they are sitting, quite, scrolling, as one does on a sunday morning while waiting for coffee
boy: “I can’t find the picture from the end of the hike on your instagram”
girl: “I never really posted any, just the video on youtube”
girl: “They didn’t turn out well. The video was more of an accurate representation of that hike, the pictures looked too gloomy”
boy: “You should go back then, and I really want to see this spot”
girl: “Ok, but coffee first”
they continue scrolling, until they feel the smell of fresh coffee
girl: “he says it’s one of his favorite views of cascais”
boy: “where is it?”
girl: “Reserva Natural de Cascais-Sintra”
Sintra is a small place with a lot to see. So I’m pretty sure this is part 1 of many more parts to go. Including a part about the center of the villa which deserves it’s own homage – I hope that’s not too strong a word, it sounded great in my head.
I had to start somewhere.
Anyways, I started with Quinta da Regaleira – I won’t try to translate it, do you translate your name when you introduce yourself to someone? No. Great. Anyways – I still remember visiting with my family as a kid. It wasn’t this crowded then, but it’s magic remains.
When you walk in you will be able to find a palace and chapel surrounded by beautiful gardens, lakes, fountains, wells, sculptures, gazebos and caves – ok it’s a an old park, but it’s pretty and I haven’t even gotten to the best part.
Despite all of this, what makes this park so fun to visit is the extensive and enigmatic set of tunnels. There are multiple entrances and they are all interconnected but no matter how you work around it, eventually you will end up at the bottom of a huge – and awesome – well.
My favorite spot: the Waterfall Lake, which is great on it’s own but it also has its back maze of caves and tunnels, so you can bump into it from 3 different perspectives.
And because none of these entries can be truly finished without a tech complaint:
a drone over this place would have been amazing, I’m going back once I manage to get one.
Usually when people think of Portugal they think of Lisbon, Porto or the Algarve. If you are a surfer and tend to travel to Portugal with that activity in mind, I’m sure other destinations come to mind. The most common one being Peniche.
Peniche is home to many surf camps and schools, and recently became the destination for the World Championship tour to the World Surf League. So, if you are not a surfer, maybe this wouldn’t be your destination of choice.
My favorite thing about Peniche? It’s port. And their boats of course.
Mostly because they’ll take you to the Berlenga Grande Island.
Can you tell what my favorite activity was?
If you want to just lay on the sand and soak in the sun, this might not be your spot, the beach is tiny. But if you wanna swim, snorkel, dive, hike, explore, go on boat rides, this is your spot. And once you get tired from all of these activities, there are nice terraces and spots to chill with a beer and look at the beautiful view.
Here are some tips
- You can camp there. But did you know you can also sleep in that beautiful fort? Make sure to ask if you need a sleeping bag, you may need one in some rooms. Also, water isn’t available all the time, neither is electricity, they will explain it to you once you arrive, but be prepared for a digital detox if you don’t feel like charging your phone in a huge common area.
- If you are staying in the fort, which is on the opposite side of the island from where the boats port, don’t make the same mistake we did and walk on over there. Once you get to the island, you will see several small boats, chances are they will give you a ride over to the other side. We nearly died on that hike carrying EVERYTHING to the other side, it’s not something we wish on our worst enemies. We did not make the same mistake on the way back.
- If you wanna go kayaking like we did, you won’t really need the boat cave tour around the island. You will be able to see everything while you are kayaking. If it’s your first time, or you don’t feel confident in your skills, don’t worry, the guy you’ll rent those from will be right behind you on a speed boat ready to help, and will guide you to the best spots.
- It gets really cold after dark, and the wind is no joke, be prepared. Even if its 30 degrees throughout the day, bring a pair of pants. Also the weather changes quickly. We were there for 3 days, the first days were beautiful with a blue sky and clear water, and the last one not so much.
- Go for a hike all around the island, it’s worth it. Regardless of the weather situation.
- Also, we accidentally walked into a military area without really noticing. If you see a big lighthouse, walk away. It’s not for the likes of you and me. We didn’t come from the regular trail, so we missed the giant sign that said not to go in because, you know, it’s private military base. But we did, we didn’t mean to, we were exploring. So when two men — who were very very surprised to see us there — start telling us we couldn’t be there and explaining the reasons why with a smirk on their faces, we thought they were joking and went along with the joke. It wasn’t until they suddenly switched to a very serious a tone and said “no, seriously, you gotta go”, that we went our marry way.
- Last tip, don’t be afraid to get in the water and just swim around. Either by the fort or the beach, get in the water and go explore a different side of the island. My only regret was not having enough memory cards or a computer to back up everything. So I didn’t get to take any underwater pictures or videos. Rookie mistake, won’t happen again.