It’s been a long time in between posts … I don’t even want to do the math. But I’m happy to continue writing about the epic 4 month trip J’Nell and I took in 2019. The next stop on the journey was …

Sintra, Portugal: Dates Visited – November 23-25, 2019

Just when you think Portugal cannot get any more alluring, along comes Sintra.

Hilltop castles, colorful buildings, winding streets, great food & wine, and gorgeous views almost everywhere you turn. The town is a stunner. Many just make a day trip from Lisbon, but if you have more time it’s well worth at least two nights. We did that but could have happily stayed longer.

We booked our accommodations at Casa do Vinho Sintra Guest House, right in the center of town, and the owners were extremely friendly and the room was comfy with a patio. There’s also a terrific restaurant just steps away called Santo Bife, where we had a tasty lunch along with a pitcher of Sangria served in an earthenware container. It was a perfect spot to fuel up for our upcoming adventure.

The Moorish Castle, high up on the hill overlooking the town, was next on our agenda and it would be my favorite experience here. You can take a bus (or mini taxi) to the top, or ascend the scenic walkway with your feet; we choose the latter since it was such a fine afternoon. An overall easy hike with a few steep spots, it took us about 35 minutes to get to the castle.

We then meandered up and down the ancient stone stairs of the sprawling grounds, enjoying the history and the sweeping vistas of Sintra. It’s the kind of place where you take a lot of photos and enjoy them later, but the images cannot capture what makes it special. You have to concentrate with your eyes, mind, and heart, and your memory will be better than the digital images.

Going back down the hill it began to sprinkle, and on the steep stone path while enjoying the view of Sintra below, my feet went out from underneath me. I had hiked 550 miles from France to the westernmost spot of Spain with a 20 pound backpack strapped to me, and I had not fallen once. But here I was now, after a leisurely stroll around a tourist site, slipping and sliding out-of-control toward the side of a cliff. Thankfully I didn’t careen that far, and I quickly popped up to my feet finding only scraped hands, ripped pants, and a mildly bruised ego.

About half the way down we saw a restaurant with a nice view of the town, aptly named Sintra Terrance. It ended up being a wonderful place to stop for wine, a cheese plate, and to forget about my fall. Dusk turned to dark, and continuing our descent we saw runners with numbered bibs getting ready for a road race. We popped inside a tavern at ground level for more wine and to watch the start, and then moved to an outside café at the finish line for desert, coffee, and Portuguese brandy. Thankfully they had heating lamps, as the temperature had become frigid.

The next morning we explored the Palace of Sintra, which is in the town square and a short (flat) walk from our hotel. If on a day trip from Lisbon I would probably skip it, but with extra time I’m glad we were able to visit. The azulejos (blue and white tile artwork), gorgeous ceilings, and other decorative flourishes made it an enjoyable experience.

Palácio da Pena is Sintra’s biggest tourist draw, and with good reason. The multi colored building is a feast for the eyes and has a fairy-tale feel to it. Unfortunately the day we took the bus up there, it was rainy, foggy, and overall gloomy. That being said, a super cool place to tour and I am grateful I got to see and experience it. You cannot take any photos inside the palace, which is a bummer because there was a lot of history to absorb, but I respect it.

Afterwards we had a fun (if somewhat terrifying) hurtling ride in the rain down the hill in one of the taxis that are a cross between a golf cart and a rickshaw. That evening we enjoyed a tasty dinner in a cozy restaurant called Romaria de Baco, stopped at a wine shop to purchase a bottle for our room, and then went back to Casa do Vinho Sintra Guest House to plan for our trip to the south of Portugal. Lagos and the Algarve region awaited …

12 Comments

  1. You did better than I did, I just saw the castles from the road on the way back to Lisbon. I noted the remark about the limits of photos to convey the feelings, it makes me wonder. The photos help the photographer to find the context in his memory, but it is true that it is difficult to pass it on to someone else, words have not lost their role.

    Like

    1. Thanks!!! I’ve been following along with your blog for some time, and you are an outstanding photographer. You do an amazing job of conveying emotion and feelings in your photos.

      I enjoy taking photos and they help with my memory of the experience, and sometimes I am able to capture some magic in them; but often I’ll see a picture I took of something that moved me in the moment, but because of my limitations as an amateur photographer, the image falls short of my expectations.

      Getting a bit deep here! 😊 Anyway, I appreciate the comment and that you are following along, and I always look forward to your posts!

      Like

  2. How fascinating. I stumbled upon this post accidentally and probably need to go back and retrace the rest of your journey. I had heard/read about that 550 mile trail–and amazed to read that you hiked it the entire way? Zowie! Was it part of a pilgrimage or you just did it because you wanted to do the hike? (Guess I’ll have to back track and find out. Ha!) Amazing photos and what a marvelous experience. I have a travel blog…but it’s not nearly as exciting. I started it in 2018 and there were trips, but nothing fantastic. Then, I had a nice big trip to Europe in 2019 and a few other smaller trips that year, before 2020 and COVID. Since then I’ve been struck with a neuro-muscular thing and traveling seems to be behind me for the most part, unfortunately. But–I try. I’ve been taking little mini-trips to small towns near me. Check it out or don’t here: https://wordpress.com/view/theshockingtruestoryofmonsteragogo.wordpress.com Enjoy your travels as long as you can! You’re living in Hawaii now? Which island? (I’ll have to go back and look that up as well…) ALOHA!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Aha! I was here previously. Ha! I thought this sounded familiar as I read. But…that’s IT? You are leaving me hanging HERE with the rest of your trip to Portugal and your trip back to Hawaii…your engagement (and marriage?) to J’Nell, and now your move to Florida being left unspoken about?? ARGH!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve very appreciative and it means a lot that you took the time to read my posts and follow along on the adventure! I need to get writing again, and I promise I will finish and get caught up to now!

    I had all of 2020 to finish writing about the trip, but a strange thing happened .. with all the free time from being furloughed, I was hit with massive writer’s block. My big goal for the year was the sequel to Lost in the Fog, but that turned into a complete slog ..I researched and plotted and did character studies and spent a lot of time thinking about the story, but actually writing was extremely difficult. I just could never get excited about it.

    But I do plan to finish blogging about my 2019 adventure this year, as well as get caught up to 2021. Then 2022 will be about going back to my sequel and finally finishing it!

    Thanks again and I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes—since my body went on strike (just AFTER the pandemic hit) and I’ve been off work, you’d THINK I’d have gotten stuff done. NOPE. I was rather “lost” for a while with my newfound disabilities…now, in preparing to move, I’m kind of getting my groove (however wobbly it may now be) back on. But to have squandered all of that time…UGH! I could kick myself! (So–to you who didn’t get everything done you wanted to accomplished either, I say Oh well. No use crying about it. Onward and upward…)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I tried to email you at the address shown (michael@michaelostrowski.com), but my email was blocked and it bounced back to me. Ha! I was just going to send you my roadside attractions blog—which is a companion piece, of sorts, to my upcoming blog piece about my recent LA trip. (We hit some strange roadside attractions on the way back…) The link is here if you’d like a look: https://theshockingtruestoryofmonsteragogo.wordpress.com/2021/09/09/bizarre-o-roadside-attractions-in-the-southern-region-of-californias-central-valley/
    CHEERS!

    Liked by 1 person

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