Sintra – October 16

We devoted the whole of today for an outing to Sintra, which is about a 30-minute train ride from Lisbon. So many people have told us that we have to visit Sintra that we were very much looking forward to it!

Sintra is a charming little town full of palaces and tourist shops. The highlight is the totally wacky Pena Palace perched atop an impossibly steep hill with a commanding view of the Atlantic and surrounding countryside. The Pena Palace was built in the mid 19th Century by one of Portugal’s kings–a cousin of Mad Ludwig who built the Disney-like castle in Bavaria. Well obviously romantic weirdness runs in the family. What a place!

It’s pretty much impossible to describe, so here are some pictures.

From the Pena Palace entrance looking up

The palace is built right into the rock

Turrets, domes, towers, and palm trees — Pena Palace has it all
View of the Atlantic from one of the terraces
Looking down at the crowds, which were luckily pretty sparse

We toured through the palace and were very grateful to be visiting in October and not in the middle of summer. The palace rooms are very, very small, dark, and cluttered in true Victorian style. During the summer months, so one of the guards told us, the place is absolutely packed, making the tour through the rooms pretty tortuous.

As it was, we were able to stroll quite quickly through room after room of cramped sumptuousness — not really my style! Pictures were not allowed inside but even if they were, there’s only so much heavy dark Victorian furniture one wants in one’s files!

We were glad to escape to the outside and enjoy the clear air, amazing views, and beautiful warm sunshine. October in Portugal is pretty darn nice! Here are some more pictures.

One of the many onion domes

Damsel on the battlements – still getting tanned in a Portuguese October
Nice background!

Good view of the palace
Gregg cracks his back at the Pena Palace

Close up of one of the pillars — I believe the wee beasties are alligators

After enjoying the palace, we had a good chat with an Australian couple. The man was an information specialist who created policy and procedure manuals. We got to talking about Word and how no one knows how to use the styles.  He gave me his card — maybe there will be some work there helping him to format his manuals since he’s been having a terrible time getting the help he needs. Who knows! I wouldn’t say no to a few new contracts once I get home. The Visa would sure appreciate it!

We walked down the hill a ways to the next major site on the Sintra itinerary — the Moorish castle. Well, talk about atmospheric! The castle wanders up and down across a windswept ridge with numerous battlements, narrow stairs, and towers. It was built by the Moors in the 8th Century — God knows how they got all the materials up there but obviously they did. The castle was then heavily restored in the 19th century so most of the artistic ruins are actually not original, but hey – they are still very very beautiful.

Our legs got a good workout going up and down the steep stairs in search of the perfect shot! Here are a few:

Those Moors knew a good view when they saw one
 We left the castle and walked back up to the Palace (the operative word being “up”), then caught the bus back down to Sintra. The town is full of tourist shops and tourists and patio restaurants but for all that it’s very charming. Gregg settled down with a beer and to watch the world go by and I indulged in a bit of souvenir shopping.
An hour later we were back in Lisbon and enjoying some quiet time before eating another home cooked meal and doing just about nothing for the evening. It is lovely to be here for so long and therefore not feeling obliged to sightsee every minute of the day. We can spend an entire evening lounging around the apartment without feeling like we’re missing something!
Early to bed preparatory to another adventure — a two day car trip out to Evora, about an hour east of Lisbon in the Alentejo region of Portugal.



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Categories: Travel

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