I haven’t written about Portugal for a while now. As a touristic and recreational destination, Portugal is for sure an amazing country. You will find Portuguese people very nice, they will treat you better than they treat themselves. They may not speak your language, but they will make an effort to help you and to understand you.
In Portugal you will find History and Culture. You will also find amazing beaches, places by the sea that might be considered little pieces of paradise. You’ll find countryside if you prefer, or even amazing sights in the mountains. Portugal has also great food and wine.
Unfortunately, while Portugal is for sure an amazing vacation destination for the typical non-Portuguese tourist, for us, Portuguese people, is quite expensive. As a Portuguese citizen, I found difficult to visit places with historic and cultural value; it is just TOO EXPENSIVE for the average Portuguese, especially if you’re going in family. There are no student discounts or low prices for people till the 30’s, there isn’t a day when there’s free entrance…
I suppose I need to stop complaining, but when we, young people, with low income, mainly students, visit places like the Louvre Museum, the Prado Museum, Versailles Palace and the amazing art and history museums in London and we don’t pay a single euro for it, it is hard to pay so much for places with less heritage and cultural value (comparing to the landmarks I referred) and, worse, in our own country.
This week I had the opportunity to visit the Queluz Palace (Sintra). I was excited about it. It is told that it is a small version of Versailles and I hadn’t visit a Portuguese palace for a while. After complaining about the overpriced tickets, I entered with high expectations. The first room was a poor imitation of the mirror room of Versailles. The ceiling lamps were undoubtedly beautiful. However, as I was walking through the rooms, I was in constant expectation that something would appear and make my mouth ”o” shaped with amazement. Well… that didn’t happened. I didn’t see incredible furniture, full of luxurious gold and wood; the ceilings weren’t fully painted with well-elaborated handcrafted designs, like “frescos”; the typical tiles were nice, but not amazing.
The gardens are what I would say “cute”, with a small shrug and half smile. To be honest, I think they were a bit ugly in some parts. The tiles in the garden need restoration, as well as some staircases and bushes.
Finally, when I walked out the palace I found the receptionist that sold us the tickets. She asked me what my opinion was. I was very straight-forward, and I immediately regretted. “I was expecting more”, I said, and she reacted like if I had said I was a Nazi enthusiastic. She was only playing her part. So I needed to apply social conventions, and be fake. Hence, I added, straight away, “Maybe it’s my problem, my eyes are already trained”. Then she smiled, seemed quite relieved and said the most stupid thing I had ever heard “well, if you are used to visit places like this in other European countries, there is no comparison. Portugal is a small country”. I smiled; I didn’t want to develop further conversation. I knew it would end in discussion, and the weather was too hot.
Geographical dimensions of the countries are in no way related to its wealth or ability to build beautiful palaces. Portugal has palaces much more beautiful that the one of Queluz and yet we pay so much for that?! Or it is really just me, getting snobbish every day? I liked the palace; however, for the price I had to pay (10 Euros, single ticket); for that value, of course I had to expect more.
Well, here are some photos of the best details I could get.
Queluz, Sintra, Portugal (2015)