One place we definitively wanted to visit was Sintra. Ulrike and I even skipped one surf lesson to have a whole day to go there. I’ve been to Sintra before in 2011 but as we knew we had only seen one tiny bit we decided to go to a different palace this time. Because there are just so many of them in this “fairy tale , we just build everything that we have in mind, Romantic styles, the king lives here in summer so everyone else wants to be here too Disneyland”.
But let me first tell you about getting there. We got there by car and even though it is a massive tourist attraction they just have the car park spots they have: mainly along the street. We were super lucky to get a spot not too far away from the National Palace. For the fact that parking lots are sparse parking doesn’t cost much: 50 cents per hour. Having to pay for a ticket was far better than last time. I still remember when we went to the Palacio National da Pena and parked in a parking spot for pregnant women, always worrying that our car would be gone when we came back and joking that actually nobody could know that not one of us would be pregnant…
First we want to see the Palacio Nacional with its famous huge white chimneys. When we arrived there the weather was still quite bad. It had just rained before we arrived and fog was hanging low in the mountains. We had to queue to get our tickets and then to get into the palace as well. It basically seemed to be the favourite with all the bus tours. Inside it was a really nice palace but just too many people. By the way: remember my complaint in Alcobaça about the empty rooms? Here many rooms came with furniture, paintings and exact description of what the room was used for and how it was furnished. It was super interesting. Amazing were also the many wall paintings.
After we left the palace the fog had cleared away and it was pretty sunny. We went down the stairs, left and through a doorway. This paths leads you up to a parking lot of the police inside the palace but also on a small round way around the palace were you see the not so well perserved parts and have a wonderful view over the valley beneath Sintra. Next we checked the tourist office which is just around the corner of the palace and had a quick lunch. Here we really realized how many tourists there are in Sintra. It was impossible to get more than decent food. We finally stopped at a bakery and had a sandwich and a pie.
But then came the best part of the day: we walked to new place. the Quinta da Regaleira. This is a once private house with an amazing garden. We barely managed to buy our tickets before it started to rain heavily. Luckily we made it to one of the garden structures relatively quick and didn’t get too wet. So that after the rain had stopped we could visit the house which was already quite impressive. The architect here built what ever came to his mind in all the details and in every style possible, it seemed. He used to be an opera designer and seemed to have really clicked with his employer, a coffee tycoon from Brazil. The house with its interior was super impressive. So we were already quite awed when we left the house. But then we realised that our parking time was up. And because noone had scanned or further checked our tickets at the entrance, we left the properties, renewed the parking ticket and went back in without any problems.
Good that we renewed our ticket because then we spend time in the park. It is like a little fairy tale world. Towers, medieval looking structures, a 30m deep well that you can climb, tunnels, grottos, a tiny waterfall. It was just so cool. I would love to have the park to myself or for a few friends and play a game here, something like role playing. That would be so cool!
Over all, Sintra was once again absolutely worth the visit and actually, if you are into fairy tales and gardening then go and visit the Quinta da Regaleira. It was far more worth the visit than the National Palace to be honest, even though the palace was nice too.