r second day in Lisbon started bright and early in Rossio Square before we set off for higher altitudes. We first stopped in the super-tiny town of Sintra, which also offered an adorable bakery called Casa Piriquita, where a sugar bomb fortified me for the day ahead. (The Portuguese sure love their sugar, which I also love.)The only thing I knew about Sintra prior to our visit was that it’s known for its castles (specifically, this one, Pena Palace, it’s most popular):
We didn’t actually visit Pena Palace as part of our tour, however. Part of We Hate Tourism‘s “mission statement” is they want to show visitors the less touristy side of Portugal, so our guide took us to Quinta da Regaleira, another well-known estate in Sintra. We started at the top of the Well of Initiation, which was used for Freemason ceremonial purposes rather than for gathering water. We wound our way down nine platforms and then through a network of tunnels that lead to a luminescent grotto, followed by Rapunzel-esque towers and well-manicured grounds and the palace itself.
After we explored the palace grounds, our guide took us to a roadside market, where we bought some amazing herbed cheese to take home with us. Lunch was a simple affair, prepared in a food truck: fresh bread braided around cured meats, straight out of the wood-fired oven; accompanied by fresh cherry tomatoes and cheese and plenty of green wine.
Then our guide took us on a drive to the end of the world, Cabo da Roca. Actually, Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point in Europe, but early explorers thought it was actually the end of the world, because it was water as far as the eye could see. It is a breathtaking view.
On our way to Cascais, our guide made a pit stop at “Female Mouse Beach,” which is very popular among surfers. We dipped our toes in the cold, cold water; dug our toes in the sand; and breathed in the clean, salty air. And our guide surprised us with some of Portugal’s famous pastries and port wine, and we picnicked around a pile of crates.
Our final stop of the day was Cascais, a very wealthy seaside town in Portugal. We grabbed some gelato from Santini (delicious) and walked leisurely around charming Cascais taking pictures.
At the end of our tour, our guide offered to drop us off at the predetermined dropoff location, or take us back to the LX Factory, where the We Hate Tourism office is located. On Sundays, LX Factory hosts an impressive flea market. Every other day of the week, the old industrial complex has a bunch of quirky shops and restaurants.
I was really feeling tacos that night, and we came across Mez Cais LX, a quirky restaurant inspired by Mexican wrestlers. There’s a “wrestling ring” and little Mexican wrestler figurines glued to the wall. We ate some delicious tacos, accompanied by delicious minty lemonade, and topped off by mini-churros.
We ended our evening with a walk back to our hotel; Lisbon is so lovely at night, lamp-lit, quiet, beautiful.It was a wonderful day—a wonderful two days—in Lisbon, but not nearly enough. I dream of going back. When I do, I will probably take another day trip to Sintra—maybe on my own, maybe on a different tour. I loved We Hate Tourism’s guides and their whole philosophy, but certain places are popular for a reason, and I do wish we’d visited Pena Palace; it looks oh-so-dreamy. But I will be back—and I will see Pena Palace for myself one day. 🙂
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