Our planned day in Sintra got off to a rocky start. Sintra is one of the most visited sites in all of Portugal. It possesses some very old Moorish sites as well as the famous Pena Palace which sits at the top of the mountain. It is roughly a 40 minute train ride from central Lisbon.
Although we had planned to get up and out early in the morning, it took us a while to get ready and have breakfast – so off to a late start. Then, we took metro to the train station but started off in the wrong direction – and that was after waiting 20-30 minutes for the metro train to arrive. We finally got on the train to Sintra at 11:40am. Notice the tilework at the train station… that work is literally everywhere in Lisbon.
The train ride was very pleasant and we saw a lot of the countryside on our way to Sintra. Once off the train, we wandered aimlessly on several streets with no particular plan in mind – we should have known better. We did capture a photo of a very impressive building.
After about a half hour or so, we spotted Enrique, our Tuk Tuk driver – and what a talker and salesman he was. He convinced us to spend 10 euros each for a detailed tour of Sintra including the Moorish castle and of course, the Pena Palace. Enrique spoke English extremely well and proceeded to take us through the small city first and then further up the mountain with photo opportunities along the way.He dropped us off at the entrance to the Moorish castle and instructed us to buy tickets there for the Pena Palace which was further up the mountain. We went to the site of the old Moorish castle after walking hundreds of steps on stone paths – totally exhausting but well worth the spectacular views.
After that exhausting walk, we still had to hike to the top of the mountain to visit the Palace. It was a very long trek – all uphill. Once at the entrance to the Palace, we encountered thousands and thousands of tourists – it was a little like standing in line at Disneyland.We we’re able to see the inside of the Palace but then got stuck in the hordes of tourists. After waiting for a long time, we escaped the crowd and walked down to the train station. In total we walked 8.5 miles up and down the mountain. Would we do it again? Not sure except the views were exceptional. We had 8:30 dinner reservations at a Fado restaurant in the old Alfama district of Lisbon – Clube da Fado. Fado is the very melancholy music genre that characterizes mournful yearnings and often sad tales of the sea and the poor. In our case it was truly beautiful – a female singer accompanied by Portuguese guitar. In the video you’ll see the soft red lighting that was introduced once the music began.
We ended our final day in Lisbon in a very special way by experiencing Fado. Our next stop is Coimbra which is on the way to Porto.