Sintra, known for its picturesque landscapes and majestic palaces, is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Portugal. But as I recently discovered, even the most enchanting places can have a darker side.
This weekend, I was thrilled to show my friends from Ireland the beauty of Pena Palace. We left Lisbon early, excited for the day ahead. Our morning started wonderfully with a delightful breakfast at Piriquita, a local favorite.
However, as we approached Pena Palace, our day took a turn. The weather worsened, with thick fog blanketing the hills. Halfway up, a Tuktuk driver informed us that cars weren’t allowed further and offered a ride for €10 each. Something didn’t feel right. We decided to press on, only to be stopped again by an official-looking individual. Now, it was a parking issue. Confused and frustrated, we faced yet another offer for an overpriced ride. The situation reeked of a tourist scam.
Feeling uneasy and not wanting to support what seemed like a corrupt practice, we turned back. What was meant to be a 2km detour, that tourism guy told us to the village, turned into a stressful 6km drive through dense fog on treacherous roads. We ended up close to Cascais and decided to just leave it for another day.
This experience was eye-opening. While Sintra remains a beautiful destination, visitors should be wary of such traps. It’s important to research and stay informed to avoid these pitfalls. Despite the day’s challenges, we found solace in each other’s company, reminding ourselves that sometimes, it’s the journey, not the destination, that counts.
Have you faced similar situations while traveling? Share your experiences and tips on avoiding tourist traps in the comments below.
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