On Friday after a difficult goodbye we arrived in Sintra, a town about 45 minutes outside of Lisbon. Throughout Sintra there are many palaces as this was once a very popular place for the wealthy to build their summer homes. On Saturday we explored 4 places – Castelo de Moors (the Moorish Castle), Palacio de Pena (Pena Palace), Valle de los Lagos (Valley of the Lakes), and Quinta da Regaleira. The Moorish Castle, the “mini wall of Portugal”, reminded me of the Great Wall of China just extremely scaled down. It had stunning views of both Sintra and of Lisbon. The Pena Palace was perched on top of a hill and looked as if it could have been a lego castle. Renowned for its bright colours it definitely didn’t fail to impress. Finally we finished the day by exploring Quinta da Regaleira and its underground network of tunnels and caves which led us to a small waterfall and a beautifully designed well. It was definitely worth the trip out to Sintra! That evening we trained back to Lisbon and had dinner at a restaurant Rita recommended overlooking the orange roofs onwards to the river. We had a nice view of the “stolen” monuments of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue and San Francisco’s bridge.
The following day we had a bit later start than originally planned and unfortunately missed our tour of the castle. No worries however because we just rearranged our game plan and caught a tram to the other side of Lisbon to see the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belem Tower. Unfortunately the Padrão dos Descobrimentos was under construction but it was still stunning backdropped against the river and a fleet of sail boats. We stopped in Pastéis de Belém to try some Pastel de Natas (aka Portuguese egg tarts) which were so good that it is beyond my capabilities to relay to you just how fantastic they were. Just a whole lot of heavenly goodness! We met up that afternoon with Pati and Liam for one last goodbye and a much needed ice coffee. That evening we caught the iconic tram 28 up the hills of Alfama and explored our way down. It was by far my favourite area of Lisbon. I loved the narrow windy streets, the colourful buildings, and the wear and tear of the buildings. Having survived the earthquake it offered a chance to see Lisbon as it was before and was quite the change from the other rebuilt areas. We had dinner outside in a street we happened to stumble upon and ate upon quite a large slant which in my opinion added to the charm. We had a delicious barbecue while enjoying an authentic performance of traditional Portuguese music.
We left the next morning and I said my last sad farewell to Tash. It was amazing to have the chance to see the lovely people I grew to love in Pamplona and I cannot wait for them to all visit me in Canada!! (If you are reading this Tash, this is my subtle hint for you to come visit me already!)