West Coast, Sintra And The Inverted Tower

West Coast Of Portugal

Yesterday we were catching an early flight so we should have had plenty of time to do a few things – however, sometimes things just don’t go according to plan – in fact everything that could go wrong, did go wrong and the less said about it the better!!  With that in mind we ended up pulling into our accommodation near Porto Novo early evening.

I’ve been to Portugal many times and usually stay along the south coast, I was looking forward to seeing how the coast on the west differs. I’m not sure that’s going to happen while we are here though as it seems that at this time of year a mist comes from the sea and the coastline for the most part is obscured.  You can feel the temperature dropping the further up the coast you drive into the mist, it looks fairly spectacular in its own right though, so all is not lost.

We checked in, dumped our bags and went for a stroll. There was a dubious looking wooden board scaling the cliff side, which we picked our way down to the beach over and wasted no time in getting our shoes off and walking along in the sea. This coast faces straight out into the Atlantic ocean so the water was freezing cold and fairly rough, ideal for surfers, of which we saw many.  Sitting on a rock watching the waves crash in we slowly relaxed and unwound from the day we’d had before making our way back up the cliff to get some dinner.

Today the general plan was to follow the coastline down and then cut inland to visit Sintra. First stop of the day was at Praia de Santa Cruz, another surfing beach – this one backed by beautiful multi coloured rocks. We sat in a café overlooking the beach starting the day with some coffee. There was someone on the beach wrapped up in a snuggle suit watching the sea, I’m  not sure if it was a lifeguard or someone else wanting to sit and watch the surfers!  We mooched further along the coast managing to get brief glimpses of the scenery every now and then before the mist would swirl in and hide it again reaching Ericeira in time for some lunch before moving on to Sintra.

West Coast Of Portugal

I’d only recently located Sintra on the map after seeing a photograph on the internet of the ‘inverted tower’. When I realised it was close to where we would be staying on this trip I started to research more and it looked amazing. No photographs on the web ever do a place justice and when we arrived every direction I looked I could see something I wanted to investigate. Due to the fairytale architecture and hillsides dotted with castles and palaces it has become a major tourist destination which was completely heaving with people today and finding parking was a difficult task. With each twist and turn of a road there was yet more of interest and given it was already mid afternoon I knew we would definitely have to make a second visit here. We are heading into Lisbon for the next 6 nights, but immediately decided we would return to spend our last weekend here before going home. Eventually we found somewhere to park about a mile outside of town and just walked back in.

The original reason for coming to Sintra was to see the inverted tower (initiatic well), which can be found in the Quinta da Regaleira estate.   The estate is made up of the main palace and the gardens, which contain a mixture of chapels, towers, fountains, grottos, wells and a network of hidden tunnels. One word of advice if you do plan to visit is that you will need a torch to explore the tunnels, they are not lit at all and therefore pitch black inside. Quinta de Regaleira has over time been owned by a lot of different people, but the gardens as they stand today were transformed between 1898 and 1912 by the then owner Carvalho Monteiro. It’s quite an extraordinary place to be honest, but for me, none of it fitted together, it seemed neither one design nor another, it was all very disjointed and jumbled. Having said that it is a mysterious place and one that I very much enjoyed walking around finding all the hidden caves, labyrinths and underground passageways.

Quinta da Regaleira

We spent quite a few hours looking round here so we reached Lisbon by dark.

Tomorrow John and I part ways for the next five days.  We are going to be a bit like passing ships in the night. John is working over here Monday to Friday which means he will be going into the office during the days while I go into Lisbon to go sight seeing. In the evenings he has work to do for a Belgian project he is also working on so we’ll have dinner together, then it’ll be back to it for John.

I’m looking forward to my first day solo in the city tomorrow.