Friday, April 1, 2016

Sintra ~ what a difference a week makes

We'd been beaten back by huge crowds and nasty hour long lines to buy tickets.  Sintra had been out of reach.  Or more specifically, the Pena Palace had been invaded by vacationing hoards and all we could do was Beat a Retreat, lunch in town, and return to Lisbon.

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena

That had been during the week before Paque.  We thought everyone would be home carrying effigies of the Virgin around their city plazas, or something.

Jude felt we needed to at least give Sintra a second try before ending our own Vacation in the Sun.

Jude found a way to buy tickets to the Palace in advance.  We'd learned the details of reaching Sintra.  And we knew how to manage the twisty winding vertiginous #434 bus ride up the hill.  Our hope was to be able to make a dash into town, up the hill, through the Palace and back to Lisbon before the Crushing Crowds had gotten the better of us.

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena

Two days before our Last Supper we were up and out early enough to catch the 9:40am train out of Rossio steaming toward Sintra.

Huh.  Where are the crowds?

We stepped across the street to grab a cup of coffee and to use their "facilities" for the second time in 5 days.  Then it was off to the bus stand, where we found... um... Where are the crowds?

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena

Easily seated, this time, the #434 made it's way up the hill and dropped us off at the entrance to the Pena, and... um... Where are the crowds?

Needless to say, our Second Wack at the Palace went much better than the first.  The crowds were practically none existant.  We were able to wander around the Impressive Hilltop Royal Palace Monastery Retreat at our leisure.  Moving from room to room was easy and we were not pressured to "move along" as folks had posted three weeks earlier on TripAdvisor.

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena

Jude and I took lunch at the Palace restaurant/cafeteria.  Two chicken curries, a salad, a half bottle of tinto, two decafs, and one dessert set us back less than 30Euro.

While picking up our coffees, Jude asked where are the crowds?  Apparently the Spaniards had tried to invade Portugal the week before Easter.  This explained a few things.  Like how noisy and pushy and generally unpleasant the crowds had been.  It seems like the first three weeks of March had been this way and now things were returning to their pre-Summer Crush normal state of calm, peace, and quiet.

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena

As can be seen from the photos, Pena Palace and Sintra can be a great place to visit.  The colors. The shapes.  The Royal Ostentatiousness.  The true kindness and humility of the Portuguese.  All of it.

Sintra had turned out to be the rather tasty icing on the already unexpectedly beautiful Lisbon experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment