Friends Are For

In Portugal, when you sit down to eat, you’re generally brought a basket of fresh bread, a bowl of olives, butter, pate and cheese. If you don’t touch any of the items you aren’t charged for them. You push them aside and the waiter eventually takes the items away. We rarely send them away because they are just so darn good. A few weeks ago my friend Suzanne Spray made a little trek over from the United States. For 14 days and we ate those plates and explored savoring morsel moments here in Portugal.  

 One day last week, after Mayer caught the bus to school and David was off to work, we headed up north into the Sintra Mountains.

 The town of Sintra is about a 25 minute drive from our home. Not too far and an absolutely beautiful drive. I parked the car outside of the Penha Palace {Palacio da Pena} we bought our tickets, and took the little trolley car like vehicle up to the top and toured the Palace.

After our exploring,  we headed into town and lunched on a mini quiche and crepes at a lovely little restaurant in the center of the square. After lunch we toured the Sintra National Palace.

Sintra is a darling town. It is filled with boutique shops filled with ceramics, food, art, history, palaces and castles. It’s a place that you need to wear good exploring shoes.
At the end of our day in Sintra I had plugged the Castle of the Moors {Castello dos Mouros} into my GPS.

After I drove by multiple parking places, {because Richard told us we still had 11 minutes until we reach the top of the castle}, I realized that driving past those parking spaces was a mistake. That was the place where we needed to park. The starting point up to the Moorish Castle began at least 100 meters from this point.

I was in denial that we had to hike all the way up. Since the street was a one way, I made the loop back into town and back up to the place to park.

I told Suzi we are here but we still have quite a few minutes according to “Richard” our GPS, that the final destination will be achieved. “Do you still want to hike to the top of the castle?” I asked Suzi. “Yes,” she said.

Generally, I love to say “YES” and hear it back when I ask a question but at that point I knew what was ahead of us and I was hoping for a “NO”…

My friend here wants to see the castle, so whatever non-energy bunny moment I am feeling I am kicking to the side. We are going to stand on that wall of the castle, today, however long it takes. As we were huffing and puffing I’d wished I would have brought my water bottle with me, I had left it in the car, {I know an intelligent decision}.

On the way up, right before you hit the street, that leads you up top, there is a fantastic fountain that supplies fresh water to anyone and everyone, for “FREE” the locals were filling up large jugs and loading them into the back of their cars.

After roughly, 30 minutes we make it to the entrance of the Moorish Castle. The gate guard, aka Mr. Funnyman asked, “Do you have your ticket?” “No, what ticket, there wasn’t anywhere to buy a ticket at the very bottom of the hill, by the parking place,” I think is what I said or maybe just thought, my crazy was being stirred up inside as the sweat was pouring down my face. “You’ve got to be kidding me, we have to go back down and buy a ticket?” He gave us a smile and toyed with us a bit and then directed us to this little stone shack to purchase one.

Cost of the hike up to the gate is “FREE” cost to hike  and explore the Moorish Castle 7 euro.

I’m sure it wasn’t the first time the fella was a comedian. You could tell he’d pulled that routine a time or two. We were blown away by the breathtaking views of the Penha Palace.

And the town of Sintra below.

The Moorish Castle sits on the top of the Sintra Mountains and overlooks the town of Sintra.

The castle was constructed during the 8th to 9th century, during the period of Arab occupation of the Iberian Peninsula.

To get to it, you have to hike up from the town of Sintra

or down from the Penha Palace.
After you finish up the exploration you can continue your hike back down. Or hike back up to the Penha Palace and take the trolley-tram-bus transportation to the beginning of that Palace.

After viewing all that was living around me; from an artist sketching the Penha Palace,

to the wind cooling down my skin, my internal response of NO had turned into a happy, joy-joy feeling, watching the world at peace and in action around me.

After Suzi and I snapped too many photos to post we headed down hill and back to where the car was at rest. It was so much better going down than coming up. {But the going up was better for my buns and my lungs and I felt alive because we did it!} My lazy-man’s way of thinking crept in and killed my attitude on the way up.

Thank God I was with Suzi and not my husband. He would have pulled out the “Don’t be a puss card” too many times to count. So I think I am slowly adapting my husband’s pack in as much as you can.
A bang for the buck!

On the way down we talked about Jillian Michaels coming back to the Biggest Looser. It was appropriate conversation for what we just tackled after a full morning of exploring. Sometimes we need people to motivate us to try new things or rekindle the flame of things we once loved to do, {like hike}. I personally love the outdoors but my attitude that afternoon, {internally} was of a girl who had lost her exploring spirit. I thank you my Suzi girl for saying yes. Thank you for coming to visit us here in Portugal. We hope you enjoyed your time overseas. We had two weeks to do more than just lunch. Our friendship blossomed and stretched into new zones. I’m blessed to have you in my life and thank you for your company and desire to try new things.

Even on the low key days, life was filled with fresh morsel moments.
As you leave our home today and fly back to the USA I think of the song by Stevie Wonder…..
Keep smilin’
Keep shinin’
Knowin’ you can always count on me
for sure
that’s what friends are for
In good times
And bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for
I love you!

Thanks again for saying YES!


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