By Mehdy Ghannad
Early to bed, early to rise… a great saying however not something one can really live by while backpacking around the world and staying in hostels. Joao decided to join us on a daytrip west to Sintra, a beautifully quaint town close to the coast and an absolutely perfect option for a quick getaway from Lisbon.
Our first stop in Sintra was at Quinta de Regaleira, a stunning garden that is more reminiscent of an enchanted fairytale setting than things normally seen in the real world. Inspired by the likes of Dante, Virgil and Milton, the garden is sprawling, with underground tunnels and immaculate landscaping, a perfect spot to pass the morning before making the trek up the mountain to visit Pena Palace.
Visible from all over the surrounding area due to its location atop a hill, the Pena Palace, which used to be a summer home for Portuguese royalty, is an architectural masterpiece. Towering, colorful and almost Disney-esque, the palace is a great place to catch a distant view of Lisbon and to learn about an interesting time in Portugal’s history. The inside of the palace looks the same as it did in the early twentieth century, before the revolution.
Not too far from Sintra is a place called Cabo de Roca. It is the westernmost point of continental Europe and a spot that people considered the end of the world back in the day. There is a large stone monument with a cross up top looking out over the ocean. Engraved on the west side of the monument are the words, AQUI… ONDE A TERRA SE ACABA E O MAR COMECA. Here, where the world ends and the sea begins.
We returned to Lisbon in the evening to grab our things from Alfama Patio Hostel and make our way over to the Living Lounge Hostel to hang with Valter and his staff for our last couple of days in Lisbon. We were sad to leave Alfama, Joao and his amazing hostel but we were also excited to check out the Living Lounge.