The sun was shinning bright, my legs were in want of some real walking and I still had a couple of Sherlock Holmes adventures to read. I decided to go to Sintra… Oh wow! it was a bit of a shock at first: lots of people, street sellers everywhere, bumper to bumper traffic jam, an array of new shops… Sintra was far more touristy than I remembered it. I was dismayed at first, but then I soldiered on right into the centre and then took a right at the main street.
As I moved away from the centre, the tourists, the buses and the noise, I encountered the Sintra that I once knew: absolute quietness, old houses with shady gardens, derelict buildings invaded with ivy, water streaming down the slopes, everywhere to be heard, nowhere to be seen and that fresh breeze from the hills. I walked up and down the winding roads, enjoying the completely deserted scenery: not a car, nor a person to be seen or heard. I soaked up the sun and when I found myself at a busy junction, distributing traffic, I decided to go back. As long as the castle and the palace where in sight, I knew I wasn’t lost. It was 5 o’clock, so I decided to have a very much deserved cup of tea with some scones.
Memory served me right, and squeezed between an old building and a steep road, I found one of my favourite tea houses. You have to climb a rather narrow iron staircase and… ring on the doorbell! After a couple of minutes, this lovely red haired lady, old enough to be my mother, came to the door. Her golden spectacles hanging from the nose, her striking blue eyes and black uniform reminded me of how Mary Poppins would have looked like in her later years. I ordered the tea and scones, I sat comfortably by the large windows and enjoyed Watson’s and Holmes’ crime fighting adventures. I must have lingered on for longer than I expected, because the one thing that woke me up from my reading dreamy state was the smell of… dinner! I decided it was time to escape, before I indulged in some lavish meal. As I walked to the counter I met the waiter:
“You’re leaving?! But I was just about to take you some extra cookies, so you could stay a bit longer!”
“I’m afraid it’s about time I leave. But if you insist, I’ll take those cookies for the train ride, just in case I get peckish!”, I replied jokingly.
It was too late, I was taken seriously… While I blushed and apologized for the silly joke, the waiter presented me the bill, while the red haired lady with the golden spectacles wrapped the cookies in foil.
“Well, now… all this undeserved kindness must be rewarded. Can I give you a kiss?”, I asked at the red haired lady with the golden spectacles.
“A kiss? Why sure, dear!”, and as she said so, she gave me a very warm grandma hug, you know the kind.