Sintra, Cabo do Roca & the Capuchos Convent

Sintra to Cabo do Roca

We left the hotel, walked a short distance in Sintra town, and got on an electric tram to ? 

 Very noisy metal wheels on metal rails squealed on the many corners as we went downhill to the coast. 

And the coach rattled on its narrow rails. The driver worked hard, constantly pulling on the brake lever with one hand or pushing the accelerator with the other. Clearly he had no power booster to assist!

Huge gums were interspersed among the pine trees along the roadside in places. A different type of pine, like mushrooms with a green canopy instead of caps. Really nice to see as so different from the usual pine trees. The red callistemons looked really good along the tram tracks. We passed through a number of very rundown and uninteresting areas in between the few good bits. 

From the tramlines end we crossed a small creek and walked up cliff sides, down and up. 

Passed dinosaur tracks, now upended and on a vertical rock wall. 

 We eventually ended up somewhere, had a very unexciting soup lunch and a coffee. No bread, just greasy croutons. Ugh. 

Then we climbed more hills, up and down, and ended up at a most interesting place, Cabo do Roca, the most western part of continental Europe. The memorial there had a plaque with a saying in Portuguese along the lines of ‘the sea starts where the earth ends’. Hmmm. Yes. 

We had coffee at Cabo do Roca and then caught a bus back to the hotel, arriving after 18:00. Quickly showered and washed my socks and knickers. The 5 toe socks, combined with a heavier pair of oversocks, make daily distant walking possible. Sadly without being strictly separated my wicked toes would continue their overfamiliarity.

Tomorrow is April 25th, a national holiday to celebrate the 1974 overthrow of the successor to the dictator, Salazar. (He died in office in 1970.). Since Sintra is a very touristy area apparently some things will be open and we have a shorter day to look around here. 

Dinner was ok tonight. Soup, unidentifiable, followed by greasy fish and baked potatoes with a little over cooked broccoli and a bitter green. Many desert options but I like the melon here, white flesh with an interesting outer green peel. They are between cantaloupes and watermelons in size and shape. For those who wanted there was then some port and fingers of some sort of very sugary pastry with an inner paste, also unidentifiable. 

Overall: I wouldn’t go to that restaurant again, the first one here, yes, second, no. So far food on this trip is ‘cheap and cheerful’ with the first hotel being ok and this is accurately rated as 2 star, maybe it should be 1.5. No more. 

The company running this trip inspires an incredible level of loyalty in about half the group who’ve been on many, and I mean ‘many’ trips previously with it. 

Tuesday 25 April

A very good day’s walking ending in an old Capuchin monastery (Capuchos Convent). Our walk started with our catching a local bus. Off the bus, we walked on easy, narrow, streets, roads and trails. Passed a petting farm with goats, sheep 

and a donkey that appeared to want more human company.  

Finally the Capuchos Convent (a Capuchin monastery, also called the Cork Convent, built in 1560). We had a picnic in the grounds over to the side, away from the moss covered crosses and bell.


The monastery was fascinating: single cells you access on your knees and that have little space to lie in, a bathroom with a 2 seater toilet, and

 

an individual cave for a monk who wanted to get away, 

and above all, cork. Cork on ceilings, around doorways and windows and as crosses in a few places. Not my cup of tea. 

A couple of very different chapels/ermitas:


And even a monastery needs a kitchen and

an infirmary.


Yes, almost a soft life for anyone in the infirmary with the size and comfort of bed. I’m sure the skull and 2 humerus bones over the entrance to one room were not previous inmate’s. Or were they?

Really interesting concept this Convent/monastery, a highlight for me so far. So austere a place it’s hard to believe. Hard life ++

We caught a bus at 15:00 back to the hotel. 

Walked around Sintra a bit. Very busy today. Not much fun and the coffee was overpriced and not especially nice in the nearby tourist areas.



We are leaving here tomorrow. For somewhere…..

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