Yesterday afternoon I was having a lemonade at a café in Sintra in a square filled with bougainvillea and wisteria.

Sintra is an enchanting UNESCO World Heritage Site about 15 kilometers away. Leafing through a free newspaper from the table next to me, I came upon an unusual article which I loosely translate here:

‘’July 29, 2009. At the Hotel Central in Sintra, Anna Thulin, a Swedish woman well known in Sintra, was taken by ambulance to the Sintra-Amadora Hospital on Tuesday evening, July 27. The manager of the Hotel Central was alerted by one of the hotel’s cleaning staff who had gone to turn down the sheets in the early evening and found Mrs. Thulin unconscious on a bed. Two empty bottles of sleeping pills were found on the table next to the bed. The hotel staff was unable to provide further information about Ms. Thulin’s stay at the hotel, or any explanation for what appeared to be an attempted suicide.
“The Sintra-Amadora Hospital reported that the patient’s condition was stable, that she is now out of the Intensive Care Unit, resting in a private room and receiving no visitors.
“A member of the Sintra police who did not reveal his name since he is not authorized to speak with the press disclosed that the Mrs. Thulin, 39, a former Swedish beauty queen, has been a resident of Sintra for twenty years, and runs a travel agency in the center of town. The police have no idea why she was renting a room at the Hotel Central, when she resides at a manor house with a large garden next door to her travel agency, just a few hundred meters from the hotel. Her expensive imported car is also missing. The officer stated that the police found an extensive note in Mrs. Thulin’s room, which he said could become the subject of further investigation.
“Miss Clara Pereira, an employee at Mrs. Thulin’s travel agency, said that Anna Thulin was admired in the community and ran a profitable excursions business. However, recently Mrs. Thulin was rarely in the office, and she had to do almost all the work of the agency. Miss Pereira said that Mrs. Thulin always attracted a great deal of attention – and even jealousy -- in Sintra. Miss Pereira added that her boss is married to Mr. Vasco de Sousa, a young, notorious, sports lawyer, and that the couple has no children.
“Mr. Vasco de Sousa did not respond to our repeated requests for comment.
“Mrs. Anna Thulin is apparently out of medical danger, but there remain many questions to be answered about this case."

I closed the paper and thought about the darkest part of the dark in this luminescent square. What could cause a beautiful successful young woman to want to take her life in an emblematic hotel in Sintra? And justify it in an extensive note? Perhaps the real story will never see the light of day, but suicide can be a kind of revenge against those who stay behind.

Note: I will be in the north of Portugal as of Saturday, August 1. I hope to have a few opportunities to keep up with all of you during the next 10 days.


  1. Senhora Maia, I am reporter write article Mrs. Thulin suicide. I find your blog and wish thank you to have this article read in whole world. Have started writing newspaper and article I wrote is first important, am investigating more, am discovering many pistas, how you say? Leades? Sincerely, António Correia

  2. Mr. Antonio Correia,
    Congratulations on a good -and intriguing - article you wrote. I hope you get a promotion from it...
    Now you say you are discovering many clues? Are you going to write a follow up article on this case? I am happy that Ms. Thulin survived and is in good hands at the hospital. But it would be interesting to find out why she attempted on her life. Best to you, Celeste Maia

  3. At first I thought this said "Sinatra Mystery."

    "[S]uicide can be a kind of revenge against those who stay behind." Oh, I thinks that's what it often is.

    Lovely photos, too. Even the one of the cat!

  4. A mystery….. intriguing, but very many mysteries are. What a beautiful place Sintra is and your superb photographs do it much justice, Celeste Maia.

  5. As always, your words are fascinating and your photos marvelous.
    I hope that you thoroughly enjoy your trip north.

  6. There's a surprise for you. Click here to get it :)

  7. Dear Ms. Maia: You are incurring possible criminal liability in drawing the worldwide attention to a case that is currently being investigated by the police. In addition, you display big insensitivity to what is true personal and family tragedy. You must delete this blog entry forthwith.

    Dr. Vasco de Sousa
    Attorney at Law

  8. The goings on at the Quinta das Magnolias, where both Anna Thulin and Vasco de Sousa were prominent participants, along with some of our beloved political leaders, and bad boys and girls from the other side of the mountains, was well known in Sintra circles. It is also known that development deals and more intimate exchanges were often agreed at these gatherings. Anna had long made it known to those of us who have her confidence that she was an unwilling participant, but was under the control of Vasco de Sousa.

  9. Mr. Vasco de Sousa,
    Not having an address where I could privately answer your demand to "delete this blog entry forthwith", this exchange must be public through my blog.
    This case is in the open. I merely translated a public newspaper article, because I found the story intriguing and thought that the attempted suicide of a young and successful woman, for no apparent reason, is a subject for comment by the readers of this blog.

    While I send best wishes for the excellent recovery of Ms. Thulin, I am not going to delete this entry or stop publishing any other comments that people may feel like making on the subject.
    Celeste Maia
    PS: It may be of interest for you to read the comments of "anonymous" that were submitted shortly after yours.

  10. You did respond Celeste and I am proud of you. What has happened to freedom of speech. I enjoyed reading this from top to bottom and see absolutely nothing wrong. You did absolutely the right thing. One more thing I learned about you, when you are right you have the willingness to stand up for yourself. Well done my girl. Lucy

  11. It is truly sad to see someone of privilege be so miserable that she would attempt to take her life.

    I live a simple life and for the most part am quite happy.

  12. Interesting post, celeste maia. One never really knows what goes on in the real personal lives of others.

  13. Wow, That has to be one if not the most interesting series of comments I have read.

    I have to admit I'm looking at the photos and longing to be on your side of the big pond, even if money and a good-looking gangster husband does not equate to happiness.

  14. "A revenge against those left behind"
    such an eloquent description.

    We are reminded that a beautiful life can always
    have dark corners, unseen to casual observers.

  15. Dear Ms. Celeste Maia,
    My friend Sara is putting into better English what I want to say. My editor, for reasons I do not know, has cut my follow-up reporting from the newspaper on the case of Anna Thulin. But he did not say anything about making my comments using your blog. Please excuse the unprofessional way I tell this story, but it is too dangerous to say anything about my sources.
    There are some big development deals in Sintra that involve a new sports stadium. However, the location of the development and the access roads that would need to be built could threaten Sintra’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The people, including some lawyers and politicians, who support the new stadium could not care less about preserving World Heritage. They are only interested in money. Anna Thulin, who is what you say in English is a “trophy wife”, did not like the role she was forced into to attract the foreign investors. She also really cares for Sintra and is against the project. Now everyone in Sintra is talking about what happened with Anna Thulin and the proposed new stadium and the shady deals around it.
    Antonio Correia

  16. I think this needs to be seen by one of those Hollywood producers It seems like pure Hitchcock! I guess I watch too many old DVDs.

  17. Interesting post ... and comments. And beautiful photos!

  18. Celeste Maia, you have done nothing wrong. Quoting a newspaper article without speculating wildly on the reasons for the attempted suicide is repeating something which is already in the public domain. You seem, however, to have trodden on some very sensitive toes and it might be healthier to let police enquiries take their course without your blog becoming piggy-in-the-middle.

    Enjoy your trip to Northern Portugal.Do what the cat is doing, look beautiful and relax.

  19. The to-ing and fro-ing of comments is very intriguing! How sad for Mrs Thulin. You have to be pretty miserable to try and do away with yourself. I do hope she finds solace.

    Such beautiful photographs on your blog. Sintra is breathtaking.

  20. Celeste,
    How amazing is this post and all of the responses. First, well done. It is interesting always to see how someone can become so depressed that she would think of killing herself. She must feel desperate!
    If it was an act of revenge... the husband would feel it! And maybe that is why he is responding to you in this manner. I believe that Ms Anna Thulin's life may be in danger!
    Corruption is widespread, and Portugal is no exception.
    It takes courage to stand up to what is right.
    Preserving the beauty of Sintra, a World Heritage Site, and fighting corruption, as well as preserving the most essential freedom of speech, are truly important virtues. Well done, indeed!
    Anna Thulin deserves to have a good friend or two, as obviously she is desperate.
    Having pressure put on the journalist Antonio Correia is horrifying!!!
    All this needs to be exposed, and thank you for being the forum and safe space within which this exposure can happen.
    Maybe Mr Correia and others can make sure this is followed up and that Ms Anna Thulin knows she has many supporters!
    Mr. Vasco de Sousa being an attorney must be aware that intimidation is illegal!
    I love and deeply appreciate your being open to all around you, and your fearlessness in facing all that comes, the beauty and mystery of life in Sintra and all over the world.
    The mystery of greed over love, of depression over joy, and the mysterious fog that enrobes Sintra so very often.
    Thank you again!!!

  21. I want to thank all my readers for their comments on this entry which, I am discovering, has acquired a life of its own...
    Talk about life imitating art!
    I find this whole story fascinating, and very sad in what concerns Ms. Thulin. I am greatly relieved that she is doing well. On an impulse,I sent her a note. And learned she will be released tomorrow. I would love to talk with her.
    Frankly Mr. Vasco de Sousa does not intimidate me. His message is preposterous.

  22. Good morning Celeste,
    what a 'waking up' reading that was, given that it's already past three in the morning.
    Guess that be silent about such an 'tragedy' would only make more of them happen.
    Stepping through the gate in the above photography may lead into another life, something that demands much courage, something that you surely do call your own.
    In great respect of your writing/being allow me to wish you a nice weekend and please update the world about life and its values.

  23. Heavens it just goes to show that we dont know who is reading our blogs! poor woman and now she has to go back presumably to that man.
    Oh and your photos were an absolute joy to see.

  24. I prayerfully hope that Mrs. Thulin finds peace and makes the best of this second chance she has been given. Good for you to stand up to de Sousa. What a tyrant. I hope the money-making scheme that seems to be at the center of all of this falls in upon itself.

  25. A very sad story and yes it is an angry thing to do to those that might love her. I hope she survives and can resolve whatever problems she is having.

    Have a good trip to Portugal. I enjoyed the pictures.

  26. Gorgeous photos here, Celeste, beautiful location. Suicide is a very sad option for anyone to resort to. Who knows what is going through the minds of those who make such a tragic choice. A close relative took their life when I was a young child. Not sure if it is always an act of revenge, but perhaps for some a way out of extreme mental suffering or if someone thinks they may hurt others, chooses to harm themself instead? It is a difficult concept to grasp whichever way you look at it and makes me sad whenever I hear someone has taken their life. I think to myself, death is certain for all of us, we only get one chance in this life, we will be dead much longer than we are alive. As for the other side, after we die, what awaits us, who knows?

  27. Have a relaxing weekend and enjoy. Will miss you.

  28. That's quite a story and I'm now wanting anwers to the mystery. Your photos, as always are magic! I think I'd quite like to live in that pretty pink castle. The cute cat would be more than welcome to join me!

    Have a happy and safe trip :)

  29. Fantastic words and lovely photos !! Thanks for sharing the beauty...Unseen Rajasthan

  30. Thanks for showing us photos of this beautiful place, and at the same time making us remember that the world holds more than beauty and romance.....

    I am reading The Night Train to Lisbon right now and would love to visit Portugal.

  31. What a story! I do hope you will follow up, and let us know if you actually meet this lady. I am glad she didn't succeed in killing herself, and I hope she can get her life back in order.

    And I love the cat.

  32. Very sad indeed, but cats have the right take on the world, don't you think? He looks very much at ease.

  33. wow beautiful! I found you at Sheris' blog! Please come and visit my blog;Lurkynat's World
    and leave a few comments! thanks!

  34. I really like the photo of the entrance, the second photo, it is so elaborate, and of course the photo of the cat. As for all the comments on this very sad story, they are quite fascinating – it was certainly a unique post. I’ll look forward to more installments but hope everything will be resolved and this young woman will regain her peace of mind. Have a great time in North Portugal.

  35. You are having a lemonade at a café in Sintra, a beautiful yet mystery, no one could attempt to be away from such a beautiful place that you are living. Such a mysterious event for her to do such...

    Have a safe journey to south or north because I know you are heading to a heavenly place :) It's nice to share it with you from here.

  36. I just love coming to you blog. It is like taking mini vacations without the cost.


  37. Ah, a Sintra mystery. Perhaps she was vastly older than her husband. Faded too. The sorrow of it all.

    Have a great trip North, but remember to put all 36 of us in your pocket.

  38. I hope that young woman finds some peace. It must be terrible and lonely to by unhappy when everyone envies you your life.

    The second photo is so beautiful! And that black kitty looks so much like my Shadow!

  39. I will be glad when you get back. I miss seeing your smiling face and good natured person that you are.

  40. estupendas las "fotos", como siempre.
    Celeste, has abierto una caja de la que ha salido la intriga, el comentario, la verdad y mentira? el que amenaza es realmente quien dice ser? y , ojalá , la ultima palabra la tenta la señora Thulin y sea muy positiva, continuará...?

    (feliz ruta norte Portugal , aquí desde también maravilloso norte de España? : ))

  41. Just beautiful - thank you so much for sharing with us !

  42. WoW...some very beautifully captured shots!

  43. Celeste, wow...what an amazing post and story..
    i read avidly all the comments above. Well...hope Ms Thulin will soon be better and on the sunny side of things, Sintra just looks fabulous!
    enjoy your trip !

  44. Such lovely photos in contrast to the sad story of Anna Thulin! Her story reminds me of the Michael Cunningham book, The Hours. Maybe her reasoning is quite similar, who knows...

    Still, wow, what a gorgeous place Sintra is! I want to hop on a plane and wander all over the place there.

  45. Celeste!
    How wonderful!! I'm so happy you made contact and most of all, I am happy about this delightful blog.
    I have signed up as a follower and invited fellow blogger friends to do the same. I am in awe of your photography and I can't wait to read back in your blog archive.

    I have a tip for you, in your About Me space, make the link to your painting website sensitive, so we can link up to it directly. Just select the word website and click on the little world/chainlink logo. A link space will open and you simply fill it with http://celestemaia...etc.

    I cannot describe how happy I feel. This encounter made my day!


  46. What a tragic tale - whatever her reasons she is obviously a very confused and sad woman. Beautiful images Celeste...Enjoy your weekend, xv.

  47. Oh my Celeste. You really have sparked a great international concern over this issue which might have gone -- well, surely would have gone unnoticed or unkown by all these readers. Good for you. Best of luck to Ms Thulin for strong recovery and recovered emotional health.

    Otherwise, I have been absent from you blog.....due to a trojan virus that set up shop in my computer. Lots of little and big things were beginning to be problemmatic: like making blog comments on blogger. Drat and drat. It is now in the shop and I am using Larry's spiffy computer.

    Hope you are having a wonderful time in your travels through Portugal.

  48. Hmmm...what an intriguing story. Perhaps she found that her young husband had a lover.

  49. Hi Celeste Maia,
    You tell a good story and your photos are beautiful thanks for this post.

  50. hello celeste - am just dropping by to see how you are and to wish you a good day wherever you are - please feel free to come over to one of my places at your leisure - a visit and glass of lemonade would be wonderful - do you prefer pink lemonade? namaste' - jenean

  51. hi Celeste! Please join Lurkynat, Lurkynat's World and Interface!
    I love your blog and I love your comments! Be well!
    Thanks you!

  52. Hi Celeste,
    Well, this is a hornet's nest, isn't it? More beautiful photos and a loving narration. As for the moon links, oy vey, I would need help from a young person. I accept your prize as is. It means a lot to me since I admire your work-play as much as I do.