Portugal: Sintra, Cascais, and Cabo da Roca

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Lo! Cintra’s glorious Eden intervenes, in variegated maze of mount and glen.

-Lord Byron

When someone like Lord Byron feels that strongly about the beauty of a place, you know it’s going to be gorgeous, and Sintra more than lived up to the hype. Sintra is the only spot we visited that I really regret not spending more time in, because it would take days to see it all, and we just didn’t spend as much time there as necessary. Next time!

We, who never ever go on tour group excursions, actually used a fantastic company called We Hate Tourism Tours for our trip that day, and got driven around, fed, had a glass of wine that seemed bottomless during lunch, were shown a variety of spots in the region, and were told so much about Lisbon and Portugal by people who love it dearly. There were only 7 of us on the tour, including a couple from Croatia, a couple from Germany, and a woman from Italy, so it wound up feeling like a day with friends by the end (the Croatians in particular were lovely).

Our guides bypassed the bigger, more touristy palaces (which I would love to see one day) and took us straight to Palacio and Parque de Monserrate, a much smaller but still beautiful palace surrounded by acres of gardens. We wandered there for hours, and saw very few people, which only added to the romantic atmosphere. After that, we went to Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost point of Europe. The cliffs were gorgeous, and if you squinted hard, you could almost see New Jersey (not really). Our tour ended on the beach in beautiful Cascais, which feels like the Riviera, and Josh and I wound up back there for our last day in Portugal, just being beach bums, drinking beer from plastic cups and eating spicy grilled chicken and fries out of a plastic bag as we soaked in the sun and stayed out of the freezing cold water.

Favorite spots in Cascais:

  • Restaurante Dom Manolo– Piri piri chicken and fries. Cheap and spicy. Say yes to the sauce, and eat it on the beach.
  • Santini– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: best gelato ever. I miss the passion fruit every day.

Portugal, we love you and miss you.

Our tips for Lisbon and Porto

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