Sintra

Pena Palace stone statue 

Pena Palace stone statue 

After one magical, albeit touristy day in Sintra, we had to come back and see more. The area is beautiful, ancient and wealthy, home to European kings and queens of old. Our love for this place only grew as we experienced how accessible Sintra is from Lisbon and surfer town Cashcais. A triad of places we could happily imagine living for a time. 

From Sintra looking out

From Sintra looking out

Pena Palace on top of Sintra

Pena Palace on top of Sintra

Sintra is home to a thick forest of nature so matured it can't be tamed. On the highest hill, twisted and moss covered ancient oak trees grow throughout the Portuguese Pena palace gardens. We wandered around on a sunny day, trying to get lost on the narrow yellow bricked roads. The palace ends with a series of lakes where the Royal coffers did not hold back on luxury duck houses.

Fancy gaff for ducks

Fancy gaff for ducks

Rock climbs

Rock climbs

Next we were told about a shop with the most supreme excellent cake. Loving a good cake quest we went to Sintra ville. As with many Portuguese towns this was beautifully cobbled with steep narrow alleys and plenty of lace doilies. Locating the cake shop but forgetting the actual cake recommendation we went mad buying one of each almond parcel. We munched on sugary cakes with all meals thereafter... The joys of living without grown ups. 

Cake shop

Cake shop

Ginja booze shots in chocolate mini cups

Ginja booze shots in chocolate mini cups

A week later we returned to Sintra for a shameless day of sightseeing. The tiny one way roads coupled with sat nav's bat shit route choices meant we got stuck 2k away from our destination. Happy to stroll through the woods we walked the last bit along a foreboding private track. For the second time we ended up the wrong side of a long fence. We eventually arrived at the Capuchos convent. A 16th century monk hermitage embellished with an astonishing amount of cork, it did not disappoint. 

Forest hermitage 

Forest hermitage 

Isolated cave for one lonely monk

Isolated cave for one lonely monk

Anna in the woods

Anna in the woods

The natural texture of the cork bark, clad onto everything from tiny doors to entire shrines, was unlike anything we'd ever seen before. The garden's mossy arboreal setting was like something from Guillimot del Torros's film Pans Labyrinth. It was worth the troublesome journey to get here. 

Cork cladding

Cork cladding

Little cloister 

Little cloister 

Hermits

Hermits

Next stop was Cabo da Roca, the most western point in Europe. An array of colourful tourists mooched about what is basically a big cliff. We watched ferocious waves break over the rocks, soaked up the views and then scarpered for a Portuguese standard issue fish lunch.

Westerly wanderings

Westerly wanderings

Western most cliff in Europe

Western most cliff in Europe

Cliff musings

Cliff musings

Our last stop of the day was the man made sea pools of Praia das Azenhas do mar. The waves were gigantic this day and the pools turned out to be filled with sand and jellyfish. Apparently they empty themselves of sand unaided in the spring.

Azenhas do mar sandy sea pool

Azenhas do mar sandy sea pool

Guinness 

Guinness 

Praia das Azenhas do mar white chop 

Praia das Azenhas do mar white chop