There is something special about the energy of Sintra Portugal. From the moment I arrived I felt alive and well. I haven’t felt such positive energy since Rishikesh, India or Friday Harbor, Washington. I don’t know if it’s the climate, the sea air, the happy people, or its mystical history, but Sintra is simply magical, and I really didn’t want to leave. The village is so much more than palaces and castles. Get off the typical tourist path and you will discover gorgeous beaches, charming coastal towns, impressive wineries and a fascinating history.
The Cork Covenant
Capuchos, also known at the Cork Convent, is a 15th century monastery that provided refuge to impoverished people. It’s intriguing to think that at the same time they were building all those lavish palaces, they erected a monastery for the poor, in between ancient boulders and Cork Trees. The door frames are about 4 feet tall and edged with cork bark. The hallways are about two feet wide and the ceilings about 5 feet high. The buildings feel like part of the landscape and the whole place has an incredible spiritual vibe. I sat and mediated there for a while. One of the more fascinating stories about the place is that one of the most famous monks fell in love with a woman, and they moved into a tiny cave just outside the monastery, where they lived happily together for the next 30 years.
The geographic diversity of the beaches in the area of Sintra Portugal is truly remarkable. You will find everything from the sand dunes of Buraco Do Fojo, to the massive rock cliffs of Praia da Adraga, and the soft sand of Apples Beach and Aguda. Some of it reminds me of the Nepali Coast in Kauai. Other parts remind me of Oregon and Washington, but they are all stunning!
Cascais is a charming coastal town about half an hour from Sintra. It is situated on the western edge of the breathtaking Lisbon coastline, and is the area’s most popular vacation spot. It’s full of fabulous resorts and complex history. The town has always been a favorite with the Portuguese nobility, celebrities, and the rich and famous, probably because of its unique blend of elaborate 19th century architecture, and its traditional Portuguese flair.
Portugal is best known for Port wine, but offers a wide array of delicious wine styles. I had the privilege of visiting Adega Regional de Colares, which is the Colares regions main wine cooperative. The wine was absolutely delicious! My favorite was the Ghao Rijo, a bold 2014 red blend. I was amazed with the aged Brazilian wood barrels, stacked side by side in a giant warehouse. The barrels held about 20,000 liters each and I counted over 40 of them in each row. Now that’s a lot of wine!
The entire area of Sintra Portugal was a pleasure to visit. I’ll never forget the friendly people, lush landscape, beautiful coastline and rich history. It is one of my new favorite places on the planet and I’m already thinking about when I might return. It would be a great place to retire as the temperatures are mild, the economy is thriving, and it’s still relatively inexpensive.