I drove to Sintra in the morning. This little town is only about 20 km away from the capital, Lisbon, and just a few kilometers from the Atlantic ocean coast. If you like castles, aristocratic mansions, royal palaces and gardens, there are no better destination in Portugal than Sintra. Being classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site (think of Venice or Florence), Sintra typically attracts zillions of tourists from all over the globe. There is really “no good time” to visit Sintra without rubbing shoulders with thousands of fellow tourists except…now, in the time Coronavirus Pandemic: right now Sintra is empty and calm. Unbelievable, but…yes now you can have this town almost just for yourself (and a few other brave souls). My first destination is Monserrate Palace: it is a palatial villa and huge summer pavilion at the same time which is surrounded by terraced elaborated gardens. Monserrate is built in an extremely eclectic style influenced by Romanticism and Mudéjar Moorish Revival architecture with Neo-Gothic elements. The history of Monserrate is as “colourful” as its outside ornaments.
From the visit by Lord Byron in 1809 who was inspired by magnificent appearance of Monserrate and described its beauty in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and through WWII, when Monserrate served (officially) as a home for British expats and (not officially) as a spy nest for Allied (anti Nazi) forces, this place constantly attracted unusual people and events. Read here if interested. Amazingly, like entire, Sintra, today Monserrate was empty and I had the entire estate almost exclusively to myself
I stayed two hours and could have stay longer, but …the Atlantic ocean was waiting. A few minutes and I am at one of the most picturesque beaches of Portugal: Azenhas do Mar. Depending on either low or hide tide, there is like a natural swimming pool there filled with ocean water yet being disconnected from the ocean.
Azenhas do Mar is a great spot for both swimming and surfing. I lan on coming back tomorrow. The final destination of the day is cape Cabo de Roca – the most Western point of Europe. Crushing waves, deep blue sea and the aroma of eucalyptus (yes!) were truly mesmerizing.
15 min. by car and I am back in Sintra. What for dinner? My choice is ultimate. Fresh grilled octopus with spinach salad.
More palaces and beaches tomorrow….