Day six - 20th of October
Mostly Sintra today...
Getting on the train to Sintra : Today's jouney led us to Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Center. After getting the runaround, we finally found the right train station for taking the train over there. (The guide book was wrong and the guy at the hotel was wrong.) The train station is right alongside of the Jardim Zoológico Metro station. Just in case you want to go from Lisbon to Sintra. Anyway, the trains to Sintra run quite regularly, no more than every 20 minutes or so. So it was a matter of getting the tickets and taking the next train. Push the button, stuff coins into machine, tickets ready. No problem. The trip itself takes about 30 minutes, and I can't really say anything about the view because it was rainy and the windows were dirty and foggy...
Upon arrival, we walked along this road where you saw all these sculptures, in order to get to the center of the city. We stopped to actually get a closer look at these sculptures, as they were very unusual and interesting. And some carried a happy message
Fábrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas SAPA: When we arrived, it was raining and we were in desperate need of coffee. I wanted to try some queijadas de Sintra, the little cheese tarts that Sintra is famous for (among the other things Sintra is famous for). They're a protected food here too! Boyfriend of tuxette saw the fábrica, address Volta Duche, 12, on a tourist map, so we went in its general direction - and found it! A charming little café. We got a table and ordered these mysterious tarts and a café com leite each. YUM! These were tasty! Yes, they're tiny but rather rich and powerful. After we gobbled down these pastries, boyfriend of tuxette ordered some more pastries - a custard tart each (the same kind we had the other day, but only much better) and two new kinds of pastries to share. One that was also cheese-based with honey and orange peel, the other with a kind of vanilla custard. Both delicious, though I liked the one with the orange flavor better...
Palácio Nacional de Sintra: The National Palace of Sintra. General information here and here. Of all the different (in all kinds of ways) halls, the Magpie Room (magpie paintings on the ceiling) is the only one that retained its original name. There are lots of interesting ceramic tiles all over the place. Ceramic tiles seem to be very commonplace, though the "finer" and more elaborate stuff is reserved for places like this palace. There are also lots of patios with lots of different garden themes. I wouldn't mind having a place like this with patios like this - think of all the parties I could throw!
Weather: the day started with rain, but now it's getting nice. Really nice. And sunny. Wheee!
Lunch: We thought about going to the wine bar but we chose Restaurant Alcobaça instead
If you plan on eating here, come hungry. The portions are HUGE!
The hike: After lunch, we started walking up towards the moorish castle. It's
way, way, up on this big, big hill, and here we were, at the foot of the hill. Heh. It took...hmm...at least 45 minutes if not an hour. But it was worth it! We walked through this wooded area and everything was green and beautiful and smelled good. We also got to see some elaborate villas while walking, as well as a neat wall. And weird stuff like a stone sofa.
Castelo dos Mouros: The castle itself was rather impressive for what it was. Imagine what it was like when it was completely built! Imagine the (slave) labor! You can also get some amazing views, like this view of the National Palace and this view of Palácio da Pena (we didn't go here though).
When we got back to Sintra (center), we bought a cute little ceramic olive dish with 2 sections - one for the olives and one for the pits. We tested it on Sunday. Very nice
Dinner: back in Lisbon, we went out to get some dinner, at a place that we had walked by many times. Don't have the name of the place, which is a shame as I really don't want to go back. It was OK, but I guess those pastries and lunch at Sintra ruined me for any other food to come... Anyway, I ordered caldeirada de choco com camarão and boyfriend of tuxette ordered bacalhau da canoa. Once we were able to order at all. It was difficult to get the waiters' attention, and when I tried to order, he started mumbling something about lulas (calamari) and I'm not sure why - choco is cuttlefish, in the squid/octopus family, but still... We washed our meal down with beer.
Observation: they seem to really like (blended) whisky here, especially J&B. It's everywhere! And they're really into the sugar. Every time we get coffee, it seems to come with lots of packets of sugar. The müsli at breakfast is loaded with sugar. The nasty fruit drink crap instead of juice. And the pastries of course. The list goes on...
Wine in the hotel room: Só Touriga Nacional 2001. Color - opaque deep red-blue. Nose - Oak, prunes, blueberries. Palate - Full-bodied and hearty, sharp tannins with a slight bitterness, taste of grape pits, blackberries, and blue cheese aftertaste according to boyfriend of tuxette. Match with strong cheeses, perhaps a hearty chicken casserole...
TV Observation 1: Restaurant TVs. Football football everywhere...
TV Observation 2: I really really miss BBC Prime. Sarcasm at its best. For example, this show called Strictly Come Dancing. From what I've guessed, they got a bunch of random couples together to kamikaze-learn ballroom dancing and perform on TV and facetious judges and the public can vote for the best and worst. It's bad enough one of the couples danced to a tango version of Britney Spears' Toxic. And the guy of the couple couldn't dance to save his pathetic life. It's worse when they rumba'ed to
Next they had this show called Grumpy Old Men. Lots of great, sarcastic one-liners.
I need to find out how to get BBC Prime at home...
RING OF FAT PERSPECTIVE
Hey, aren't we going on a long journey? You need a heartier breakfast than that! Eat more ham and cheese! Now!
Aren't you going to buy a snack for the train ride? Don't walk by the kiosk!
What's this? A café? CHEESE TARTS? COFFEE WITH WHOLE MILK? RAMEN! More pastries? Yes, yes, yes! Keep them coming!
Why are we walking so much?
LUNCH! Mmmm...CARBS! And wine!
Wait a minute? What's going on? Where's the bus? What's all this green around us? Stop! You're murdering me! Good! Sit on the stone sofa! Keep sitting! No don't get up! Don't walk! Stop now! Aren't there any snack bars along this road? Oh there, the admission center for the castle! They sell ice cream. Buy some ice cream! Don't walk away? Nooooo...more climbing? What did I tell you before? Stop!
Again, you neglected to buy food for the train ride!
Dinner finally! Mmm...beer!
Mmmm...wine! And sitting in front of the TV! Perfect!