In Pictures: Portugal, A Place Of Beginnings, Visiting Sintra & Cascais From Lisbon

Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (9)
Admiring the Pena National Palace overlooking Sintra. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

Following our Silver Whisper cruise from Southampton to Lisbon, we stayed two nights at Altis Belem Hotel & Spa, a luxury hotel situated on the waterfront where we watched Silver Whisper sail away from Lisbon. Check out Silver Whisper Video: Departing Lisbon, Plus Details On Its World Cruise

On Saturday, we toured Lisbon with Mary Goudie, which we wrote about here Post Silver Whisper Cruise: Touring Lisbon With Mary & Rui (also see our video, A Taste of Lisbon).

The next day, we visited Sintra with friends we had met on Silver Whisper. There were seven of us in a Mercedes van operated by driver and guide Jorge Bras, who partners with another driver Joao Cardoso when things get busy. The cost was extremely reasonable, €200 for the day for the transportation and an excellent guide with a pleasant personality and a lot of knowledge.

What follows is our day in photos.

Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (23)
From left, driver/guides Jorge Bras and Joao Cardoso in Sintra. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

All along our drive, Jorge informed us about the sights we were seeing. His English was as impeccable as his knowledge. One thing that stuck out to me was how much of the world’s history originated in Portugal. Of course, name almost any seafaring explorer from the 15th and 16th centuries and they were likely from Portugal. Vasco de Gama for sure, and arguably, Christopher Columbus. Historians put him in Italy, Spain or Portugal.

Thick with spies during World War II, Estoril, between Cascais and Lisbon, inspired Ian Fleming to concoct James Bond.

I concluded by the end of the tour that Portugal is a place of beginnings.

Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (18)
The Coastal Castle Highway. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (21)
Beautiful colors in Sintra. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (17)
The Sintra National Palace. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (15)
Rooftops in Sintra. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (19)
Sintra street scene. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (20)
Paula takes a break. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
The colorful Pena National Palace in São Pedro de Penaferrim on a hill above Sintra. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (7)
The Pena National Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (8)
View from the Pena National Palace. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (10)
Britton with friends admiring the views. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (11)
The Pena National Palace is also designated as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (12)
The Pena National Palace features a profusion of styles in accordance with the exotic tastes of the Romanticism. In other words, it’s a mishmash. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (13)
Rapunzel? © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

We left Sintra and headed toward Cascais, stopping for lunch on the way at Meste Zé, overlooking the beaches at Guincho, where we looked out at Europe’s westernmost point.

A huge lunch for seven with a couple of bottles of refreshing Vinho Verde, the popular Portuguese wine, a healthy serving of Seafood Cataplana and this goes in the “you have to try it” category, Gilt Head Bream in Salt. In addition, there were appetizers, including fresh shrimp and Octopus salad. All for €279 or about €40 each, worth it for the experience alone. I mean, come on? Think of how much it costs to see a movie these days.

Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (6)
Gilt Head Bream, before being salted. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (2)
Ready to crack open and serve. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (3)
Seafood Cataplana. The smiling grandmother said something I will never forget right after she dished out a helping of the seafood. “I started being happy the day I learned to laugh at myself.” © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (4)
Delicious and fresh. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (5)
Refreshing Vinho Verde presented by my daughter who was disappointed that the legal drinking age is 18 in Portugal (but 16 in Spain’s 16 in Asturias region, which we visited last week). © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

After lunch, we continued to Cascais for dessert, where the must-visit ice creamery is Santinis. It was easy to find. A line snaked out the door and down the sidewalk. From entering the back of the line to holding a cone of ice cream in my hand: about 30 minutes. Worth the wait? Absolutely.

Visiting Sintra & Cascais. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle (1)
Serving ice cream since 1949 and busier than ever more than six decades later, Santinis. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

All in all a great day of touring just a short distance from Lisbon. We highly recommend seeing Sintra & Cascais, and of course, don’t miss Lisbon itself. Plan on at least two days before or after your cruise, and even then, I predict that you will still feel that your time there was too short.

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