I'm currently participating in Mom vs. Winter Germs (Round IV for us this year... and the germs definitely have me beat.) So for my next few posts, I'm going to rely more on my photos to tell the story, and less on my words. (Perhaps that's a good thing?)
"You better write a blog post that will make this easier for the next family," grunted my husband as he folded up our double stroller for the fourth time in one day, lifting it onto yet another mode of public transport during our day trip to Sintra from Lisbon.
He's right. While normally I have no shortage of information to work with when planning trips and outings (I usually read several first-hand accounts of how families experience a certain location), I couldn't find much in the way of tips for visiting Sintra, a popular day trip location from Lisbon. In fact, I almost gave up on the idea of going altogether. The concierge at our hotel discouraged us, thinking it would be too difficult with kids so young.
But fortunately, we persevered. Because it was truly one of the most spectacular places I've ever been.
As I was researching our trip to Portugal, I was reminded of the country's key role (along with Spain) in the Age of Discovery, the time period in the 15th and 16th century when Europe became aware that not only did other continents exist, but that they could get there by sea. You'll likely recall bits and pieces from your own world history courses back in high school. (Names like Magellan, da Gama, and Christopher Columbus probably ring a bell.)
Portugal pays tribute to this era most notably in the Belem parish of Lisbon, located along the Tagus River, where many of the ships departed on their worldly voyages.
Besides being aware of the landmarks that are located there, I knew little about Belem, so it was a toss-up as to how much the boys would enjoy it. After all, they don't have a sense of the enormity of this history yet. Fortunately, each of the major monuments found there was surrounded by wide open spaces, statues, gardens, and plenty of people to make it interesting enough for them. In fact, it was the perfect starting point for our time in Lisbon.