1450-57: Cretan Swan Song, Wind and Geese Attack

1450: Wind in Plakias

Friday 21st February 2020

We headed down to Plakias for our last tripette before leaving Crete.  Parking was along the sea front, and it was WINDY …  later that evening we moved into a half empty car park so we could get some sleep and moved back to the beach the next morning.

A few apperatif’s in a bar and we posed the question about whether the TV could be tuned to the weekend’s rugby … come back tomorrow and ask the owners.  Supper was at a new to us restaurant in Plakias … the 83 year old mother sat and gave the old instruction to customers – choose a table closer to the fire, and to her middle aged sons – one waiting table and the other in the kitchen.  Great food.

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The wind blowing the white horses.

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Hot beetroot with mash and oil … one of our starters and we shared a chicken dish after.  We were even given two yogurt puddings and two bottles of raki … hic!

1451: AndyPandyCar Suffers Wind

Saturday 22nd February 

On arrival yesterday, the wind had wrenched the drivers door out of J’s hand, causing the door to crack against the wing panel … a terrible noise and paint damage.  So we drove up into the mountains, and along another gorge, to a garage.  EUR10 and a bit of brute force and the door hinges and panels had been bent back into place.  And a dab of paint added.  

In the bar, we asked about the rugby on TV … yes, the English lady owner would bring down her laptop with her UK TV account.  Grateful we had a coffee and an omelette there for lunch.  Back again later on for a few glasses and a French win.

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 Plakias beach in the morning with a brief moment of sun …. that threatening sky later delivered all it promised.

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But the sea was truly an amazing colour.

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I only went a few steps into the tunnel as it was too dark … apparently coal used to be moved along here.  I know the Germans used the caves for storage in WW2.

1452: Walk to Ammoudi Beach Walk and an ENGLAND WIN!!!

Sunday 23rd February 

A local dog from a Plakias hotel led CO2 and I on a walk to Ammoudi Beach … I suspected he’d done it a few times with hotel guests.  

Back to ‘our’ bar for the England and Ireland game.  It’s not often J and I are on opposing benches … delighted to see England finally find their form, however, France have most people’s money for the Tournament.  Geoff, who I’d met in Mili Gorge a few days ago (and wondered if he’d made it over the land slip) arrived in the bar during the game and then joined us at the family restaurant we’d been to two nights ago. 

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He led the way, but didn’t want to play with either of CO2.  On the return, he shot off back for home, but gave a little bark as we passed by, as if to say, what took you so long?

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View back to Plakias.  It is a low rise seaside resort with a long (windy) beach … pretty enough, but not much to hold you.

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Ammoudi Beach … would have made a good wilding spot … with a couple of permanent caravans, but the rugby held us in Plakias.

 1453: James Attacked … by Geese

Monday 24th February 

We walked from the ancient Greek / Venetian bridge, by the old Prevelli monastery along the top of the Prevelli gorge.  This part was easy walking … it got more difficult coming down the rocky path, if you can call it that, to join the steps down onto Prevelli Beach.  We planned to wade the river and walk up the other side, but as J sat down to remove boots and socks, the 3 resident geese charged over with the necks wings outstretched and attacked James, sat on the sand.  Another walker had to beat them off of James with a stick, but not before he had sustained a bite to the ankle.  Geese are known to be as effective as a guard dog … and we can concur, they are as scary.  We therefore decided have our picnic with CO2 guarding us from the geese and return up the way we came.  The negative was the climb back up the steep path, but the benefit was that we were in the sun the whole way back and the views on that side were better.

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Bridge at the start of the walk … could have been a less windy overnight parking too.

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Wild flowers in an ancient olive grove with thick gnarled trunks.

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Just fabulous views.

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First signing of the famous Prevelli Palms.  Lin, our all things Crete sage, told us that there were all burned about 10 years ago, but no signs of that.

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No sign – yet – of the killer geese!

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Fearless mountain dog on the steep climb.

 1454-55: Back to Kalives for Jobs and Another Farewell Dinner

Tuesday 25th – Thursday 27th February 

We arrived back in Kalives late morning.

As part of our getting back on the road, there’s a pressure to get everything straight first, so we cleaned and polished the outside of Jez, including getting on the roof.  Cleaned the inside and outside of the AndyPandyCar prior to returning it after 4 months of abusing it!  Some admin.  I also collected all the ‘stuff’ I want to take on the flight home … and had to head to the Chinese shop to buy a EUR15 holdall.   J on inside Jez cleaning whilst I took 5 bagfuls of laundry into Chania.  Lunch at the Souvlakerie on Thursday, which we not been to before … a couple of glasses of vino and Lars walked past … so he joined us.

We saw him again for supper Thursday evening, in what is definitely one of our favourite restaurants … 3 Cooks in Stylos.  We were joined by June & Karl, Julia & Anthony and Sue.  Far too much food, but we managed to nostimos our way through most of it.

1457: Adieu Crete

Friday 28th February 

We returned the last of the Greek gas bottles, which had been plumbed in since our regulator issue.  With heating running, they have been lasting 6-8 days and cost EUR18.  Not as cheap as forecourt LPG, but not bad.  The gas shop is also a cava … booze shop, so I supplemented the bottle refund with cash and came away with 5 x 3 litres of wine.  Apparently wine in Turkey is expensive, so we will need to add to our stocks … or go dry!  Coffee at Aris’ Fresh & Cool Cafe and farewell to him … he’s been our Ask Aris.  The latest question was where can we get a replacement windscreen wiper … it just so happened that the chap sat next to him runs a garage in the town, so J took Jez up there whilst I returned the AndyPandyCar.

I was a little concerned that I had not de-doggified it enough and with us having spent so much time locally, he must have known about CO2 …  I’d not mentioned dogs when I made the booking (naughty!).  He gave it  a cursory glance inside and out; didn’t even check that we’d filled with fuel.  When we’d collected Lars the previous evening, he’d said that CO2 don’t smell … another benefit of them not liking water.

After lunch, J rested and I wandered up cardiac hill to say farewell to Ann, who has been a gem.  June and Karl popped down with a tow rope and ratchet (ours had broken when a local tried to pull Jane out of sand in Matala) AND they’d bought hand sanitiser and face masks … generous people.  We have met some really good friends in and around Kalives … only 20 months till we will be back and time does fly.  

We arrived at Heraklion in plenty of time and as we didn’t want to go on board 4+ hours before the sailing, we ate the slow cooker supper early, literally sat dock side watching the lorries load.  Sign everywhere stating restricted access, but no one moved us on and I walked CO2 unchallenged in and out of the harbour.  

A few glasses in the cabin, a shower and we attempted to sleep.  My slumbers disturbed by the swell and CO2 (mostly Corrie) who had remembered that they’d been allowed on the bed with me on a previous crossing … my mistake!

When asked where is our favourite place, we have always replied here, where we are now … we live in the present.  But Crete has definitely caught us.  It has everything … incredible scenery with majestic mountains, history, gorges for walking and beaches.  Old villages with their cafes and tavernas.  Great fresh food and the most generous and welcoming people.  We are both very sad to leave Crete after over 4.5 months, but also excited to start on the next part of this trip.  A big thank you for Lin and Bo who persuaded us to first visit Crete Spring 2018 … it is our Happy Place.

1425-1433: North and South Walking

1425: Move to Polyrizos

Tuesday 28th January 2019

So we drove down to Polyrizos, where we stayed when the Aged P’s were here in October.  Very different now … none of the restaurants were open, but the shop was open in the mornings.  Chrysoula, who runs the shop and the Aged P’s accommodation, recognised me, which was nice.  

After lunch we walked pretty much as far as we could westward, until a farmer told us we not could go any further … we’d only wanted to look over the next bay, but had to turn back after he waved his arms at us … ho hum.

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Would that be another beachside parking?

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Walk along Peristeres Beach, where General Kripe, the WW2 German Commander, was bundled off Crete by the British / Greek resistance.

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Hill views further on … the coast line here really is special with the mountains falling into the sea.

1426-1428 : Cleaning, Knitting, Coastal Walk and a Sun Tan 

Wednesday 29th -Friday 31st January 

J seemed to be sleeping for England, or should that be for Ireland, so we had an easy couple of days.  I cleaned van and knitted  … finally completing J’s jumper that has only been over a year in the making!

I walked along the cliff heading westward, and J did walk the same walk with me another day.  Had I kept going, I could have got all the way to Plakias.  We drove to Plakias twice and ate both times in the same restaurant … pork in lemon sauce and lamb in … lemon sauce.  Nice, but twice was enough.  They did have a huge log burner in the middle of the room, which we sat next too … toasty!  On one of the days, I was drinking … and completely underestimated how little wine it takes not for me to get pickled … I hiccoughed all the way home and then put myself to bed!  Disgraceful!

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We forgot the leads …. found a bit of string for Corrie, but tied a bag to Oscar.  Couldn’t get it off, so he bimbled around with a parachute!

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Walking in the other direction.

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It may only have taken a year, but it is finished!

1429: The Correct Results

Saturday 1st February

We left Polyrizos and returned to Kalives … we had a date!  Rugby in Plakas with June and Karl.  I was driving (an easy decision after the other night!), but the other 3 made up for my abstinence.  Two good results for Wales and Ireland.

1430: The Incorrect Results 

Sunday 2nd February 

Lunch with Lars in Drapanos and England game.  This was not a good game, although the lunch was!  Lars had never watched a rugby game before and asked some very pertinent questions.  When explaining the rules, you realise how strange some of them are!

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Way to go …

1431: Cardiologist & K Walk Around Stylos

Monday 3rd February

James has been having a few heart palpitations, so we decided to get him checked out.  ECG showed a one second blip and the ultra sound showed, and I quote, a ‘nice heart’.  To rule things out J was then sent for blood tests.  The results were sent directly to the consultant and showed, that he is a little anaemic and has high cholesterol … the bad sort!  No more fried foods and pastries then!  He has also worn a heart monitor for 24 hours … had to be careful when going to the toilet with all the wires!  The cardiologist had a quick look and couldn’t see anything of worry, but it goes off to be analysed and we get the results back next week.  The likelihood is that the tablets J is on are causing the palpitations … but worth getting it checked for peace of mind.

Whilst J rested, I took CO2 for a slightly longer than usual walk around Stylos.

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Enough cinnamon breakfast rolls to last us two scrumptious mornings.  Also managed to force down the sugar cake he made!  We’ve got some nice friends here.

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Intensive pruning.

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An old Byzantine Church still under repair … my guide book form 2012, said it was under repair then.

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And whilst they are still repairing some churches they are also building others … this one was 2012.

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The mouth of Diktamos Gorge … apparently you can only venture a short way up it before it becomes unsafe … so I didn’t.

1432: Interesting Wall and Path Walk

Tuesday 4th February

We both planned to walk this morning, but ended up having an extended coffee whilst chatting to Judy and Captain Dino, who moved here a year ago … I’d also met them on the beach clean a few weeks back.

Eventually we set off in the AndyPandyCar and we climbed and climbed.  Once we got out of the car near Malaxa, we climbed some more.  It was a long and slow steady uphill, but great views.  Given how late we’d started, we decided to take a short cut back to the car.  Maps.Me let us down … or I as navigator did!  We ended up following a sheep / goat track for quite a way till we eventually found the correct path.  

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We were quickly up to about 300m in the car and then had a long, slow and steady climb up to 550m, with vews looking back over towards Kalyves and Plaka.

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A new long wall had been built … not sure what to surround, but someone had a sense of humour.

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Oscar found, not one, but two sheep’s skulls.

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And J emerging triumphant from the sheep path we followed.

1433: Flora and Follies Walk with Lars

Wednesday 5th January

Lars has walked this region a lot and said he would lead us on a “beauty” walk.  I was rather hoping that I would emerge from the walk beautiful!  It was a lovely walk … some early orchids and other wild flowers.  And lunch at a stone built folly.  Lars has met the creator several times … and he only took 3 months to create the edifice where we picnicked.  

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Anemones

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Early orchids.

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 With all these wild flower, so wonder the honey is so delicious.

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 Lars had informed us there were benches at our lunch spot … we were not quite expecting this!

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Real attention to detail.

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And another section both side of the road further up.

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Apparently the garden has just a small patch of grass, the rest has been built on.  The creator has to find something to do with his hands …

 

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Look at what my oh so charming daughter sent me!

625-627: Of Science and Religion

625 – Saturday 11th February 2017: Fatima and Rugby

Brought up as a staunch Catholic, I still hold lots of beliefs that are not easily explained logically or scientifically – a good friend (sadly deceased) strong Catholic became an agnostic because he (as a scientist) could not reconcile his science to religion.  We had been to Lisieux in France and were disappointed – the place is dirty and unkept – why – the shrine to St Therese?

Fatima is immaculate and huge – the square rivals St Peters in Rome – the white Basilica is sympathetic and dates from 1953.  The new church at the end of a wide colonnade seats 9,000 worshippers and was completed in 2007.  Watching the faithful light candles at the scene of one of the apparitions and the believers making their way on their knees hundreds of metres to the shrine – we couldn’t but be impressed – there are strong beliefs here…  People are obviously taken by the fact that 3 small children were at the heart of all this.  2 died at the ages of 9 and 10 and the third died age 97 in 2005.  Well worth the visit, whatever one’s creed.  

Well, it does me good to say that Ireland woke up at rugby today and scored 9 tries in Rome – I feel sorry for Conor O’Shea and Italy – but he has a longer term plan – oh dear, it had to come out “Rome wasn’t built in a day”…

(By the way, England won, also.)

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The Sanctuary with its 65m tower.

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And the esplanade twice the size of St Peter’s Square in Rome.  And we saw pictures of it packed, especially on 12 & 13th May and October when pilgrims arrive to commemorate the Shepherd children’s sightings of the Virgin and an angel.  We watched people slowly make their way down the marble path to the right of the pic on their knees.

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The windows tell the tale of the sightings.

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All three of the Shepherd Children are burried here, the two girls together.

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An inferno melting the several tons of candle offerings on the site of one of the sightings.

 

626 – Sunday 12th February:  Dinosaurs, Knights Templar and a Monastery 

To cut to the chase – we have seen Dinosaur footprints from – yes believe it – 175 million years ago – even before Bruce Forsythe was born!!!  The site proves that America was once joined to Europe.  The staff were amazing (as usual in Portugal) and so informative in perfect English. It rained – but we were prepared for that.  These beasties were up to 30 metres long and weighed in at 70 tonnes – 17 times the weight of Jez – even without our wine!  

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Monumental Natural das Pegadas dos Dinossaurios:  The site was a quarry and the excavations were deep … all those layers of subsequent rock.

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You can make out some of the tracks here – one was 175m There are several which proves that these sauropod herbivores travelled as a pack.  The enthusiastic attendant spoke really good English and explained that the site had very rare conditions:  it was a lagoon with no tidal water to erase the prints.  The muddy water contained calcium carbonate which created a crust over the prints and protected them.  They helped to prove tectonic plate theory, that Europe was once attached to America.  Interestingly this place gets only a few lines in one of the guide books … the attendant said that people from Fatima do not promote it as it science and contradicts religious belief.  Surely there is room for both.

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Up close you could make out the toes.

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For scale.

On to Tomar – free parking by the river for overnight, we walked up to the Castle and Convent – Oscar with us – we had left him in the van twice in the last couple of days. We took turns for the visit – huge and hugely impressive convent/monastery – Knights Templar originally – immense structures and the K photos tell a a lot. Back to our Jez and more of Tomar planned for tomorrow …

Oscar’s pre-next diary note: (We were not allowed to read this before publishing.)

“Look here – see – they left me twice in 2 days – now boyos (Welsh, you see) – I cannot admit to them that I’m getting used to it – that would be madness. But, I am developing my routines – I arrange things as I like them – ok pulling their coats off the hooks was a bit of a boo boo – they should buy proper gloo gloo – but it sniffed well – made me feel a high. The hooks can be reused…  I straighten the rugs (my way) and make nice imprints (I think) on the dashboard – art,it is…  When I saw them returning yesterday, I showed my usual extruderance and leaped up at the window (they like to know I missed them).  I saw a switch thing and put my paw on it – and ‘hocus pokeus’, it opened the blinking window!  They praised my K9 endeavours – so next time, I may try the cooker controls – not sure about the spark switch – I haven’t been trained in Fire Extinguisher usage – I suppose you pull the plug and point it somewhere?”

“I wasn’t going to mention but – K arose from her slumbers – at 10:00 am this morning – standards Katherine, you know…. slippage may not be toiletrated!”

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The Knight’s Templar on the pavements.

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No idea of the size of the complex from this angle. The C12 castle contains the Convento de Cristo – the headquarters of the Knights Templar.  The Knights were founded in 1119 to protect pilgrims visit ing the Holy Land.  They became a strictly organised and semi religious gang.  Members took a vow of poverty, but that did not stop them accepting land and riches in return for military victories.  In Portugal they played a key part in expelling the Moors.  By the C14 they had become so strong that the French and Portuguese Kings disbanded the order.  However, the Portuguese King reinstated them under a different name and his control.  They pretty much funded the Age of Discoveries started under Henry the Navigator.

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An exhibition about medicine and its development within monasteries.

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Sorry about the number of pix … I have got keen on the Manueline architecture … last years it was the Scilian Baroque!

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Just love all those curves.

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One of the main sights is the C12 Charola: based on the Rotonda of Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre, with a central octagon of alters.  It is said that the circular design enabled the Knights to attend mass on horseback.

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The longest dormitary, I’ve ever seen.  Doors off on either side for Friars’ cells.

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The Manueline window.

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From the roof of one of the cloisters … think I counted 5 cloisters.

627 – Monday 13th February:  Tomar-2-Not-2-Be and Batalha 

Hard and noisy rain overnight – not conducive to continuous sleeping… However, out to run early-ish. K and O ran 4km (and got wet) and I – a lot less (in the dry) – but, we are getting back into it. We had intended seeing more of Tomar, but a security guard at our (market) parking advised us that we needed to leave in a couple of hours – so up “we rose and twitched our mantle blew – to fresh pastures new” – Lycidas by John Milton – abridged. 

Batalha the destination – another monastery to view.  Sadly, we left our alarmed dog – Oscar. As we exited the van, we heard him mutter “What’s with these people and blankety monasteries, anyway? They’re all the same – towers, pinnacles, colonnades, promenades, rosy posy windows and gargoyles!  The face of a monkey spouting out rainy water over your head – exciting or what? I can spout water on them from my drinking bowl, if that’s what turns them on…”

It was very different, Oscar.  Manuelian, Gothic, unfinished chapel, tomb of the unknown soldiers and just hugely impressive.

In the afternoon, we rested and did some admin – and K planning for the next adventures – and no rain – sunshine, we hope!

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Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Vitoria, built to commemorate the 1385 battle Aljubarrota when 6,500 Portuguese defied the odds and repelled the 30,000 strong Spanish army.  Thus securing the Portuguese throne for the House of Avis, through Dom Joao, the illegitimate son of Fernando I.  It has an instant wow factor with its flying buttresses, pinnacles and ornate windows and doorways.  On the left is the Capelas Imperfeitas, the unfinished chapel, commissioned in 1437 – huge columns head skyward.  It was abandoned in favour of Jeronimos monastery in Belem.  Joao I and his wife Philippa of Lancaster are buried here, as are their 4 sons, including Henry the Navigator.

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The Unfinished Chapel – more Manueline Architecture.

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Much of the stained glass inside the Church was replaced after the 1755 earthquake, but the sun came out … finally.

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This glass is original and was developmental from mid C14.

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IMG 7586In the Chapter House lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers form the First World War.

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Limited off lead walking for O, but we did find the Ponte da Boutaca 1862 with its 4 empty towers.