Thursday, January 8, 2015

I don't think I want to know this creation myth

Previously: We went to Mafra to see the amazing library, Lisbon continued to be pretty, and then I didn't blog about my trip for two months. Whoops. 

Yes, this old chestnut is back. Sure, the last time I blogged about my trip was OCTOBER, but whaaaaaatever. On the plus side for you guys, I've now forgotten a lot of the details of what we did and when, so these posts will probably end up being shorter than if I'd actually blogged during November...


On our third full day in Lisbon, we decided to head out to Sintra, where there's a ton of UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites. It's a 30-45 minute train trip to get out there, which gave C and I a nice chunk of reading time. When we arrived, we jumped on the local tourist bus, which had stops at the major attractions and was super cheap. It started raining really heavily as we wound our way up an enormous hill, so the bus ended up being totally packed. Eventually, we got to the Moorish Castle and hopped off the bus, seeing as hardly anyone else did.

It turned out to not be such a great decision - the fog rolled in pretty quickly, and we couldn't see a bloody thing.
Womp womp.
So we went and had a fairly disgusting lunch of soggy sandwiches from the cafeteria while we waited for the sun to clear. Then we stormed our way to the top of the castle to admire the view, which lasted about five minutes before the fog rolled in again. Still, it was worth it.

That done, we headed back to the bus and caught it up to the VERY top of the hill and the Pena National Palace. (I have no idea what it is about Portugal, but they have like 12,000 national palaces...) Pena is a really pretty building, so I was a little disappointed that big chunks of it were covered in scaffolding. Still, at least we got a good look at this incredibly baffling door frame:
IDEK, you guys.
According to Wikipedia, that's a newt and it represents the creation of the earth. I mostly think it looks like he's constipated...

The interior of the palace was surprisingly...ordinary. There was none of the huge rooms full of elaborate furniture that you come to expect after trips to Versailles and the Schönbrunn. Instead, this was more of a family retreat for the summer months. The ceilings were low, the rooms were mostly on the small side, and the most elaborate things on display were some of the walls and ceilings. There was one ornate receiving room, but on the whole it was a pleasant surprise not to have to walk through a thousand miles of corridors.

Obviously, we still played "Find the ugliest thing in the room", because it makes any visit to a museum, art gallery, or historic house worthwhile.

Our final stop for the day was the Sintra National Palace (which was like a ten minute bus trip from the Pena National Palace. See what I mean?!). The rooms there were more ornate, but as seems to be the way in Portugal, the furniture was fairly plain and basic. The ceilings, however, were a different story, and were utterly amazing:

We also stumbled across this rather bizarre portrait of a cross dressing St. John the Baptist. It was magnificent, and immediately won the ugliest thing in the room prize for all the days ever.

We wandered around the relatively small gardens for a while afterwards, then headed to a restaurant on the square for a well deserved drink. It proved to be something of a tourist trap, because the drinks - while enormous - cost us the better part of FIFTY EUROS. I ordered a lemonade, and was presented with what I'm fairly certain was straight lemon juice with a sugar cube waved over the top...

From there, we caught the train back into Lisbon, and decided to avoid yet another tourist trap experience when it came to dinner. We headed a little way off the beaten track, and found a really nice little restaurant just near the cathedral that had plenty of vegetarian options. I think, from memory, it was called The Little Paris Cafe?? Something like that, at any rate. And the food was really good, so if you're ever in Lisbon, it's worth checking out!

Next up, we head down to Belem in search of monasteries and custard tarts. 

K xx


  1. 50€??? Wow! Just wow, that's like Norway alcohol prices and even there you would have ended up cheaper. Maybe.

  2. It was RIDICULOUS. They didn't have prices on the drinks menu, so it wasn't until we asked for the bill that we found out just how many organs we'd have to sell on the black market to pay the bill.


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