lisbon
Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

One my first night in Portugal, I met a lovely german girl whilst having dinner at the hostel. It was her second time back in Lisbon and she was there to visit and catch up with her friends. Over dinner, she shared with the table her previous experience of living and working in Portugal, and also her favourite spots near Lisbon.

I was debating if I should take a day trip out to Sintra, because I was pretty short of time. But that lovely girl insisted that it was her favourite place and that if I didn't have enough time to spend in Sintra, I should just visit the Quinta Da Regaleira. I've read on several blogs, that Sintra is a must visit when in Lisbon, and after hearing what she said, I decided to just go for it.

When you first arrive in Sintra, you'd immediately be charmed by its small town vibe. It has wide cobbled streets with lovely scenery, buildings and trees places together forming an incredible landscape, and since the weather was so kind in Portugal, flowers were blooming. All these could be admired as you take a walk up to the main attractions of Sintra.

Landscape Sintra Portugal
Street shops sintra portugal

I knew I wouldn't have enough time to explore the whole place, so I headed up to Quinta da Regaleira immediately, and decided to go on exploring when I'm done with it.
Quinta da Regaleira is a palace that is located in a HUGE park with several attractions, rock and stone structures, and the most interesting part - underground caves and tunnels that link up to wells.

After paying the entrance fee, I was given a paper map with the most realistic illustrations. I realised my maps on my iPhone did not show the detailed routes of the garden, and so I gave myself an internal motivation talk, and convinced myself I could navigate the park with a paper map.

Outfit Quinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalQuinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalQuinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal and outfit of the dayootd sintraQuinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

All went well for the first 10 minutes as I climbed u to the Regaleira Tower, and got the amazing view of the Main house, and the chapel. I even decided to take a couple of photos there because it was a quiet morning with very few people around.

After walking for another 15 minutes, I found myself at an entrance to one of the underground caves. The day before I went to Sintra, another girl from the hostel told me there were some parts she found pretty creepy, and didn't elaborate because she wanted me to have the full experience of the place. When I reached the entrance of the underground cave, did I realise what she meant.

Cave in Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal
Underground cave Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

From the pictures it doesn't look as scary. These photos were taken from the outside, and the amount of light in the cave decreases by 10x for each step you take in. According to the map, I had to walk straight through to where the black hole is in the image above.

If there had been other people around, I wouldn't mind walking in. Unfortunately, there was NO ONE in sight. Not a single soul. After taking 10 steps into the cave, I probably creeped myself out, and so I turned and walked out, attempting to find another route.

Leda's grotto Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal
Portal of the Guardians Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal
cistern Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

I couldn't find "another route" and somehow led myself round and round the park. I attempted to read the map, and to stay on the big pathways, but somehow, I ended up walking into an area with trees, and no distinct pathway. It was a stupid decision to bring ankle boots, but well, we all learn from our mistakes.

Park Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

I passed this pathway probably over three times even though I was taking all sorts of different routes. It was pretty dreadful. Basically whatever that went through my head was, "Where did the path go. Why am I climbing on soil. I feel like Jane from Tarzan. Wait... Is this a dead end?! This map doesn't make sense!! Forget it, i'll just take this main path down. Shit why am I back to where I started?!" But eventually, I found my way, and managed to see both the Unfinished Well and Intrinsic Well. These were wells that go up to 27m deep into the ground, and looking up from the bottom you feel as though you're trapped, or about to levitate up to heaven. It could be either-or. 

Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal Intrinsic Well

These wells were what stands out to most people, and both wells were connected by the deep dark underground caves. I took the underground cave from one well to another, because it was a relatively short path, but man, it was wet, and completely PITCH BLACK in those caves. If not for the fact there were more people in this part of the cave, i'd be pretty scared.

Underground Cave Quinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalUnderground cave 2 Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

Walking through another stretch of the underground caves brought me to this part of the park, which had a nice structure and a wide space in front of it where parents and children were just running around. It's a nice place for a picnic spot to take a rest amidst all the climbing. But rest is for the weak, so I continued on. Besides, I was looking for the Waterfall.

Portal of Guardians Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal
Outfit in front of portal of the guardian Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal
WHAT I WORE
Coat - Coldwear.sg / Bag - Gap / Jeans - Primark / Top - Thailand / Shoes - Ecco
The waterfall happened to be at the exit of another stretch of the underground caves, and somehow, I managed to find my way there. It was a small waterfall, but a VERY pretty one, where you could walk across the waters by stepping on the individual stones. Of course, this part of the park was teeming with tourists.

Waterfall Quinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalLake of the Waterfall Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

By this time, I had probably and hour left, and decided that I should head to the main house, and have a walk through it before leaving the park. I pretty much figured out how to get my way back, and so following the main route on the map brought me back to the Chapel and the Main Palace - Quinta da Regaleira.

main house Quinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalQuinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalMain house of Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

The mansion was nice, and in the rooms they had a history of the place, architectural drawings and lots of other exhibitions, it was a nice way to conclude the end of the morning spent in Quinta da Regaleira. Walking back to the train station, from Quinta da Regaleira, I got such a wonderful view of   Sintra. The place is beautiful from both ground and above. I love the orangey-brown roofs of the buildings, and all the greenery that surrounds it.

I was so glad I went to Sintra even if it was just for a couple of hours!

Landscape Sintra PortugalLandscape Sintra PortugalLandscape Sintra Portugal

Quinta da Regaleira
Getting There: CP Train from Lisbon - 40 minutes ride
Entrance fee: 4 Euros (student price)
Approx. Time Spent: 3-4 hours

If you're ever going to Lisbon, remember to set aside at least 1 day for Sintra! There is so much more to seed in the area apart from Quinta da Regaleira; quirky stalls, and lovely shops lined along cobbled stone streets, I wish I had more time to explore! Well, I guess its a reason to go back to Portugal someday, and hopefully not get lost again.

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Underground Caves and Rock Structures (+ Outfit!) - Quinta da Regaleira, Portugal

28 March 2015 Quinta da Regaleira, 2710-567 Sintra, Portugal

Solo female traveling in lisbon portugal

I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED ONE OF MY 2015 TRAVEL GOALS
*Pops a champagne bottle!*

Striking of number 1 which was to travel alone to a country where english isn't their first language. If you don't already know, I lived in Paris for 3 months during my summer internship, but since I had a house, and 3G, and had to work almost everyday, I didn't really consider myself as a tourist. It was more of like a part tourist part inhabitant kind of deal. Traveling to Portugal alone for 4 days was my way of experiencing what it is like to be on the get go alone, navigating from place to place (I really suck with directions! But I think I'm getting better?), and experiencing a foreign place by myself! Also, it was a prelude to a probably longer solo-trip i'll be taking during the spring. 2015, is indeed a year for me to just go for it, live life to the fullest - with some restrictions, but y'know as full as I can!

When I travel alone within France and on some day trips around England, I realised I've developed the ability to talk to myself: See 3 Interesting Abilities You Gain When You Travel Alone. So I decided to put a little twist on this post, and take you through a conversation with myself on the first day of my travel in Lisbon (I wrote the paragraph whilst in Lisbon, so pardon the raw-ness of it)!

colours of lisbon portugal streets

1. My gosh this is so exciting! I hope I have an awesome time!
2. Successfully made it to the hostel without getting lost *pats self on back*. I'm gonna conquer Lisbon! 

Lisbon architectureThe arch in lisbon

3. Oh how I've missed the sea, waters the sunshine!  *stares at buildings and sky and everything* This is Amaaazi-... F***!
4. Omg how did I trip on a step that is 1 cm in height. SHOULDN'T HAVE WORN MY ANKLE BOOTS. 

lisbon portugal river

6. Where on earth is the castle?! Ok let me walk the other way. oh!! Nice Graffiti! 
Graffiti and street art in lisbon portugalColours of the walls in lisbon portugallanscape and streets of lisbon

7. Love all colorful houses and patterned tiled walls. This old town is not that touristy but cool!!
8. There is nobody here.. Maybe I should attempt to take an outfit photo!

outfit and colourful houses in lisbon
outfit of the day in lisbon
striped top and denim jeans outfit in lisbon
WHAT I WORE
Striped Top - H&M / Jeans - Primark / Shoes - Ecco / Coat - Coldwear.sg
7. But really.. How do on earth do I get myself to the castle. Stupid map you're not leading me the right way. 
8. Where are the stairs to the castle? There should be a staircase here!
9. Urgh!! Shit where am I...Oh my gosh!!!! Who cares where I am! THIS VIEW. THIS IS INCREDIBLE. Getting lost isn't that bad after all!

landscape view of lisbon
panoramic view of lisbonview of the sea from above in lisbon

10. So much feels! Lemme try and sneakily get the singing old man into the shot!
11. Watching as the sun sets is amaaaazingggg!!

lisbon aerial view
view of lisbon from the top


12. My feet hurt. I feel like I should just take a tram or a bus. But I don't even know where to head. Oh man, this is the result of "Just go and wing it"!
13. Where is the castle...Should i give up finding the castle?

public transport in lisbon


14. Wait. Wait. I've walked by this place haven't I? Oh no I haven't..
Wish Jerald was here to help me navigate. I'm taking far to long to get to one destination.
Where is the damn castle entrance?! Why does this road go down. The castle is up there!

structures in lisbon
streets and walkways of lisbon


15. OH MORE PRETTY GRAFFITI!! I love such things! Hmm..This route looks nice. You know what, I'm going to walk down and see where I end up! 
16. What is this sorcery. Why am I suddenly so near my hostel. Oh forget it. C'est la vie. Let me explore the area of Rossio then!

Rossio square lisbon
rossio square fountain


17. -Got approached by a student making a video and he asked me for some help, and how he hasn't been able to get to interview tourists for his video- Poor guy, nobody seems to be helping him. I shall be nice and be one of his Interviewees. After answering some questions on video, we started talking and he said I was "crazy to be traveling alone" until I told him I was actually 21. And then he suggested a couple of places for me to visit in Lisbon. 

market in rossio square lisbon portugal


18. Definitely have to go to Belem tomorrow (the guy said it was beautiful!)
19. I'm hungry... Oooh egg tarts! 
20. It tastes like there is coconut... Hmmm.. Are these egg tarts?? 

bakery in lisbon

21. The night scene is so chill, and relaxed, people just walking around, enjoying dinner.
22. There are a couple of weird people hanging around this street... Should I walk through it? The other street looks scarier... K Just do it. Please nobody talk to me.
23. OH A BAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!

street band in chiado lisbonelevador castelo lisbon chiado portugal


24. Why am I so hungry?! When was the last time I ate? Omg I NEED DINNER. 
25. Back to hostel.

That night, I had a lovely meal at Home Lisbon Hostel, which was cooked by a wonderful Portuguese grandmother (who, by the way, speaks 4 languages fluently and switches between them with EASE -it put me to shame). The hostel was a family run business and it was just the perfect ending to my night. For 10Euros, I got a 3 course meal, free flow of drinks - red wine/white wine/sangria you name it, and to end of the meal, everyone in the dining hall would toast with a shot. I met so many other solo female travellers and I was so surprised at how extremely common it is for solo-female traveling, and just intrigued by their stories and life experiences.

I think traveling alone can sometimes be a little intimidating for girls, especially Asians like myself, who have grown up in a decent, safe, and relatively sheltered environment like Singapore. My mum wasn't very agreeable when i first told her, but I has already booked my tickets before telling her, and she was cool about everything, so she just said "Stay safe, I'll pray for you!" An asian girl I met had to write a long letter to her father explaining her reasons for traveling alone before she was granted the permission to. However, I think it is important to take the leap of faith, and just go for it. Sure safety is always something to be worried about, but if you plan your trip well, and do sufficient research before hand, practice safe traveling habits (and pray!), everything will typically go smoothly, and you'll learn so much from the trip.
Traveling anywhere alone is such an eye opener be it for a day or a month. Not only do you get the freedom to plan your own schedule and do what you want, you are able to grow in terms of confidence, you become truly independent, and you learn how to be resourceful! Living alone, traveling alone, doing anything alone, gets you out of your comfort zone. For the first half a day, or first few moments going around alone, you'll think "CRAP, what did I just get myself into!" But after that initial mild panic, you start to enjoy every little bit of the journey. And it is nice to put yourself in a foreign environment and appreciate the culture, see how you deal with being by yourself, and who you meet along the way. It is an experience I highly recommend for everyone!

After spending 4 days traveling alone in Portugal, I'm now excited for my next solo trip to Scandinavia.
10 days of Scandinavian air! Wish me luck ;)

Solo Traveling Thoughts IN Lisbon

21 March 2015 Lisbon, Portugal

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