Beyond the town of Sintra is the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, which continues the fantastical architecture and Natural beauty. However, if you don’t have a car, stopping and going in a nature park can be a little more tricky than you might think.
Bike rental shop in Sintra – Portugal’s extraordinary town with fairytale palaces and lush expanses of the Atlantic Ocean Coastal Forest, my boss suggested I get a different kind of bike.” Most people go on electric bikes now. It’s inconvenient to ride.”
“I’m very used to riding a road bike,” I insisted. I felt that if I didn’t I would be cheating myself out of a lot of exercise, so in typical bone-headed, ego-driven fashion of the way, I opted for a standard road bike powered only by muscle fibers. I only had the necessary items with me. A bottle of water, a jumper cable that I will never need, and a basic map. The map drew out for me the recommended route to the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.
I had arrived in Sintra the night before. When I got off the train, a cheerful yellow castle-like tower loomed above the train. It sits at the foot of a steep slope with the battlements of a Moorish castle spreading out along the rock face. As you enter the town, beautiful old buildings appear one after another, each decorated with architectural flourishes rooted in Romanticism, but with a Unexpected Gothic and Renaissance motifs. Few people get out of the town, and that’s what makes it so charming. However, I would like to see more of it.
After waiting 30 minutes for the bike to calibrate and a cup of coffee and a fine pink Denata, I was able to hang my toes! Clip on and off I went. On the descent back to town, I passed terracotta-roofed buildings covered in wisteria and shaded by chestnut trees. The road twists and turns along the contours of the landscape, with small tributaries launching in all directions. On the other side of the central square I passed a palace, which I believe was marked on the map as one of many, and then It began a steep and winding descent into the open countryside.
It wasn’t until I reached a main road I’d been told to avoid that I really felt the ominous sense of foreboding that I was about to climb it. A mere 15 minutes later, I made the costly mistake of taking the wrong winding road and passing the National Palace. The wrong palace. The climb back up was tedious. In the lowest gear, I struggled to climb to Sintra in the early morning heat. Back in town, I took two more wrong turns before finding the right way. And Quinta da Regaleira, the right palace.
Even in the height of summer, this part of the Iberian Peninsula remains one of the most fertile, as the warm, moist front from the The Atlantic Ocean swept in. The walls and rocks were soon covered with thick green moss, like a protective mat. The air was thick with earthy scents. Epiphytes dangled from majestic branches and flowers bloomed in the least expected outcroppings of the greenery. Everything is so spotlessly clean and carefully cared for.
Where the Moors and the English met in Portugal.
My first stop was the Palazzo de Montserrat. I was told, “It’s just outside of Sintra”. In fact, after the climb back up to the city, the 5km from the city to there felt three times as long. The road is either up or down and never flat. There’s rarely enough room for two cars to pass. On more than one occasion I found myself forced to stop midway up the hill to allow one car to pull over and allow another to pass. Restarting on a mid-hill was hard work, and by the time I reached Monserrate, sweat was pouring off me. It’s like I’m oiling up for a swimsuit photo shoot.
“Breathe” said the man at the ticket booth as I hobbled up to pay the entrance fee.
“Easy for you to say” I replied with my ticket.
I ambled into the vast gardens of this palatial villa. It was built on the orders of Sir Francis Cook, an English businessman, who asked architect James Thomas Knowles to romanticize the Sintra The distinctive brand of the Moorish Stucco design combined with the Moorish Sturgeon design is reflected in the architecture as an important influence on the area. This is particularly evident in and around the main palace; many of the fountains and water features were considered by the Moors to be symbols of wealth and power as they From a desert area.
The interior of the building is airy and cool, and I felt a sense of reprieve for the first time when I got out of the car. The main dome is exquisitely designed with a floral motif that harmonizes with the carefully tended gardens that spread out from all sides of the palace .
Two wheels, better than two legs?
Inevitably, it wasn’t long before I was saddled up and ready to pedal again. I drank some more water, hoping to ration what little was left, until I reached a village where I could buy more water. The going got harder and harder, but the scenery around me got more and more spectacular as the land slid steeply into the Atlantic and Cabo da Roca – the westernmost tip of the European continent. The road was undulating and the sun was doing what it does best, and the combination of the two was draining my energy.
After much effort and a few wrong turns, I eventually made it to the village of Penedo and, more importantly, to the Refúgio do Ciclista.I sat down under a large red umbrella and ordered two bottles of water. The cheerful waiter sat down across from me and lit a cigarette. He said, “I guess it’s been a long day.” He smiled at my expression.
I polished off the first bottle and opened the second.” But it’s a nice bike ride here. We get a lot of people passing through here, but they usually go for the e-bikes now.”
“Those guys are smarter than me.” I had underestimated my fitness level. I had one last sprint up the ridge at the top of Sintra, then it would be much easier to go from there. Feeling mildly rested, I climbed onto my bike and started up the hill, leaving the waiter and his “good fortune” in the wake of Behind the scenes.
Halfway through the climb, both of my thighs cramped up at the same time. Along with a sharp stabbing pain, the nature of this pain was mediated simply by the fact that it wasn’t coming from just one part of my body . It’s fair to say that I really wasn’t very well prepared for this. My bike came to an immediate halt on a steep country road, lined with tall hedges. I couldn’t move, so I didn’t move a muscle, hoping that there wouldn’t be a car screeching around the corner.
To anyone who happened to see me, at this point, I looked like Chaplinesque.My knees were still at a 90-degree angle as I tried to shake myself off the bike. I let the bike down and stood there almost squatting, trying to move around, moving slower and slower until the cramps started to ease. Once it subsided and I could walk more normally, I picked up the bike and pushed it to the top of the hill, which was fortunately not far from the top. Once there, for the first time in the entire trip, the road was flat, so I rode as slowly as I could, marveling at the vast and Another slightly hazy view of the Atlantic Ocean.
I came to the Convento dos Capuchos, I got off my bike and looked around. Walking around, careful not to do any serious stretching for fear of aggravating my cramps. The monastery blended in perfectly with its surroundings, and I wondered if it had been designed that way, or if it had simply been reclaimed by nature out. I don’t have the energy to explore further. I’ve done my penance. So I sat on the peaceful steps and listened to the stillness. I almost thought I could hear the waves of the Atlantic a few miles away.
At the gate, I ran into two tired-looking cyclists who were getting off their electric bikes.” How are they?” I asked.
“Remarkable. We couldn’t have done this without the battery-operated vehicle.” The young Canadian said taking off his helmet and tossing his unruly blond hair.
“Me too.” I said, looking unkindly at the road car that I hoped would get me the nine kilometers back to the rental car shop. The good news was that the road was much flatter, and the return trip was quieter and wider. Tall pine trees rise up like church halls at this elevation. From time to time I would glimpse through the trees an elegant palace or other palace hidden in the folds of the mountains, away from the tourist’s footsteps. Although those in the more central part of Sintra town are heaped with admiring glances, many of these elegant buildings remain rich The Hideaway.
I pushed my legs up the final hill, and they answered with every ounce of strength I had left to get me over and into a series of hairpin bends and hobble back into town, despite the threat they posed to anyone cycling up the hill.
“Well?” The guy back at the bike rental shop asked me.
“Absolutely no problem,” I lied, trying not to show how hard I was finding it to walk. But then again, I could have been talking about the nature park. It may be a little more than “just outside of Sintra,” but it’s full of mystery and magic that often only exists in the In the pen of a fantasy writer. That’s worth every effort to read, cramps be damned.