Finally getting around to writing our Sintra day. After deliberating with Moos who would be writing this blog post, as Sintra was his favourite day by far, I finally gave it to him to write. Today, it ended up back in my hands!
Once again, our early start to the day was pushed back by shower queues. After showering and packing our backpacks ready for the day, we left about midday, failing to leave early in order to avoid any tourists on the trails. Our trip to Sintra cost €4.30, setting off from Rossio train station. A train station that was so out of sight we doubted the instructions given to us by those we asked. Having asked a man in the square outside of Rossio metro where we would find the train station, he pointed towards a building to the right of us, across the square in which we were standing. We walked over to the building, very normal looking, with a cafe downstairs and no sign of any trains departing from here. A group of people appeared to be taking the escalator up to the second floor, uncertain, we followed the masses and to our surprise we were greeted by ticket offices and rail tracks gated by ticket machines!
I headed over to the ticket machine, to purchase my return to Sintra, since my metro card could be used for train tickets too. Having done so, I turned around in hope to find Moos. Where was he? Our train was due to leave in 3 minutes, and since we had a late start to the day and the next train being in half an hour time, I was not planning to miss the train that sat ahead of me preparing to leave. Sheer panic set in as what if he was already on the train thinking I was, or if I went and got on it and he was still buying his ticket or had gone to the bathroom. I tried to call his mobile, no answer. I messaged him frantically, where was he!? I watched the train leave and still had no idea where Moos was. By this point I was annoyed, just as much as I was worried for his whereabouts. A few minutes pass and a casual, stress free, Moosa walks back into the station from the outdoor balcony. Where on earth did he go, calmly he replies he went to change the camera batteries. Annoyed there was a 30 minute wait until the next train, I proceeded to walk through the ticket barriers onto the platforms and sat alone, contemplating why the camera batteries couldn’t have been changed on the train.
Eventually the train arrived, and missing Moosa’s company I messaged him telling him that the train was now at the platform, not knowing where he was. I got on to find seats, anticipating that it would get pretty busy. Again, I couldn’t see him, and the train was set to leave soon. Moosa; always late, even when he is already in the area. Thankfully he joined my carriage and we sat together looking at the maps I had picked up while purchasing my train ticket. The train journey wasn’t long, with the route being scenic, taking our mind off the length.
Sintra station was small, and the only establishment that existed was a little pizza hut. Having passed a Pizza Hut on our search to find water on the day of arrival, we decided in the spirit of all things touristy that we would venture to Pizza Hut for dinner- especially after such a dreadful food day yesterday. It was time to find lunch and we headed out of the station, using google maps to head towards the direction of Castelos dos Mouros.
We came across a little shop, where Moosa grabbed lunch: a cheese toastie and some pear juice. Pear juice became our favourite thing over the Lisbon trip. It was a quaint cafe, with pastries and salads in a glass counter, and a tv on the wall with the top charts playing. I craved a sandwich and so decided to try find one on the way to the castle, not wanting pastries, although I was out of luck, nowhere on the way seemed to have any.
The narrow, steep roads were surprisingly easy to venture up, as long as we had plenty of water to keep hydrated. We passed several housing complexes with shops dotted around on our ascent. Surprisingly not many other people were about, we continued to follow Google Maps. Soon enough we reached the base of the castle and it became clear we were heading in the right direction. A local told us that the red trails leading down would take us back to the centre, we decided to take one of these routes when we headed back to the train station, these being through narrow paths through forest.
The grounds of the castle were gorgeous, with views even more picturesque than I imagined. My fear of highs set in as we walked the walls, with falling being at the front of my mind, I couldn’t say I enjoyed walking the walls, but being stationary at the top, and having a firm grip on the wall meant I could enjoy the views. Moosa offered for me to hold onto him, he then proceeded to slip, and I took my place back on the wall. It cost 8 Euros to enter the grounds, and we made our most of them. Afterwards we headed to the cafe and purchased sandwiches, finally, and then headed back down after being there for an hour and a half. We found out that most people took coaches, drove, or got busses up to the castle, it explained the lack of people walking to the castle, although the walk was why we were there!
Our route down was even better than the ascent, although Moosa much preferred the ascent, the route down was scenic and more exciting, taking the greener route. We reached a road and carried on leaving the castle grounds, finding huge boulders that I decided I wanted to climb. Moosa looked on and laughed, then joined me, as we became “mountain goats” as I termed us. Getting up was easy, getting down wasn’t. Finally we continued our descent and after a little while we reached an area of shops. A more ‘urban’ area, if you could call it that, since there were areas of remoteness not too far away at all times.
We stopped off at a little pastry shop, and Moosa ordered what a local just ordered, after asking her what was in her box. He indulged in his pastry and we continued back to the railway station. On our way back we got a little lost, managing to correct our own errors, we arrived back at the station, just in time to get a train back to Lisbon without a 30 minute wait, and Moosa was by my side! Heading back we were tired, but Sintra was definitely a well needed break from Lisbon and city living over the past 4 days.
That evening, we made our way to Pizza Hut, not wanting to travel far and enjoyed Pizza’s. After spending some time at the hostel watching the animated film ‘Sing’ and relaxing after our heavy day. Tomorrow was our last day and we decided we would spend it shopping, in addition to a pizza challenge we had both foolishly entered against each other, as we both boasted we could eat more pizza than the other and tomorrow would put it to the test. Our Lisbon adventure was soon to be over!