Exploring California: The New Tesla Supercharger in Kettleman City

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The exterior of the new Tesla Supercharger in Kettleman City

With the holidays upon us, more people will be hitting the road. For Tesla owners, this can mean long wait times at Supercharger stations. For those traveling on the I-5 between Los Angeles and San Francisco, there is good news. A 40 stall Supercharger station just opened in Kettleman City.

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Panorama of the Kettleman City Tesla Supercharger

I visited the spanking new supercharger on Saturday and was wildly impressed. It looks like something straight out of the Jetsons. In addition to the well designed and shaded layout and of the solar charging stalls, the Kettleman City Supercharger offers amenities for Tesla owners. There are bathrooms and a guest lounge where you can order a craft beverage from a Tesla barista while enjoying free wifi. There is even Tesla merchandise for sale.

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Kettleman City Supercharger Entrance 

The Kettleman City supercharger should help relieve the burden at the Bakersfield and Harris Ranch Superchargers during heavy traffic times, as well as when the Tesla Model 3s start to add additional traffic.  Access to the facilities is gained by an access code sent directly to guest’s Tesla touchscreen.

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Solar covered charging stalls at the Kettleman City Supercharger

There are quite a few dining options near the Kettleman City supercharger, including California favorites In-N-Out Burger, Bravo Farms and Baja Fresh.

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Pretty Tesla Chargers all in a row

The astroturf lawn is perfect for walking your pets.

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Kettleman City Supercharger

Another 40 stall Tesla Supercharger is set to open this week in Baker, for those driving between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

My Tesla did not list the Kettleman City supercharger as an option last Thursday (a day after it opened) so be sure to ask your Tesla navigation system for specific directions.

Kettleman City Supercharger

27675 Bernard Drive

Kettleman City, CA 93239

Roadside Assistance (877) 798-3752

Charging
40 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 120kW

 

 

Exploring Greece: the Windmills of Mykonos

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Ana and the windmills

Mykonos, Greece is known as “the island of the winds.” Windmills have been one of the most iconic landmarks of the Greek islands since the 16th century.

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Blue fence and doors at one of the Mykonos windmills

I love traveling to popular tourist destinations during shoulder season. Without the summer throng of tourists you don’t have to fight the crowds to photograph an famous landmark or struggle get a dinner reservation. While the mediterranean climate was pleasant during my time on Mykonos, when the wind kicked up it could turn quite brisk.

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Moody skies above the Windmills of Kato Mili

The most famous windmills on the island are the seven lower mills, also know as Kato milli, which are located near near the sea in Mykonos town. They are an iconic part of Mykonian landscape.

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Clouds and windmills

The Mykonos wind was one of my favorite things about photographing the island. Occasionally it felt like I had a wind machine on location, sometimes cranked up too high.

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A view from the sea of the Windmills of Kato

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Ana in front of the windmills

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Ana photographing the windmills

If you’re looking for things to do on Mykonos, the windmills of Kato Milli is a must. I highly walking around them during the golden hour before sunset. Then head to one of the nearby bars to enjoy a sundowner and the view. I recommend Katerina’s in the Little Venice neighborhood.

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Windmills in black and white

It’s worth looping back after the sun dips below the horizon for vibrant colors.

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Too much wind is a wonderful thing

The image above, shot on my iPhone 8 plus, might be my favorite from the time I spent at the windmills.

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Another view of the windmills

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Left: Ana against the wind Right: Ana on a less windy visit

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Ana in front of one of the Windmills of Kato Milli

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A view of the windmills from a bar in Little Venice

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A cosmo from Katerina’s and a view of the windmills

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a view of one of the Mykonos windmills from 180º Sunset Bar

There are 16 windmills on Mykonos. You can check out one of the upper mills from 180º Sunset Bar. Be advised, the bar doesn’t take reservations so get there early if you want a great scene. It’s a lovely spot overlooking Mykonos town.

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Shifting colors at the windmills

While there are other windmills on Mykonos, the cluster of seven together makes for a fun place to explore.

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Afterglow at the windmills

 

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Sunset is a popular time for photographers to visit the windmills

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The windmills at sunset

Details:

Out of 16 preserved and renovated windmills in Mykonos today, 7 are located in the area of Kato Mili, between the Alefkandra harbor and the neighborhood of Neochori, southeast of Chora.

Katerina’s Restaurant and Cocktail Bar

 

Address: Mikonou 8, Agii Anargiri 864 00, Greece
Hours: 9AM–3AM
Phone: +30 2289 023084
Chora Mykonou
Mýkonos, Kikladhes, Greece 84600
+30 699 360 1424
6pm-11pm

Exploring Verona, Italy: a Photo Essay

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A view of the Castelvecchio Bridge

Verona, Italy is perhaps best known as the setting of the Shakespeare’s Young Adult classic, Romeo & Juliet. But there is more to this medieval town in the Veneto than Juliet’s balcony. I was lucky to spend a few days in Verona in early October to attend a friend’s wedding. Here are some of my favorite finds in this charming Italian city.

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fly by of the Castelvecchio bridge

If you’re looking for things to do in Verona, The Museo de Castelvecchio is a must. The Roman fortress, built on the Adige river in the 1300s, is a great place to wander and and check out the simple Gothic architecture and bridge. The inside has been renovated into a museum with exhibits including statues, painting and sculpture as well as some very cool ancient weapons and armor.

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Bird at Castelvecchio

Be sure to check opening hours, as the Museum is closed on Monday mornings as well as some holidays.

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Walking along the banks of the Adige River

If opera is on your radar, don’t miss the Arena di Verona, a Roman amphitheater orignially built during the first century. Now it’s the home to the Arena di Verona Festival during the summer. While there wasn’t an opera during my visit to Verona, I did sit at a table next to an opera singer at lunch who was singing while waiting for her food.

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Villa Zamboni

Like all of Italy, Verona has some beautiful churches. The Gothic Sant’Anastasia is centrally located but charges a fee to visit. I stayed at Hotel Due Torri, overlooking the church. My room overlooked the Piazza, where I got a bird’s eye view of a local wedding.

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Just Married getaway Fiat

The Hotel Due Torri also has a great rooftop bar which is great location for a happy hour drink and view of the church and surrounding terra cotta rooftops.

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Just married in Verona

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Exterior of Sant’Anastasia Church

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Details in Sant’Anastasia

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Wall murals at Sant’Anastasia

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Window light at Hotel Due Torri

Since this is Italy, you can eat well in Verona. The charming Osteria Ponte Pietra has a small but lovely terrace overlooking the Adige river and great pasta. Restaurants in Verona are small, so reservations are a must.

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Interior of  Osteria Ponte Pietra

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Pasta at Osteria Ponte Pietra

Ristorante Antica Torretta was another delicious find. They have a seafood-centric menu and romantic atmosphere to boot.

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Still life at a gourmet shop in Verona

Window shopping is a lot of fun in Verona. I accidentally wandered into a store that outfitted opera divas or people going to carnival in Venice, or maybe both.

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Pretty in Pink (and a swan hat) in Verona

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Street art outside the Verona Arena

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Obligatory Vespa shot

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Moonlight stroll on the Adige

Verona is a great walking city and it’s worth taking an evening stroll after dinner along the Adige river.

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Verona after Dark

Contact details are below.

Ristorante Antica Torretta

dinner on patio. good for romantics

Piazza Broilo, 1
37121 Verona – Italia
Tel. / Fax 045 80.15.292

Osteria Ponte Pietra Ristorante

via Ponte Pietra 34
37121  Verona
T. +39 045 80 41 929

Basilica of Sant’Anastasia

Piazza Santa Anastasia
37121  Verona
T. +39 045 592813
entrance 2.50€

Castelvecchio Museum

corso Castelvecchio 2
37121 Verona
T. +39 045 8062611
entrance 6.00€

Verona Arena

Piazza Bra
37121 Verona
T.+39 045/596517

Due Torri Hotel

Piazza St. Anastasia, 4,
37121 Verona
T. +39 045 595044

Exploring Montana: A Stay at the Ranch at Rock Creek with Dogs

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Horsing around at the Ranch at Rock Creek

I’m a big fan of Montana and try to visit the Treasure State as often as I can. Last month my husband made a repeat visit to The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg and this time we took our two Labrador Retrievers with us.

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Wildfires in the area made the Montana skies less picturesque than usual

There is a huge difference between properties that tolerate pets and those that are truly pet-friendly. The Ranch at Rock Creek is the latter. While the resort does charge a pet fee of $50 a pet per night, it’s totally worth it to be able to wander the Ranch and hang out at the bar with your dogs. Our labs weren’t the only dogs on the property. They made a few friends including an extremely friendly Golden Doodle named Tex and Flint, a black lab who lives at the RRC.

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Charming porch outside Eagle’s Perch

Wildfires have been a big problem in the west this year, and Montana had a lot of them during the time we visited. This gave the air a constant chargrilled scent and the skies a bazaar cast that made it look they had a sunset filter on from sun up to sun down. But that didn’t hamper the three days of fun we had at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

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Morning view of the Welcome Pond

The Ranch provided pick up and transportation for us (and our two labradors) from the airport to the property. The nearest major airport is Missoula, which is approximately 90 minutes by car. We arrived at the Ranch in time for lunch, which we enjoyed outdoors since the fall weather was still warm enough to dine outside. Lunch was delicious, as the RRC is an all-inclusive property as well as the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star ranch.

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Supermodel Horse

We wanted to stay in the Loft of the Historic Barn because the room stood out during our last trip to the Ranch. It was very nicely situated close to the Barn and the Rod & Gun Club which were the staging area where most of our activities started.

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The western chic bathroom in the Loft of the Historic Barn

You never go hungry at the Ranch at Rock Creek. It’s a Relais & Châteaux property and chef Chef Josh Drage’s food program keeps getting better. The day started with morning coffee in the Granite Lodge and breakfast a bit later. Our dogs enjoyed joining us for Social Hour with Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres at 5 pm.

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Grilled steak salad in the Granite Lodge

Breakfast and lunch are served in the Granite Lodge, and for dinner they mixed things up. One night we had a great BBQ. We also enjoyed long trail ride followed by a picnic lunch at The Top of the World, the highest viewpoint of the ranch. Normally the Top of the World is is known for it’s stunning views of Big Sky Country. The views were hampered by the smoky air but we still enjoyed the experience, complete with homemade lemonade and locally brewed beer.

Fun fact: Montana is #2 in number of microbreweries per capita (only Oregon has more)

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Ribeye and Zeppelin enjoying Montana life

We took a lot of long walks around the property because the the dogs really enjoyed roaming and running and playing in the creek (which was pretty shallow this time of the year). RRC has hired naturalists on staff to help show you around the property, and we loved loved it.

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Girl goats at the barn

My younger lab, Ribeye was less charmed by the three goats who roamed the grounds. They were friendly but he’s definitely not a fan.

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Dog day afternoon at the Ranch at Rock Creek

We like to get on horses in Montana and took daily trail rides. My husband especially enjoyed the shooting sports raving about the pistols and rifle range.

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Getting ready for a trail ride

I passed on the guns and hung out at the bar where the bartender made a great margarita and delicious Montana Mule served up in a copper mug made from locally mined copper from nearby Butte.

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trail riding fun

We were even given two Ranch at Rock Creek copper mugs as a welcome amenity.

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Scene from a trail ride

The staff at the Ranch at Rock Creek is great and laundry service was speedy (riding clothes get dusty quick). The barn even has quite an array of loaner boots in case you forgot a pair that is suitable for riding.

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Obligatory cow photo

During the summer months, the Ranch at Rock Creek has a rodeo on the property. Riding lessons can also take place in the ranch’s arena.

 

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Good to go trail riding

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Left: Montana Craft Beer Right: Smoky views at the Top of the World

The dogs were sad when our three day stay at the ranch came to an end. I hope to bring them back during another season, since winter and summer have different experiences to offer.

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Morning ride

The Ranch at Rock Creek is also a popular spot for corporate retreats, destination weddings, and family reunions since it has lots to offer in a fun yet luxurious atmosphere and can accommodate 125 guests.

 

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targets from the shooting activities 

In the winter, there is even an ice skating pond complete with a warming hut. I’d love to spend the holidays here!

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Creek Crossing

The RRC is constantly improving and upgrading. The property is closed from late mid- January to mid-February and this is when some of the improvements happen. We heard a new Rod & Gun Club in is the works.

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Left: BBQ goodness Right: Grilled veggies and ribs

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Spicy beans

We had so much fun at the Ranch at Rock Creek. Our dogs did too. The staff was even helpful locating a hose so we could rinse off our dogs after a particularly dust-filled day of exploring.

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Flint, the ranch dog, joined Zeppelin and Ribeye for a game of fetch

The other guests at the Ranch at Rock Creek are also cool. We socialized over cocktails and everyone had interesting tales from their day of adventure.

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Zeppelin on the wagon

 

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Left: Ribeye enjoying nature Right: Zeppelin on the go

It was pure joy watching our labs play in the creek and run free at the ranch. They don’t have this kind of freedom at home in Seattle.

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Zeppelin and Ribeye enjoying Rock Creek

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Smoky mid-day sun at the Ranch at Rock Creek

My trip to the Ranch at Rock Creek was booked through Linda Clark of Lake Forest Travel Bureau. You can reach her via the email below.

linda@lakeforesttravel.com

(All inclusive rates at the Ranch at Rock Creek begin at $900)

Exploring Portugal: Vibrant Lisbon

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Famous 28th tram in Lisbon

Editor’s Note: Anastasia Chernykh (the social media manager for My Life’s a Trip) just came back from Lisbon  with rave reviews. I asked her to do this post for the blog. Her images have me craving a trip to Portugal. – Jen Pollack Bianco 

The number of foreign tourists visiting Portugal has exceeded 10 million for the first time in 2016. Portugal has been named the destination of the year (Travel+Leisure), most popular place to visit in 2017 (Huffington Post), and on top of that the city has won Best European Destination World Travel Award. Everyone seems to be going to Portugal now, and I can see why!

I flew to Lisbon after a short trip to Paris, and it was such a great difference. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely love Paris, but Lisbon felt so welcoming, cozy and warm after a big rainy city. Like a visit to an old friend.

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Lisbon fashion tip: blend into city colors!

You know a city is tourist friendly when you don’t need to spend  hours to get from an airport to its center. Lisbon airport is just 6 miles away, and has several transportation options including metro, bus, and taxi. The weather is pleasant here all year round. The climate strongly influenced by the Gulf Stream, it is one of the mildest climates in Europe (imagine 6-month long summer!).

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Azulejo tiles on Lisbon buildings are part of the city’s bright creative look

We stayed in an old city part called Alfama. I would say it’s one of the most interesting and iconic parts of Lisbon, but it’s not everything. You may not want to take famous 28 Eléctrico as it’s usually notoriously overcrowded, but use it’s route as a map for your own tour since it covers almost all main landmarks.

Walking seems to be the best way to explore old center of Lisbon, or the most convenient at least. It’s not a good idea to use a car in the city unless you are prepared to spend hours in traffic jams and looking for parking space. Cycling also doesn’t seem like a good idea, since Lisbon is located on seven hills, some of its streets have tram lines, potholes and an absence of designated bicycle lanes.

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Narrow streets of Lisbon

For me, Lisbon is not that much about sightseeing as about experiences. So try to live like a local in Lisbon instead of visiting:

Start your morning with pastéis de nata (an egg tart), this is the most famous local pastry and it’s delicious. Cafe culture is a very important in Portugal (fun fact–Portuguese colonists initiated the first coffee plantings in Brazil). The local coffee lingo is a bit different, for example espresso is often called bica, and for locals it’s normal to have at least 3 bicas a day. You won’t be able to stroll down a street in Lisbon without passing at least several of cafes.

After that, try to climb up to one of the several main Miradouro (viewpoints). The one near Santa Luzia church, for a breathtaking view of the city with its old terra cotta roofs.

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View of Alfama quarter and river Tagus

Lisbon doesn’t really have any ocean access or beaches, but it has long avenidas in front of river Tagus – Avenida Infante Dom Henrique and  Avenida Ribeira das Naus. Walk down the first to get to Praça do Comércio, one of the main city’s squares that was completely remodeled after the horrible Lisbon 1755 earthquake.

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Praça do Comércio with Statue of King José I 

The square is connected with the other traditional square Rossio, paved with typical Portuguese mosaic, this square is filled with cafes and restaurants, with a train station of the same name nearby.

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Praça do Comércio as seen through Arco da Rua Augusta

Keep walking along Avenida Ribeira for great sunset views of the 25 de Abril Bridge. There are several spots where people seat along the waterfront and enjoy the beautiful sunset views with another local specialty, porto wine.

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25 de Abril Bridge sometimes is compared to Golden Gate in San Francisco

Port is a world famous fortified wine from Portugal, produced exclusively in the Douro Valley (that’s where the city of Porto is located, hence the name of the wine). There are several styles of Port, including red, white, rosé and an aged style called Tawny Port.

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Vibrant sunset colors kept changing every 5 minutes

Looking for day trip options from Lisbon? Try visiting a small town Sintra. It is located only 20 miles away from Lisbon and packed with attractions.

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Entrance to Rossio train station, trains to Sintra run every 30 min

With its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, Sintra is now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and attracts visitors from all over the world. Royal retreats, estates, castles and other buildings, including the mediaeval Castelo dos Mouros, the Pena National Palace and the Sintra National Palace, are giving the town almost fairytale look.

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Sunset in Sintra

From Sintra it’s easy to go to the Westernmost point of the Europe, Cabo da Roca. The cliffs of Cabo de Roca were believed to be the edge of the world up until the late 14th century. Sunset is the best time to visit this dramatic landscape.

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