Flower Designs, Travel

Portugal – Sintra

On our last day in Portugal we finally made it to Sintra to visit Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace). Sintra has four palaces that you can visit. Each one different and all beautiful in their own way. We had plans to visit both Pena and Quinta da Regaleira, but due to the very dreary weather we only visited Pena.

First off, let me say that Pena Palace is beautiful and something out of a fairy tale. Inside the palace the décor is amazing and the architecture is stunning. However, you are herded through like cattle. While we made friends while in our cue, there were times we were being pushed along by others. You can pay only to walk the grounds and not go inside the palace.

That all being said, it is so worth a visit if only to walk the beautiful grounds and see the stunning vistas (not that we could see them due to the weather).

Mind you, I was having a blonde senior moment and wore my sandals. I had put them on to walk down for breakfast and forgot to change into my tennies. Silly me. We were in the Uber half way there when I finally notice…of course it was at the same time the rain started. Oh well…I don’t melt.

If you love photography, Pena Palace is the place for you. Even with my very amateurish abilities I was able to get some great shots of the grounds. And these were just from the path to walk (uphill) from the ticket booth to the palace. Most Instagram pictures of the palace are when it’s bright and sunny out, but I actually loved this moody, mysterious vibe that the drizzly rain gave to my photos. It did prevent us from exploring too much though as the pathways were a bit muddy.

Ok less talking…more pictures. Please note these photos are unfiltered.

First the palace. While it’s not flora, architecture is important in design and is a fascination of mine.

Look at these cute little cyclamen. It’s hard to tell from the picture because I zoomed in but these are itty bitty. I’ve seen small cyclamen in like two inch pots but these seemed even smaller. Could just be that they were in a massive forest. No matter…they are precious.

It was told to us by our tuk-tuk driver (we took a tuk-tuk back down the hill) that King Ferdinand II collected trees and plants from all over the world (including sequoias from North America) and planted them on his property. His collection is so vast that it created its own ecosystem and that the weather we were experiencing was more common than the sunny skies you see of the palace in all the pictures.

While I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have views from the palace overlooking the town of Sintra and seeing the other castles on neighboring hills, I have to say the artist in me loved how these photos turned out.


And…because I’ve become moss obsessed…some close-ups. 😍


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May your day be filled with flowers!


The dreaded sandals on a rainy day.


Flower Designs, Travel


Last year, I was so lucky to be able to travel to Portugal with my very best friend, Heidi. She is my soul sister and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate our 50th birthdays than this trip. She did have to put up with me taking a million pictures and yes, dear readers, I took many of the plant life there. Mind you, I was truly fascinated by the architecture…so beautiful and intricate. The tiles were colorful and awe inspiring.

Honestly, thinking back on the trip I was remembering very few trees and plants throughout the streets of Lisbon. I was thinking of the praças (plazas) that were located every few blocks that had maybe one tree next to the coffee/beer huts with tables scattered underneath them. But even in the more residential areas that were we staying in there were very few trees or flowers. And then I went back and looked at my pictures and realized, I wasn’t wrong, very few trees along the streets but just as many Jardims (gardens) as there were stony praças. And two were right in our neighborhood…three if you include the Botanico.

Our first day there, we visited the Jardim Botanico which was only a few blocks from our apartment. The grounds were beautiful and we took a leisurely stroll through. I hadn’t ever seen this lovely pink blossomed tree before… called a Chorisia Speciosa or silk floss tree. A relative of the baobab tree which you can see in the way the bottom of the trunk is shaped.

In the Jardim do Príncipe Real (which was the district we were staying in) there is this gorgeous Cyprus tree that sprawls out so wide that they placed a iron arbor underneath to hold it up. Spectacular!

Of course I had to find flower stalls, shops, and wholesalers.

Lisbon is so large that I think we could have spent another month there and not see a quarter of it. But, we left to explore other cities. Our next stop was Coimbra which has a large university situated at the top of a hill. We, unfortunately, could not visit the university’s Botanico because of a hurricane that had come through the week prior and damage was done to some of the trees. Which I had noticed on the train ride up, seems a lot of trees were affected throughout the region.

Check out these massive Kokadamas hanging in a window of a vegan restaurant we ate at in Porto…yes, I ate in a vegan restaurant and lived to tell about it. Lol!

Our final city that we visited was a day trip to Sintra. But I think that will be next week’s post as the gardens there were magical…especially because the day was dreary and foggy…giving it a very mystical feel. But you’ll see that in next week’s post.

P.S. For those of you who are following along, I’m happy to report I did my financial audit and my desk is still a mess!

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May your day we filled with flowers!

Flower Designs, Travel

Conservatory of Flowers

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.  This is just an hour south of where I live and yet I have never visited.   Since I had a Thursday to play in the city, I decided it was high time I went.

If you have never visited Golden Gate Park it should be on your itinerary the next time you are in San Francisco.   There is so much to offer, The DeYoung Museum, The Natural History Museum, The Botanical Gardens, The Japanese Tea Garden…and so much more.  I’m sure you could spend 10 days there and not see everything.  We parked in the underground parking garage and walked to the conservatory, which for me was a treat, as I hadn’t really see much of the park outside of the museum.  The grounds are gorgeous and I think my next trip will be to do some exploring through the Botanical Gardens.

Something you should realize about the conservatory…is that it is super humid hot in there.  I mean, muggy, wet, sultry, humid air (had to use multiple adjectives that mean the same because it was that bad).  Now some people like that type of “weather”, I am not one of them.   Therefore, when I was stuck in the same spot for about 10 minutes with the tour guide, I finally decided to do a self-guided tour.  I knew I would move a bit faster than the docent would.  Please do not let me discourage you from joining the tour, it is very informational and is free of charge with a volunteer docent.

Confession time: I am not a fan of carnivorous plants.  They creep me out.  Makes me think of Little Shop of Horrors (which I love), but still, plants shouldn’t eat meat.   Despite this, I found myself taking pictures of the pitcher plants, as I didn’t realize there were so many different varieties and sizes.

Orchids were very prominent in the conservatory, some very familiar and others I had never seen before.  Yes, that orchid that looks big…is REALLY big!  Though not carnivorous, it makes me think of Audrey 2.

Other typical tropical flowers such as bromeliads, anthuriums, and hibiscus could be found throughout as well.

I thought these water lilies were just beautiful and peaceful looking.  I could sit and look at them for hours…provided it wasn’t so hot.

The grounds surrounding the conservatory are gorgeous with small gardens scattered around.  Of course, I was drawn to the dahlias and succulent areas.

Go see the Conservatory of Flowers on your next visit to San Francisco…I think you will really enjoy it.

May your day be filled with beautiful flowers!