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Pena Palace

aka, the Sintra Vanity Project.

Once upon a sunny Saturday, Sameer and I set out for Sintra.

Our schedule was slightly slowed by our first choice coffee place being shut, but we ultimately found ourselves – with alternative beverages in hand- at the station.

Thanks to the city’s stellar signage:

On the train, Sameer ate what he has since referred to as an ‘Astra Zenaca cookie’ (he maintains I am deliberately misunderstanding him by not picking out that this refers to an Anzac), and within a cool hour Sameer was ‘hot leading girlfriend‘-ing us out of into the wild streets of Sintra.

Which are very pretty indeed!

Of course, being in a new city and all, we had to stop to try the local foods.

We ate some savory pies as well (because healthy), but were mostly excited to try the Travesseiros and Queijada. The former is a literal etymological pillow, which include puffed pastry with cream, almonds and – you guessed it- egg yolks inside.

That would be the one on the plate that looks the most pillowlike.

The other specialty is the far-left corner Queijada, a cheese, milk, flour, egg and sugar deliciousness. This one came with a great base that has the hard texture of very fine porcelin. Would recommend.

Because time was very much of the essence, we ended up taking an Uber up to the Palace, aggressively bought the last tickets for the coming timeslot, and zoomed up the hill through the Palace Gardens.

We did have time to see a bat:

Do you see it?

And I took the time on the way back to pose like a bat….


As you climb the hill, the Palace begins to peaked through the greenery. Big shoutout to whoever planted those magnificent treeferns!

We shuffled up towards the entrance, and I stopped to take a few hundred photos.

There’s tonnes of lovely details to notice, but at this point it’s already becoming clear that – stylistic cohesion is not super high on the list of things the Palace is bringing.

Entering the gates lead you into an upwards spiraling tunnel, complete with views and monstera alcoves (takes notes for future flats).

And, the closer you get, the brighter the colours become:

Whoever designed this was clearly backdropping on a perfectly blue sky!

Anyone who has entered my room/flat is keenly aware of the fact that I am very much an embracer of the More is More style.

But this is something else.

So. The palace was built in the 1830s on the site of an old monastery by King consort Ferdinand II.

I really appreciate the fact that the Wikipedia mentions both that the architect was an amateur (sorry Eschwege), but also that the King and Queen intervened decisively on matters of decoration.

Here is some of that decoration:

Do you see my point?

Like, it’s not objectively bad.

Well, the painted ceilings definitely are.

But there is some stuff that is not completely horrible.


None of it makes sense together.

Each time you stepped from one room to the next you were completely transported…in a very weird way, into a completely different style or theme or era?

To be honest, my camera had the wrong time format when I took all these photos, which means the photos from my camera and our phones don’t sync up which means it’s been a nightmare to organise shots from this trip which means that the order that I’ve walked you through these rooms is probably not completely correct.

But you know what?

That actually doesn’t matter.

Because shit was crazy.

Overall, I really enjoyed looking at the inside, but a lot of the interest came from the shock-and-awe side of the spectrum.

It was just. so. weird.

And I couldn’t stop thinking how much my historian sister would have wanted to murder the decorator for making everything feel somehow anachronistic (and ana-spatialistic?? anac-stylistic??).

Anyway, there was also a pretty little courtyard at some point:

.. and at some point we exited onto the terrace, where we took brilliant photos of eachother:

Plus, Sameer did a lot of pointing at things….

…And a nice couple actually took some fairly ok shots of us:

Although it is unclear to me why I am holding Sameer’s belly like he is pregnant.

We watched the people mill about a bit.

And I took in a few last looks at the Palace from outside.

(look I have to say, I honestly do just love that yellow and red against the blue!)

And headed back into the gardens….

I know you were wondering where that bat pose was!

Feb 17, 2024

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