Day 18 - Tues 28th Jan
Once it was light we made our way through the town to the path that led down to the little village of Aljustrel where the homes of the children have been incorporated into the story of the shrine & are open to visitors. The path is paved with small stone blocks & wends its way through the Olive trees a mile or so down the hill to the village. We visited both tiny homes in the village & had a chat with a woman who was the daughter of one of Franco’s brothers. She looks after one of the houses & also has a shop selling mainly religious souvenirs relating to the children’s story. We bought a book with Lucia’s story of the apparitions & the prophecies, fortunately in English. We also discovered that we had actually seen a statue of Lucia outside a church in Coimbra where she had lived in a convent until her death in 2005.
The little village was full of souvenir shops but it is obviously very quiet at the moment although a big Spanish coach squeezed through the narrow street & disgorged its tourists out into the street. We sheltered from a shower in a small cafe out of their way. The owner, Daniel, sold us a couple of lovely local apple tart slices to go with our coffee. He told us he was visiting London for a few days at the end of February.
Leaving the village we went back up the path to the Shrine in time for Viv to attend the Mass at the altar on the site of the apparitions in the plaza below the church. I took the opportunity for another look inside the church & explored four other chapels, three of which were underground blow the massive plaza. It really is an impressive complex. They even have a section of the old Berlin Wall that was presented to them after the fall of the wall.
After a good look round & hopefully seeing all the main sites we were just glad that we came at a quiet time as some of the photos we saw showed multitudes of people crowding the Shrine. Our memories of Fatima would be of the many car parks, the many & excellent WCs & the size of the Shrine complex. Of the town it seems to comprise of hundreds of hotels, many churches & countless religious souvenirs shops. We enjoyed it but decided to make our way down the coast to Nazaré(Pronounced Nazareth) for the night.
We were told that it is a surfing Mecca with huge rolling waves. It was only 28 miles from Fatima & I was going to stop on a car park on top of the cliff looking way down to the town below. When we got there though the car park was crowded & pretty rough & sloping so after having a walk around we drove a couple of miles round & down to a car park in the town where we found several other motorhomes parked up for the night.
We had a walk along the sea front & could see the surf crashing on the shore a hundred yards away making a thunderous roar. By then it was getting dark so back to Maria for dinner & a rest.
Mileage today - 32
Total Mileage - 2,056