11 September 2019
Staying in Sintra is like being in another world. A land of fairytales and castles, wood elves and goblins. The hilltop town, yet another World Heritage Site, even has it’s own microclimate.
The mountain side is dotted with Palaces and castles, parks and gardens and all the tourists we met in Lisbon yesterday. Plus a few more!
There were cars, buses, coaches, tuk tuks and even horse and buggies filled with people vying for a bit of road to take them up the mountain. Organised mayhem!!
Once again, we had a rough plan but after yesterday’s marathon, we thought we might slow the pace a little.
We arrived at our No. 1 choice, Pena Palace, after a hairy bus ride up narrow windy roads, squeezing between castle walls, parked cars and walkers and traversing narrow ridges between impressive ravines. We all survived!
We joined the “Skip the Queue “ queue and wished we had arrived a lot, lot earlier!! “Skip the queue” is just a marketing ploy to get people to pay extra to stand in a different queue to others who weren’t suckered in!
But, as in all good fairytales, our handsome Prince came to the rescue, disguised as a Palace Guide and plucked us from the interminable line and fast tracked us into the inner sanctum. For what reason, he picked us, and not others, we do not know. ( Except the obvious charm we ooze constantly). It was so lovely to breeze past those, who for some reason, were the unchosen. Guilt???? Nope!!
We had to promise on the life of our ugly step sister to take no photos inside the castle!! Bugger.
The rooms were opulent and well laid out. Oh how the other half lived. I so wanted to take photos but I had given an oath with Prince Charming and , if I had an ugly step sister, her life depended on me!
I did sneak a photo, technically outside even though we were officially still inside but I think I got away with it. Grahame was disgusted! So was my ugly step sister. Toying with her life!
And the ugly stepsister lives on!
There were beautiful tiles:
Stunning doors, arches and windows:
And lots and lots of tourists.
After leaving the Palace we wandered down hill through the gardens, dreading the thought that what goes down must eventually come up.
The gardens were lovely and imagine our delight, to discover the gate at the very bottom of the garden led us to the “Hop On Hop Off” bus which circled the mountain continuously throughout the day.
Our next port of call, or “fort of call” ( sorry!!!) was the Moorish Castle we had seen the night before from far below in Sintra town.
They must have been fit, those Moors, because it was a long way up from the fort entrance, to take a cup of tea to the night watchman on duty, at the very top!!
We had planned to visit a few other places in the afternoon, but after yesterday’s mammoth day, we decided to tone it down a notch and go for a drive to the coast instead.
We arrived in Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point in mainland Europe, just in time to watch the sun go down!
I found a few busloads of my friends there too, but otherwise it was stunning!