619-620: Mafra

619 – Sunday 5th February 2017:  Silly Sunday in Sintra

K here: Guilted by the local runners and the perfect path along the coast, I dusted off my running shoes for the first time in about 3 weeks, followed by Pilates.  I wanted to see inside the Palace de Pena, which J and Alison had done, whilst I walked Oscar.  I’d done my homework and identified parkings, but after a near miss with another car and finding our preferred parking was hosting a car show – we offered Jez as an exhibit, but no room.  Of course, it’s Sunday and guess where everyone’s come!?  We cut our slightly frazzled losses and headed up towards Mafra.  

Our overnight stop was an aire in Santa Susana.  J rested and I took O down to the river.  Just as well I’d put walking boots on as as it was slightly muddy, steep downhill and back up … and at times like an assault course, but I saw a kingfisher and many other birds.

Lovely peaceful overnight with just 2 other vans (1 UK) for company. Free aire – with services – can’t beat it…

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The path was a little overgrown in place … I reversed low with my waterproof hood up through the brambles.

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The path was on the left bank …

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… phew made if across without getting wet feet, but I did have a muddy bum!

620 – Monday 6th February 2017:  Mafra

J takes over.  K ran with Oscar in the am – and I rested my back – probably run tomorrow? Brekkied and van all serviced up (although we may stay here again tonight), we sailed towards Mafra – a hilltop town with a huge Palace/Basilica/barracks. Quite a few sharp bends along the way – but nothing Jez has not successfully navigated. Nice wide streets and lots of parking – including our choice – free right beside the Palace. Oscar drew the short straw – and was left guarding the van – a sort of ‘alarming’ dog….


Perfect Parking.

The Palace is immense – built in 1717 – the 300-year anniversary is this year with lots of events planned later in the Annus Mafravelous…..  Unfortunately, all the original furniture was taken to Brazil with the Royal Family and not returned. What we saw presumably was largely sparse reproduction. Rooms and ceilings wonderfully decorated – lots of hunting scenes – the Royals who stayed here had to be heavily into hunting.  We couldn’t get into the Basilica but saw it from an upper floor.  The un-wow factor was a huge room devoted to hunting – more stags and boars heads than we have ever seen in one place – tables and chairs made from antlers and skins – no prize for guessing why this stuff didn’t make it to Brazil – or maybe the Brazilians returned it!  

The absolute mega wow-factor is the Library – the photos show the scale – with 36,000 books – a lot with covers in gold leaf – breathtaking – worth the visit for this gem alone. But otherwise, we were left a tad disappointed – maybe after Sintra and the surrounding Palces, this was slightly out of palace?


The Royal family’s hunting Lodge:  Begun in 1717 in a mammoth spree of wild spending.  The Palace has over 1,200 rooms, over 4,700 doorways, 2,500 windows … At one point there were over 45,000 artisans working on the Palace with 7,000 soldiers keeping them in order.  The world’s largest collection of bells are in the twin towers – 92 of them.  The story goes that the Flemish bell founders queried the extravagant bell order.  On on being asked, King Dom Joao said, “ So cheap?  Double the order!”  Apparently the cost and the use of such a large workforce nearly destroyed the economy, despite the gold that kept coming from Brazil.  All this expense, but it felt soul-less.



The King’s bed.  The Queen had a smaller one in the opposite tower.  Both had their own kitchen etc.


The long corridors with doorway stretched on and on…


The Queen’s bathroom … one of the more appealing rooms.


One of the salons, but it would not look amiss in an English south coast hotel!


A treasure – an C18th pinball machine.


Not a treasure – some of the animal furniture … spot the baby boar’s head on the sofa!

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The top treasure, which made the visit absolutely worthwhile – The Library at 83.6m, built on a church’s cross with books dating from C15-C18.  Many were bound by the monks living there.  It is so precious that the Pope issued a ‘bull’ (law) that no one could remove books without the permission of the King.

Oscar (released from bondage) – once he had stopped pawing Katherine, accompanied us for a very good helping of local ice cream. We would have visited the Tapada – hunting grounds with plantings, but wild boar are not dog friendly!  Enough of Mafra, we took a small division to Sobreiro, where Jose Franco built a miniature village with ‘kooky’ houses that you can walk into – great fun for children. 


The miniature village was complete with bandstand, waterwheel, primary school and castle.


Honestly J, you don’t need to do the washing by hand, we’ve a twin tub! 

Back towards Santa Susana with our 2 redoubtable SillySatNavs – Madge and Colin – we ended up in a very narrow street – with parked cars, sharp turns and an overhanging roof!!!   Luckily, the local neighbours turned out to advise and guide us – the clearance between our roof and the overhang was millimetres – K piloted us to safety and a better road back to our bivouac. Peace reigns and blogging (a short J guitar practice) – and Knitting…….  Now, K nitting – not Knitpicking – is not an exact science – it’s sometimes “Knit 120 – undo 120” – nothing to do with wine Consumption, either! Possibly, unKnitpicking….

5 thoughts on “619-620: Mafra

  1. Good choice going to Mafra. I loved it there, especially the library. Can’t believe your SatNav got you into trouble yet again. There’s a lot to be said for using only a Michelin Atlas, local knowledge and common sense. That being said, I did get into the wrong lane for the French toll booth the other day, but in my defence I was quite tired having covered over 300 kms up the coast of Italy.


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