I mentioned before that Sintra is a small, nature, tourist town about an hour from Lisboa. It's easy to get there and back for even a half-day, though a full day is recommended if you want to take in everything it has to offer (and everything is pretty much worth the time and cost). But this trip I was going back for two specific things: 1) the sunset (which I saw from the train ride home the first time I went) and; 2) the Palacio de Pena (which I got lost trying to find the first day only to discover at the end of that first day how easy it was to find).
The Palace is absolutely worth it. I was kind of bummed that I had only gone back for the end of the day. My intent was to get some drawing done in the town, hike up the nature trail to the top of the mountain to the palace at the end of the day for sunset, and return to Lisboa afterward. What I didn't realize is that the palace is full of amazing color and line variations as a result of its somewhat historical and somewhat intentional design mix of different cultures and eras. I could have spent the entire day just in the back courtyard drawing and painting all the different line variation possibilities. It was extremely stimulating. And oh yeah, the sunset is totally worth it (just a tip: if your house faces east, and your west-facing neighbor's house gets the sunset, convince them to paint their house different shades of yellow and red. You'll always look at your neighbor's house with great envy while simultaneously NOT wanting to move across the street at the same time. Just make sure your grass really is greener to keep your sanity).
One thing, though: Porto is expensive. It's not expensive because things cost a lot of money, but more that that there's so much that's worth seeing and doing that paying for all of that, and it ALL costs money, just adds up to a lot of money. As it was, I skipped out on going inside several "must-see" buildings because I couldn't justify on this particular trip spending 10 euros in each one. Instead I went inside the 3-5-euro buildings just to get some quantity in the short amount of time that I had. That cost me about 10 to 15 euros. If I had done all the other things I would have spent closer to 50 or 60 euros, and that's just for one day and doesn't include the many must-sees that are just a bit outside of the city center.
Porto didn't inspire me as an artist as much as I had hoped. I don't know why, but I guess I just didn't see the intriguing lines and contradictions in perspective that I'm normally drawn to. I could have spent all day at Palacio de Pena just drawing and painting, but in Porto I was more of a walking tourist. This shouldn't prevent you from visiting. Porto is wonderful for walking old, cobblestone streets. It has a lot of nice, wide views. It just didn't inspire what I see as an artist. But who knows, maybe someday I'll be inspired by sweeping vistas and Porto will be right for me then.
It is a nice town, though, and I did work on a couple of sketches that I'll put together later as more formal works.
I'm still foreseeing some issues with the area around the eyes and nose (and even the chin, to be honest) where a lot of bending needs to take place. I'm not 100% sure how I'm going to do that yet. Aluminum cans crush very easily, but they don't mold or sculpt as easily as you might think. I might need a hammer and an extra set of hands, but we'll see how it goes. But I'm pretty happy with the results thus far. Fingers are crossed this continues well.
I'll post more about Bilbao in the next update. Too late of a return home and too much catching up to do.