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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Five Days Around Lisbon, Part 2

In this, part 2 of our Lisbon adventure [Click here to see Lisbon, Part 1], we visited the Jeronimos monastery, the windy Atlantic coast, and a town on top of a hill in the woods, where royalty and the wealthy used to go to escape the pressures of city life.

The Jeronimos Monastery is great work of gothic architecture - lots of statues and curlicues everywhere.  Construction started in 1501 and completed about 100 years later.  The ceilings of the Jeronimos Monastery are beautiful examples of  "ribbed vaults."  These first two photos are inside the church, which has extremely high ceilings.


There was a huge earthquake that destroyed much of Lisbon in the 1700's, but this building was so well-built that it suffered very little damage.  That's amazing to me, since it looks so light and fragile.


Attached to the church is an elaborately decorated courtyard, with more ribbed vaults, and carvings and statues on every column on every level.  


Each of the four sides of the courtyard have a hallway like the photo below.   


These are some of the statues ornamenting the columns around the interior of the courtyard.  I don't know what inspired them - I think it is partly from the age of exploration when the new world's wonders were being brought back to Europe.  


The woman below looks like she could be from the Andes Mountains of South America.


On this trip, we visited a couple of palaces in the nearby town of Sintra.  It was really rainy that day, which was no surprise since we were visiting Portugal in November, the rainiest month of the year.  Because of the rain, we spent all our time visiting a couple of palaces in the town.  This is the view from the entrance to one of them.  


This one is a skillfully executed sculpture, but I'm not sure I'd want it over my front door.


Once we got inside, there was a lovely courtyard.


The courtyard had gargoyles for drain spouts.  Since it was raining, we got to see them in action.  Looks a bit like an H. R. Geiger alien, with that dark, slimy skin and drool!


On another day, we had a plan to drive down to the coast, see the ocean, and enjoy the rocky views.  Somehow, we ended up at "La Boca do Infer" (The Mouth of Hell).  We had no idea what it was, so we got out and walked around the cliffs checking everything out.  There was a cool formation where the water comes rushing in off the ocean and crashes through a big tunnel in the cliffs.


Naturally, I assumed this was La Boca do Infer.  We walked further down and saw the views from the other side.


These cliffs are about forty feet high, so it was impressive when this wave ran all the way to the top of the cliff just in front of us!


After we watched the waves crashing in for a while, we decided to explore a little more, closer to the water line.  I was just climbing down from a big rock when the roar of some giant beast scared the bejeebers out of me.  Holy what-the??!  Aha!  That's the real Boca do Infer!!!  It turns out, it's a small tunnel in the rock, whose upper end is a barely noticeable crack in the rocks, while the lower end is near the waterline, out of sight, on the other side of the sheer, ragged rock forming the outcrop.  Every once in a while, when a big wave arrives at the lower end, the "mouth" "exhales" an angry rush of a roar that sounds like a dinosaur just before it bites you in half.  Whew!

After we calmed down, we drove north along the beautiful coastline.  We stopped off to watch some giant waves rolling in off the Atlantic.   These waves looked about 12 feet high, and, as you can see, there were several rows of breakers at once.


A while later, we made it to the furthest point West in all of Europe, Cabo da Roca.  We were so lucky it didn't rain on this day!










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