Scenic Sintra and the Coastal Drive
23 November 2014
Just a short drive from Lisbon, nestling in countryside which looks more temperate than Mediterranean is Sintra, home to the wealthy and monarchy in days gone by. The castle, palaces and grand houses testify to a glorious age. Today there are quaint shops lining the steep cobbled streets which display native wares. Among the cork products are handbags, bracelets and necklaces which fascinate tourists. To turn the bark of the cork tree not only into traditional paper of which Portugal is the largest exporter, but also into products for the tourist industry is simply innovative. Travelling from the highlands of Sintra down to the coast, I could not distinguish between sea and sky. They merged into a beautiful blue. Then I saw, standing atop the cliffs, a towering cross overlooking the westernmost part of the European continent. Travelling along the scenic coastal drive past mansions and holiday homes, owned by the wealthy and a national soccer player, brought me into Cascais, also known as the Portuguese Riviera. I stopped for a bit of shopping and afternoon tea. My trip back to Lisbon brought me past a mighty fortress built to ward off attacks by sea in days long gone. It was a fascinating day out of Lisbon with scenic Sintra and the sea just at its door step.