|Well, Sintra is kind of a two part entry. It is actually just a short train ride outside of Lisbon, but deserves it´s own mention. We went there twice. The description of Sintra was, and I quote Älice and Wonderland meets Lord of the Rings¨. So you can imagine we just had to check out, despite the fact that Paige despises all things regarding hobbits or Gandolf (the white). Anywho. It was so beautiful. It is hilly, and green (almost tropical, but I´ll get to that in a minute) with palaces and buildings that look like they popped right out of a fairy tale perched on rolling mountains. Lovely. The first day we arrived, the sky was looking a bit gray, well, actually nearly black, but we thought it would clear up within an hour or so. That seemed to be the norm in Lisbon. We set out on our walk to a place called Palacio Nacional Da Pena. It was foggy, moreso even than a bad day in San Fran. So we were walking, walking, walking. All of a sudden, it started to rain, and not just a drizzle, or even a light pour. I am talking crazy puncture your skin rain. We walked uphill, nearly vertically for a good 45 minutes in this rain, because we were stubborn, and we didn´t want to walk all the way back down only to stay in the rain. We had started, and we were going to finish. About an hour into it, we passed these Irish lads that had started before us on their way down. They said they were giving up and heading back. Well, nearly at the top a Spanish couple picked us up and took us the rest of the way, which would have been about 15 minutes more walking. The Palace was fricken awesome though, they had decorated it to look exactly how it had been when the original royal family was living in it. Spectacular. They even had this cool music playing, which really set the mood. More places should do it like that, really gives you a feel of stepping back into the past. We dried off with the hand driers in the bathroom there, much to the dismay of many people. The sad thing was that apparently there is an amazing garden surrounding the palace. Oh well, next time. So there is so much to do in Sintra, we decided that if it looked to be a clear day, we would return the next day. And it was! So we got to go to the Quinta Da Regaleira, which is another palace type place designed by an opera set designer under the orders of a wealthy coffee and mining tycoon. It was beautiful as well, but even more beautiful than the actual house (not a house, a palace..) were the gardens it was set in. Lakes, caves, secret passages, waterfalls, bridges... I am sure I am forgetting things, but it took us half a day to explore it. And it was not even the slightest bit crowded, so we felt very alone. We did run into a kind woman named Liz from San Antonio. She gave us some valuable information, and it was lovely to chat with her.
The funniest thing was that when we got to Sintra the second day, when it was clear, we gazed up a tall, tall hill (maybe more of a mountain if you ask me) to see the palace that we had walked up to in the pouring rain. When we mentioned to people that we walked there, they didn´t believe us.
There is still so much left to do in Sintra, Lisbon and Portugal for that matter. We will have to make it a regular trip.