One of my favorite photos taken in Portugal.
We had just clambered down the steep hills of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park to the edge of Sintra. Having viewed the colorful splender of Palácio da Pena, we were looking for Sintra center to find a meal, have a drink, and enjoy the evening before taking the train back to Lisbon. But all we could see was verde.
Heavily wooded, rocky, and winding, the trail down offered many advantageous views through the thick forrest. The foliage, although beautiful, felt like a soft prison. It held us close, pressing up against us, with only infrequent glimpses of freedom through its selfish embrace.
The path was well cut, but rustic. Roots, searching, crossed in front of us. Slabs of rock, not quite fit for purchase, offered precarious footings as the trail sloped ever downward. And always, everywhere, green.
And then, we tumbled out off the woods into a cloistered cluster of dwellings. Cobblestone in place of the wild trail. Ancient, man-made walls guiding us forward, holding back the growth.
Still that failing slope. The stones underfoot insisted we move forward and down, toward the town. But now, in a civilized, organized fashion. Centuries of instruction pointing us away from the forest and into the town square. No need to look left or right, only forward. Only ahead. No choices to to be made. Only compliance.
This is the way, Portugal whispered. Follow me.
And we listened.
Sintra lay before us. Food. Wine. Music.
The forrest lay behind us. Silence.