Today’s journey was meant to be a 6+ hour walk. A wonderful shortcut happened instead. We rented electric bikes. This in no way made it an easy journey, it was just a little more boost going up the steep hills, but it was far less strenuous than the uphill hike. There are sweeping views from the Cascais-Sintra Natural Park and we stopped several times for photos. We even passed several arrows to guide our way. When we reached the Peña Palace and the Castle of the Moors we began a steep descent into Sintra with hairpin switchbacks. It was white knuckle with giant tour buses coming toward us. We successfully made it to our guesthouse with no mishaps. Once again we were happy with the lodging.
Sintra is worthy of more than a day trip. It would be easy to spend several days here visiting the many castles and palaces. The town is lovely as well. Peña Palace, Quinta da Regaleira and the Castle of Moors are three of many sights making Sintra the most enchanting place we have visited on this trip so far.
Quinta da Regaleira is massive. Much of the feeling comes from the rich grounds and also from the Manuelin architecture of the mansion. Manuelin architecture is detailed, intricate, romantic and ornate. The grounds have cave-like structures which lead you through small tunnels with hidden gems to be discovered. On our way to Quinta da Regaleira, we met five pilgrims from Beijing. They were wearing Camino shirts. We chatted with them for a while and then we took a group photo.
The Castle of the Moors, Castelo dos Mouros, is a spectacular fortress and shows off the best views of Sintra. The castle itself is impressive and so are the surrounding boulders. It can be seen from most anywhere in town.
The Peña Palace (Palacio Nacional da Peña) is gigantic with brightly covered walls and a storybook feel. It is a national monument and is an amazing example of 19th century Portuguese Romanticism. The surrounding park is filled with historic gardens and is part of a landscape transformation project.Downtown Sintra is filled with shops and cafes and charming storybook and tiles buildings. We stopped at Piriquita, a pastry shop that has been in business since 1824. We enjoyed a travesseiro and a queijada. These are special pastries from Sintra. The queijada is an almond tart in a crust shell and the travesseiro is flaky with a fruit and cream filling. The Palacio Nacional da Sintra is a preserved medieval palace that has two odd-looking towers. We were told that those are the oven vents where the travesseiro were first baked. The recipe is a well-guarded secret. We think the secret ingredient is pear, but no one would confirm. Dinner was delicious sushi. Instead of avocado they used mango in the rolls and it was perfect. Sintra charmed us. We had a wonderful day.