A Travellerspoint blog

Day 17: Stepping Up

Cascais - Sintra - Cascais

After a lovely breakfast in the hotel patio we headed to one of the top tourist spots in Portugal—the city of Sintra. The city is close to Lisbon so many people do a day trip. We actually drove through Sinta yesterday on our way into Cascais, and I wasn’t looking forward to driving there again, finding parking, etc. For that reason we decided we would take a taxi and take some of the headache out of visiting such a popular spot. The taxi took around 30 minutes and was around twenty dollars—and they were well-spent. The taxi was able to take us to the to the entrance of Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle. We would have had to park in the city and walk up or take a bus or tuk tuk (these three-wheeled small taxi-like vehicles) to the top.

We had to schedule a timed visit to Pena Palace, which is 12:00 for us, so we wet to the Moorish Castle first. The cool clear morning air was perfect for walking and climbing the ramparts of the medieval walls. Like many Portuguese cities, Sintra is built on the sides of a mountain so steep hilly climbs are required to get anywhere.


Next we walked over the entrance to Pena Palace which is quite a distance from the actual palace on top of the hill. There are dozens upon dozens of criss-crossing trails on the hills surrounding the castle, some through woods and some planted with a variety of flowers, plants and shrubs, Many things are blooming but throughout the park surrounding the palace were beautiful rhododendrons. We walked the park a bit before and took a a snack break before heading up to the palace.


The colorful palace, like may places in Sintra, has become the location for the instagram crowd, and we witnessed enough photo shoots to verify the fact. Like many beautiful spots in Europe, Sintra is understandably popular and crowded. It is still beautiful and worth a visit. We wandered the romantic palace inside and out and didn’t let let the crowds bother us.


After a simple lunch in the palace cafeteria we hiked down to our third and final sight for the day which was Quinta da Regaleira, a nineteenth century romantic neogothic mansion. I say hike because it was more than a simple walk. The trek took almost and hour and, although the path made use of many steps, was quite steep. Luckily we were going downhill, but since we were going across a mountain there were uphill sections. Looking back I am sure Crystal would not have agreed to the ‘walk’ if she knew beforehand the true nature of the trail.

When we did get to the mansion we were rewarded with a beautiful house and garden. We did the house first as it was close to the entrance. One of the first rooms we saw had an expressive mosaic floor that was incredible. Not surprisingly the garden is built on a hill that rises up away from the house. There are several structures and garden paths winding their way up the hillside. One of the most famous, particularly with the Instagram crowd (I have no idea about these things but Crystal kept me updated), is the Initiation Well. Although a well, it is not that simple. It is a tower almost 100 feet down into the mountain. You walk in flights of a spiral staircase down to the bottom where you proceed though tunnels and grottos until you finally exit out into the garden. Unlike anyplace I have been before and understandably an instagram favorite.


Again this house and garden was crowded and the line to the well wrapped around the corner of one of the switchback trail. We took it all in stride and for the most part everyone was very courteous. Crystal and I kinda got a kick out of watching all the posing going on. We all like a good photograph but the stuff that people actually do is always better than anything you could write for a sitcom. At one particularly beautiful spot one poor boy was being berated for not getting the light and angle correct for what we presume was a girlfriend. Crystal has always said that one of the prerequisites for getting married should be traveling together. Maybe that should be brought into the twenty first century and now include taking photos. I wasn’t very young when I got married (32) but I can’t believe I have been married over 30 years. I was so clueless when I was younger, and only as I get older do I appreciate and love Crystal and realize how incredibly flawed I really am.

Either way, Crystal and I have been traveling together for 34 years I believe and today enjoyed and survived another great day without major incident. All in all a good travel day—and lucky to spend it with Crystal.

We took a taxi home where Crystal rested at the hotel while I when to a bike shop and bought a couple brake pads. While I need a set for the front and another for the back the shop only had one set that worked for my bike. I took mine off the front to check them out, and I actually think there is enough wear left on them that I don’t need a set, but better to have a spare pair. I can aways look for another in Lisbon if I want so all good as far as the bike goes.

With my errand done Crystal and I strolled the streets of Cascais doing some window shopping before heading to dinner at a seafood restaurant. Seated on the balcony we had a great view of the harbor where we enjoyed a lovingly prepared and presented complete turbot with olive oil, lemon, garlic and steamed vegetables—one of the best pieces of fish I have had on this trip. Of course, on the stroll home I had to get some gelato. It is vacation after all and I have done enough steps to earn it. Crystal was so proud of her steps that she actually made me take a picture to record them.


Posted by guylch75 07:11

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Very interesting to read and lovely photos.

The more popular areas of Portugal are evidently becoming victims of their own success in some ways, but it's been great to contrast the more rural and less-visited spots with the heavily touristed highlights through following your blog.

Great that you can both take it all in your stride, though. What a wonderful travelling couple - and pair of individuals - you are!

That gelato (3 scoops - yes, I'm counting ;-) was certainly well deserved!

by stevejacktravel

The first palace was magnificent! I completely thought the photos were just back drops but with one or the other or both of you in the pics, proved they were real. It just popped out at me and seemed to be the beautiful place in the world I have ever, ever seen. And let Crystal know I'm ready to do a half marathon, 13.1 miles with her. At her 8.25 miles, it's less than 5 more miles. You got this girl.

by wilsonkm48746

So beautiful, the castle was so impressive, all the stonework, simply stunning. And what would a day be without gelato

by rsleach

Way to go on those steps!!

by rhardman

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