Monday, September 25, 2017

SINTRA TOUR, PORTUGAL - A Day trip

When we were researching for the important touristy places to see in Portugal, Sintra figured prominently. What all to see in Sintra was not clear; since all the places, barring a few, had names that were not familiar to us. Though we read about them, it didnot really strike that they were important to visit. That is one of the reasons for missing out on some of the interesting and must see places in Sintra. We deeply regret missing them. Well, we just have to make another trip to Portugal and to Sintra.
Having got that out of the way; let me tell you that we did visit a few places and promptly fell in love with all of Sintra. 

We stayed in Benfica in Lisbon for 3 days. On the fourth morning, we packed our bags and started off for the railway station. Our host recommended walking to the railway station which according to him was half a km. We thought that was doable and started off... carrying 2 bags each, most of the route was uphill... nearly 2 km. finally the station appeared and boarded the train to Sintra... The Lisboa card worked for the train journey as well... yey...
Outside the station, you will find taxis, car rentals, Tuk tuks and even electrical cars for zipping around. A warning - since it is a tourist destination, the taxis and tuk tuks are very expensive. Renting a car would be the best option. 
First we had to take care of the luggage problem. We had carried our bags with us and they had to be kept somewhere till our sight seeing was finished. The station didnot have a luggage room. After making inquiries, we were told that we can keep them in Tradicoes, a handicraft shop near the station run by two beautiful ladies, Carmen and Sofia, for a nominal charge. They were very sweet and gave us directions and support.
A short distance from the railway station is the stop for the Red bus - Hop on Hop off. We took tickets for it, 18 euros per person. One can pay on the bus too. The route takes over 1.5 hrs. The down side is that, there is one bus per hr. If you miss it, you will have to wait for the next one, ie. one hour later. There are any number of cafes and restaurants near and out side the railway station, so that is not a problem for waiting. For those who have the Lisboa card, they get a 5 euro discount on the ticket.  
The bus was partly covered and partly open to sky with free wifi. The bus in one direction only. We had to decide which places to see before hand. If we miss, we cannot go back that way.

One can get down at any of the stops, do sight seeing and hop on to the next bus that comes along. Find out the timing for the next bus before getting off. We did not find any bus timings at the stops. So wasted a good bit time waiting for the next bus.
Sintra is a truly magical place; the rolling hills, the winding road, the great big pine trees, the enchanting architectural marvels, the beautiful colours of the buildings, the distant hills, and the enthusiastic tourists add to the magic. It is picture perfect and fairy tale.
We stopped at Monserrate Park and Palace and Pena Palace. We saw the other attractions from the bus. 
 
Location map showing Sintra
 Route of Red Bus Hop on Hop off
News Museum
Palacio da Rehaleira

Water fountain on the way
 Rolling hills of Sintra
 Cabo da Roca beach
There was a five min. break at Caro da Roca stop. Those who wished to go to the beach could get off there.  


Beautiful rocks on the way to Pena palace
Tradicoes, a shop for Portugese handicarafts
Run by Carmen and Sofia surrounded by the handicrafts sold in their shop
By the end of the day, we experienced so much, but still so much we missed. Realised one day is not enough to see all. Minimum of 2 days is needed to do justice to a place like Sintra. Next time, prepare to stay overnight and continue the sight seeing. That is a promise...
Just taking a tour on the red bus is also worth it. We enjoyed the journey through Sintra. It was simply amazing.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Majorda Beach Picnic, South Goa

It was not exactly planned this way. We were planned to go to Carpe Diem, an art gallery and cultural centre for a painting exhibition on his travels through Portugal, by the well know Goan artist Mr. Devi Prasad Rao. since we would be close to the beach, we would spend some time there on the beach. 
One thing led to other and we packed lots of food, water, makings for tea / coffee, fruit, dessert, and some more...
  
For those who donot know where Majorda beach is, it is part of the same stretch of long beach from Velsao to Cavelossim and Betul beaches. Different stretches have different names. Majorda comes after Utorda and so on. it is an open sea, and during high tide, you can hear the roar of the crashing waves, it is awe-inspiring.
To reach the Majorda beach, one of the ways is take the road between Planet Hollywood and Kenilworth beach resorts which leads to Majorda beach. There is enough parking along the tree shaded lane. As we came out on to the beach, we found a few coconut trees. Ideal spot for a picnic.
There is a trash bin closeby too. No need to go looking for one.
It was a cool and cloudy day. Ideal weather for picnics. Since there were only a few tourists, the life guards had an easy time, lounging under their umbrellas...
It was low tide this afternoon, and we could wade through the cool water of Arabian sea. Usually the sea is quite rough. During monsoons, it is advised not to venture into the sea...
 
We had purchased this picnic mat on our recent trip to Portugal. It came useful today. you can fold it and carry it like a bag. It turned out to be a square with black waterproof material on the underside. Ideal for a damp sea sand, due to the mid morning rain.
 
Having done full justice to the food, we spent some time in the water, looking at star fish, small crabs and a few totally transparent jelly fish.
All in all it was a pleasant afternoon at Majorda beach today....

Other attractions of Obidos, Portugal

  Our host at Ericeira, Mr. Jose was kind enough to drop us off at Torres Vedres railway station. From there we took the train to Obid...