Recently we enjoyed a week staying in the beautiful world heritage listed Cultural Landscape of Sintra. We went there as part of my research and I found it the perfect place to combine work and play for me. We flew direct from Stockholm to Lisbon and were greeted at the airport by a shuttle to our rental car company. I have to say I wasn’t particularly impressed with the company, Drive on Holidays. It was my own fault because I used a 3rd party booking site and picked the cheapest option for a car in the suitable size class but I wouldn’t use this company again. I found their customer service quite lacking. The person processing our registration was VERY forceful with trying to upsell us insurance (we didn’t buy), and then they charged us again for the capsule we rented even though I’m sure I already paid for it when I booked and finally the bloke refused to install it for us!
Moving on from that though, we drove straight from the airport to our airbnb rental in the heart of the historic centre of Sintra. It was a perfect location and everything went quite smoothly. We arrived in the evening and pretty much just went straight to bed. The next day was spent exploring and stocking up on supplies for the week. I wanted to get a sense of the site before I had my meeting with a representative of the government-owned corporation who run the site, Parques de Sintra – Monte de Lua.
The next morning I braved a torrential downpour and caught a taxi to the office at Montserrate Park (I wasn’t able to drive the rental car). Even in the rain the park was beautiful and I knew I’d be coming back to explore some more. My meeting went well and my contact was lovely. It was the last interview I’ll be having on this trip (that I know of) and I feel like things have gone really well. It gives me a real sense of achievement that I’ve been able to accomplish so much with regard to my project. When Baby B was a newborn I despaired of ever getting ANYTHING done ever again and now I feel like I can really accomplish things if I set my mind to it.
The next few days were filled with visits to some of the main attractions at Sintra:
The Moorish castle was the Husband’s favourite, this amazing site towers over the town and dates back to before christian rule in the region.
There are also older archeological sites which you can see along the walk up to the castle.
The National Palace was just at the top of our street in the centre of town.
I really loved the Portuguese style of architecture and could clearly see the islamic influences in the ceramic tiling, archways and mosaics.
I could feel how the cool colourful interiors made for a perfect ambience in the summer time.
And what a view!
The Pena palace was a romantic confection of different architectural styles.
Pena was almost like a disney palace and provided a great opportunity for many happy snaps.
The Palace at Montserrate was my favourite though.
I could see why Lord Byron found it so inspiring when he visited it, although back then it was something of a ruin. It has been beautifully restored since, and I’ve decided its pretty much everything I’m looking for in a summer holiday house 😉
I could just imagine promenading up this lawn with my parasol to enjoy a cool lemonade on the terrace!
I’m pretty sure I need a music room just like this one.
And a fountain in the middle of the house wouldn’t go astray either 🙂
How much does this false ruin remind you of something out of tomb-raider? hehe.
The garden at Le Palais de la Regaleira is an amazing example of romanticism at its height with its false ruins, little grottos and an abundance of exotic plants.
The house was quite amazing with its dramatic neo-gothic architecture as well.
B was pretty good during our stay and we maintained a similar routine to Paris and Sweden, but as you can see he’s starting to get quite big for all the sightseeing and being carried around in the ergo for long periods. Sintra was particularly taxing as there was so much hill climbing and it was VERY steep. I felt like this trip was well timed in that it marks the end of the large-scale international travel on this trip.
I think now that he’s starting to turn from a baby into a toddler things are about to get a whole lot more wild.
The food in Portugal was a whole lot more homey and hearty than in France. We ate a lot of codfish and duck rice. We didn’t go out a lot though and prepared most of our meals at home. the Husband’s favourite new discovery was a type of cheesecake called queijadas de Sintra that was not too sweet and had some spice to it and I must have eaten my weight in egg tarts. I also had the most incredible tea at a little salon de the called Dona Maria, that had the flavour of pistachio macarons (Don’t ask me how!). Unfortunately they didn’t sell the tea or I would have bought their entire stock.
For our final night we were at the Tryp airport hotel as we were flying out to Toulouse early in the morning. This was a great airport hotel, there was a convenient shuttle, the restaurant and breakfast were really good and the room was very comfortable. I loved that there was a bathtub in the bedroom – so cool.
My only regret about this trip was that the weather was cold. If it had been nice and hot we’d have been able to check out some of the beaches around the Lisbon and Sintra area. Still, it never hurts to have a reason to come back.
We have enjoyed each seperate part of the trip so far and are looking forward to settling in for a nice long stay at Grandma and Grandpa’s place in the French countryside. Personally I’m looking forward to 8 weeks of no air travel.