On the afternoon of our arrival in Sintra, we set out to explore the village and came upon a small group of people waiting for the tram (an electric trolley) that has been operating since 1904. We overheard a German tourist and his wife nearby speaking in English. Hearing the English, I thought I would take advantage of this opportunity to get some information about the tram. He informed us that the trolley was about to depart in 10 minutes and that we could purchase tickets just inside the building around the corner. He cautioned us that the elderly woman inside at the ticket counter spoke no English (or German). So without knowing where this tram was going or anything else about it, we purchased tickets (10 euros) which was the total fare for our whole family and rushed to catch the tram. The tram had a maximum passenger limit of 24 (there were 6 wooden bench seats that could just accommodate 4 adults each). Bernie managed to converse with the German tourists that he ended up sitting next to for most of the trip (in English), who were also on holiday from Hamburg.
After 40 minutes of breathtaking views of castles, palaces, beautiful old mansions and one particularly scary moment when we discovered our tram coming head on with another tram on the same track); we arrived at Praia das Maçãs (Apple Beach).
There were a few hardy souls on the beach as the water turned out to be colder than expected. Bernie and Grace ventured down to the beach but only got as deep as their ankles. I was content to people watch on the beach and take photographs.
Adjacent to the small beach there was a large rock outcropping that had quite a few interesting feats of rock balancing (obviously by fellow tourists or locals). It was hard to resist the impulse to add to the collection of organic stone sculptures so Bernie with the help of Eleanore made his own contribution.
We decided to make the most of the beach day by staying until the last tram departed back to Sintra at 7:00 pm. There was a seaside restaurant that looked interesting so we decided to get some dinner before the last tram ride. It seemed that neither our waiter nor the chef spoke much English. The owner (or chef) led me to a glass case where several fish (whole and intact) were laying on ice. Before I could say anything, he had picked up one of the fish and I interpreted this gesture to mean that he was recommending this for our meal. The fish was served (cooked of course), but also was still more or less intact with the tail and head (and eyes). It was delicious but a bit unnerving as we were not accustomed to having fish served this way! Bernie called this a ‘real shore’ meal.
We knew that the younger girls would be tired and would likely fall asleep on the tram and we still had to walk over half a mile to get back to our rental guesthouse. And fall asleep they did. We managed to wake them up in time and to walk home in the dark with only a little bit of grumbling. The day was done.
We had enjoyed the day thoroughly, so much so, that we came back to the beach the next day and did it all over again (except for the fish dinner).
Hope you enjoyed my blog.