Saturday, August 28, 2010

Palaces, Castles and Cathedrals - Portugal Week 1

Well although the holiday now seems like a distant memory, and I am in the end stage of a chest infection and conjunctivitis, my will to finally blog again seems it may have returned.

So, the holiday was wonderful although I can't say very relaxing as we did a whole bunch of sightseeing, we flew into Lisbon, then got the car and headed up to our accommodation 90 KM's north of Lisbon in a golfing estate called Praie Del Ray, you can always Google it on Google earth if you want to see exactly where it is.   Although none of us are golfers or anything, the accommodation seemed perfect for touring up and down the coast of Lisbon which it was, close to the beach and pool.

We took 2 days just to acclimatise and then ventured out on the Thursday albeit not too far, we went to one of the closest villages called Caldas da Rainha, we arrived just before lunch which wasn't such a good idea as most places were closing for Siesta.  We stumbled onto the Farmers market in the middle of the town and when we saw the fruit and veggies, wished we had not just done a shop the day before.  It's amazing how fruit and vegetables can have so much flavour when they are organic.

The next day we had made arrangements for D's folks to see mom's long lost niece who had moved to Lisbon  about 15 years earlier, so we ended up at their lovely little house near Estoril for some family memories and beautiful Portuguese chicken and salads.

Saturday we decided to relax and just do the pool thing, which was great!


On Sunday we headed out to a town called Alcobaca which is home to Portugal's largest church, although I enjoy seeing all the old churches and stuff, I am not obsessed by every detail which in one way D is, so after a walk through the main church, Mom, Dad, Em and I excused ourselves and left D to explore all the alleyways of the church.  We opted for shopping for souvenirs and having ice-cream at the pavement cafes. 

The traditional hand painted crockery is really nice, although not quite the style I would like to decorate my house, but very beautiful.

One thing that struck me was the amount of money spent on building lavish churches and decorating them with expensive works of arts, surely in those times the money could have been spent on other things that would possibly have benefited the people.  The church in the photograph is called the Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaca, it is renowned for it's medieval architecture and was founded in 1153.

In the 2 weeks that we spent in Portugal I think D managed to take 700 photographs and of course I took at least 300, although I must say mine contain people and not just statues.

Peniche & Obidos

Two days later we headed off to a little fishing village called Peniche and then over to Obidos, although we had had dinner in Peniche a couple of days earlier we had not done any sightseeing there, to the side of the town there is a 16th century Fortazela used as a prison during the Salazar regime.  It also harboured South African soldiers during the Anglo Boer war, not quite sure what they were doing up in Portugal but I am going to Google it and see what I find.

Just about lost everything trying to Google what I read, but did not find anything, so I guess we will leave that bit of history for another day.


After a lovely seafood lunch, although I decided to try the grilled sardines for a change and really not to my liking, I think sardines are just meant to belong in cans and fed to cats.  We head over to Obidos which is one of the towns closest to where we were staying.  A beautiful village still enclosed by it's 14th century walls.  The castle is now a boutique hotel and you can view it here:  
Obidos is now a tourist haven and you battle to find parking let alone walking space in the height of summer time, we had a lovely afternoon tough, Emily had her caricature portrait done and we browsed all the little souvenir shops in the alley, we had intended taking a walk around the wall, but being unprepared in the scorching heat we decided to give that a miss.

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