Finding the Culture in Sintra

Written by: Elise Porter

Ola! Today, the MadGrad16 cohort embarked on a cultural tour of Sintra. Our first stop – Quinta de Regaleira! As we climbed the hill to the entrance, the group started to realize something wasn’t quite right…Cabo de Roca had lost its power. Our tour guides at Keep it Local Tours made an impromptu change in plans to head for the coast, but not before stopping at a local bakery off the beaten path for some fresh Bao de Chorizo, which was comparable to a Portuguese Hot Pocket (cheese and chorizo bread).

After taking a group picture, we stopped at Mercado Da Praia Das Macas, a local fish and fruit market, to try tremoço (salty bean with a waxy outer shell).  The group then proceeded down the coast’s narrow streets to reach Cabo de Roca, which is the “most western point in Europe – other than Ireland.”  Cabo de Roca was one of the biggest tourist locations we visited today. When we first arrived, the area was filled with many motorcyclists, but that did not stop us from admiring the views and taking many selfies!

The next stop on our tour was a local family owned restaurant called the Sisudo, where we  enjoyed the daily specials: Octopus rice, pork leg, and green bean soup.  After lunch, we decided to head to the beach where we were able to dip our feet into the very, very cold Atlantic water.

Then, the group traveled to see an actual cork oak tree! We were granted the opportunity of an up-close experience with the same types of trees we were learning about in our course. The tour guide unlocked the gate next to the cork oak to introduce the group to Baloo, a Portuguese Mountain Dog who was extremely excited to see us…and our left-over pork leg bones.

Afterward, we braved the narrow streets back to Quinta de Regaleira, where we toured the summer house of Antonio Monterio, walked the gardens, and climbed to the initiation well. Our day ended with a stop at a local Sintra bakery called Casa Do Preto for travesseiros de Sintra – a Portuguese pillow pastry! Yum!