One Hundred One

IMG_3501A Year of Yoga: April 12, 2014

Pose: Hand to Big Toe Pose

Sanskrit: Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

Location: Sintra, Portugal. This quaint village is located just a short train ride west of Lisbon. Sintra was described to me as a “magical” forest with beautiful castles. This description immediately conjured up ideas of Disney princess movies; you know the ones with gentle ladies singing with the friendly animals who prefer the company of the woods to whatever evil lurks behind the turreted walls of their prison/castle.  I admit, although I was intrigued, I set my expectations low based on the hype. I mean, a place like that can’t be what you imagine. The actuality of this place is really incredible though…and not far off from the Disney description. We stepped off the train and I immediately felt the energy of the surrounding nature; lush greenery and beautiful views everywhere. We started our day at the Sintra National Palace. We toured through many of the rooms and courtyards of the palace in awe of the incredible Moorish architecture, tile work, tapestries, and other antiquities you can’t believe. I’ve been in Europe for over a month now and I have seen some palaces and castles. They never get old and they’re all very distinct. My favorite room in the palace was the kitchen…seriously crazy huge kitchen and pots that could fit a couple of grown humans inside. (Of course lets hope that wasn’t what they were cooking inside them). After the palace, we ate a lovely lunch before hiking up to the castle. There are two ways to arrive to the Castle of the Moors. The first is by the main road….just a boring old trudge. The second, which we discovered in a travel book, was to hike through the forest….clearly the right choice. The start point wasn’t immediately clear, but after asking around a bit we found the trail and headed up. It was definitely a hike and we were tired by the time we arrived at the top; but it was worth it! Just at the bottom of the entrance we took a short break and just enjoyed being in a place with centuries old stone crawling with moss and ferns. Eventually we climbed up towards the entrance and started exploring. We spent about an hour walking and staring wistfully over the turreted walls (Disney princess style). We had gotten warm exerting ourselves on the hike and it was exhilarating to sit high up on a castle wall with the cool breeze. It’s the kind of experience where you get lost in your own thoughts instead of interacting a lot with the people you’re with.

Photography Credit: Lulu

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