1 Week in Portugal: Day 3 (Sintra)

Day 3 was an exciting one because we trekked out to the touristy town of Sintra to look at some castles. The train ride was just over half an hour and it was way crowded but we still managed to snag seats. I recommend taking a train that gets you into town around 9 so that you can get in right when the castles open (9:30) to avoid the bulkiest crowds. We used our viva viagem zapping cards; the rides on the trains that take you out of Lisbon are a bit more expensive.
We did have a bit of trouble finding the right bus stop and a taxi pulled up and asked us if we needed a ride. We negotiated to €15 and made our way to Pena Palace.

Arriving in Sintra wasn't all that glamorous as we were herded off of the train like cattle. But, you can catch a glimpse of Castelo dos Mouros, which is pretty cool.
Frankly, we weren't interested in the National Palace because it didn't look as cool as some of the other castles. Sorry, Palacio Nacional!
We queued for maybe twenty minutes so we could get tickets to just the park and not the inside of the palace. Honestly, going around inside with crowd of people is not my scene. However, if you did want to visit inside, you can also grab tickets from a ticket machine. Tickets can also be bought online if you want to skip queueing for tickets completely.
It's a bit of a climb to the palace so there are shuttles available; however, it looked like only elderly people were opting to use the shuttle so there's that.
We got to glimpse our next stop, Castelo dos Mouros, from the 'wall walk' around Pena.
The castle is pretty spectacular and beautiful but it gets super crowded and it's not really all that big so I think that half an hour is plenty of time. I recommend spending more time walking the grounds, which are vast and lovely.
The forest surrounding Pena is really ethereal and tranquil. It's much quieter, much less crowded, and really enjoyable.
This little Islamic pavilion had a fountain inside and it felt like it was air-conditioned. It offered a comforting respite from the heat.
Instead of buying food in town, we brought a picnic lunch with us and enjoyed it in one of the picnic areas in Pena. We had serrano ham sandwiches, a little salad, kiwi berries, and leftover pasteis de nata.
It was an incredibly warm day so we struggled a bit at Castelo dos Mouros, as there is no real shaded area once you're up on the wall. However, we had a ton of fun and the views were spectacular.
We were so hot and tired after the walk, we went straight to the cafeteria and got ourselves some refreshments.
And for our ride down, we grabbed a tuk-tuk. I didn't even negotiate the fee because our driver was a woman and I wanted to support female entrepreneurs.
We were pretty hot and tired so we headed back to Lisbon in the early afternoon on a mostly empty train.
We had some time to kill before dinner, so we did a little impromptu happy hour at the outdoor bar next to the Mercado da Ribeira.
We showed up to Sala de Corte right when it opened, which meant we were able to snag a table immediately.
They really grill the steaks on open fire and you can watch it all happening just behind the bar.
To start, the ladies got the 'funkylicious' mocktails, which was just a combination of fruit juices with basil and blueberry. It was light and refreshing.
Shortly after we placed our order, we were given a plate of complimentary amuse bouche. These were little pastries filled with braised veal and shiitake. It was pretty good, though, the little blob of sauce was my favorite part - it had a creamy curry taste - so I wish they'd been a bit more generous with it.
I went with the l'entrecote and chimichurri. M went for the filet with mushroom sauce. Dad and my aunt got the sirloin with garlic & herb butter. Our steaks were served on cutting boards, which was just the cutest and most practical presentation.
For sides, we shared the lettuce hearts with a mustard vinaigrette, endive leaves with blue cheese and nuts, truffle mash, and grilled vegetables.
Everything was super delicious. I was particularly fond of the lettuce hearts and the endives. Oh, and I fell in love with the little pile of Himalayan pink salt on my board that I subsequently sprinkled onto my steak.
For dessert, we got something called 'hazelnut textures' which was basically a bunch of different preparations of hazelnut, including a creamy spread (think peanut butter but made with hazelnuts), cookie, and crushed. It came topped with a quenelle of salted caramel ice cream and a pile of caramel popcorn. I still dream about this dessert.
After dinner, we walked back to our Airbnb, but not before stopping to admire the Arco da Rua Augusta in the dark.
Here's my video diary: