622-624: Prisoners and Murdered Lovers

 622 – Wednesday 8th February 2017:  Penitents of Peniche

AM and K leaped into action – running shoes and kit on and Oscar at the ready – off they went for a 4km run – the furthest she has run for weeks/months?  I (excuse coming up, James?) rested my brawn, brain and back!  As the parking area was free – quite a few vans – we decided to stay 2 nights and enjoy the area.  We walked into town after breakfast – coffee and custard cake…  I had slept badly so I retired to have a sleep catch up – K and O has a marathon walk – about 11km in all.  Afternoon – I had revived myself and we perambulated to Dictator Salazar’s notorious prison for his political prisoners……  Oscar’s thoughts ringing in our ears “They’ve blankety blank left me again in the van – I’m no political poisoner – I vote Plaid Crumbly in Wales and the Deservative Party in England”!  We can see an Omail going to the Union, again…

A truly grim reminder of what happened only about 40-50 years ago – and not just in Portugal…

The town Lace Museum was a gem – including a very informative film with English sub titles.

Supper was sardines, we think, bought from the fisherman who knocked at the door last night.  He tried to sell us a massive bag for EUR10, but what would we do with that much fish?

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Peniche women supplemented the household income with bobbin lace making.
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The rocky cost had massive waves breaking with a periodic ‘boom’ as they hit the rock.

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Oscar and I had the odd shower from the spray.

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I was so close to the Lighthouse, I kept going …. it looked closer than it was and then there was the rest of the peninsula to walk … fine on a non-back-to-running-day.

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From the light house viewing platform, I could see the nature reserve islands of Berlenga.

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The approach to the Fortress – this was the sight Salazar’s political prisoners would have first seen of their new ‘home’’.  Originally a C16 castle, it has also seen service as a refuge for soldiers from the Boer War, a temporary home in 1970’s for refugees from newly independent African Portuguese colonies and now the town museum.  The council seized a vacant moment in the 1980’s to locate the town museum here.

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Visitors were ‘received’ by the prisoners here.

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Some of the prison cells overlooking the exercise yard.

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A number of inmates effected an escape in 1960, but we could find out very little as most of the info was only in Portuguese, except that Alvaro Cunhal went to Russia and was the Head of the Portuguese Communist Party.  He later served in the government.

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Drying fish in town.

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At the Lace museum there were some superb examples.  To keep the skills being handed down, there is a Lace Making School with classes for all ages.  I watched an older lady deftly spin and twist the bobbins.  Not for me … too complicated – I’m still regularly unpicking my jumper

623 – Thursday 9th February:  Touristy Obidos

Question for our reader(s?) – how many of you have stripped stark naked and showered in a supermarket car park?  That many?  Well, we did it (showered, that is!) in the Intermarche car park – do we need to say it was in the van?  Otherwise, we might have seen the inside of the Penichenciary…  K arranged more philaundering as we bathed….

All motorhome services at Intermarche as well – fully serviced and cleaned – we set the compass for Obidos.  Our overnight parking App showed a nice small aire with services right beside the town – and a ‘trace’ of UK vans – well, if 2 is a brace – why not 3 for a ‘trace’.  One motorhomer chap turned out to be a Chicago Cubs fellow-fan.

Oscar accompanied us to the town – simple and lovely (yes, Oscar – you are lovely) – lived in and lively. Lots of Ginga sellers but nowhere to sit outside for a nip. Nice walking around the perimetre and at last we saw some tables outside for a glass of vinho – just as we finished, the rains came down – hotfoot back to Jez.  It rained cats and dogs (where does that come from, Oscar?) during the night – prompted by my cooking? Maybe not. I produced (eventually) a Risotto for 2 very small people (Lilyputian portions) – not my finest culinary hours!  It will get better, James…

Sleep – and rain…

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Porta da Vila with C18 tiles and the initial evidence of ‘touristy’.

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All along the street the sour cherry liqueur Ginja was being sold.  There are 3 main producers locally, but none were offering tours – I had emailed two!

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Walking the walls was an option, but not one that J agreed to take!  Something to do with heights and lack of barrier.

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The Pousada occupied the castle at one end of the town … liked the look of the dining room window, but that was as close as we got, given a main dish was around EUR31!

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Is that my boy coming in for a cuddle?

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A number of book shops in the town; this one inside a church.

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The Pillory is docrorated with a fishing net, the emblem of Dona Leonor (wife of Joao II) to commemorate the fishermen who tried to save her drowning son.  The Santa Maria church is where the future Alfonso V was married to his cousin, Isabel in 1441.  Not remarkable in that, except that he was 10 and she only 8!

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Inside more beautiful blue tiles and the wooden celling was painted by Josefa de Obidos in 1661, unusually a female painter when the only ‘careers’ for women were wife, mother or nun!

 624 – Friday 10th February:   Alcobaca and Porto de Mos

Alcobaca has the largest church in Portugal – the nave is 60 metres long and 23 metres wide – really simple design – very effective.  The Cistercian monks developed into a more corpulent community a special door led to the refectory – if you didn’t fit through – you fasted!  K could fit – our slimmer of the year, Katherine.  The sheer scale is immense – royal lovers buried side by side – murder, intrigue, heart eating, decomposed hand kissing – just like the Conservative Party Annual Conference in Somethingbourne…

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Another impressive exterior.  Building started in 1178 and the monks were given a lot of land to farm.  40 years later the monastery estate had become one of the richest and most powerful.  At one point there were 999 monks, not sure of the significance of the 999, and a whole new cloister wing was built for novices.

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The church interior is refreshingly simple.

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Tomb of Dona Ines.  There is a matching one for Dom Pedro – a true Romeo and Juliet story.  Pedro fell in love with one of his wife’s ladies in waiting, but even after he was widowed, his father Dom Alfonso IV forbade the marriage, as Ines had Spanish connections. The King ordered her murder unaware that the two lovers had already secretly married.  Two years later when Pedro succeeded to the tHorne, he exacted his gruesome revenge … he ripped out the hearts of the murderers and …. ate them!  He exhumed Ines and crowned her body and then …. made the court pay homage to her by kissing her decomposing hand!

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Liking the Manueline style.

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Whilst the monks ate they were read biblical scripts from this pulpit.

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J won’t you come closer to the edge, dear?  No, don’t … you’re not insured!

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Squeeze in!  If the monks didn’t fit through the doorway, then were put on a starvation diet.  Having said that William Beckford (British artist and bon viveur, who owned Monsarrate in Sintra, which we visited) was shocked at the ‘perpetual gormandising … the fat wadling monks and sleek friars with wanton eyes …’.

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The massive kitchen chimney … Beckford wrote ‘the most distinguished temple of gluttony in all Europe”.  Under scaffolding there was a pool diverted from the Rio Alcoa, which provided not only water for cooking and washing, but fresh fish.

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The Cloister of Silence.  The lower part from 1300’s and the upper Manueline from 1500’s.

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Nightly bivouac in a free parking (alone) outside the Porto de Mos Bombeiros – fire service – will they test the sirens during the night?  K walked to the Castle while I cleaned a bit and deleted some photos – and guitar practice – fingers are getting the hard skin that I need – to play at the Old Oprey – not!

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The C13 castle – much restored so that it has a Disney-esque look.  The green roof tiles are echoed in houses’ doors and shutters.

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I followed the signs to the castle spring … sadly neglected and abused.

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Sao Antonio chapel – shut, but I peered through to glimpse the C17 tiles.

7 thoughts on “622-624: Prisoners and Murdered Lovers

  1. Can’t beat a good shower in the carpark😉…. I’ve found a few intermarche with services now. Wish the UK would follow suit and create more motorhome friendly parking/ services! Have a vague bit of a plan now, should make it to Porto around first week in March, then need to be at bordeaux airport by 17th March, so hope to catch you up at some point. Robyn x

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  2. You are definitely following in my footsteps. Health & Safety has yet to reach Obidos. I too walked around the walls. Fine til you need to pass someone else. Should be one way! Glad to see you are having fun. I’m almost home now. Not far from Dieppe & the ferry.

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    • Just revisited your blog from your Portugal trip … yes, we are treading in your footsteps … saw Dino ones today! So sad your trip is nearly over. Can’t believe we’ve only 2 months left! Where will you go next winter? Kx

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      • Your blog was so useful when I was in Sicily. Hope u r finding mine helpful for Portugal. I’m planning 6 months in South America next year tho not in the MH. Going back to overland trucks which I spent much of my time in Africa travelling on. Gonna let someone else worry about the driving, navigation and accom for a change. Will still b blogging tho. Hope we can catch up when u get back to the UK.

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  3. You guys are blogging with great gusto! These look like fantastic places to visit. We’re now wishing we had more time. What a good thing we can come again. Oh … yes we have stripped and showered in a supermarket carpark. it always makes me laugh – and hope that no-one comes and asks us to move over a few yards. x

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