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  • Writer's picture Jana

We're off to Sintra and Cascais for the Day. Garin and I are glad to be Carefree!

Garin got a much-deserved day off from his tour guide duties. When planning our trip to Portugal, nearly six months, we planned to take a one day trip outside Lisbon, to Sintra and Cascais. We arranged for the tour with Viator, a great and fairly reasonably-priced tour company. The tour we were on accommodated eight people. So, in addition to the five of us, there was a single woman from Nebraska (of all places) and a couple from Glasgow, Scotland, all very nice. Our driver/tour guide, Carlos, was wonderful and treated us to a great day. For Garin is was a real treat to sit back, relax and let someone else figure out all the logistics. For me, it was a treat to be driven around by someone else, since that is a luxury that I never enjoy. We departed at 8:15 AM and were back in Lisbon by 4:30 PM.

A great time was had by all!

We picked up pastries from our favorite bakery down the street from our apartment and ate them while were waiting for Carlos to pick us up. It was an early morning as we had to be dressed, ready, tummies full and in the town center by 8:15 for pickup.

Our first stop in Sintra was the Pena Palace, which was about a 45 drive from Lisbon. We went up tiny winding roads to reach the palace and once parked, had a very steep climb up the to reach our final destination.

The views were incomparable. The greenery surrounding the palace was so lush. It was a picture-perfect day with a cool breeze and big white puffy clouds in the sky. Carlos, our tour guide, explained that Sintra has its own microclimate, much cooler than Lisbon., due to all the trees that were planted in the area hundreds of years ago. The nobility of Portugal, who summered in this palace, did so to escape the Lisbon heat and reached the palace by horse and carriage.

As expected, the interior was opulent and regal.

After touring the palace for about 3 hours, we were given a lunch break during which time we walked down the hill to this 5 star local restaurant, Incomum ( and enjoyed a delicious lunch. It was recommended to us by our good friends, the Mantooth's who had visited Sintra just a few days before we were there. Catherine, Garin, and Miles found it amusing to wave to passersby, while we dined. In typical Portuguese fashion, most drivers were kind enough to wave back.

After lunch we hit this local bakery, Piriquita, in the town center of Sintra, to try the famous local almond cakes, which most certainly lived up to their reputation. Check out their website for fabulous photos of all their one-of-a-kind baked goods. We wanted to try one of each.

The kids posed with Carlos, our tour guide, who was both knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. Both Catherine and Miles took the opportunity to nap en route from Sintra to our next stop.

Cabo da Roca is the most western point in Portugal and all of Europe, most often referred to as the "edge of the world." The views speak for themselves.

Next stop, Cascais. Cascais is fishing village which has developed into a charming resort town. Historically, Cascais was the summer retreat for Portuguese nobility. With charming cobblestone streets, museums, a fort, elegant shops and inviting cafes as far as the eye can see, Cascais is a place we decided we would like to explore further the next time we visit Portugal, since we only had one short hour to spend there on our tour.

The crew posed for me in front of the picturesque marina.

After a long day, we were tired and opted to have a simple European-style dinner at home.

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