Sintra, A slightly distant cousin to Lisbon.

5 Oct

I want to preface this post by saying: one of my (many) main goals for my time in Europe was to ride a train. It didn’t matter where, it didn’t have to be cross-country by any means… I just wanted to ride a train. I researched a lot, because I think it would be fun to ride to Barcelona on an AVE (read, super super fast!) train, but its way too expensive. I was beginning to lose hope that I would get to ride a train… But, lucky for me, in our free time on Saturday in Lisbon, we decided as a small group (my Spain family, as we call ourselves) to head to the town of Sintra, which is about an hour away from Lisbon by… TRAIN! 🙂

I could’nt be happier. Seriously. Best part of that day.

So we took a happy hour long ride to Sintra. We stepped out into what has quite fairly been described as a fairyland. I will explain in pictures- that seems to make the most sense::


You can sort of see a castle on the top of that hill in the last picture- remember that castle and how far away it is for the stories to come…

So this is a cutesy town of winding roads, sculptures, artists, and castles. We wandered and took pictures a lot, and just took in the city. I can’t stress how beautiful this place is. I found a lot of crocheted things, but no yarn store, so that was mildly disappointing. Though I probably saved money that way… 🙂

photo cred: Amanda House!

More cute pics from around Sintra

So everything is fine and dandy until about lunch time. It was getting close to lunch time, but we found a road that lead up to a castle on a hill, so we decided to follow it. We start walking, and I’m starting to regret taking a road to who-knows-where. Turns out, we’re walking up a mountain. Also, Portugal is an hour behind Spain, so that plus traveling and not paying attention to the time means that I was really hungry all of the sudden. All in all this made for a very hungry cranky Jess.

So we are still walking up the mountain. Still. Walking. Lots of walking. I can’t explain in words the feelings of exhaustion and unhappiness and hunger that were all jostled together inside me at one point. I may have mentioned this before: I don’t like hiking. I don’t much care for walking too much for that matter. This was definitely a hike up a steeply inclining road. We walked for probably a half an hour or more, when we come across this guy, and Savannah goes to ask him how far it is to the castle. He says 10-15 minutes more walking. K, fine. we’ll keep going. So we do. 10-15 minutes later, we stop another couple and ask them (although they spoke little Spanish or English), and they advised another 10-15 minute walk, but that the castle might be closed, and that it cost money to get in. Ooookay. So by this point I’m getting sort of slap-happy and threatening people’s lives and telling them I’m going back down the mountain… I think I was mildly delusional also… We FINALLY make it to the top after I would have to guess a 2 or more hour walk… and the guy at the office is closing up shop. We went up to the ticket booth to walk around the castle walls- remember that picture of the castle way up on the hill? THATS WHERE WE WERE. ALL THE WAY UP THERE. I was mad at the mountain already, and had decided that I was not going to pay these people to walk around their castle when I had to walk all the way up the mountain to find it. So Savannah and I stayed back while Dan, Amanda, and Liz went in and explored. They said it was beautiful. I am content with the quiet time I had, which definitely calmed me down, and Savannah went and took a look around at another castle that was around the corner.

Another important piece of information we learned on our hike up the mountain:: There is a bus service that takes you directly from the train station to the castle on the hill. Only costs 2 ish euro. >.< I cannot tell you how flustered I was the first time one passed us walking up the hill, and the guy shrugged at us, like he totally couldn’t stop his otherwise empty bus to take us the rest of the way up. Punk. But, this did open up the opportunity to take the bus on the way down. So we waited, and waited. The last bus was set to come at 8:00, but they had been running a little bit late… It was super dark and 8:05 and I started panicking again. We were going to have to walk down the mountain, I just knew it. I was going to die on the mountain. A few minutes later, the bus came, and I practically jumped for joy. I happily gave that man my euros and sat down on the bus. We had been warned about Portuguese taxi drivers and how  crazily they drove, but I didn’t think that would apply in a bus. It did.

Note my hand gripping that seat for dear life. Note panicked expressions. This was a wild bus ride.

I was mildly worried for my life, and had to remind myself that I could be walking down the mountain…

Oy. I complained a lot. I didn’t mean to. Sorry. Though that’s definitely an accurate description of my feelings that day, but in retrospect I’m so glad I conquered that dumb mountain (you win Dan), and that I had some quiet time just to think and read. I am glad we walked, it made it more worth it when we got to the top, and I’m glad that about halfway up the mountain I could joke about the chaotic unhappy feelings I had instead of sulking. I am glad I went with my friends, and I am glad that we had that experience together.

After the mountain, we decided we needed food. We had a tough time deciding (always) but settled on this cute place near the train station. Our water was beyond amazing, he spoke Portuguese, but enough English and Spanish to help us with the menu, and at times he was even really clever with his use of some Spanish and some English. It did get kind of confusing. But I liked him. We all had amazing food, and then headed back on the train to Lisbon.

Overall, this was an amazing trip. We have been telling all of the people who are traveling to Portugal to visit, and to take the stinkin bus.

Upcoming exciting events: In a few weeks we are going to MOROCCO for six days! I am quite excited, but I am not sure if my camera battery will last the whole time in the desert- sad day. Also: I think we are planning another beach trip soon! A horseback riding trip may be in the works, and hopefully I’ll finalize plans for the puente before finals. This is my life. I am a world traveler, and I love it.

Talk to you soon! Jessssss.

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4 Responses to “Sintra, A slightly distant cousin to Lisbon.”

  1. Madre October 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Dear Jessica,
    I am glad that you challenged yourself and made it to the top and kept your friends in the process! Think of that mountain as your life and as you go through your life, you will have struggles, and complaints and hard times. You are stronger than you think and when you get to the top of your mountain, the struggle is worth it and you will appreciate the journey that much more. Love you, Mom

    • Jess October 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

      thanks momma 🙂 I love you!!!

  2. Meg October 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    This was a darling story! Again, I was so excited for your post! I’m glad you got to ride a train too!!! Drinking wine and eating chocolate tonight while thinking of you :*

    • Jess October 6, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

      can we do that someday together, and talk of weddings and happiness 🙂 that’s all i want. I love you!
      (also, glad you thought it was darling and not too angry and frightening, i was concerned that my sarcasm and rage would frighten people)
      Love jess.

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