Friday, May 20, 2016

Day 15: Lisbon (Sintra)

Day 15:  Lisbon (Sintra)

Our going-away photo

POTD:  Tomorrow: Amanhã

Weather: Sun, sun, sun: coolish in the morning up high in Sintra, perfect the rest of the day
Who is the white-haired guy?

Everybody is groggy this morning, just a bit too much food and drink last night. That doesn’t keep THB from the fitness center or from eating breakfast. For the first time the entire trip, someone else is in the fitness center, and he’s riding the elliptical so THB has to shift to an exerbike. Does it mean THB went further? Yes, it does! 8.5 miles this morning. And, the guy on the elliptical was part of a foursome that was at Belcanto last night!

We’re off to Milan tomorrow so checked in on-line for our flight on TAP, Portugal’s airline. OOOOPS! Check-in doesn’t work. The desk can’t get it to work. DB calls Amex on Skype and finds out that the tickets were never purchased (our e-mail says CONFIRMED on it). Amex does a bit of research: there was a second booking for us, and that one was actually paid for. Now the desk can check us in AND print boarding passes. The service here at Bairro Alto hotel has been very good, and very friendly. They are also packing us box lunches tomorrow for our 4:45AM hotel departure (DA and SA are leaving at 3:45AM!).

At 9:30, our group tries to regroup with Anabella and Paulo. Wait…Paulo? Where’s Consalvo. No matter, we’re off to Sintra. It’s a “palace” in the sky a bit northwest of Lisbon, above Sintra, The place was put together by King Ferdinand II, a German married to the queen, in the mid-1800s. This was their summer home, atop a hill kept cool by ocean breezes and fog and clouds. It is unique, intentionally so, as Ferdinand decided odd and eccentric was perfectly okay. While we’re early, there are ton of tours and tourists here. 

The castle shots:

Statue on highest peak across from castle

Note the line/butt-brush factor awaiting entrance to King and Queen quarters

How bad was the butt-brush factor? THB got this shot of the young woman next to him in line:

After the tour, we head back to Sintra for the local dessert specialties: a small nut tart (2) and something like an apple turnover done in crispy phyllo dough (2, comes with a side of ice cream). With coffees and a coke, 38E

Shots from around Sintra:

We make brief stops to view the outside of other eccentric buildings or vista points and proceed on to the coast through what might best be described as the Sintra 17 mile drive loaded with big houses on a narrow winding row.

It is blowing at gale force seven

We hit another landmark: the most western point on the European continent. It also features a gorgeous beach and high high winds (and there are a few parasail surfers being blown around).

During the ride we find out that Anabella and Paulo speak at least four languages each. When Anabella finds us a lovely and spectacularly pretty seafood restaurant along the coast, we invite them to join us for lunch. After much “are you sure…it’s not necessary” refusals, we convince them that we do really want them to join us.

Paulo picks this excellent wine, we find it later in a wine shop for 7.5E  (20E on the menu)

Both are delightful lunch companions, plus Anabella helps with the ordering, Paulo is a wine expert that guides us to another excellent Portuguese white, and the waiter keeps us from over ordering. One of the best eating experiences on the trip, on a trip with several other dining highlights.

Back to town following the coast, with Anabella pointing out various fun facts (e.g., where Ian Fleming wrote the first Bond book, the Lisbon Riviera, etc.). At the hotel at 4pm to start our packing for tomorrow. SA and DA are heading home, Paulo is picking them up at 3:45AM. DB and THB are heading to Milan, Paulo is coming back for us at 4:45AM.

One last meal together at…. And then early to bed for our early wake-up tomorrow. Dinner at the Mercado de Ribeira: chicken and frites and a G&T for THB and DA, salad and tuna lightly seared and wine for DB, pizza and a coke for SA.

The camera battery runs out!!

The guy with white hair is the same guy from our hotel, Belcanto, the fitness center, and now in Sintra

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