The flight from Madeira crosses the Tagus River and burnt-ochre rooftops of Lisbon, from the air a clamor of styles, huge high-rise blocks surrounding ancient favelas like a sort of unregulated Legoland. At the airport, we collected a Hertz hire car and a set of golf clubs from ‘Clubs to Hire’. The people at Hertz informed me that they’d done a deal with another club hire company so you can have the clubs in the back of your motor waiting to hit the road, Life gets increasingly convenient.
Within the green hills close to the coast, Sintra had been a fashionable neighbourhood for wealthy ‘Lisboeta’ as the locals are referred to (or ‘Alfacinha’, which loosely translates as ‘little lettuces’). The ‘little lettuces’ needed to escape the heat of the city and Sintra was their choice.
Supposedly, hidden away in this highly convoluted landscape were mansions and castles but I wasn’t getting a chance to see them. The narrow roads into Sintra are an absolute nightmare. At one point, I was negotiating a cramped, twisting, one-way street when the motorist behind me started to honk and wave alarmingly. Without warning it had turned into a two-way and I was on the wrong side.
We arrived at centrepoint, hoping against hope to find a place to park and surprisingly enough, I found one. We headed for the Romania de Baco Restaurante for lunch which had been recommended.
Sintra is touristy. "It was not like this in my day," Elsa said.
The early 19th century poetic superstar. H seemed like he was a bit of a Don Juan himself… "Mad, bad and dangerous to know." Byron came to Sintra in
Baco was a Tapas style restaurant within a very narrow building and hence little room to manoeuver. Some German ladies occupied the territory behind me and were not giving it up as I squeezed into my chair. On either side was the French resistance almost elbow to elbow with us, the Brits and Portuguese. In spite of all this the plates came with pleasant local concoctions and the wine was excellent. One set on one side departed causing a wave of shuffling and were immediately replaced by two Chinese girls. Our waitress squeezed through to serve them. I had to slide in more. "I have a big ass," she good-houmouredly told me. It has a good name as this is the entourage of Bacchus.
The two Chinese ordered like rabbits on their phones. Salad no dressing. Sparrows.
Sintra streets narrow cobbles