DO you know SINTRA?

If not, you're missing one of the true delights of Europe. It has been dedicate as a World Heritage Site. Imagine entering a fairy tale, with castles, palaces and forts literally around every corner. Beautiful tree line windy roads and mossy paths through majestic forests. This is the magnificent Sintra. It's hard to believe it still exists. See it before it succumbs to modern change (hopefully it won't). Since the 17th century, the Kings and Queens of Europe along with their families would come here to pass the summer months and to enjoy the cool micro climate and the abundance of wild game. There was always plenty of fresh water from the many fresh water springs. The Main places to see are The Pena Palace and the Sintra National Palace. Make sure you take the mini bus to the top, absolutely impossible to walk. Buy your tickets for the bus and entrance for both Palaces at the entrance to the National Palace and avoid having to line up at the top. IMG_1486 The Pena Palace   Mourish Castle, the ruins date back to the Neolithic times and include decorated ceramic tiles and utensils from the fifth century B.C.Its well worth the hike up or drive to see the magnificent panoramic views. The Seteais Palace (where you can have afternoon tea for €20, be sure to book), it is now managed by Four Seasons Hotels, it was expanded for the Royal visits, with a beautiful arch joining the older and newer parts of the building. IMG_1459    

The Quinta da Regaleira is a 19th century exotic gothic mansion. It was built in the 18th century by a man who became fabulously wealth importing wood from Brasil, until recently his direct descendants, a family with 10 children where still living there.  Well worth taking the tour to see the amazing gardens where Alfred Hitchcock filmed a movie.

The Convent of the Capuchos, the monastic retreat established during the primordial history. An integral connection of tunnels and tiny rooms carved our of the living rock, where monks once lived their whole lives. A skull and crossbones over the entrance signified that once they entered, they only left by death. There is a small garden at the back where they grew their food and had some goats. Immediately in front of the Cappucios, there is a large stone table and stone benches. This is where the King and guests would come up to have a feast and have the monks pray for them. Of course no one could enter the monks rock enclosed monastery. The Central Palace, located right in the main square. It is renown for its huge circular chimneys that come out of the large kitchen, this symbolized the wealth of the owner. One can easily imagine the size of the banquets served here.   IMG_1478 After a good look at Sintra, you can continue on to see Estoril and Cascais. This is just a small list of the endless Palaces, Castles and sights to see in Sintra. The best way to get to Sintra from Lisbon is by train, which leaves and returns every hour to Lisbon. Otherwise if your budget can stand it, take a full day taxi tour. (check the day before for prices with the normal taxi's and Uber Taxis. The prices vary with who you book, so check several places, we were quoted between 120€ and 150€. And ended up paying €130. plus a €10 tip. Ensure you get an English-speaking driver. One thing to be careful of, is the taxi will park where it is easiest for him (parking is a nightmare in Sintra) but don't necessarily go into the nearest restaurant or coffee shop, from where he drops you off, wander down the street to check out other ones. If you think you would like to stay a night or two, there are many private guest houses, of immense charm.There is a local fair, with food, artisans, and hot, hot, bread with chorizo sausage baked inside. IMG_1437IMG_1442   photo credit: Ann Lancaster