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?

IMG 7407

Peniche women supplemented the household income with bobbin lace making.
IMG 7411

The rocky cost had massive waves breaking with a periodic ‘boom’ as they hit the rock.

IMG 7422

Oscar and I had the odd shower from the spray.

IMG 7417

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.

IMG 7426

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

IMG 7452

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.

IMG 7453

Visitors were ‘received’ by the prisoners here.

IMG 7468

Some of the prison cells overlooking the exercise yard.

IMG 7477

IMG 7479

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.

IMG 7482

Drying fish in town.

IMG 7484

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…

IMG 7486

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

IMG 7487

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!

IMG 7489

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

IMG 7499

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!

IMG 7501

Is that my boy coming in for a cuddle?

IMG 7503

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

IMG 7506

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!

IMG 7509

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…

IMG 7512

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.

IMG 7513

IMG 7516

The church interior is refreshingly simple.

IMG 7524

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!

IMG 7527

Liking the Manueline style.

IMG 7542

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

IMG 7543

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

IMG 7545

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 …’.

IMG 7550

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.

IMG 7551

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

IMG 7559

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!

IMG 3455

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

IMG 3451

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

IMG 3459

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