Posted By Dorrit, Coen, Sophie, Marlies & Leonie

In Vila Nova de Milfontes, located in the middle of a Parque Natural, we went to the light house beach. The spot where the river met the sea, was only a few hundred meters away. After driving a large stretch in direction Lissabon we reached Setubal. Portugal is densely populated but we drove a large part along the pine tree-brushed coastline of national park da Arrabida, covering the 35 km long Serra da Arrabida mountain ridge.
The next morning we did manage to go to one of these golden beaches for the girls to play before driving to Lissabon.
As soon as we arrived at the comfortable and shady campsite, we took a bus to Belem, west of town. Here we first visited the beautiful Hieronymites monastry. In pastelaria Belem where Sophie could watch the pastries being baked, we treated ourselves with these local pastries called Pastel the Natas. The grilled sardines and other nice food items in the uncountable outdoor restaurants made up for the fact that it was really hot in Lissabon.
The next day we visited the center of Lissabon. We hopped aboard the classic rattling tram 28, in which we spent 45 minutes with nice views, through narrow old streets and with really steep climbs. The afternoon we cooled down in the campsite&s swimming pool. As some of our neighbours were on parental leave as well, Sophie and Marlies could play with children from their age. For us parents there were nice warm and late evenings for exchanging children- and travel tips and experiences.
The following days we left the camper van on the campsite and went to the Oceanario, Europe's second largest aquarium with 8000 sea animals on the area of the Expo 1998. We also went to the Musea Nacional de Coches. In the frescoed halls of the former royal riding stable, a collection of 17 to 19th-century Cinderella type royal coaches and carriages were for Sophie something to enjoy.
We left Lissabon exchanging adresses and saying goodbye to our fellow parental leave families and we headed towards the beautiful town of Sintra.
Situated between mountains, dense forest and thick with glittering palaces, exotic gardens and with the Unesco-listed Sintra-Vila, this city had everything to spend a few days. We started with a visit to the amazing Palacio Nacional de Pena. Rising up on a high wooded peak, this fantasy castle is Portugals Neuschwanstein. Uncountable courtyards, onion domes and towers in pink and lemon. Also the original but kitschy interior, where the queen of Portugal has lived until 1908 and left most of her luxury furniture, made Sophie running around with an open mouth. To digest all these fairytale impressions we drove to the wild, remote, windswept Cabo da Roca, Europes westernmost point.
We found a nice wild camping spot to spend the night with a view on the lighthouse and the Atlantic ocean. What a panorama wake-up view when we opened our door the next morning!

After breakfast we returned to Sintra to have a nice Indian lunch and to give the kids and ourselves another shot of extravaganza. Visiting the Quinta da Regaleira was like a surreal journey through a huge garden with grottoes, lakes, a castle, towers, fountains and underground tunnels and galleries, lit by fairy lights. It is unbelievable how much there is to see and to do in Portugal. And on top of that, there is beach, beach and beach. Dorrit contantly supplies us with the best and most suitable sites and points of interest so you should be able to read more in the next update.

2 Comment(s):
Ola said...
The pictures are lovely. Make me want to travel down myself. How is Marlies doing? Isabella is crawling and pulling herself up. Looking forward to seeing you when you get back.
May 30, 2012 23:07:14
mawil said...
Weer een interessant reisverhaal! Hoop jullie zo even te zien op skype, xxxx
May 20, 2012 18:37:04
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