A Travellerspoint blog

Stunning Sintra in the Sunshine

sunny 25 °C

"Lo! Cintra's glorious Eden intervenes
In variegated maze of mount and glen.
Ah me! what hand can pencil guide, or pen,
To follow half on which the eye dilates
Through views more dazzling unto mortal ken
Than those whereof such things the bard relates,
Who to the awe-struck world unlocked Elysium's gates?" - Poem by Lord Byron about Sintra

Foodie moment

It seems that Portugal is the place for pastries, as once again we were told we had to try particular pastries, from a particular bakery, whilst in Sintra. Travesseiros are filled with egg yolk, sugar and almonds (long, pillowy ones), and Queijadas are Sintra cheesecakes made with local unsalted cottage cheese, fresh cheese and cinnamon (tart shaped ones). Both must be bought from Piriquita bakery, as they are the ones with the traditional, patented recipe!


Another Lonely Planet recommended restaurant, Santo Antonio de Alfama. We tried the Pork ribs and Pork stew with Clams. Both were tasty but I really struggle with the saltiness of the food in Europe. Sorry for the awful pictures, the light was really bad and we didn't want to use flash!!!


Cultural moment

As we ate our dinner tonight, we were treated with a performance of 'Fado'. Fado is a Portuguese music genre "characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia". Sounds depressing right? But as we didn't understand a word they were saying, we just saw a man singing passionately with his eyes shut, in a booming voice accompanied by some very 'Backstreet boys' type hand gestures. Great fun! Plus they did have some upbeat songs which a man and a women sang together, which Mark and I haven't been able to get out of our head since!


Wow moment

Sintra is a town about 40 minutes by train from Lisbon. The hills and the surrounding area have been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, both for their cultural significance and for their outstanding natural beauty. And it is stunning! With a huge castle and palace balanced at the top of the hills overlooking the small town full of gardens, palaces and winding streets.


We visited the Quinta da Regaleira, which is an estate featuring a palace and chapel, as well as a luxurious park featuring lakes, grottoes, wells and fountains. Our favourite was clambouring through underground grottos and climbing up ancient wells, like an adults adventure playground!


We also caught a bus up to the top of the hill to visit the Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors) which was not only breathtaking because of the amazing views along the castle walls, but also because it included a lot of uphill climbing! It was constructed in the 8th century during the period of Arab occupancy, and although it was used by Christian kings throughout history, it's Arabic roots are still strong as a flag flies above it featuring the word 'Sintra' in Arabic characters.


What we learnt today

The Portuguese are a bit tricky when it comes to starters in a restaurant. Coming from Spain, the home of (sometimes) free tapas we were not particularly surprised tonight when a starter was put on our table without us having ordered it. Hungry as always we dug in. It was only at the end of the meal that we realised that each element on the starter (eg, Olives, Sardine pate, Bread, Butter) each had their own price tag, and whatever you have eaten when the plate is collected is added to your bill. Not a large amount but still not an expected cost! Very tricky!

Posted by travellinglise 10:38 Archived in Portugal Tagged sintra

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.