Destination: Sintra and Aveiro, Portugal

Hi, all!

Continuing with my travel posts, we are heading deeper into the lovely country of Portugal! 🙂

After a gorgeous, two-night stay in Lisbon, Beth and I checked out of our hostel in the morning before walking over to the Rossio train station for our day-trip to Sintra, a UNESCO Heritage Site known for its amazing monuments, including the Moorish Castle, the Pena National Palace, and the Sintra National Palace. Many people refer to their architectural structures as being “fairy tale-like,” and I do have to agree, as there is something magical about them.

Any case, we purchased our train tickets, caught the train around 10h41, and arrived in Sintra around 11h20. First things first, we hopped on one of the buses that made a full loop around the main attractions (there was no way that we could walk all the way to all of the main attractions, as they are on hills and take easily an hour to get there on foot).

We made our way to the first stop at the Moorish Castle. Frankly, there wasn’t much to see, unless you pay to go inside (and even there, all there was were ruins), and so we left after a short time to see the Pena Palace. Had to pay an entrance fee to go inside (unfortunately, one can’t see the palace from the outside), but I would say that it was worth it, more so than if we had paid to see the Moorish Castle. Definitely was the highlight of the trip, as the palace was very charming, all decked out in multiple colors of red, yellow, and purple that reminded me of a Candyland castle. Absolutely cute (and magical!).

Moorish Castle from the Pena Palace.
Moorish Castle from the Pena Palace.
Pena National Palace- so pretty! <3
Pena National Palace- so pretty! ❤

Soon enough, we took the bus back down to the town center, where we grabbed something to eat for lunch (as well as splurged a bit on Sintra’s special pastries- from what I’ve learned from the locals, each city in Portugal has its own particular pastry, so I was bent on trying as many of them as I could!). Briefly saw the Sintra National Palace before we went back to the station and caught the train at 14h41.

Returned to Lisbon’s Rossio Station, where we had to make connections to Santa Apolonia, the other train station in the city that would take us to Aveiro. We had wanted to catch the 16h00, but unfortunately we didn’t have the time, as we needed to take the metro and purchase tickets at the station. Both took a long time, and we were almost considering just hopping the train and paying on-board if we got caught. But we got stopped by a train worker (darn!), and so missed the 16h00 train to Aveiro. Well, we tried…

It wasn’t too bad, as we bought our tickets and got the 17h00 train over. Arrived an hour later than we would have liked, but not a big deal. Was a two-plus hour journey from the south to the north of Portugal, which went smoothly.

Beth and I arrived in Aveiro at 19h10 in the evening. It had been raining during the train ride over, and so the streets were wet and slippery as we made the 20-minute trek to our hostel from the train station. Aveiro is a small town, and also appeared quite…empty. I assume it’s because it is winter and that people tend to come during the summer, but I got a sense of a ghost-town vibe while walking with Beth that night.

Checked into our hostel, dropped our stuff off, and settled in. I went out for a quick bite at a nearby restaurant-café, before returning to shower, freshen up, and turn in for the night.

Woke up the next morning to explore a bit of Aveiro before making a day-trip to Barra and Costa Nova, one of its beaches fifteen minutes away by bus. Really, Aveiro is a very beautiful, charming town, known as the “Venice of Portugal,” but aside from the canals and bright, colorful gondolas, there wasn’t much to it. Weather was excellent that day, after the storm from the previous night- lovely! 

In Aveiro.
In Aveiro.
Along the gorgeous canals (with pretty boats!).
Along the gorgeous canals (with pretty boats!).

Around 11h00, we caught the bus to Barra, then Costa Nova, for the afternoon. Arrived in Barra around 11h15-11h30, where Beth and I just walked along the beach, catching sight of the Barra Lighthouse. Again, being so near the beach– crashing waves along the boardwalk, sandy shores (instead of rocky ones in Normandy), and bright sunlight– brought back memories of the Los Angeles coast. ❤

Barra Lighthouse.
Barra Lighthouse.

Afterwards, we made the *rather long* trek to Costa Nova, about 40 minutes to 1 hour away on foot. The place was deserted when we arrived there (just like in Aveiro, February is certainly not a touristy time), but anyway, it was still lovely with its rows of colorfully-patterned houses facing the ocean. Reminded me a bit of Princess Cays in the Caribbean, with its colorful bungalows- very pretty and cute!

Costa Nova.
Costa Nova.

We had lunch in Costa Nova, at a small, family-owned restaurant where we ordered what was called “seafood rice,” which turned out to be something like a “stoup” (portmanteau of “stew” and “soup”). Quite tasty, although it was plenty for the two of us- lots of delicious seafood! A couple glasses of white wine and it was wonderful!

After lunch, we were basically done exploring Barra and Costa Nova for the afternoon. Took the bus all the way back to Aveiro, where we immediately headed to the station to catch the train to our next destination in Porto (famous for port wine).

All in all, our stay in Aveiro was very short, but it was fine, as there was nothing much to see in the town. Very beautiful, though, and we made the most of it by heading to the beaches around it- not only to soak up the bright sun, but also that of the vivid, colorful scenery of the boats and the houses by the sea. They were an absolute delight. 🙂

Final post coming tomorrow! Last stop: Porto, Portugal!

— The Finicky Cynic

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