An amazing maritime museum. Leaving Lisbon and off to Sintra

Well, it’s Monday morning and yesterday we left Lisbon to head to Sintra.  We went back to the airport pick up a car and drove from there.  We plan on keeping the car for much of the rest of our trip as the rental is amazingly inexpensive at less than ten Euros per day and having a car gives us a lot more flexibility.   It will also be good for us as we plan on exploring some of the smaller towns along the way as we head north to Porto near the boarder with Spain.

Saturday we did a lot of walking, a great deal more than planned, in large part, because I got us really lost as it was getting dark.  Brenda loved that little bonus, let me tell you.  We were both plenty sweaty after that debacle.

“This way, I’m sure it is, you know, down the hill.  No wait, it’s back that way.  Hello, can you speak English?  WHERE ARE WE?”  Where’s Google Maps when you need them?

Funny how the streets look different when it’s dark.  During the day we explored the waterfront area of Lisbon, where a lot of museums are located.  So as to not completely exhaust ourselves, we decided to focus on just a single one, that and another 18,000 steps, the Museu de Marinha, recognized as one of the finest maritime museums in all of Europe.  I have to say that I agree with this statement, even if I haven’t been to many of them.  The displays told the story of the maritime history of Portugal.  What a terrific collection.

The museum is housed in an old monastery.  And let me tell you, this place must have been the home to a LOT of monks.  It is a HUGE building and the museum didn’t take up nearly half of it. The story of Portugal’s nautical history is told through a seemingly endless collection of scale models, many of which I understand were built by the staff of the museum.  I guess that tile work isn’t the only thing that Portuguese do well. They were constructed in exquisite detail and many were quite large, up to 8′ in length.  I took a lot of photos but most of them didn’t turn out that well as the rooms were not brightly lit.   However, here are a few examples.  There were dozens of glass cases packed with ship models. The detail on this one, like most, was amazing. The detail, down to the smallest gun was amazing. I really liked this little model of a boat for laying mines.There was also a room just packed with full size and beautifully preserved classic craft and royal barges.  The “queen” of the fleet had it’s last official visitor when Queen Elizabeth II visited, I think in the 50s.  And, the staff was nice enough to put most of the explanations in both Potuguese and English.  How thoughtful.With 80 rowers heaven help the one that got out of sync.  What a mess.  Off with his head!!!  How about this ornate stern?  Too bad that the queen wouldn’t have been able to see this while she toured about. While not good enough for QE II, this is quite a gig as well.   Perhaps for a minor prince.  Hmm…There are also a number of early amphibious aircraft on display. This is a particularly lovely Grumman.This wooden amphibian was built in 1917.  It’s hard to believe that it was less than 100 years ago.  Imagine what things will look like in another 100.  If Al Gore is right, we’ll have lots more amphibious craft to get around. Late afternoon we stopped at a lovely cafe for an “adult beverage”.  What a spot. There are great cafes all over.  Looks very “European” doesn’t it?  Wait, we are in Europe.The locals are not subject to pastry shortages, or are we.   Us visitors do have to keep up our strength.  Seeing the trolleys rumble past just completed the moment.
There are an amazing number of sights to see in Lisbon.  Bummer that we couldn’t spend our entire month there.  So many monuments so the golden age of exploration.  How about this jutting out into the harbor.  Really big…And impressive.  It must be frustrating to have gone from the “age of exploration” to the “age of austerity”.  Well, it’s taken two days to get this post down as the internet access isn’t so great here in the 19th century chateau where we are staying in Sintra.  I’ll just have to promise you a treat when I post about this magnificent spot.  Where else can you look out of your window and see a huge castle looming on the mountain top just outside?

Besides, breakfast awaits.

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