Sintra Re-Visited

Good Morning dear friends, family and followers of our journey, hope today finds you well wherever you are in the world.

We have reluctantly left the beach behind as rain is forecast for the next couple of days so it’s safer and more comfortable to find a campsite and move inland. Storms can be pretty fierce out here and the winds often whip up to gale force on the coast. The forecasts are remarkably accurate. We are now staying at Odrinhas Parque, a secure Motorhome park in Odrinhas, a little hilltop village on the edge of the Sintra National Park. It’s lovely, very typical. We came here last year. The owners of the site are so nice and very friendly. There are a couple of excellent quality, traditional, great value for money, restaurants and a handful of coffee bar/cafes in town. It has a small supermarket for fresh bread etc and a very good butcher. More or less all we need.

We got all of our usual chores out of the way as soon as we arrived which we always do after a session of wild camping. Laundry, a damn good hoover out to get rid of the sand and an external van clean. I clipped the dog and touched up my (naturally blonde, obviously šŸ™„šŸ˜‰) roots!! Charged everything up and did the banking. Sometimes rainy days serve a purpose as it’s difficult to apply yourself to the mundane tasks when the sun is shining! I’ve put a couple of jacket potatoes in the Remoska for supper, (great piece of kit, essential for Motorhome living in my opinion, it’s so versatile and saves gas when we’re on hook up. I can do a full meat, veg and potatoes meal or even bake bread, scones etc), made some Guacamole and picked up a chicken from the Butcher. I’ll spatchcock the chicken, partially roast it with garlic then finish it off on the barbecue to crisp it up. The secret though is the Portuguese piripiri oil. It’s God’s own ingredient this stuff. Smokey chilli oil for drizzling. I use it by the gallon!! It goes well with chicken and pork or almost everything really. We made a big, fat crunchy salad and dressed it with Matthew’s favourite creation. White wine vinegar, good olive oil, lemon juice, finely chopped garlic, parsley, capers and a red chilli. Don’t stir it in until you’re ready to eat. The bread here is different to UK. You have to find the type which suits you. The odd shaped floury loaves feel heavy and rock hard (don’t drop one on your toe!!) but when you cut into the bread it’s soft and a little salty. I prefer this sort. The rolls are a bit fresh airy. The rustic seedy brown bread is very good but can be really expensive, particularly if it’s the home baked organic stuff from markets. I was asked for 7ā‚¬ once for a large loaf. It was promptly handed back!! I have actually brought my own stash of quality flour from Rowsley Mill back home (Amanda Shaw would be proud of me) and I do bake myself from time to time. Focaccia, seeded black treacle loaves and flat bread as you can’t get Nans out here except from Apollonia, posh Supermarket in Gale. Anyway, I digress. Dinner is a simple but tasty piripiri feast and we serve it up with a chilled, crisp, bottle of Douro white wine (two actually- oops!!). Yum.

The next day was a total wash out. It rained heavily all day and the low cloud made it grey, miserable and quite chilly. Out come the movies. As I said previously, duvet and dvd day. Mark’s choice was Gladiator and mine was Ferris Buellers Day Off. Scoffed our chocolate stash ( I’m feeling a bit bereft as I’ve finally finished my supply of Marks and Sparks blue truffles šŸ™). We decided to liven ourselves up and go out for dinner as we were getting a bit of cabin fever by 6pm. The sky started to clear and at last, at 7 ish the rain stopped. We went to our favourite eatery, Retiro do Capitanga. They are so welcoming! For approximately ā‚¬10 per head you can eat and drink like a king, literally as much as you can swallow! It’s a great atmosphere too. I had the seabass. The Portuguese do ‘Robalo’ so very well. Delicious. Remembered a great night we had here last year with Liz and Henry, The Travelling Wibbillies!

We had a really nice evening. They even gave us a doggie bag for Dylan to take home. Happy days.

So next day the skies had cleared, the blue was restored and we jumped on the bus and headed back to the town of Sintra. The bus takes ten minutes and the return fare is only a few Euros. It’s all really easy. Get on and off at the bus station in Sintra, just note the bus number so you can find the stand when you come back. You simply can’t come to Portugal and not see Sintra. It’s just one of those amazing places. If you check back in my headings you’ll find last year’s entry when we toured the Palace of Pena for more info and photos. This time we’re going to see the Moorish Castle on the opposite hillside. Think Mark fancies himself as a bit of a Knight although at the moment he’s still in gladiator mode and I may shove him off the edge of the ramparts if he comes out with one more quote from the film!! Russell Crowe has a lot to answer for. Last visit we took a Tuk-Tuk up to the top of the hill to the palace. It was quite hilarious, it’s a very steep, snaky road and we got ourselves a totally barmy driver, who took every corner on two wheels. It was very funny (and a bit scary!!). This time we walked. There is a path up which winds steadily up through the beautiful gardens. It is steep, be warned, and takes about 40 minutes but it is well worth it for the views. We came back down on the road. It’s longer but easier on the knees! The castle costs ā‚¬8 each to get in. The Palace is ā‚¬12 but don’t be put off. You will have your dollar’s worth, it’s spectacular. Don’t try and do both on the same day, it’s just too much. The castle is huge and very high up! You can see for miles from the walls, right to the coast from one side and to Lisbon’s Bridge on the other. It’s well impressive.

The town below is a handsome hotch potch of tall, colourful houses, many with ornate turrets, balconies and towers. The tapered chimneys of the white Palacio Nacional building in the old town centre can be seen for miles. The steep, cobbled, side streets of the historic quarter are alive with cafes and shops, mainly aimed at tourists but interesting nonetheless. Tuk-tuks, taxis, horse drawn carriages etc. are all touting for business in the square! The hills around Sintra are apparently scattered with ley lines and ancient tombs, it is a fascinating and mysterious place, a centre of cult worship apparently for centuries and named Mountain of the Moon by the celts. My Witchy friend Lisa Drabble would love it here.

A great day we had, we absolutely love this place. After obligatory coffee and cake down in town we made our way back to the bus station. The buses are hourly.

Another brilliant mini adventure but time now to head back to base and decide upon our next destination. Maps please Maestro!!

I shall say cheerio for this evening people and hope I haven’t bored you to death! See you at the next stop wherever that may be, forever following the sun and looking for places of interest or beautiful beaches along the way.

Peace and love (and wine and chips and chocolate) ā¤ļø

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