May 22nd – Lisbon and Sintra, Spain
Today’s tour of Lisbon highlighted the variety of heritage and styles that makes this one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Starting with a walk through the cobbled alleys of Alfama, the seaman’s quarter and a stroll along Liberdade Avenue.
Our walking tour included a visit to the Jeronimos Monastery, the city’s most prominent monument and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today, the monastery serves as a reminder of Portugal’s wealth and power during the Age of Discovery. This is the site where the Treaty of Lisbon was signed, which would lay down the basis for the reform of the European Union. It also houses the remains of the explorer, Vasco da Gama.
The treasured 16th century Belem Tower, or the Tower of St Vincent, is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Then, on to the dramatic Monument of Discoveries, built in honor of Henry the Navigator, instrumental in the success of Portuguese explorations during the 15th century. His monument, stands majestically at the marina in Belem, starting point for many of the country’s explorers.
In the afternoon we chose to join the optional tour to quaint Sintra, the “Glorious Eden” of Lord Byron, and ancient summer retreat of the royal court, which is highlighted by lavish romantic castles and stunning monuments.
The cultural landscape of Sintra is what gained it a UNESCO rating.
Our tour of the interior of the Sintra Royal Palace, a 15th-century royal residence, containing one of the largest tile collections in Portugal, was a highlight of the afternoon.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we got to visit three UNESCO World Heritage sites all in the same day. How full our days are when we travel with tour groups. It can be a little over-whelming and exhausting, but we certainly do maximize our time this way. I’m struggling to find a balance, but I know that recovering from a cold is making some days more of a challenge than normal. Thankfully the worst symptom have departed!