Friday, August 2, 2013

A Daytrip to Sintra

With Lisbon as my base, I can explore another UNESCO World Heritage Site, just a 30-minute train ride from Rossio station. A train leaves every 20 minutes so I didn’t pre-book a ticket. My hostel was just 5 minutes away from the station. Had to purchase a separate train ticket for this one.

The grounds of Sintra are vast. If you want to explore everything, it would take more than a day trip. But I didn’t have the luxury of long travel so I had to make the most out of a day trip.

From the train station, I followed the signs until I reached the bus stop. Paid €5 for a round trip bus ride. Alternatively, you can reach the old Sintra castle by walking for 20 minutes – uphill. They said this is just around 1.5km. The hostel said you’ll pass by a shop selling some awesome pastries. If you are a slave to the sweets, it may be worth it – or so my hostelmates said.

A full bus

The hostel gave me great directions and tips how to reach Sintra. The girl was very enthusiastic, but I didn’t take note of all the details. Harharhar! I just remembered that if I decide to walk, I will be tired. Easy decision. I paid the €5,00 bus fare for a round trip ride. Remember to keep the ticket for your trip back.

I decided to stop at Moors Castle first, go to Pena Palace, then visit Palcio Nacional last. I chose the combo ticket to these three historical sites which costs €25,00. Quite pricey for a tourist spot, but Sintra is huge.
The ticket price was so well worth it. Here's a load of photos showing its worth.      

Ticketing office outside Moors Castle

I doubted if this was the entrance. But it was.

Exploring a castle solo is challenging – in terms of getting someone to take your photo. I was able to explore Prague Castle with my travel buddy so photos came easier.

Please stop for a moment and take my photo.
I found trail markers. Really useful guides.

The scene is very Game-of-Thrones-ish. I’m not sure which castle though, the Vale perhaps?

 I knew it would be inconvenient to tour the castle walks with my flowyyyy dress. But hey, vanity won. So I had to hold on to my skirt while my photo was taken.

Enchanting ruins.

 Moors Castle, Torre de Belem, were all structures built to protect and defend some centuries ago. I wonder what everyone will say about the malls a couple of centuries from now. 

Exploring the place, as awesome as it is, can be tiresome. You have to be a tad fit (which I was) to be able to climb up and down the walls. I had to refill my water bottle from a drinking fountain before I proceeded to Pena Palace.

I doused my hunger with water and my Oreo pack. I didn’t want to eat just yet. First, I woke up late (what’s new) and arrived in Sintra at almost 11am. I didn’t want to waste time finding some place to eat.

I waited for the bus that took me from Moors Castle going to Pena Palace. It wasn’t that crowded (Yay!). I walked all the way up Pena Palace, I didn’t want to pay for a train ride up (kuripot lang no). It was a manageable climb.

Pena Palace is… I have no words.

I couldn't even take a photo of the entire thing in a single frame.
Too magnificent for one frame only

I had to get proper timing here. Get someone to take my photo without a crowd in the background.
The place felt like a palace out of a coloring book. It is colorful for a castle but it just works! I think I spent an hour just outside taking photos, and finding kind strangers who would take my photos. I was in no hurry to explore the grounds because the castle’s structure is very intriguing.


Anyway, the interiors were nice, but I found the exteriors more amusing, and interesting.

How many hairbrushes do you need?

Icky wallpapers.

 he rooms were grand, the ceilings were art themselves, and the wallpapers were, well, ancient.

As huge and nice as the structure is, I would still prefer a smaller residence that I can manage. I don’t think I can live in such a huge place without an army of helpers at my beck and call.
I rode the bus back to Palacio Nacional. Hunger pangs came again, it was almost 4pm. I ignored the pangs. I think the palace closes at 5pm so I went inside and enjoyed it quickly. Hehehehe. Different, but not that notable.

So after visiting those three sites, I was very hungry. I found a nice resto with a Tripadvisor sticker. Not a lot of people because it was way past lunch. A set fish meal costs €15,00. 

Delicious. At this point, anything would be delicious.


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