A Day in Sintra

A Day in Sintra.

On a clear day, you can see Sintra from Lisbon. Husband suggested that we spent a day there, but a quick perusal of his guidebook, and we all declined, as it looked boring. The following morning at breakfast, M said his Portuguese friend had said we should definitely visit, and he’d checked on the internet, and it looked really interesting. He showed us exciting pictures of deep wells you could walk down, and fairy castles, and we all decided to go. Husband said very little.

Most online reports about Sintra said you shouldn’t drive, as there is nowhere to park and the walk to the palace is very steep. However, most online reports were written by tour companies, who earn their living transporting people to the palace, so we ignored them and drove. Parking in Sintra was something of a challenge, because although there was a massive car-park (where a person could lose their car for several days) there were not many spaces. As people returned to their cars, a man rushed to stand in the space, and his friend then guided arriving cars to that space and charged a fee. We managed to avoid both scammers and a fee, by following a returning parked pedestrian, and then parking in their spot.

R then led us down lots of hills, and then up the same hills, to Quinta da Regaleira. This had very pretty grottos and follies, and way too many tourists. The best thing was the Tower of Initiation, which was the deep well we’d seen in pictures. It looked better in the pictures than in real life.

I wore practical clothes/shoes for the trip. I avoided full-length photos. However, as our next task was to walk up a mountain, I was quite pleased I had worn my big trainers. We walked up (a lot of up) a narrow cobbled road, diving into bushes to avoid the coaches which filled the whole space, and tuk-tuks whizzing down, so you hoped the 10 year old driving had good brakes. I think these are the people who wrote those reports.

We reached the palace, and more long queues. There were queues to buy tickets, then queues to enter the grounds, followed by a super-long queue to enter the actual palace. To increase the challenge further, there were two queues to buy tickets—one to a ticket office and one to a machine. Quick family discussion to decide strategy (not my genes) then family split; satellite group going to machine queue, main group staying in line for ticket office. Can life get more exciting? (If you prefer a less exciting trip, you can save time and buy tickets online at home.)

The castle was amazing. Ferdinand Ⅱ built it as a summer palace for the royal family. He commissioned Eschwege, a German architect who was well travelled and wanted to incorporate lots of different elements. It has parts that show Islamic influence, as well as Medieval elements. He said he wanted it to be like an opera—and it sort of is. It was completed in 1854. The last queen of Portugal, Queen Amelia, spent her last night here before she fled to Brazil. It really is amazing—sort of Taj Mahal meets Disney.
However, there were too many people, and too many queues. Some rude people managed to push in and not queue (clear psychopathic tendencies) so I took their photographs.

The inside of the palace was pretty, but with so many visitors it reminded me of the slow shuffle through the Vatican, and it wasn’t as worth seeing. The best part is the outside.

There is lots more to do in the area, like the Castle of the Moors, and of course the palace gardens and Sintra itself. But we were tired by the time we’d seen inside the palace, so we returned to the hotel via about 25 different motorways (car has a weird SatNav).

A nice day, if somewhat exhausting. Thank you for reading.
Hope you have a nice week.
Love, Anne x

Thank you for reading anneethompson.com
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Anne E. Thompson has written several novels, available from bookshops and Amazon.

If you enjoyed this, you will love my new book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary.
I have always written a diary on holiday, so last Christmas, I decided to find all my old diaries and blogs, and make a book for my children. However, several other people also asked for a copy, so I have written a public version – it’s available on Amazon and has been described as “The Durrells meet Bill Bryson”!

Why not buy a copy today? I think it will make you laugh.

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