Mediterranean Odyssey 2019 travel blog

Round Church, Tomar


Today we rose early and left for Obidos, our final stop before heading home. We didn’t like Tom’s planned rout direct to Tomar, so we used a way point - small town called Raposa. We stopped at the local servo and had coffee and a tart in Lopes Restaurant (cafe) attached. Dirt cheap. Interesting watching the locals coming and going. Grandma trying to stop grand-daughter from scoffing bags of chips from the display shelf!

We kept on and eventually reached Tomar and came to a stop in a huge public car park - cobbles and dirt, so no marked spaces. Hence cars everywhere! We reprogrammed for theUNESCO listed Convento do Cristo, our destination. After 5 minutes we found the car park and stopped. Blast! A ticket machine, but at least only 2 euro. Except the machine was out of order. So J put a note on the dashboard and we retired to the adjacent cafe for lunch. J asked one of the girls about the machine - she just shrugged and said “don’t worry about it!” After a drink and a small snack, we walked up into the complex - it looked much like a castle to us ( it was a 12th C Templar stronghold!). Then to the ticket office.

J asked for 2 over 65 tickets. The man looked at him, then at C with a sceptical gaze. Then asked for ID. J made an attempted joke which was ignored. He said “. You don’t look your ages - it must be because you live in Tasmania!” We spent a couple. Of hours here - a wonderful place to visit. Great medieval cloisters, chapels, tiled walls everywhere, and spectacular round church (rotunda) dating from 12th C. It was something we knew little about, but it was one of the best sites we have seen on this trip.

It was still not too late, so we decided to pop in on Fatima which was 30 minutes away. Relatively easy to find after J ignored repeated instructions to turn left across traffic, when there were in fact no roads! We found the Church - the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. It was hard not to. Surrounded by hectares of car parks, bus parks, campervan parks with facilities, and hotels everywhere. There didn’t seem to be that many people here today, but sometimes there must be tens of thousands. There was a “parade ground “ at the front of the church. Maybe the Pope visited here? - someone will know. Surprisingly, after a hot morning and middle of the day, it was very chilly here, probably wind blowing in from the Atlantic.

We reprogrammed Tom, and headed on the motorway to Óbidos. After an hour we could see the castle on the hill, and turned off. Up some narrow cobbled streets towards the walls, and there was our hotel - the Hotel Real of Óbidos. It’s an amazing building - dating to about 1400. Lots of artefacts, weapons, suits of armour , tapestries etc. huge tree trunks supporting the floors above. A great bar area with a huge stone fireplace. J and C had a pre- dinner drink there and J pretended he was a knight!

Although J had parked in the street, the hotel staff recommended he put the car in their garage. It was a very tight fit - the spaces are very narrow, and the Fiat is boofy. He folded the mirrors in and parked as close to a column as he could. The left side tyres were just next to the line!

J went for a short stroll to case the joint. C had a siesta. At 7:30 J and C walked over the road to have some tea at Jamon Jamon restaurant. They were full, so we booked for 8:20, and returned later.

Down narrow steps, ducking under low stone lintels to the basement ( May have been an original kitchen) - we had an excellent meal. One of our best this trip. Although the bill seemed a lot more than J was expecting - when he checked, they had charged 2 bottles of wine instead of 2 glasses. The young male waiter was very nice, and gave C much attention! When she asked to look at the desert menu, he came back with a tray with one of everything - she just had to point! ( to the caramel soufflé). Another couple from the hotel sat nearby. The man’s voice had an uncanny resemblance to Harrison Ford’s - no hat, whips, or snakes though!

Tomorrow we will have a quiet day exploring, and then repack our bags for the trip home.

By the way, the hotel door key is like something from Pentridge! And it has half a metre of chain connected to it, with a Tassle on the end. Hard to lose!

Finally - no more washing! (Clothes I mean ) we wouldn’t get them dry before Friday.

Second finally, I forgot to mention the young waiter in Piadao. It was like a Fawltey Towers episode. He spoke almost no English, and J felt like a glass of beer, ( C a bottle of wine).

It went like this. “Do you have beer?” , “yes, you want”, “what sort have you got?”, “big beer?”, “No, what type have you got ?”, “pardon”, “ what brand of beer?”, “Big beer?”, ......” Yes please”. (Sigh)

To add to the comparison, he kept coming to collect the used plates, reaching out gingerly, then grabbing them and scuttling away! But he wasn’t from Barcelona.

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