Seductive Sintra


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Europe » Portugal » Sintra
October 22nd 2010
Published: October 25th 2010
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We are now on an Urbano train service to Lisbon. Sintra was a lovely little town, situated 29km from Lisbon. Our accommodation was a salmon pink manor overlooking the historical centre. The owner of the manor was a nice (and a touch eclectic) man named Luis whom we suspected by the Portuguese brochures was a follower of the new age Baha’i religion, which is very refreshing and interesting and so he is probably a hippie at heart. So the manor overlooked a large (unkempt) yard with pool, Jacuzzi, pond etc. Oh and squawking birds too! Wednesday evening we ventured around town and of course the centre is packed with souvenir shops, mostly selling cork products such as (expensive) handbags, purses, postcards etc. I couldn’t believe how useful cork is (not just used as a stopper in a wine bottle).

Yesterday we ventured on a 3km walk uphill to the Moorish castle. The windy and hilly walk around the grounds within the castle and being perched on a hill made the climb fantastic (considering we’ve been eating a lot of bread!). I love these types of castles that have been left as is in their ruins, rather than castles in other parts of Europe where the old buildings have been restored and are being used as museums and often with gaudy 19th century furnishings (though the Castle in Budapest was fantastic because of the spectacular views of the Danube). So this Moorish castle gave out spectacular views of Sintra, the Atlantic Ocean and Lisbon in the distance. After the castle, we ventured to the Pena Palace which also was great. The actual structure itself was beautiful and gave out spectacular views; unfortunately we couldn’t take photos inside (another pry to get tourists to buy books of photographs). But what was most impressive of the whole palace was the decorative arches, doorways and tiles with the Moorish influence. A lot of the doorways reminded me of Morocco; the inside of the palace on the other hand, although impressive was just furniture, though a couple of the rooms had impressive decorative features on the walls and stained glass windows of battles (not just stained glass windows with religious matter).

Afterward we had lunch in the town and then went to the national palace, which again was just rooms filled with furniture, although this was an older palace dating back to the 14th century so a lot of the rooms were in its natural state and less ‘gaudy’ than the 19th century Pena Palace. The highlight of the palace were these two large ‘chimneys’ coming out of the roof. Not a regular chimney, but the roof actually curved around into a dome like state then shot up, up and up into a chimney at the top. If one has ever been to or at least seen photographs of Cappadocia in Turkey these reminded me of those fairy chimneys. And then we stepped into the most spectacular room that was covered in blue tiles. Now the Portuguese blue tiles basically are just tiles that have sky blue painted murals over them that tell stories and leads ones imaginations of its scenes. The wooden, gold embellished roof also was spectacular. Afterwards, giving into our spending went to find the supermarket for a cheap dinner back at the hotel.

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