As we were about to leave Fatima this morning, another Trafalgar bus pulled up behind us and who should be in the front seat, but the tour guide Mom and I had on our last Trafalgar trip through Portugal – and not ten minutes later, the one we had in Spain appeared. What was fantastic is that they both remembered us and hugged us. I was really pleased and mom was just over the moon. Such nice people.
Our first stop is probably one of my most favourite places now: Batalha.
There was a battle regarding the succession to the throne when one of Portugal’s kings died without a male heir. The monastery was built to thank the Virgin Mary for the Portuguese victory over the Castilians in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385, fulfilling a promise of King John I of Portugal – who from the history books seemed to be the bastard son of a previous king, one Pedro I. Regardless of it’s purpose, the place is both unfinished, and astonishing. Subsequent generations of the royal family added to, re-purposed and generally messed around with it’s floor plan until we have this intricate and beautiful building. (I had a really hard time paring down my photos for this entry.) When John and his wife Phillipa died they were depicted on their sarcophagus holding hands – they actually liked each other which is a peculiarity among alliance marriages. Among their children was Henry the Navigator who is also buried here.
After our visit to Batalha, we went on to Nazaré.
Nazaré is also on my list of favourite places.
It’s a fishing turned surfing town, so usually busy only in season, but so pretty and a destination I would have been sure to frequent had I been a Portuguese teenager. Mom and I had a pizza with a couple from Toronto, did a little souvenir shopping and then trekked down the sand to stick our feet in the surf.
Next stop on this beautiful day is Óbidos.
Óbidos is a medieval town – and by that I mean that the old town is still pretty much as it was back in medieval times. I do believe they have Ren fairs and such there – there are enough shops selling medieval and renaissance garb to make this true. Pedro had another little hidden treat for us here, which was a taste of the local liqueur: Ginjinha It’s served in little chocolate cups which you are obligated to eat afterwards. (oh, darn.) SO GOOD.
Óbidos was one of the few cities that belonged to what was called the Queen’s House, and therefore they paid their taxes to the Queen, rather than to the King – ostensibly to give the queen some spending money, but it seems like she spent it, and then some, on improving the cities themselves. Pedro told us where we could purchase a replica Queen’s happiness ring which sent a number of our ladies hurrying off to the little silver smith, but mom and I went exploring.
On our way from Óbidos to Lisbon, Pedro recapped our trip for us, which I thought was really nice. He handed out little gifts and there was much applause and praise and a little bit of singing, even though we hadn’t had as much wine as we had had at Casa Insua.
The evening marked our last with the group and our farewell dinner was at Flo, in Lisbon, which is where we went last time as well, There is a very artistic rendition of the zodiac on one wall inside is how I remember. We are handed champagne as we file inside and we are all a little bit sad that our tour is over. The food is fabulous and we exchange contact info and memories as we eat.
Thank you, Trafalgar for another fabulous tour.