valley and I really liked how the reeds contrasted against the low hills in the distance. I shot the above photo as a panoramic and processed it in Lightroom’s photo merge feature.