Iwan2go went...to Lisbon and Sintra

Old Apr 30th, 2022, 04:50 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Iwan2go went...to Lisbon and Sintra

First, sincerest thanks to so many Fodorites who gave such great advice, including Maribel, Helen Fatima, mlgb - I hope that I haven’t forgotten anyone. I know that several people are leaving soon, so hope that I can share something that will be helpful for your own trip.

My husband and I (mid-70s) and our son (40s) went to Sintra (2 nights) and Lisbon (6 nights) from March 22 - 31. We love walking, museums, relaxing, gardens, history (and food). I’ll preface this report with a little notation: because I’d broken my arm in September, then done something to my knee in January...it was a bit more challenging than past trips. I’d gone to a month of physical therapy for my knee and hoped it would be ok - and it was! Hallelujah. I think the walking up and down all those hills actually made my quads stronger and cured them. Whether this is true or not, I’m sticking’ to it, and if I am injured again I will propose another curative trip. I did take a walking stick and shoes with gripper soles, to deal with the slippery sidewalks in Lisbon; we were very fortunate that it rained very little, so all went well.

We flew British Airways from Los Angeles to Heathrow, connecting to Lisbon, the first time we’ve ever flown Business class. Unfortunately the outbound flight was delayed at Heathrow and we missed the connection, but we got to “enjoy" the lounge at Terminal Two, so it was ok. We had booked a driver with Splendid Journey, thanks to a recommendation from Mirabel. https://splendidjourney.com.pt We had a relaxed drive to Sintra, arriving at 10:30pm to the Chalet Saudade in Sintra, which was lovely, where we unpacked and crashed. https://www.saudade.pt

The following morning we walked to breakfast, served at their nearby cafe, Cafe Saudade. https://www.saudade.pt/cafesaudade.html We booked a morning tour with Luisa at Lisbon Tour Guides and she was FABULOUS. https://lisbontourguides.pt She met us at the Chalet and off we went, walking down the main street towards the National Palace. There are wonderful sculptures all along the walk, and views of the surrounding hills and forests. Sintra is just lovely.

Luisa walked us through the National Palace, explaining the rooms and history of the building. I won’t go into it here, just show you some photos to whet your appetite.






Luisa explained that the first ships the Portuguese explorers used were similar to Turkish caravels with triangular sails, faster and more nimble; once they determined safety, they switched to square sailed, larger ships to bring back more spices, etc.

The beautiful painted ceiling.


Another ceiling, with the king’s coat of arms surrounded by his children’s. Those half-blank are...you guessed it - his daughters’.

The chapel, with a lovely wooded ceiling and doves (the Holy Spirit) on the walls.

We spent two hours at the palace, then walked to our next stop, the Quinta da Regaleira, which I’ll post soon (dinner calls!).
Iwan2go is offline  
Old Apr 30th, 2022, 05:08 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,844
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks so much for posting your experience and photos in Sintra. The photos of the National Palace are beautiful! I'm looking forward to more!

And I'm really glad you had a good experience with your transfer w/Splendid Journey (they took us from Lisbon to Sintra as well in March) and with Luisa of Lisbon Tour Guides. The ladies of this tour company are really excellent and really nice. And also glad that you enjoyed your stay at Chalet Saudade, where Fodorite progol is headed very soon!

And wow, I'm really impressed that with those injuries you were able to manage all those hills successfully!
Maribel is offline  
Old Apr 30th, 2022, 06:08 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,513
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Enjoying your report so far! The National Palace is beautiful! We visited Sintra with a guided tour from Lisbon. We only had time for Pena Palace and a snack in the center, and I remember sitting close by the National Palace. Then our tour bus took us to Cascais and Estoril. Would love to stay overnight in Sintra if we return to Portugal.
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Apr 30th, 2022, 06:08 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,579
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Fabulous! I’m about to go in a few days and you couldn’t have timed it better! Looking forward to the rest of your trip! We start in Sintra for 3 nights and off to Lisbon for 6. And leaving very soon!
progol is offline  
Old Apr 30th, 2022, 08:33 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I didn’t realize you’ll be staying at the Chalet Saudade, progol - I think that you will love it. We had two Superior rooms; our son had the one with the stone walls on the bottom floor, and we had the one with the grey sofa and blue trim, and terrace, on the third floor. We loved our room - separate living room, large bedroom, shower room and separate toilet room. It was a bit too cold to sit outside, but in the right weather it would be wonderful, with great views. Of the two, we liked the upper floor room the best.

Our next stop was the Quinta da Regaleira, a mystical estate developed by a man who was interested in the Knights Templar and Masons.Home He constructed fantastical gardens with towers, grottos, and an Initiation Well, an upside down tower with spiral steps. The idea was that when one had reached a level of spiritual growth, they would go down the well in the dark. At the bottom are three routes, one of which was a dead end and another which lead to a pool of water with stepping stones (when we were there, this last one was closed).

I was SO glad we had Luisa to guide us, because I was concerned about walking on uneven surfaces, but it was fine. We went to the well first, then out through some stone grottos to the tower (photo to follow). After that we walked toward the Chapel, and to the house.

We made our way back through town to Inconum for lunch - delicious!!! We had foie gras that melted in my mouth, sautéed mushrooms with rucola and cheese, a layered dish with sweet potatoes, vegetables and spinach, scallops with risotto, desserts and wine, total for the three of us was 119E. Highly recommended!


Looking down into the Initiation Well


Walking in the Grotto at the bottom of the Well.

You can see the water beyond.




The chapel in the foreground, house in the background


Lunch at Inconum

Delicious scallops with risotto at Inconum. Wow.
Iwan2go is offline  
Old Apr 30th, 2022, 09:00 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
After our lunch, we returned to the Chalet for a short nap, then took a walk back into and around the town for some snacks. To bed early. The next morning my husband decided to stay at the hotel while my son and I took a look at the Pena Palace. I did buy the tickets ahead of time, for a 10:30 entry.

And the adventure began. We’d originally thought of taking the bus up the hill, but it was crammed full and we were leery (with Covid still around), so we called for an Uber. Could follow that guy on the app wandering all over the place, so when another guest’s cab arrived and they invited us to join them, we went for it. The man driving took the village route (read “OMG how often do you need to replace your suspension?”). Arrived up at the Palace to take a second, short hop up the hill in a mini-bus - which was a good idea now, the hill isn’t particularly long, but a bit steep and we wanted to save our energy for the top. Got up there exactly in time to see the interior.

The crowd to see the interior was already large. While I am sure it was interesting, we determined before too long that this was not the experience we wanted - more of a slog than a meander. You can call me a wimp, but we decided we’d forego seeing the whole thing and asked if we could turn back. I used my “I’m using a walking stick and I’m old” (NOT) and they let us. Yippeee. We then walked around the outside, took in the fantastic views, and made our way back down to the return minibus.

THIS driver was - I have no words. My son gave his seat to an older woman, held on to two straps, and relaxed. Then the driver just took off, with all of us holding on for dear life. I thought, thank God that woman had a seat or she’d be on the floor. The road was made up of cobblestones and winding, and the driver was determined to set a record. Oh boy.

Next adventure was to get down the mountain. A young man with a old jeep offered us a ride but we demurred and looked for a cab. Naw, they were all spoken for, what next? Didn’t want the bus, should we take the jeep? Why not, it’s vacation. Right. He assured us that his jeep was Army issue and top notch! There was a front seat (with a high instep that I had to be boosted into, with my hurt knee...) and two parallel benches in the back. As I got in I noticed that there was duct tape on some of the items (the radio?) and thought to myself, “Is this a good idea?”. Like, duh. You idiot. Any-way, I asked him if he could drive slowly, which he did, and we got down to the town without mishap. Where the two of us looked at each other and burst out laughing and decided there was absolutely NO need to share this with my husband. And unless he reads this, he shall die a happy man. Hahahaha.

Got the same company to take us from Sintra to Lisbon, which I will continue asap.


One view of Pena Palace, with a wild creature daring you to enter.
Iwan2go is offline  
Old May 1st, 2022, 02:16 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,579
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Fabulous! I’m loving this (and can’t wait to eat at Incomum, for which I have my reservations already!).

And we do have a superior room at Chalet Saudade so I hope we get the upstairs room ! it does sound like a lovely place, and I’m happy we’re staying there.
progol is offline  
Old May 1st, 2022, 04:37 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,513
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow!! I love your photos of Quinta da Regaleira!!! If we ever return to Portugal, I want to spend a few nights in Sintra, visit Quinta, and eat at Incomum!!! Love your story about your Pena adventure. You have a good attitude. And with an injured knee!
KarenWoo is offline  
Old May 1st, 2022, 08:36 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,844
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Your beautiful photos of Regaleira really captured it so well!
In March, the pool with stepping stones were closed as well. The guide ahead of us wanted to take his group to them, and we were going to follow, until a guard informed us all that they were closed, so we missed that last adventure.

Thanks for relating your experience at Pena and the line to enter the Palace, which was what had been mentioned, that the lines, even with timed entry, after 9:30, could be seriously backed up. But since the terraces and park grounds are free to wander, you can still get some great photos of the extravagant exterior.

That trip down the Pena mountain must have been quite the ride! You're a real trooper! Eager to hear more!
Maribel is offline  
Old May 1st, 2022, 11:56 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Gee thanks guys. Figured we’ve waited two years to travel again and some stupid torn meniscus (if that’s what it was) would not stop me.

Backing up a little: We had debated whether this was a safe time to travel, as has everyone else. We were all vaccinated and boosted, and had taken PCR tests here prior to our flights. We were very happy to see that most people in Portugal were masked - certainly servers in most of the restaurants - and elected to eat as much as possible outdoors, or separated from other diners. We also made the decision to restrict going to indoor venues, like a fado concert, which made me sad but we thought necessary - we wanted to be able to come home! Five days in a hotel was not an appealing prospect, regardless of the elegance of decor. Secondly, we do travel slightly differently now that we’re almost 74 and 77 years old. We still walk 4 - 7 miles a day, but found that a big breakfast, walking and touring til 2 - 3:00 lunch, then relaxing in the afternoon into evening was sufficient. Just saying so because others may choose to do lots more than we did!

Iwan2go is offline  
Old May 1st, 2022, 01:36 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
OK, on to Lisbon! As I said, we had the same Splendid Journeys company drive us from Sintra to our hotel near Cais do Sodre (on the waterfront, not too far from the Praca do Comercio), the Corpo Santo Hotel. Took about 30 -40 minutes, cost about 70 E. The Corpo Santo was just perfect. We had a wonderful room, with a long bathroom and double sinks. An area set apart almost like a dressing room upon entry, with a Nespresso machine. Every afternoon a small snack arrived - cheeses, croquettes, bruschetta. Copious breakfasts were included, with a fruit tray, cheese and meats, a basket of pastries, bread and scones, and then to-order eggs, omelets, pancakes, etc. In the evenings in the lobby they served port and other wines with another snack, and you could sit on the front sidewalk or in the lobby and relax. And to top it off, a soft serve ice cream machine! I mean, whoa! This was a great hotel, and I plan on giving a recommendation with photos on TripAdvisor.

We walked from there to the Time Out Market for lunch. That place was hoppin’! All the tables were filled with mostly young adults laughing and having fun, which was great, but we didn’t particularly want to sit in the crowd so we got some pizza and salads and ate in a quieter area of the market. We took a sightseeing walk along the waterfront, down past the Praca do Comercio to see some monster cruise ships, then back to the hotel to relax and sleep, while our son walked all around and checked out the Quiosque do Carmo for some wine.

The next morning, Saturday, was our second tour with Luisa. We walked down to the Praca, up to Rossio, and while waiting for a bus we went into convent of Sao Domingos de Lisboa. This church has a horrible history: in 1506, drought and plague was rampant and people were looking for a someone to blame for “angering God”. A man inside the church claimed he saw the illuminated face of Jesus shining from the altar. When another worshiper, a new Christian, offered the explanation of an optical illusion, he was dragged outside and beaten to death. From there, mobs began killing, and when some of the clergy suggested that sins would be absolved if heretics were killed, the focus shifted to the Jewish population. Thousands were murdered. When the king, who had left to avoid the plague, returned he ordered the perpetrators to be hanged. The church itself burned in a fire in 1959, and the decision was made to leave the marks of the fire on the columns. It’s quite a macabre sight when you go inside.

From there we decided to go up the hill using the Gloria Funicular.The carriage at the top is connected to the one at the base, pulling it up and passing murals and small streets, ending next to a wonderful park, the Jardim de Sao Pedro Alcantara. From there you can see the layout of the city: Hill/ valley/ hill. I think that area is the Bairro Alto (but we’re remodeling the room where I stored my Fodor’s book and I can’t get to it. Crud. Somebody help me, here, correct me if I’m wrong, please). We saw the Igreja Sao Roque (the Jesuit church), the beautiful Convent do Carmo, Praca Camoes, walked down the run Garrett, and discovered the most useful thing EVER - the elevator inside the Armazens do Chiado Mall, which takes you down, free, to the lower part of the city. I think we walked from there across to Alfama, where we found another elevator inside (of all places) a supermarket - the Elevador Castelo (I think Mirabel also put this link on another posting): https://www.weheartlisbon.com/en/sig...evador-castelo

Arriving at the top of the elevator, we walked a bit and Luisa treated us to a pastel de nata pastry at Pastelaria Santo Antonio, which received the medal for the best pastel de nata in 2019, the last time the contest was held. It was delicious, not too sweet. The signs outside of the shop made me laugh, I’ll post them below. We walked around a bit more of Alfama, then back down the elevator and to lunch at Delfina. Wonderful meal, had a kind of tempura string bean, soups, Pasteis de Bacalhau (delicious), tomato salad, wine, dessert, total for three of us 106E (which is amazing). https://www.almalusahotels.com/delfina/en/

My husband and I returned to the hotel, our son went to the Pantheon and Monastery of Sao Vincente de Fora, and he and I walked up to dinner (the first of several) at our new fave, Mezzo Giorno, where we sat outside under tents and the stars. Til tomorrow, when we journey to Belem.




The view across the valley to the Castelo San Jorge


The Gloria funicular - unfortunately, at night graffiti artists go to town on the parked trolley cars.


The narrow, steep streets in Alfama. Note the sidewalks, all made of limestone and granite...the reason you want shoes with a good grip!




Like, YUM!


The outside of the Pastelaria. Very close to Castelo Sao Jorge.
Iwan2go is offline  
Old May 1st, 2022, 01:55 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,844
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm glad you chose the Corpo Santo, that's tucked away a bit from the crowds in Baixa and it offers such good price to quality ratio.
And happy you liked your lunch at Delfina. The Alma Lusa is another hotel that I really like in a quiet corner of Baixa, but the Corpo Santo offers an even better value with all the extras.

We also took the graffiti covered Gloria funicular (Elevador de Gloria) up to the Bairro Alto at night, and were surprised there wasn't a long line like the one at the Elevador de Santa Justa (we made a video of the ride).

The advantage of having Luisa as your Lisbon guide is that she knows all the hacks to avoid some of the climbing! the elevator at Armazens mall, the metro escalators and that hack to get to the castle to avoid some of the climb.

Really enjoying your photos and eager to hear about your Belém day!
Maribel is offline  
Old May 1st, 2022, 05:27 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,579
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is wonderful! I’m paying close attention to all the details and love the very practical discoveries, like the elevator inside the Armazens do Chiado mall and the Gloria funicular. Oh and that pastel de nata! Mmmm….can’t wait!
progol is offline  
Old May 1st, 2022, 05:34 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,844
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The hack to Castelo dos Moros-
https://lisbontravelideas.com/2022/0...lisbons-castle
Maribel is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2022, 11:26 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 21,990
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Very nice! I do recommend that folks not do Sintra as a day trip.
mlgb is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2022, 12:11 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,844
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oops,
I meant the hack to St George's castle (I had Sintra on the brain yesterday!)
Maribel is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2022, 04:29 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,513
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I love the photo of the custard tart!!! So delicious!!!
KarenWoo is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2022, 04:50 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sunday morning we took a cab to Belem, tickets to the Jeronimos Monastery in hand. What a beautiful site. We wandered around for an hour or so, then walked over to the Torre de Belem, a distance of a little less than a mile. The surrounding park was filled with families having a wonderful time. From there, we walked back to the Museo Colecao Bernardo, the modern art museum - after a pit stop at a wonderful gelato place right there, the Gelato Davvero.


Entrance to the church at the Jeronimos Monastery


Interior courtyard view


Such interesting gargoyles!



I think this is one of the most moving Pietas I have ever seen.

By this time it was later afternoon and we were hungry. I wanted to see the Coach Museum but the others preferred to head back (perhaps we’d come back?), so we caught a ride back to Lisbon and walked up the hill again. First, a drink in the Lago de Carmo square, then off to lunch nearby at Lumi, the rooftop restaurant at the Lumiares Hotel. It’s open all day (12:30-1:00am). Our timing was good (4:00), and we got a great seat on the outdoor terrace. Delicious food: a mushroom burger, lamb kofta skewer, green bean tempura, burrata, one wine, total 84E.

Anyplace you see these tempura string beans, get them.

Portobello mushroom sandwich.




View from Lumi

After that, a meandering walk back down to our hotel. Our son went to the Museo de arte Contemporanea. Tomorrow, the Gulbenkian!
Iwan2go is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2022, 05:28 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,844
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Beautiful photos of Jerónimos!
Maribel is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2022, 07:16 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,513
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, gorgeous photos of Jeronimos! Are you using a camera or your cell phone?

And the food looks delicious, too!!!
KarenWoo is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information