Pena Palace

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It’s no secret that I’m an avid Instagrammer. I find it an awe-inspiring tool when planning any travel as well as an immense motivator to my next destination. Scrolling through the Instagram travel hashtags one day I came across a colorful post done at the Pena Palace in Portugal.  With so many places in the world to go to Portugal hadn’t even made my list… yet, then one day on Instagram I saw a riot of color concocted into a Palace that really resembled an enormous Alice in Wonderland looking marshmallowy confection. I went down the rabbit hole and immediately put Portugal on my where to next list. After a bit more imagery research on Instagram, I decided on other places in Portugal I wanted to see. With Pena Palace as my main motivator, and my birthday, as well as my thirtieth country visited,  I purchased a ticket from Norwegian airlines from Oakland Ca, to Faro on the Algarve coast of Portugal. My travel plans didn’t go as smoothly as planned. My flight was delayed and a large portion of the passengers including me disappointedly missed their connections. The airline left me in Sweeden! I was told there were no more flights to my destination for four days! I was helped by an advocate and given a hotel room, breakfast, dinner, and taxi vouchers. I explained that it wasn’t possible for me to stay in Sweeden for four days. My advocate worked out a flight the next day to Lisbon instead of my original destination of Faro. After landing in Lisbon My Travel partner Mr. Arnold rented a car and drove us to the Algarve coast for a couple of glorious super sunny beach days. On the morning of my birthday, Mr. Arnold drove me all the way to Sintra, Portugal. What the app Rome to Rio listed as being a three-hour drive google maps listed as a four-hour drive. With my mind socialized and institutionalized by American standards I was perplexed as to why two hundred miles would take four hours of our day. I know now! We drove on sun drenched gorgeous country roads past ripe swollen orchards and vineyards, we drove through Portuguese city’s.  We went roundabout after roundabout. I felt like I was on a merry go round. I became frustrated as to how long the drive was and the lack of seventy miles per hour straightaways. Then we rolled into Sintra. Excitement set in and frustration faded. We checked into the Tivoli Sintra Hotel. We opened our hotel suite door and a floor to ceiling glass wall revealed a lush mountainous panorama with Pena Palace at the top like a sparkly crown jewel. Anxious to get to the Palace. I went to the hotel front desk and pumped the attendant for information on the best way for us to get there. She told us that bus number 434 would take us there in about a half hours ride. The four-hour drive and our night’s dinner reservations left us short on time. Absolutely not willing to entertain confusion and time wasting, Mr. Arnold hailed a cab. Twenty minutes and twelve euros later we were dropped off at the Palace. Two ticket lines were available one that had a human being at the front to offer help and one with a machine that solely took bank cards. We split up and agreed whoever made it to the front of the line first would purchase tickets. It was the first official day of summer and really really hot. We walked past transportation on our way to the top and I asked Mr. Arnold if he purchased our transportation to the top and he said “no! I didn’t know we needed it”. (Now, reader, you do. It is advisable to purchase transportation to the top.) Blistering in the heat and uncomfortably sweaty we trekked to the top of a steep climb. Upon my last step that positioned me to the entrance to the castle, my little white dress was almost clear from being so sweaty. Mr. Arnold went into the gift shop and bought icy cold water and he and I hid out and rested in the shade until we were relaxed enough to enjoy the castle. We started to roam the palace grounds at a relaxed pace and started taking pictures. I have been to many palaces. I’ve even been over to Queen Elizabeth’s and Marie Antoinette and Louie’s palace, but I had never seen such a fun colorful whimsical palace. I felt like I was in a dream-like scene from the Nutcracker ballet. It was one of the most unique colorful built environments I have ever seen. Pena Palace is built in the Romanticism style and is a dominating expression of Nineteenth-century Romanticism.  It is a Unesco World Heritage Site as well as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Sometimes the President of the Portuguese Republic, as well as other government officials, use it for state occasions. Originally a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena was built during the middle ages where Pena Palace now sits. Construction of the chapel occurred after a vision of the Virgin Mary. King Manuel I, being fond of the sanctuary ordered the construction of a Monastery. For centuries Pena was a small place housing a maximum of eighteen monks. The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1775 reduced it to ruins. Many decades past. In 1838 as King Consort, Ferdinand II decided to acquire the ruins of the monastery, the land, the nearby castle of the Moores and the other estates in the surrounding areas. He decided to transform the ruins of the monstery into a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family. In 1889 it was purchased by the Portuguese State. Years later it was classified as a national monument and transformed into a museum. Swiftly the palace lured many visitors and became one of Portugals most visited monuments. Over time the vibrant saturated facade colors faded and became visually identified as being gray. By the end of the twentieth century, the palace was restored to its original vibrancy of punchy color. Good thing because that punch of vibrant color is what caught my eye just cruising the Instagram travel hashtags and lured me to Portugal. Pena Palace is definitely a must see. No matter what you have to go through or endure to get there!

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