Sintra with a local

We arrived at the front of our hotel this morning to find our lovely friend Fernando waiting for us – what luck!  So we would go to see Sintra with a local.

The drive took about 20 minutes and this part of the world couldn’t be any different from Lisbon or Porto if it tried.  It’s quiet, peaceful and surprisingly, there were not hoards of tourists.

This is one of the many palaces in Sintra.

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And this is the view from those palace steps… what a sweet little town.

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Here is the Main Street in Sintra… bless its heart.

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One of the things Sintra is famous for is a sweet delicacy called the “Travesseiros de Sintra” (the pillows of Sintra) and the Queijadas de Sintra (cheesecakes of Sintra).  Let’s start with the pillows – these were a lovely light pastry with a layer of apple and sprinkled with sugar, of course.  It was lovely and sweet and yes, we tasted one in the shop and bought another one for later.  The cheesey one – We weren’t a fan of.  It didn’t taste of cheese or the cheesecake that we are used to – it was more marzipan texture and that’s nobody’s favourite.

… but they’ve been making them since 1862, so what do I know?

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So we’re strolling through the Main Street and at the top of the hill we see this pub… Apparently old George loved himself a bit of Sintra.  So much so that there are not one, but two bar/restaurants named after him…

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and there are paintings BY him on the walls…  Did you know Lord Byron painted?  On tiles?

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This is the sort of place you could live here in Sintra…. Me Jenny thought she could add something like this tower to her place.  I think it would fit right in.

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There are many castles and stately homes in Sintra and as Fernando told us, you can’t visit them all in one day, so he chose the one that was sure to have the least tourists…. and it was beautiful!  We started walking down the path through the gardens…

The garden was so pretty that we didn’t realise that the further downhill we walked, that meant that we had to go back uphill (don’t think about it until you have to do it!)

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We finally reached the palace and we weren’t disappointed.  It was absolutely amazing!

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carved walls and archways, and ornate ceilings – just crazy to think how much time it would have taken to build this place.

Me Jenny just taking it all in – probably wondering how she could get some carved marble into her place in Mandurah.

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Then it as back out to the garden to begin our uphill adventure…

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Stopping to look at the lovely flowers helped a bit.

We made it to the top and all was well.  Next stop – the western most point in Europe.  This is it.

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This is a popular tourist spot as everybody wants to say they’ve been to the western most point.

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Like us – we wanted to say it as well.

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I don’t know whether it is because we’re Australian and we’re used to being told where we shouldn’t go just in case we’ve got no brains – but here, there are hardly any signs – and even when there are (see below) people take no notice of them.  This photo doesn’t show it, but there was about 40 people beyond the danger sign trying to get a picture of themselves in front of some cliffs….. worth dying for?

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Fernando really wanted to show us a ‘hidden’ gem that not too many tourists know about – the Azenhas do Mar – a cliff town  with a private beach and it’s own sea pool.  There is also a spot where people risk their lives for a photo.  I asked if anyone had called from that point and Fernando said, “It happens.”

As this was only a half day tour Fernando dropped us back in a different part of Lisbon – on purpose, he wasn’t trying to make things difficult for us…  He had booked us into a beautiful seafood restaurant for lunch called Nunes in an area called Belem.  We weren’t super hungry, but ordered some prawns and clams in garlic and let me just tell you – they were tasty!

We were sitting right next to the fish tank that housed these beauties – these blue lobsters are local to Portugal.  They also have a resident seabass in the tank called Tobias.  He’s been there for 9 years – poor bugger.  He’s probably just waiting for his turn to be eaten – or his memory is the of a goldfish and every day is a new adventure.

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This area is home to this massive church/monastery – St Jerónimos as well as other huge monuments celebrating the discovery era and freedom amongst other things.  It is also home of the original pastel de nata – the line was ridiculous.

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Another massive day, so we went back to the hotel to start researching Fado – we weren’t leaving Portugal without hearing some.

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