We woke up at 8AM to have plenty of time to get to the meeting point in Praça dos Restauradores to explore Sintra through a TAP stopover free tour, with more time in Bairro Alto later. First we had a quick bite to eat at a cafe on the square.
After a tasty breakfast, we met our guide Henrique at the Tourism Office on the Praça dos Restauradores for a 1015AM departure. There were only 3 other people with us on the van, making it a much smaller group than we expected. Our driver and guide provided information in both English and Portuguese (for the Brazilians on the tour) as we made our way to the coast on a main Lisbon highway. This free stopover tour was literally the ONLY good thing about TAP airlines.
We made our way first to the resort beach town of Cascais (pronounced Cashcaish) and had a quick stop at the inspiration for the James Bond movie Casino Royale.
We then drove another few minutes and parked outside the Cascais fort, which was now turned in to an artists’ village of sorts with a fancy hotel in the middle. We had a brief walk around the fort, towards the ocean.
Then we strolled down the walkway next to the harbor.
After Cascais, we continued on to Sintra via Cabo do Roca. Henrique pointed out some of the historic houses and villas from the Lisbon elite who moved to Cascais and Sintra after the Lisbon earthquake in 1755.
Next we continued along the coast to the Western-most point in Portugal – Cabo da Roca.
We walked around during a brief stop of 30 minutes and ran in to buses of Chinese tourists. These tourists were deaf and we enjoyed watching how they signaled and communicated to each other from a distance, and were also happy to see that their were guided foreign tours catering to this market.
Here we are at the Westernmost point of Portugal.
We then continued through the mountains to Sintra, passing some wineries along the way.
We stopped at a panoramic view site and got some great snaps of the Sintra fort (on the top of the mountain). We took some pictures of the picturesque and colorful Sintra palace from below (which is apparently the thing to see in Sintra), but we didn’t have a chance to go in because it would take a few hours to visit. The 4 hour tour unfortunately didn’t include this visit, but we did get a chance to walk the town.
And, Henrique got us all some pastries that Sintra is famous for – Queijada de Sintra – which is a small cake made with cheese (like a cheesecake). It came about we think from the 13th century as way for landlords to pay taxes when the farmers had an excess of cheese. They were delicious!
After only a short time in Sintra, and almost having Brendan’s debit card eaten by an ATM, we headed back to the main square where we were picked up, this time by boring highways. We did enjoy the windy drive out of Sintra, and even got to see some of these buggies dotting the streets.
We were back around 2PM. Henrique refused the tip we were going to offer him and asked us to leave a review on TripAdvisor instead. We continued our good luck of working with nice people in Lisbon.