Quinta da Regaleira : A Fairytale in Sintra, Portugal
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Quinta da Regaleira : A Fairytale in Sintra, Portugal

June 13, 2018.  Today we leave Lisbon, for a day trip to to the magical fairytale town of Sintra, Portugal. Though it’s only an hour away by train, you are somehow transported from a bustling European city to one of the seven kingdoms of Westeros.

Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal

Sintra is tucked away into the woodlands, filled with Hogwarts-sesque castles nestled into the nooks and crannies of the surrounding mountains. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this became the Hollywood Hills of Portugal. Portuguese and British elites moved here and had royal pissing contests over who could build the most grandiose villa. Who would have the most extravagant architecture? The most waterfalls in their grotto? Just like when the men in your cul-de-sac get into a dickwar over who has the best barbecue grill.

“Fuckin’ Ned. Ned just got a smoker and he won’t shut the hell up about his beef brisket. And I’m stuck over here flippin’ burgers. Honey, I need to use the joint credit card. I’m going to Home Depot.”

And so it goes, just like that. Castles springing up left and right like Medieval Sim City.

Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal

We’d planned to spend a full day in Sintra, allowing for enough time to see the two most impressive complexes – Quinta de Reglaria and Pena Palace. We’d gotten to the station in time for the 11am train, hoping to arrive in town by noon. Welp, the train never came. And an hour later, the next train never came. I’m starting to doubt myself, wondering if I even took us to the right station. There was another small group waiting too, so I asked what the hell was going on. It turns out there was a strike with the railway employees; they wanted more money even though Portugal’s RENFE workers are amongst the highest paid in the EU. With the strike in effect, the train didn’t roll through until 2:15. The setback meant we had to pick one attraction or the other – so went went with Quinta de Reglaria because it required walking up a less steep hill.

Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal

The history? Luigi Manini, an Italian set designer and architect, landed pretty much the most badass job ever. At the start of the 20th century, he was given unlimited funding by millionaire António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro to renovate this sprawling estate. Manini spent 9 years creating a theatrical wonderland of castles, caves, grottos, and gardens. Secret tunnel systems & cavernous passage ways run through the property like a Lord of the Rings underground railroad. I had a very immersive experience when I was exiting a cave and crossing a patch of grass, when I realized it wasn’t grass. It was a fucking bog. I fell in all the way up to my knee and smelled like unfiltered swimming pool for the rest of the day. Luckily I leaned back and caught myself on the rocks and didn’t go swimming with my pack. This is why you keep all your electronics in ziplock bags. Here’s a photo after I took off my sopping wet pant leg- looks like grass right?

Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal

All in all, this place was fantastical and well worth the mere €6 pricetag. Allow at least 3 hours to get lost around here, and if you fall in, don’t let it bog you down.


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Welcome to the adventures & misadventures of a solo female traveler. Detailed itineraries, fresh discoveries, photo recaps, and all the storytime so you can live vicariously thru my journals as I weasel my way across the world.