Our final morning in Sintra, June 9, saw us heading down to the main square in the old town to take a wander through the National Palace of Sintra. The palace dates from the 15th century and, except for the large, slow tour group we were stuck behind, was one of my favorite historical sights so far. The details of things are astonishing. As you can tell from the photo album, I was particularly taken with all of the painted ceilings. Our walking notes tell us that the ceiling of the magpie room, each magpie carrying the words “por bem” (for honor), was created by order of King John I. He, supposedly, was caught the queen kissing a lady-in-waiting, and he had the ceiling decorated with as many magpies as there were women in the court as an admonition to stop gossiping.
Of course, anything having to do with food or food preparation is also high on my list of things to appreciate and I would have loved to have been able to stick the big ox soup tureen into my purse to schlep home.
Sorry about the fuzziness of the photo of the painting of the bearded cross dresser. I really could NOT figure out what that was about but thought it funny nonetheless.
After lunch, the four of us boarded the train back to Lisbon and, in forty minutes, we had retraced the miles that it had taken us seven days to cover on foot. We parted at the Rossio train station, with Judy and Heather heading to the airport to catch a flight back to London and with Michael and me catching a cab to the Intercontinental Lisbon hotel.
Boy, oh, boy, the switch from the interesting little hotels on our walk to the 18 floors of shiny, business/luxury hotel impersonality was a bigger shock than arriving in Lisbon from Oregon ten days ago. We do have a beautiful view, from the 12th floor, over the city all the way down to the water and, even though the jacaranda trees in Rossio square have lost all of their blossoms in the week we’ve been gone, those in the square under our window are still in their purple glory.
This morning, Michael and I took two big bags of dirty clothes to a cleaners up the hill. We couldn’t begin to imagine paying the hotel the $11 per pair of trousers or shirt that they want to do our clothes . . . and at $5 per pair of underthings one might as well treat them as disposable and just throw them away to be replaced with new. Oh, the joy of the big hotel!
But our quest for cheap, clean clothes did get us out and about, which resulted in a long walk down to Rossio Square and a bite to eat at the Confeitaria Nacional. After two months in Salem of very clean living (NO: wheat, dairy, refined sugar, caffeine (among other things)), I managed to shatter all four of those good practices with just one snack. And then, for lunch, I shattered a fifth when I had a glass of wine with my meal. Please don’t think this is the first time this has happened on this trip, it just kind of hit me in the face as I was looking at my custard tart and coffee how much sinfulness a small plate can contain.