One my first night in Portugal, I met a lovely german girl whilst having dinner at the hostel. It was her second time back in Lisbon and she was there to visit and catch up with her friends. Over dinner, she shared with the table her previous experience of living and working in Portugal, and also her favourite spots near Lisbon.
I was debating if I should take a day trip out to Sintra, because I was pretty short of time. But that lovely girl insisted that it was her favourite place and that if I didn't have enough time to spend in Sintra, I should just visit the Quinta Da Regaleira. I've read on several blogs, that Sintra is a must visit when in Lisbon, and after hearing what she said, I decided to just go for it.
When you first arrive in Sintra, you'd immediately be charmed by its small town vibe. It has wide cobbled streets with lovely scenery, buildings and trees places together forming an incredible landscape, and since the weather was so kind in Portugal, flowers were blooming. All these could be admired as you take a walk up to the main attractions of Sintra.
I knew I wouldn't have enough time to explore the whole place, so I headed up to Quinta da Regaleira immediately, and decided to go on exploring when I'm done with it.
Quinta da Regaleira is a palace that is located in a HUGE park with several attractions, rock and stone structures, and the most interesting part - underground caves and tunnels that link up to wells.
After paying the entrance fee, I was given a paper map with the most realistic illustrations. I realised my maps on my iPhone did not show the detailed routes of the garden, and so I gave myself an internal motivation talk, and convinced myself I could navigate the park with a paper map.
All went well for the first 10 minutes as I climbed u to the Regaleira Tower, and got the amazing view of the Main house, and the chapel. I even decided to take a couple of photos there because it was a quiet morning with very few people around.
After walking for another 15 minutes, I found myself at an entrance to one of the underground caves. The day before I went to Sintra, another girl from the hostel told me there were some parts she found pretty creepy, and didn't elaborate because she wanted me to have the full experience of the place. When I reached the entrance of the underground cave, did I realise what she meant.
From the pictures it doesn't look as scary. These photos were taken from the outside, and the amount of light in the cave decreases by 10x for each step you take in. According to the map, I had to walk straight through to where the black hole is in the image above.
If there had been other people around, I wouldn't mind walking in. Unfortunately, there was NO ONE in sight. Not a single soul. After taking 10 steps into the cave, I probably creeped myself out, and so I turned and walked out, attempting to find another route.
I couldn't find "another route" and somehow led myself round and round the park. I attempted to read the map, and to stay on the big pathways, but somehow, I ended up walking into an area with trees, and no distinct pathway. It was a stupid decision to bring ankle boots, but well, we all learn from our mistakes.
I passed this pathway probably over three times even though I was taking all sorts of different routes. It was pretty dreadful. Basically whatever that went through my head was, "Where did the path go. Why am I climbing on soil. I feel like Jane from Tarzan. Wait... Is this a dead end?! This map doesn't make sense!! Forget it, i'll just take this main path down. Shit why am I back to where I started?!" But eventually, I found my way, and managed to see both the Unfinished Well and Intrinsic Well. These were wells that go up to 27m deep into the ground, and looking up from the bottom you feel as though you're trapped, or about to levitate up to heaven. It could be either-or.
These wells were what stands out to most people, and both wells were connected by the deep dark underground caves. I took the underground cave from one well to another, because it was a relatively short path, but man, it was wet, and completely PITCH BLACK in those caves. If not for the fact there were more people in this part of the cave, i'd be pretty scared.
Walking through another stretch of the underground caves brought me to this part of the park, which had a nice structure and a wide space in front of it where parents and children were just running around. It's a nice place for a picnic spot to take a rest amidst all the climbing. But rest is for the weak, so I continued on. Besides, I was looking for the Waterfall.
WHAT I WOREThe waterfall happened to be at the exit of another stretch of the underground caves, and somehow, I managed to find my way there. It was a small waterfall, but a VERY pretty one, where you could walk across the waters by stepping on the individual stones. Of course, this part of the park was teeming with tourists.
Coat - Coldwear.sg / Bag - Gap / Jeans - Primark / Top - Thailand / Shoes - Ecco
By this time, I had probably and hour left, and decided that I should head to the main house, and have a walk through it before leaving the park. I pretty much figured out how to get my way back, and so following the main route on the map brought me back to the Chapel and the Main Palace - Quinta da Regaleira.
The mansion was nice, and in the rooms they had a history of the place, architectural drawings and lots of other exhibitions, it was a nice way to conclude the end of the morning spent in Quinta da Regaleira. Walking back to the train station, from Quinta da Regaleira, I got such a wonderful view of Sintra. The place is beautiful from both ground and above. I love the orangey-brown roofs of the buildings, and all the greenery that surrounds it.
I was so glad I went to Sintra even if it was just for a couple of hours!
Quinta da Regaleira
Getting There: CP Train from Lisbon - 40 minutes ride
Entrance fee: 4 Euros (student price)
Approx. Time Spent: 3-4 hours
If you're ever going to Lisbon, remember to set aside at least 1 day for Sintra! There is so much more to seed in the area apart from Quinta da Regaleira; quirky stalls, and lovely shops lined along cobbled stone streets, I wish I had more time to explore! Well, I guess its a reason to go back to Portugal someday, and hopefully not get lost again.
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