Day 6: Sintra was absolutely amazing. One of the best days we've had so far. It was a little tricky getting there due to the nature of the roads in Lisbon and a map which wasn't fantastic. Probably no shortage of human error either. But long story short; where we were suppose to be going west we somehow ended up going east and not only that, managed to miss an exit we should have taken (after already going the wrong direction) and ended up going across the longest bloody bridge there is. And the thing about getting on bridges going the wrong way is that there is no way to turn around and this bridge look like 20 minutes to cross at 150km/h.
But we did end up making it to Sintra, just a couple of hours later than we probably would have liked. Thankfully it didn't result in us having to rush or anything, we still had plenty of time to see what we wanted to see, which was mainly the Pena Palace. We drove the narrow winding path up to the palace grounds, had some lunch and then bought our tickets. Gabrielle decided she wanted to ride a horse around, so she paid some extra for that and then we headed towards the stables.
The entrance we went through was the lake entrance so as you'd expect the first part of the walk was through and around some nice lakes with some duck houses in the middle. These kinda looked like little castle towers. After Gabrielle left to go get her horse me and Ness were left walking together. The first place we went to was a chateau where one of the previous queens lived. That's what they say anyway. The building itself looks practically brand new, so I suspect the original no longer actually stands. Was a cool house though. All the frames and stuff were surrounded by cork. But not cut square cork, it looked like the bark of the tree. I think photos probably do a better job than I can describe.
After this we went up to a look out point which apparently was this queens favourite. It was a pretty steep set of steps to get up there, but not really that many of them. Regardless we were breathing pretty heavily by the top. I'd like to think I'd be fitter than that after all this walking. Apparently not. There was stone bench up there which we plonked ourselves on. Another couple was up there and offered to take a photo of us. So now I think we have a few photos of us trying to smile while practically gasping for air. It was a really nice view from here though. You could see the palace, the towns all around and the coast. No wonder the queen liked to come up there.
Then we walked up to an even higher point where there was a large cross standing there. It was up here than we caught up with Gabrielle. We got some photos with the palace behind us, soaked in the views for a while and then headed back down towards the palace. Along the way though we managed to get side-tracked by a statue standing up on a pile of rocks. I say pile as I'm not sure how else to actually describe it. It was kind of a cliff, hill kinda thing, that is to say the rocks were huge and extended 20 or 30m up. We decided in our infinite wisdom to go check the statue out up close but after climbing the hill and reaching the base of the rocks we quickly discovered there was no actual path up to the statue. But we weren't about to let that stop us. 30 minutes later and we're still climbing up, around and over rocks trying to find a way up. I'm not sure I quite remember having that kind of fun in a long time. We did eventually reach the top after about an hour or so of climbing. There wasn't really anything all that special about the statue in the end, but the climb was worth it anyway.
Then it was finally off to the actual palace. I'm not sure I can really write anything here that would possibly do it justice. Go there yourself, or just look at the photos or something. The place is amazing. You can walk around inside and get a bit of a history of the place and the past occupants etc, but I don't think any of us really paid all that much attention to any of it. Though apparently the palace is home to the very first shower with separate taps for hot and cold water. We were just too busy admiring the place and then the view from the top. You can see over basically the whole park, and off to one side the Moorish castle which was our next destination.
When buying the tickets for the park they had a few options where you could buy entrance to the park along with entrance to one other attraction at a discounted price. We decided the Moorish castle which was right across the road was the best option as it was probably the only one we had time for. It turned out to be a great choice because it was a pretty awesome castle (largely ruins now, though very intact ones). Getting up to the high points of the castle gave probably an even better view of the surrounding landscape than anywhere in the park including the palace. The castle itself was an awesome sight. A proper old school medieval looking castle, my favourite type.
Before heading back to Lisbon we decided to drive further west right to the coast to a place called Cabo da Roca to watch the sunset on the cliffs. It was really the perfect and to a great day, to just sit on the edge of the rocks with the waves crashing below and watching the sun go down. At certain angles along the cliff face the view almost looked like something you'd see on the cover of a cheesy Mills and Boon romance novel.
Then we drove back to Lisbon. As far as I can remember nothing went wrong on the drive back and we managed to get home with no problems at all. I think we even found a good parking spot right behind the hostel. Yup, it really was a perfect day!
Then to make the day even better I finally met up with Patricia. She took me to a restaurant called The Great American Disaster. It was a 50s themed American diner. They did amazing burgers and even better milkshakes. We chatted about all sorts of crap right up until she was going to miss her ferry back home if we didn't leave. So reluctantly we left the diner and made plans to spend the next day together.