We followed advice to visit a few of the lesser known palaces in the morning (Regaleira and Monserrate - both unbelievably amazing) and landed back in Sintra for a late lunch, after which we visited the Palacio Nacional. It took a long time to get in, not because the queue was long, but because there was only one ticket seller, and we were behind a) a large group of American teenagers who couldn't decide if they wanted to save themselves one euro each by buying a joint ticket with another attraction, and b) a tour guide came up just as we got to the counter, and bought 20-odd tickets - apparently tour guides are allowed to skip the queue. So what with that and the rather extortionate price (€9.50, more than most of the far more interesting palaces) I wasn't in a very positive frame of mind. My mood darkened further when I discovered we were stuck behind two guided tours, one babbling away in Italian and one trying to out-do her in Chinese. The volume as they competed with one another to yell at their respective audiences was awful (even though they were all using microphone/earpiece headsets, so no need to yell at all), and risked ruining the visit for us, so we waited for them to move on and sat in the little courtyard for ten minutes to let them clear. After that the visit was much more enjoyable, and there were some interesting rooms, especially the painted ceilings (think folk art more than ornate Michelangelo stuff). Overall it was quite interesting, but I still didn't feel it was worth the money in comparison to the palaces. If you're in Sintra at a loose end, it is worth visiting, but if you have more time I'd recommend going out of town to the palaces instead.
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