We retrieved the rental car from the parking lot and set out for the end of the world. Literally. The place we were going was called Cabo da Roca, and hundreds of years ago people thought it was the end of the world. Today it holds the distinction of being the western most point of land in continental Europe. The roads were calm along the way and we passed very few cars. Far in the distance I could see an occasional flash of light. Getting closer, I saw it was a lighthouse whose rotating flash illuminated the dark sky in bursts.
There wasn’t a person in sight so we had the place to ourselves. There had been a light rain, but as soon as we parked it suddenly stopped. Perfect for a walk around.
There are currently 3 lighthouse keepers, to maintain signals between Cabo da Roca and Ericeira. Since the electrical grid didn’t reach the lighthouse until 1980, a total of 9 buildings were used to maintain the lamp, produce Acetylene and store equipment.
The views over the water were stunning. We walked along the paths, taking in the early morning breeze and fresh air.
After wandering around for a bit, the rain started again and we quickly took cover back at the car. Driving back to town, we stopped at a little coffee shop along the way that was just opening up for the morning.
Drizzly and cold outside, it was warm and dry inside.
I enjoyed a treat of some pastries and freshly squeezed orange juice.
My husband had some Espresso.
Next up was the National Palace of Sintra.
Parking was free, but it was smart to get to the attractions early as the spaces fill up quickly.
Tickets for the Palace were 8,5 EUR but if you want to visit several attractions you can combine them for a discounted ticket. Click here to be taken to the website where you can choose your attractions and get combined pricing.
The candy colored palace was perched high on a hill and looked a bit like a Disneyland castle. There was an optional audio tour, and the rooms inside were open for viewing.
There were a decent number of tourists while we were there but it wasn’t packed, probably due to it being off-season rather than summertime.
In several of the rooms there were staff members so if you weren’t doing the audio tour and had a question about a particular chandelier or figurine they were happy to help.
Some of the walls and ceilings had such intricate detail!
One of my favorite spots of the Palace was the courtyard. A cafe offered light drinks and snacks, and I enjoyed taking in the gorgeous views. The corner cupola was a prime photo taking spot, and people took turns standing just inside and snapping selfies. No, I do not have a selfie stick!
After the reasonably high cost of the Palace, the nearby flight Museu do Ar was a deal. It was free that morning, and I was surprised that while the Palace had been reasonably priced and full of tourists, the flight museum was almost empty.
We were free to wander around through the many rooms, which were organized well with historical information given about each of the planes.
After the museum it was time for lunch.
Leaving the flight museum we took a different route back and found ourselves in a little seaside town. It was wintertime so the streets were quiet, but locals walked their dogs and old men sat at cafes.
Choosing one that was busy, we were lucky to get the last two seats at Café do Joy.
After settling in and ordering, the rain started up again and the loud pitter-patter outside competed with the lively conversations and laughter inside the warm and cozy room. The waitress was cheerful and chatted with patrons as she moved from table to table.
The menu was reasonably priced and had lots of options.
The cafe was small, but brightly lit and clean.
The food arrived, and it was all absolutely delicious. The steaming hot soup had big chunks of seafood and was chock full of noodles. Perfect on a cold day!
My husband enjoyed his traditional Portuguese meal, and said the sausage was outstanding.
The surprise dish of the meal was the grilled cheese. I had envisioned a buttery sandwich of toasty bread and melty cheese. When it arrived, I was puzzled for a second until I figured it out. It was a round cheese that had been grilled. Grilled cheese. I used my knife and fork, and found the outside to be a bit hard and a little crunchy (since it was the outside of a cheese) but the inside was melted just as I had hoped.
What a gem of a restaurant! I’d definitely return.
Just as lunch was finished, the sun came out and we strolled along the sea wall back to the car. As we walked we passed narrow streets that were no doubt popular during the summer.
The sunshine was a welcome sight.
It was time to go back to the Penha Longa hotel where we were staying, but we’d barely scratched the surface of things to do in Sintra. Good thing we had several more days!