Meeting Friends in Foreign Places – A Tale of Two Cities – Lisbon and Sintra

January 30, 2020

In December of 2018, we met a lovely couple from Paducah, Ky. We were all enjoying a river cruise along the Rhine River in Germany. Over the last year +, we have kept in communication with them and were excited to learn that they were heading to Lisbon. The timing could not have been more perfect as we hopped on a bus from Óbidos and headed into Lisbon for a reunion and a day of sightseeing.

Day Trip: We met up with Pedro from The Portuguese Buddy who was our driver and guide for the day. Our tour included a visit to the town of Sintra and the Pena National Palace. We left Lisbon at 8:00 and headed west to Sintra, a town that lies about 30 minutes away.

And we’re off with Pedro.

Sintra is nestled in the Serra de Sintra mountains of Portugal and is one of the most expensive and sought after real estate markets in Portugal. If you are in Lisbon, then a day trip to Sintra is a must. Sintra is forested with pines and is home to many trails, gardens, waterfalls, nature parks, castles and historic homes. You could stroll the trails for days and not see all of this area. The town of Vila de Sintra is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Our first stop of the morning was the town of Vila de Sintra where we strolled around and did a bit of sightseeing and shopping. It was a score for Patty as she will be traveling home with a beautiful pair of cork and cloisonné earrings and necklace. We failed to find the coffee shop because shopping got in the way. It was a bit foggy and rainy so inside was a better option than outside.

The beautiful town of Vila de Sintra.

Next up was our visit to the Pena National Palace. The original structure was built in 1493 as a monastery. Until the 18th century, it was a quiet place of meditation. In 1838, King Ferdinand acquired the old monastery and most of the land around the structure. Thus began the building of what we see today. The Palace saw various changes and in 1995, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was opened for tourism by the Country of Portugal.

Our first glimpse of the Pena National Palace as we hike up the hill.
Closer to the entrance.
This window carving contains all of the elements of earth.
The weather wasn’t perfect, but we didn’t care.

After our visit to the Palace, we headed back to Lisbon where we were dropped off to enjoy a lunch of tapas and a few chocolate treats by Neuhaus Belgium chocolates. Of course, we walked back to the hotel to work off the lovely lunch. After an afternoon siesta, we met up for dinner and said our good-byes. Glenn and Patty were going on a mega tour the following day and we were headed to the southern coast of Portugal.

Great tapas after a morning of sightseeing.
Patty was a master at mastering the language of duck.

Dinner with traveling friends.

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