After an unexpectedly long tram ride on the historic No. 28 this morning (he was going too fast to see what the stops were and they are not printed anywhere inside the tram – take note travellers), we finally arrived in Rossio, a few minutes walk away from the square.
It’s a glorious morning, the sky a brilliant blue (the blue sky in Lisbon is something I’ve never seen before and will always remember) and the warm sun is breaking out, making it a perfect place to stop and enjoy breakfast on one of the sidewalk cafes. It’s a Saturday morning, so the stalls and shops are just opening up and people are out jogging and enjoying the day as it begins.
A simple breakfast of toasted sandwiches and a cappucino settling in our stomaches and it’s off to find the train station.
This morning we are heading out of the city, catching a train to Sintra, about a 40 minute ride away from Lisbon. Over the years I have discovered there’s something wonderful about getting out of the city and into the countryside for a day while travelling because of the incredibly different experience you normally get, which enhances your travels! There’s something calming about not just sticking to the big cities.
Arriving in Sintra, along with hoardes of other tourists, you can feel the cool, fresh air immediately. Soon enough most are bundled onto tourist busses and transported to any number of attractions in the area – mostly castles of some kind.
We have decided to start at Quinta da Regaleira which was the summer residence of the Carvalho Monteiro family. The residence itself is intricately decorated in neo-manueline style with elaborate details to be seen everywhere you turn.
But the garden is equally amazing with waterfalls and hidden grottoes throughout the grounds, surrounded by the sweet smell of wisteria.
It took a while to get to Pena National Palace, but it was worth the journey. The multi-coloured, mish-mash of buildings that make up Pena National Palace is truly a sight to behold. With it’s middle eastern design and bright colours, I’ve heard people describe it as more of a nightmare than a fairytale so I can’t wait to see for myself.
Pena Palace (feather palace) was the creation of King Ferdinand, an artistic king, who wished the palace to resemble an opera and I guess you can see that his wish has been achieved. The palace was built so that it could be seen from any point on the hill where it sits, high above Sintra and it’s surrounding towns.
Arriving at the grounds there is a small bus that will make the ride up the windy hill to the palace for an additional 3, or of course you can walk. There is lots you can do at the palace apart from exploring the inside, the grounds are set on a large park where you can go horseriding or walking. At the top is a cafeteria and of course the usual gift shop – but you can buy quite a range of products here including some local tinned fishes, liqueurs, biscuits and pate’s.
It’s been a beautiful day in Sintra, well worth the train ride. It’s such a shame to leave as we have both loved Lisbon and felt we could easily have justified an extra week here.