Tuk Tuk tour – Cascais, Portugal

Today we had booked in for a half day tour from Sintra to Cascais via Tuk Tuk 🛺 So this morning we went to our prebooked Uber location for pickup and thankfully he picked us up with the dogs with no problem. So we were at Sintra train station early for our tour pick up early, having passed an s-bend even the taxi struggled to get round which quickly confirmed our decision to not drive via motorhome. We were very much looking forward to someone else driving and navigating for the day.

Tuk Tuk Tour Day 😁

David our guide, collected us in our yellow 🛺 and was pleased to have us and the dogs along as he had lost his dog a few years ago. We had never ridden by 🛺 before and were afraid we would have to get out push when we hit our first hill, but it was so nice to travel along at a steady pace in the open breeze. The dogs loved it, even Lizzy who is not the happiest traveller.

First stop was view point to look up at the Moorish Castle and the Pena Palace. The road up to this with its hairpin bends up the hillside was apparently a rally circuit, until a bad accident in the 1960’s on the bend next to the mansion that the Roman Polanski thriller Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp, was was filmed. Whilst we stopped at the viewpoint, David gave us quite an education into the Portuguese monarchy. The Pena Palace was built by Dom Ferdinand II, prince consort to Queen Maria II of Portugal. Dom Ferdinand being of the Sax-Coburg dynasty, so prevalent in European royalty in that era, first cousin to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Moorish Castle dates from the 8th and the 9th Century, it was later taken by the Christian forces in 1147, but later abandoned when the defences moved closer to the coast. There was also a monastery on the site of the Pena Palace since the Middle Ages. It was visiting these ruins which enamoured Ferdinand to the location and the fabulous views.

The trouble came later when Ferdinand was widowed during the birth of their 11th child in 1853. Ferdinand remarried in 1869 to a Swedish actress, a shocking act in the strongly Catholic Portugal who only allowed for second marriages for royalty needing to create an heir, they lived in a villa in the grounds to Pena Palace. Pena Palace had become the royal residence to his heirs. However, the Palace had been built with his private money, the dowry received for marrying the Maria II. When he left his estate to his second wife there was public outcry that the state did not own the royal palace and a settlement had to be made.

Infact, Ferdinand outlived 8 of his 11 children, partially due to a cholera outbreak which killed three of his five sons. By the time a coup was formed in 1908, the great grandson of Ferdinand, Manuel II became the last King of Portugal when his father Carlos I was assassinated. He was eventually exiled to England in 1910 and lived out his days in Twickenham where some road names bear his name.

Next we headed to Sintra old town for a tour of the narrow streets and a look at the viewpoint over the Sintra National Palace, the oldest serving Portuguese royal palace dating back to medieval times.

We then wound around the s-bends of the Sintra hillside stopping for photos at the various palaces found on route – Seteais Palace built by the Dutch ambassador who trebled his fortune through salivating a Spanish gold carrying galleon but blew the lot on parties leaving his disappointed descendants unexpectedly bankrupt on his passing. The gothically ornate Quinta da Regaleira. The Monserrate Palace built by an English merchant and visited by Lord Byron.

Eventually after a coffee stop, we headed out to the coast at the steady paces of the 🛺 letting the cars pass us and the sea breezes flow through. Next stop Cabo de Roca, the western most point of Central Europe and another of the lighthouses ticked off from our sailing route in 2008. We stopped off for photos in the bright sunshine, the whole coastal area is covered with the spectacularly colourful ice plants. We get these too in Cornwall but not in such large areas. The coast line and cliffs are picture perfect and we posed for some photos next to these iconic spots.

Finally, we wound our way along the coastline of Cascais back to base. Beautiful golden beaches including a stop off at the Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth) blowhole, finally passing the Condes Castro Guimarães Palace and the Cascais Citadel before dropping off at the train station. We thanked David for his really interesting tour, he grew up in Cascais and really knew the area.

The beautiful coastline of Cascais

Back on our own two / four feet we took a look around the streets of Old Town Cascais, before a very late lunch at the unassuming but perfectly done family style A Nova Estrella restaurant on the backstreets.

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