Travel Date 22nd June 2013. Click on any picture to see a larger version.
Just a brief note on a day trip from Lisbon.
Sintra is a town about 30km (20miles) from Lisbon on the edge of the Sintra mountains, with a World Heritage collection of old castles, palaces and gardens climbing the nearby slopes. I spent a slightly disappointing day at Sintra. It was my own fault: a result of poor research. I had not realized how vast the area was and the difficulties involved in using the local buses.
The place was packed on the day I went. It was also a hot and cloudless day. That led to long waits in the sun at bus stops, sometimes needing to wait up to an hour for three or four to arrive at 15 minute intervals before the queue moved up enough to allow boarding.
I took the local train from Rossio station to Sintra. I paused for a pleasant lunch at the café opposite the rail and bus station. After chatting with the bus driver to learn the rules I paid 5 euros and boarded the 434 bus.
Click on the picture for the story of the castle's use by Royalty and the State.
I alighted at the main information and ticket office, then continued on to the Pena Palace where I bought another ticket, then a further ticket for the internal tram through the gardens up to the Palace.
At each point queues were long and moved slowly.
I’d love to go again. If I do, I will stay at least a night, possibly two, and try to choose a time when the crowds are less.
The views from the Palace were glorious for those who were lords of all they surveyed - and much further.
The Palace was a fascinating collection of differing, colourful and sometimes very strange architectural styles. I’ll let the pictures do the talking to explain that.
My Republican distaste for aristocracy tends to colour my thoughts when wandering places like this. When viewing the extravagance of the palace and its interiors and reading the history on the display signs I had to wonder why the Portuguese took so long to become a Republic. They finally did so in 1910.
I spent a couple of hours wandering the Palace and gardens, intending to move on to the Moorish castles, but after waiting again for the bus time had slipped away so I headed for home.
I returned to Lisbon on the train, hot and tired after a very interesting but unsatisfying day. Fado that night with sardines for dinner, washed down with excellent red wine, restored my spirits quickly.