Sintra is located 30 kilometers from the bustling city of Lisbon. Known for many romantic moments of architecture from the 19th century it is also home to several of Portugal's Royal palaces and was dedicated as a World Heritage City by UNESCO for the very reason.
Visiting Sintra and the colorful hill top palace of Pena National Palace has become a very popular day trip out of Lisbon.
My circumstances in coming to Portugal couldn’t have been more out of the blue. But in any case, I had made it to this amazing land of wine, beauty and cuisine. I had heard many things about Portugal and within moments of arrival was convinced this would be one of the best trips of my life. After a week in the islands of the Azores and Madeira I had made it to the mainland. After the emptiness of the tiny Atlantic Islands stepping into the hustle and bustle of Porto’s main train station was quite the change in scene. Porto however would have to wait because my journey was taking me farther West to the land of vineyards.
No trip to Portugal would be complete without a trip on the Douro to visit some of the worlds’ most famous makers of port and Portuguese wine. The Portuguese have been making wine and port for hundreds of years. In the 14th and 15th centuries the English contracted with the Portuguese to produce and ship them wines. As Port and Madeira wine were what the English noblemen drank during their business dealings. This partnership changed the way Portugal was developed and shaped its history and future.
After a week in the far reaches of Portugal’s islands and two days tracing our ancient human roots near the border of Spain. I was excited for my last stop in the amazing city of Lisbon. I had heard many great things about this ancient, coastal, capital city. I just hoped that I could muster enough energy to experience it all during my short 36 hour stay.
I arrived via the train from Porto. After a week spent bouncing from Madeira island to the Azores to the Douro and Coa Valley. Porto had amazed me with it’s perfectly preserved buildings from the 1500’s, amazing churches and one of the most beautiful train stations I had seen anywhere filled with Azulejo tile showing the history of Portugal’s past.
I knew Lisbon would be more of a metropolitan city as it had sustained a devastating earthquake that leveled it to the ground in 1755. After that the city had been completely rebuilt.
I arrived into Lisbon in the early evening. Made way to my amazing hotel The Inspira Santa Marta, and set out on foot to see the city. I began by walking through the Miradouro do Parque Eduardo VII. A large city park built with perfect lines that extend down through the city and all the way to the water. The park was filled with people enjoying the beautiful weather and the parks many acres of green space and fountains. From here I continued on to the Avenue de Liberdade, a massive sweeping street lined with huge trees on either side. It had many fancy shops and street cafes with live music and happy people enjoying the upbeat energy.
Lisbon is the oldest city in Western Europe, with history rich in different cultures. A mixing of Greek, Moorish, Italian and local architecture blend seamlessly together. It’s majestic, bold and enriching. The earthquake gave them a fresh start, and they were able to take the best things from Paris, London, Rome and Northern Africa. Tying them all together making a city with clean lines and vibrant colors.
I eventually made way through the theater district. If you are looking for a bite to eat this is definitely the place to go. This pedestrian zone is filled with restaurants serving everything from Indian food to pizza to local seafood. It took me a good while to decide on which place to choose, but I finally did decide on a fantastic seafood place. I sat outside to people watch and had the best grouper of my entire life.
Then you can indulge in an amazing locally sourced dinner of sausages, octopus or fish. A glass of locally made wine and a star filled sky to soothe away your sore feet will be next.
It won’t be hard to slow down when visiting the islands of the Azores. Where a typical traffic jam is caused by the neighborhood cows and your only hurry will be in getting changed to jump into a hot spring.