Well, I’m officially a proper grown-up now after attending my first wedding abroad in Portugal. Carrie and Miguel’s nuptials gave us the perfect reason to visit this vibrant country (expect a tile overload for the foreseeable future) and we just had to extend our trip to make the most of it all. I’ll be sharing what we got up to in the capital very soon, but first let’s take a trip to Sintra, a fascinating town full of grand palaces that’s only a 40-minute train journey outside of Lisbon. Of course Lucy, Dunya and I had to pick the colourful Palácio da Pena for our day trip. It looked like something out of a fairytale thanks to the hilltop location (there was a fair bit of walking involved though), plus the eclectic mixture of romantic architecture and Arab influences was a real feast for the eyes. This is my version of princess garb, a rather wafty EDIT number that left me with a few hilarious outtakes thanks to the wind.
Now for some practical tips. Don’t make like us and only start heading towards Rossio station at around midday (there seemed to be two trains per hour when we arrived). Have a bit of a plan and research the palaces that you like the look of beforehand, as you’ll probably be able to fit one or two into a day (we didn’t have enough time to see Quinta da Regaleira but it’s definitely on the list). Make sure you wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Even if you do end up catching one of the buses from outside the station, Palácio da Pena (or Pena Palace) is still a bit of a journey from the main entrance and everything is very uphill. Also, remember to factor in transport costs and entry prices. It’s worth arriving early and having a picnic in the grounds to make the most of your ticket (we paid €14) and some of the palaces offer cheaper prices at various ‘happy hours’.
It was a bit of a short and sweet visit, but at least it gives me a reason to go back. I hear there’s secret tunnels and all sorts…