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Meanderings of a Working Travel Agent

The Hills Are Alive

With the sound of music! That’s what I felt I should be singing as I wandered up and down the hills around Sintra in Portugal, looking in vain for a way to get into this historic Unesco town. 

See this is one of the downsides of not doing a guided tour. You think it’s easy but it’s not.   We managed to get the train from Lisbon to Sintra with no problem but then after getting off the train it all went downhill or should I say uphill.

We had no idea where we were going. There was no sidewalk and the road was very narrow so every time we heard a car coming, we would scuttle to the stonewall along the side of the road. We couldn’t see anybody else walking. At one stage a tuktuk driver pulled up next to us and said do you guys need any help?

Do we need help???   Don’t be silly.   I am a travel agent.  No we’re fine, we replied confidently.   Should I say stupidly. We carried on trudging away until we came across someone parking his car in his garage and asked which way to the town and he pointed us in the right direction. Couldn’t believe it when we walked around the corner and there it was in all its glory.

By this stage, it was way past lunchtime. We were starving and needed something to drink. Maybe something strong. Sintra is a delightful little town that is known to be crowded. However, we found a table for two on the main square with no problem and had the most delightful meal and a glass of my favourite wine Vino Verde. 

Next sightseeing tour I am doing will be properly organized in advance with a tour guide!!!


4 Responses

  1. Lesley, it sounds that you had a good experience on your own. I like trips as half guided and half on my own. That is one reason that we schedule our arrival at the start of a tour for a couple of days before and stay a couple of days at the end. The guided part, assuming a knowledgeable guide, gives me a good overview of the history and culture but sometimes it misses out on some major tourist attractions or either spends too much or not enough time at something. As my father said once ABC. Another bloody cathedral.
    On our recent Viking Budapest to Prague river boat cruise, Viking offered a half day tour of Budapest that listed the Baths on the itinerary, but on that day, the bus didn’t even get in viewing distance of the outside of the Baths. No problem as we had arrived 2 days before we could board the boat and start the tour. Having talked and emailed with people who had been to Budapest, I planned our own visit to the Baths the day before the tour. Took the tram from our hotel, got to the baths at about 9:30 am. No line up and my wife could get a massage at about 10:30 am. A very pleasant relaxed morning.
    I could give you a few examples of serendipitous positive experiences with locals by getting ‘lost’ or finding that there wasn’t an easy way from A to B.
    So don’t just limit yourself but look at pros and cons, choose and relax.

    1. Hi Hugh, that sounds so good! If I am ever in Budapest again I am going to do this !!!
      Thanks for the tip and the inspiration! Lesley

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The Travel Lady

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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