Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fátima, Baltalha, Alcobaça, Nazaré & Óbidos

Today was another long day. Making use of all the time we have, we ended up visiting 5 different Portuguese towns. Our first stop was Fatima, the city of apparitions of Our Lady in 1917 to three little shepherds. There's a very lovely true story to this but I won't explain the length of it. It makes you wonder about religion as the facts and events are well documented as everything happened within the last 100 years during the life of one of the shepherds - the last one Lucia, who died in 2005. 
The two other shepherds were taken away in 1919, two years after the apparitions when they were told that the two were needed in heaven and Lucia would be needed on earth. Then she ended up living for so long where she wrote letters to the Vatican about her knowledge of the future. All three things she wrote about eventually happened after she had sent the letters. The last one being the attack on the Pope's life. Very interesting.
We saw the outside mass, drank water from Fatima's Fountain and saw the people giving gratitude for receiving what they had prayed for - this is shown by the knee crawling up or down the path, one end to the other. So while we tend to automatically look at them with pity, they are actually the blessed ones as they haven been given their wishes.

We then quickly saw the shops, which was much much much cheaper than Rome/Vatican city. Then we moved onto the Church of the Monastery of Batalha - which is one of the seven wonders of Portugal.
It took over 140 years to build this church and it was a gift from the King to the people after they defeated the Spanish Army's three conquest attempts. They were outnumbered but they used the Portuguese valleys as their strategies and where the last battle occurred is where the town of Baltalha now sits. Baltalha meaning battle.
The church was gorgeous. There was also a pantheon where the royal family's tombs lay and their navigator. Out in the entrance on the ground was the tomb of the General who lead all three battles to victory. The 14th century gothic church was kept austere, simple without any decoration on the inside. Outside told it all. Very very beautiful and enchanting.
Our next stop was Alcobaça where we had a traditional Portuguese lunch. We ended up eating with everyone, it was such a small group that we had all become very friendly with each other. Two also from Australia and one from Israel. Mum had a traditional Alcobaça dish called Chicken in a pot and I had chicken piri-piri. 
Then we visited the monastery church of that town which was kept very similar to the other one, yet it was more of a Baroque style. The King who ordered this building has a love story that made him go crazy in the head. Savaging the assassins who killed his wife by tearing their hearts out with his bare hands then eating it in front of all the nobles at the celebrating feast. Eww. He then made everyone dig out his dead wife's body and kiss her hand… long story but yeah he was a bit nuts with all the right lovey dovey intentions.
Afterwards we got to stop by a beautiful fishermen village called Nazaré (Christian version of Nazareth). I enjoyed breathtaking views, also climbed down to the rocks by the sea. The wind was totally insane as you can see by my Cousin It hair photos so I had to be cautious down there.
Doll with the seven skirts of the fishermen village
Then we strolled into the village, tried out some dried figs, looked into a completely tiled small chapel, and looked around. They have a tradition of wearing 7 skirts when their men first go out to sea and they go out for one week. So as each day goes by they take one skirt off until the last one, they know that its time to go to the seaside to collect their husbands back home. Very interesting. 
Our last stop was Óbidos - a medieval village that was built for the queens as a gift from their husband Kings. This is where the Ginjinha liquor came from, so mum and I - along with our friends shot two each of the cherry liqueur in dark chocolate cups. It was much better this time and mum didn't go off the scales from the alcohol. 
Some of the people in the village were happy dressed in medieval clothes. The town was so adorable - cloths draped across the alleys from each door to the other, colourful doors, handmade ceramics and the old medieval castle walls to protect the town made it all so time warping. 
On the way home we all teased each other with riddles, sucking out all my brain energy instead of napping! I had a lot of fun. Then my mum and I went to our usual juice joint for 2 for 1 happy hour and I had 3 glasses - orange, multi and watermelon!
Cutest handmade jumper for only 19 euros!
I nearly stepped on the cat and it didn't even twitch!!
It was such a gorgeous day. I am totally in love with Portugal and the hot receptionist that sits at my hotel is so cute too, he looks like he just stepped out of a magazine cover for being a soccer star. Handsome boys, great weather, beautiful city!