Sintra, An Underground Tower, A Moorish Castle and Port

We had breakfast in the center of Lisboa two mornings in a row. The same cheerful waiter served us each time. When he asked us where we were from and heard, “United States” in response, he grinned broadly and said, “Obama!” We smiled cordially, but do not share his enthusiasm. We did make it a point to find out who the president of Portugal was, just so we could be in the know. :)

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On this particular morning we caught the train to Sintra and began a full day of sight seeing in a dreamy, fairy-tale like town.

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We walked to Quinta da Regaleira where I was very excited to see the famed inverted tower. We toured the garden, and just happened to come upon the entrance to the tower, unexpectedly, across these stepping stones:

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After walking a little ways in an almost complete dark tunnel, not knowing where it was leading, we came to the bottom of the Initiation Well. This is the view from the bottom, looking up.

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We climbed the wet, dripping circular stairs up to the top, and then looked back down. And yes, it was just as magical as it looks. Standing here is where I had one of those overwhelming feelings of amazement. The thrill of being in another country and seeing real places that are on Pinterest can really overtake a person. It’s such a grand feeling.

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The garden was full of towers and small stairways and little bitty steps and walkways everywhere.

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It was nice to look up the mountain to our next destination, The Castle of the Moors:

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We chose to walk all the way up, and the view from the top was rather rewarding.

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How many people can say they’ve done push-ups in a Moorish Castle?

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We didn’t really spend that much time in the town of Sintra itself, but on the way back to the train station I captured some of the daily life in Portugal. Our one souvenir purchase was here, in a little antique store. I spotted some old broken, chipped tiles in a wooden box and decided that was the perfect take-home item. I could have bought a new tile with a shiny painted picture on it from a touristy shop, but why have a brand-spankin new one, when I could have one that was really on a Portuguese house at one time? It’s one of my favorite pieces in our house now.

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For supper, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Cafe Buenos Aires, back in Lisboa. Daniel read about it beforehand and knew that reservations were a good idea, but we stopped by without just to see. Happily, they said we could have a table as long as we were finished by 10 p.m. (It was 7 p.m. when we arrived.) Of course we said, “Yes!” and were seated near the wall in the most authentically decorated restaurant I’ve ever been to. Meaning, it wasn’t a forced decor. It was so real…!

We came at just the right time because several other couples were turned away after we were seated. They do have a “sister” restaurant up the street a few doors, so perhaps they found a table there. You can’t really tell by the picture below, but our table was about 5 inches away from another table, so it was a rather tight space. We could have carried on a conversation with the couple beside us, had we wanted to.

Dining for dinner in Lisbon was just different than in the States. Folks don’t sit down and scarf up their food; it’s an experience that begins late (say, 8 p.m.) and can last for hours. And personal space wasn’t such a big deal, so having another couple practically sharing our table seemed like dining-as-usual for the patrons.

Daniel had steak and {white} sweet potatoes. He even asked for a second serving part way through the meal and they willingly obliged. I had fish over sweet potatoes and greens and…we splurged on a glass of port. It seemed very fitting that we should taste our first port in the country that it originated from. Am I ever glad we did. It was incredibly good. Sweet, almost chocolaty, smooth, warm and delicious. Do I sound like a wine connoisseur?

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One thought on “Sintra, An Underground Tower, A Moorish Castle and Port

  1. I’d never heard of the inverted tower, but yes, it does look like you stepped into a pretty neat photography journal or something. :) And you were there!!
    The dining experiences sound very interesting too. Something it sounds like fun to experience one day.

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