Oh, Sintra. You are hands-down one of the most beautiful cities (towns?) I’ve ever been to. Just look at that panoramic view that Becca captured with her phone yesterday. And now for some more details about the day trip we took on our last day in Portugal:
- I hate Rossio Station in Lisbon. The best way to get to Sintra involves a direct train from Rossio, but Becca and I had a really bad experience here at the station. As we were waiting to buy our tickets, an extremely skinny man cut in front of us and started booking a roundtrip ticket to Sintra. Turns out he was booking a ticket for me! He held out his hand for my money, put it into the machine, and handed me my transportation card. Sounds like a nice guy speeding up a dismally slow process right? Wrong. He then leaned in and said, “Now you buy one for me.” I didn’t feel comfortable at all— and the ticket only cost two euros— so I went ahead and gave him the money. But the entire experience had me upset to my stomach for a good hour or so.
- Our first stop in Sintra was the Castle of the Moors. Getting there involved boarding a city bus and winding our way up the side of a GIANT mountain. Let’s just say that that was an experience in and of itself. I will never know how the bus driver navigated such a large vehicle around such sharp turns. Terrifying business.
- The Castle of the Moors dates from the ninth century and has absolutely phenomenal views. After walking through a dense forest, we approached the castle entrance and began walking along the fortress walls. Becca actually got her panoramic photo from the Royal Tower of the castle. I loved being in such a beautiful place, but climbing down from the stone towers scared me to death. Meanwhile children were flying down the stairs beside me. I almost had a heart attack.
- Our next stop in Sintra was the Pena Palace. The palace actually stood on an even higher spot in the mountains so we got great views of the surrounding area AND of the Castle of the Moors. Becca and I had a great time walking around the palace rooms, but walking up to the palace itself was the definition of horrific. By the time we got to the entrance, sweat rolled in waves down my face. I’m not kidding— the guy checking our tickets took one look at me and said, “No need to cry!” How embarrassing.
- The best part of the Pena Palace had to be walking downhill by the Valley of the Lakes. The wildlife and greenery were lovely, and it didn’t hurt that it was significantly cooler under the shade. We also saw two black swans swimming in one of the lakes! Apparently one of the Portuguese kings wanted to create a forest with plants from Germany, Asia, and the Mediterranean so that he could enjoy all types of vegetation at the same time. He ended up with a pretty neat combination of plants and animals.
Needless to say, Becca and I thoroughly enjoyed the last day of our trip in gorgeous Sintra, Portugal. It’s so hard to leave such a beautiful place!