Portugal at last!

Old May 7th, 2022, 09:10 AM
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Portugal at last!

Itís now Saturday, May 7, and we arrived in Portugal just 2 days ago - though it feels like weíve been here forever! After 2 flights from NYC, we arrived in Lisbon around noon, and proceeded to get the Via Viagem card in the airport , took the metro 3 stops to the Oriente station and changed to the Sintra train, which was sitting in the station waiting for us! I canít believe how smoothly it went!

We arrived at 2pm and found the lovely Chalet Saudade very easily and, very fortunately, our room was ready. We were both in dire need of showers and a rest. The staff here are lovely, managed by the warm, welcoming and extremely competent Filippa, and assisted by 2 lovely women from Brazil. We are convinced that there are more Brazilians here than Portuguese!

After a good rest, we changed into very lightweight clothes because the temps here are glorious- warm and really not too hot. At 4pm, we were ready to go out. And we were ready to tackle our first site! We went to the PalŠcio Nacional de Sintra, or National Palace. Iím not going into details now but we loved this site. The combination of the Moorish and the Manueline styles, the gorgeous tiles, the historic aspects and the utter lack of crowds made it a wonderful first site to visit. Arriving at 4pm was perfect!

Dinner the first night was at Dom Pipas, a small traditional restaurant on the other side of the train station. Highly recommend! Excellent food and wonderful service.

I will try to post some pix when I can as well as post more as we go along. But I wonít promise because itís hard to keep up!

Last edited by progol; May 7th, 2022 at 09:39 AM.
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Old May 7th, 2022, 09:28 AM
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Hi progol,
Glad your trip went so smoothly and that you love the Chalet Saudade (thought you would!) and that you made it on your first day (wow!) to the National Palace w/o crowds!

Eager to hear more when you have time, but in the meantime, have fun!
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Old May 7th, 2022, 09:47 AM
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Otimo! I'm so happy for you and your husband that you're in Portugal - at last. Good weather and no crowds no less. Have a very happy time. I look forward to following you on your journey.
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Old May 7th, 2022, 10:55 AM
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So glad for you that you finally made it and things are going well.
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Old May 7th, 2022, 11:33 AM
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Welcome!
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Old May 7th, 2022, 11:42 AM
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We loved the much older National Palace,and preferred it to PeŮa Palace. Enjoy your trip to Portugal!
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Old May 7th, 2022, 03:08 PM
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St John the Baptist i









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Old May 7th, 2022, 03:09 PM
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The above- miscellaneous photos walking to and exploring the National Palace
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Old May 7th, 2022, 03:11 PM
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Sign me on! John the Baptist???
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Old May 7th, 2022, 03:17 PM
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Those wrap around blue/white tiles in the Coat of Arms upper room are really magnificent!
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Old May 7th, 2022, 03:26 PM
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Our taxi driver in Sintra told us the National Palace was the best of the bunch. Looks like he was right.
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Old May 7th, 2022, 03:29 PM
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Wow!!! What gorgeous photos!!! So happy that you finally made it to Portugal, and things are going great so far. I admire people who can post while on their trip. Not sure I have the energy or time to do that.
Thank you!
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Old May 7th, 2022, 05:08 PM
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Excellent photos. I’m along for the ride.
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Old May 7th, 2022, 06:12 PM
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Turned on the trip report flag
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Old May 7th, 2022, 11:16 PM
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Thanks, everyone! I hope you donít mind if I donít respond individually right now. Iím doing my best to keep up and will try to give you a flavor of Portugal as we travel.

We are in Sintra for a total of 3 nights in order to see the Big 5: National Palace, PeŮa Palace, (autocorrect keeps spelling PeŮa with the tilde on it but it doesnít have one!) Moorish Castle, Quinta da Regaleira. The 3 nights were perfect for us - seeing only 2 major sights a day was comfortable and we were able to do it at a relaxed pace.

We woke up on our first morning to a thick fog and we could barely see anything out the window, yet by the time we were on our way, the skies had begun to clear, and by late morning, we had clear blue skies. So, after a lovely breakfast at the guest houseís restaurant, Cafe Saudade, we eventually found our way by tuk-tuk to PeŮa Palace, a fantasy castle built in the 19th century by Prince Ferdinand, containing gothic towers, moorish minarets, Renaissance details, and whacky details galore.

My best intentions for getting to the palace were just that. The breakfast at Cafe Saudade didnít start till 8:30am, and not only did the guest house serve their own guests, they served other tourists as well. It was a slow start to my plan for the day! Of course, figuring out transportation was the next step. My Uber app needed to update, and the buses were too crowded for us to feel comfortable, so we took a tuk-tuk (Ä10pp), which turned out to be a perfect way to approach the palace! The driver was charming and we enjoyed our interaction with him. The bus was @ Ä11.50 pp for a circular route through several of the sites, but no option was offered for just a ride to the palace.

We arrived by 10:15 oand the lines were definitely building up. This is one of the most popular sites in Portugalís most popular tourist town, and it was definitely busy. I had pre-purchased tickets, and after a moderate wait, entered the site. But this was only the first line - thereís a second line to enter the interior. We waited perhaps 20 minutes to enter the interior, but the crowds were creeping through the rooms. We asked a guard if there was a way to get out, and he walked us through the crowds and out the door!

We enjoyed the rest of the visit, walking along the walls around the back of the palace and enjoying the views and escaping the now truly ridiculously long lines and crowds!
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Old May 7th, 2022, 11:28 PM
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Yes, itís all about the color!

Itís almost impossible to avoid pix with other people smack in the center of your shots!

Love the details

The palace sits in a beautiful setting

Lines gathering


Inside

Too many people!


One of the rooms we managed to see


We enjoyed the walk around the palace walls and views from the terrace

Overview


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Old May 8th, 2022, 01:37 AM
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We had a strange thing happen when we arrived in Lisbon - we exited the airport and completely bypassed passport control entering Portugal. We DID enter the EU through Brussels when we changed from a United flight to another flight (Brussels Airline, but on a through ticket in United) so our passports are stamped, but not upon entry to Portugal. There was no one directing us to passport control in Lisbon, no pathways funneling us to passport control, so weíre still puzzled by how this happened. Iíve been a bit concerned this would be a problem when we leave, but we are in the EU so I canít see how that would be an issue, either. But we didnít intentionally avoid customs, just nothing directed us in that direction. Any reason to be concerned or just accept we managed to avoid a 2-3 hour line upon entering?!
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Old May 8th, 2022, 04:28 AM
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As both Belgium and Portugal are within Schengen, there would not have been immigration and passport control. You didn't miss it; it just doesn't exist. If you arrived in Lisbon direct from NYC or via London or Dublin, you would have been entering an arrival hall with immigration and customs. Travelling within Schengen is like travelling on domestic flights within the U.S.

BTW, I love the photos of all the exquisite tilework. The crowds, not so much. Hope you continue to find your way away from the crowds.
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Old May 8th, 2022, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by tripplanner001 View Post
As both Belgium and Portugal are within Schengen, there would not have been immigration and passport control. You didn't miss it; it just doesn't exist. If you arrived in Lisbon direct from NYC or via London or Dublin, you would have been entering an arrival hall with immigration and customs. Travelling within Schengen is like travelling on domestic flights within the U.S.

BTW, I love the photos of all the exquisite tilework. The crowds, not so much. Hope you continue to find your way away from the crowds.
Thank you so much for the explanation about the Schengen connection. Thatís very interesting as I had only considered the EU relationship and knew many EU members had to enter through passport control as well. That gives me a great sense of relief - and we didnít have the 2 hour wait entering Lisbon! A win-win for us!

Iím sure Iíll have plenty more tile photos for you, tp.
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Old May 8th, 2022, 05:49 AM
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Enjoying your report progol - I know you spent a lot of time planning and I hope your trip goes to plan.
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