I’ve just arrived in Santa Clara Saboia at the Quinta do Barranco da Estrada. Flowers and bees surround me, filling the air with scents and sounds. Birds sing. It’s way too amazing to sit here for very long, so I’ll make this quick (and collect more to share about the Quinta later!).
The Moon Hill Hostel in Sintra was a great place to stay. I got my own room with high ceilings and kick-ass heating system, a comfortable bed and the showers! Ahhh! I liked that the push button hot shower let me completely indulge and space out knowing that it would shut off and I wouldn’t be wasting the water. Sintra can be an expensive place to stay, but the hostel was affordable yet felt luxurious in a simple way.
I had read somewhere that despite most tourists visiting Sintra just for the day, it was a good idea to spend more time, and I’m glad I did.
I sometimes ate out and sometimes snacked on goodies from the local grocer. The first day I arrived, still a bit jet-lagged and a bit confused by all the novelty, I chose to eat at Café Petiscos. There were two reasons: it was really close to the hostel and there were only 3 choices for lunch: meat, fish or veggie (I think). It’s a tiny place full of locals, very little English spoken. I picked fish and got bread, soup, fish, rice and coffee for 7 euros. It was one of the best meals I ate all week. Sure, I was hungry, but it was hot, fresh, and really good.
Recommended by the hostel staff, I tried Apeadeiro. I loved this place too – it had a great family feeling, a wide choice of good food, and soccer on the big TVs. At the end of the meal,after I got the bill, I was surprised when they brought porto (leaving the whole bottle) and a tiny glass and a tiny queijada. How civilized! Apeadeiro is just down from the train station – in fact, all my favorite places to eat in Sintra are just near the train station.
I had a ridiculously good, huge salad for lunch one day at Café Saudade. It was really more than I could eat, full of chicken and cheese and fresh salad. Sitting in a window seat watching the stream of people arriving was very entertaining too. Great staff, highly recommended.
On my last night I indulged with a fancy dinner at Incomum. I ordered pasta with shrimp and clams. When it arrived it was not what I’d pictured in my head (which was not very imaginative). Instead it was black pasta – squid ink pasta – with these green stemmy things that were perfectly crunchy and salty – some kind of sea plant. And of course shrimp and clams and sauce. Tasty food and very posh place, but I kinda missed the homey atmosphere of Apeadeiro.
Lastly, the hostel’s restaurant, Caldo Entornado, could not be beat for proximity and friendliness. And the food was fantastic. This morning I had the best pumpkin jam! I’d never heard of such a thing, yet once I tasted it I wondered why I wasn’t eating this all the time! Must make some this fall.
So to add my two cents to the volumes of Sintra advice out there: slow down and stay a few days. You’ll still miss a lot, but you’ll enjoy the experience.