Sintra had not been on my original travel plans, but something I picked up on the way. It was anyway just possible after I completed the fisherman’s way quicker than expected. So why Sintra? Well, it’s basically a really nice town and world heritage site located about 40mins from Lisbon by train. A really worthwhile day trip I found – completely different from the outdoor experience of the fisherman’s trail.
Sintra’s charm stems from several royal estates and palaces that bring along a lot of history (full wiki info here). I visited palace of Sintra, the impressive Pena national palace (looks like a castle from a fairytale) and Monserrate (with it’s amazing gardens) – to do all at once is too much for one day unless you just want to race through the estates. You can visit them using the local bus services (EUR12,50 per day, see map above). I skipped the visit to mainland Europe’s westernmost point Cabo da Roca (see here) for reasons of poor weather … rain had really caught up with me after a sunny week … and it was foggy as hell.
Saxon Kings in Portugal
I was a little surprised to see the german royals of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld mentioned on a large board in Pena palace. Indeed, Ferdinand the nephew of the duke Ernest I. married the Portuguese queen Maria II. and rules Portugal until the country became a republic in 1910. Ernest is no nobody, having fathered Prince Albert who later married Queen Victoria of England and thus the progenitor of the current royal family.
Naturally, the downside is that Sintra attracts heaps of tourists, which impacts the atmosphere and most certainly the pricing – I felt like being back in London. It’s wise to get early to Sintra (before the train that arrives 11am) to see place like Pena before all the day trippers and organised tours arrive.
Pena national palace
And then it was time to return to a totally frozen London. The airport was pretty busy, but my own mood had picked up from what was a day of many thoughts for me. Back to winter sports and most importantly, Alex!
View from my house the next morning