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Sightseeing Sintra in an Epic Day – Day 15

20 November 2009 No Comment

Monday 27th July 2009 – Portugal

Well today was a very good day and a very bad day for two different reasons. First, though, the good. I drove the car to Sintra today. This was a place recommended to me. After reading up about it i decided i really wanted to go. And i was very glad i did.

Sintra is a very fun place, with lots to see at every turn. It is a touristy place, and buses come and go all day long filling the town with people. I parked the car in a central car park to the nearest attractions. There were tour trains going up and down the main road, and i was tempted, but i should be use to hiking by now.

Sintra National PalaceFirst off was Sintra National Palace. It was in the centre of town so not far to walk. The interior is very decorative, and its all very clean and tidy. It is probably worth a bit as well due to the members of staff guarding each room and watching you intently as you walk along the squeaky floors, snapping away on the camera. It use to attract the Knights Templar during the summer months years ago. They would come here to rest a while in the grand rooms and hallways.

Quinta da RegaleiraNext was a long hike to Quinta da Regaleira (Regaleira Palace and Gardens). This was a nice Palace, but the grounds were huge, with so much to see. Gardens, flowers, tunnels and waterfalls at every turn, you could easily spend hours here, and i must have spent a couple. There was an underground labyrinth through the grounds and around the lake, which was great to explore. There were also lookout towers, and statues, and an ‘Initiation Well’ with a winding staircase within, taking you down into the underground tunnels. It was so much fun.

After this i trekked back to the car for a bite to eat before setting off in the opposite direction to Moorish Castle. The route was steep, and lead me up cobbled streets up into the hills and through a small village.

Once there, the views across the town and across Lisbon and beyond were incredible. There wasn’t much to see of the Castle itself, but the views were more than worth it.

Another long walk back down the streets lead me to Pena Park and Palace. The Palace was nice, but the park around the Palace was immense, even bigger than Quinta da Regaleira.

Pena Park and PalaceThe Palace was used by the Royal Family back in 1910 and has been preserved exactly as they left it. Because of this, you couldn’t take any photos of any of it, or touch anything. It all looked very kingly. Back outside and the gardens were beautiful, with an array of plants and trees, lakes and fountains. I sat for a while in the peaceful gardens, listening to the sound of nothing, until other tourists broke the silence, then i was off again. At the far end of the park was the lookout post, with a statue of a cross on the rocks. From here you could see for miles, including a Race Track, although I’m not sure what race track it is. I overheard someone say it was the F1 Track, but i couldn’t tell. It was a fair old walk to get here, and very steep, plus i was out of water, so the walk back was quite uncomfortable. Once back at the palace i grabbed a couple of drinks.

I couldn’t be further away from the car at this point, so i began my hike back, and was quite impressed with my map reading skills this time. Usually i go in completely the wrong direction after studying the map, this time i was spot on, and was glad to see the car. This brings me to the bad part of the day.

Immediately after arriving it was clear to see something wasn’t right. There were things on the back seat and on the floor, and when i went to unlock the car, it was already open. The other door handle was broken and the lock had been forced. Someone had broken in. I lifted the boot to find things everywhere, and at that point, two police officers on horse back rode by. I told them what had happened and they directed me to the station to report it. I always keep my valuable items on me at all times, so i knew nothing of any value had been taken, but i couldn’t be sure about anything else. There were some important copies of documents that were hidden in the car which may have been disturbed, and in my panic, while waiting at the station to be seen, i phoned the bank to cancel my card.

I was there a while, and phoned home as well to explain everything, and so began the drama of getting money to me, as by now i realised i had none, and no way of getting any. I had no other card. The family were great and got onto it right away. I also had to wait for a new card to be sent out to me. I knew it was going to be a bit tight for a while.

I got back to the campsite a little dejected, but had to go through my list and check everything. To my relief, nothing had gone, apart from a bit of food i had in the car, which i find quite incredible. It’s a shame as I’d had a fantastic day up til then, and a day after hearing about the guy from New Zealand having his van broken into, and how i was now a little more concerned for my car.

I guess you can’t go anywhere and be 100% safe. I’ll have to put this behind me and put it down to just one of those things. At least nothing was stolen, and at least i could still lock the car.

Click here to view more pictures from today, and throughout my trip around Portugal


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