Portugal

TBT: Sintra

September 24, 2015
And here is the same picture with a bit different composition. This picture is a bit more interesting and appealing simply because of the way it's laid out - it has more life to it than the centered pic

Earlier this week I tagged along with a few other girls who were going to Sintra, a small town just 40 minutes outside of Lisbon by train. I knew I had wanted to go to Sintra prior to embarking on my trip and even considered staying there for a few days (but with the new Morocco plan that’s out). Let me tell you – it did NOT disappoint.

There is one word to describe Sintra and all that there is to see: magical. There really is no other word that even comes to mind. Sintra was used as a retreat by the royal family of Portugal, and its palaces were inhabited as late as 1910. When I think “retreat” I think cabin in the woods, lake home, etc. The Palace of Pena is so beautiful, vibrant and decadent that I kept comparing it to something from the board game Candy Land (neither my Aussie nor my Brazilian friends knew what I was talking about, so I just subbed in Disney World).

Wide view of Pena Palace - from this vantage point you can see Lisbon and the ocean!

Wide view of Pena Palace – from this vantage point you can see Lisbon and the ocean!

Here’s some wisdom I have to impart on you that I didn’t realize before arriving:

Sintra is a town, it’s not the palace itself – just the place where all the goods are located. The train takes you right into town, which is worth exploring just on its own. Before we did anything, we agreed that we needed a “proper” lunch and found the sweetest little place called Nicola. For seven Euros each we got a delicious soup, fish and rice, a drink (you could choose beer or wine, but I didn’t realize that until AFTER the fact) and an espresso. Tipping is not expected in Portugal so it was just seven even.

Portugese restaurant vibes for lunch

Portugese restaurant vibes for lunch

I also didn’t realize that there is sooooo much to see in a very large area. In addition to the Palace of Pena and its vast grounds there’s the National Palace of Sintra, the Moorish Castle, Monserrate Park, Capuchos Convent, the Chalet of the Countess, and the National Palace of Queluz. We spent hours just exploring the grounds and gardens of Pena, as well as the palace and its terraces and, unfortunately, it’s all we were able to do. But we all agreed it was still very well worth the trip.

Terrace view

Terrace view

Palace kitchen

Palace kitchen

View from inside the palace

View from inside the palace

Lastly, if I were to give people advice who were going I would say the following: 1. Wear good walking shoes. Not just sandals, but athletic shoes or hiking boots because there is a LOT of walking. 2. Don’t even THINK about walking up the hill from the town to the parks. It’s a long, steep road where cars and buses race by. I was legit scared for the people I saw on the side of the road who had decided to hoof it. It’s a five euro round-trip bus ride and well worth it. 3. This is me being a girl, but wear something cute because you’re going to want to take A LOT of pictures. I just threw on whatever and then hated being in pictures because I looked like a real slob. But there were so many amazing picture opportunities! I have one that I’m happy with where I’m with my “international squad” for the day (which included one Aussie, two Brazilians and yours truly).

International squad

International squad

Not only were the views spectacular, the company was as well. It was so great spending time with these likeminded ladies and getting to know them. We’re all so different (from different countries/continents, speak different languages, range in age from 19-30), but it felt like we were kindred spirits with so much in common and so much to talk about. It was a really special day for me and one that I will not soon forget.

 

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10 Comments

  • Reply Lauren September 24, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Beautiful description and photographs. I can hear your deep happiness in all you write. So happy for you my dear friend. Missing you!

    • Reply margarethenney September 25, 2015 at 8:47 am

      You are with me in spirit! I’ve thought about you often, especially sitting around the table making new friends – you’d be the belle of the ball 🙂

  • Reply Sarah Ross September 24, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    1- This is amazing, and these pics are breathtaking. Can’t imagine what it’s like in person. 2- Grrrl, you could throw on whatever and pull it off. You take those pics. <3

    • Reply margarethenney September 25, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Haha – thanks Sarah. But I have started to put on more than just moisturizer when I know I’m going to be taking pics – otherwise I could pass for a very happy homeless person

  • Reply Mom September 24, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    What a great day.! It’s on my list. Guess you never outgrow Candyland. 😀

    • Reply margarethenney September 25, 2015 at 8:45 am

      Candyland forever!

  • Reply Gilda September 24, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Love getting to “see” and learn about a new city through your eyes!

    • Reply margarethenney September 25, 2015 at 8:45 am

      Thanks Gilda! Lisbon (and the surrounding areas) and just incredible. I have a feeling it’s going to blow up as the “new” destination

  • Reply Aunt Geri September 25, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    I love it Margaret! Your writing is spectacular and the photos breath-taking! I am very jealous!!!

  • Reply Lisa September 26, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous !!!!

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