Friday, April 29, 2011

The magical day

Some days when left unplanned can lead to beautiful coincidences and elegant discovery. This was day 5 in Portugal.

Tom and I had loosely planned to head to two towns that had very old architecture but we left it all open for interpretation and changes on the fly. We started out properly by sleeping in for 2 extra hours to recover from the ride the previous day. In Portugal that means you miss breakfast. So off we went weaving our way out of Lisbon. Cafes are plenty and we found pastries and coffee without trouble.

Our first stop was Tomar, to see a 500 plus year old monastery. Unfortunately, we couldn't go in as it was Easter Sunday. But we had a great look around the outside and snacked on lunch while sitting on an ancient cobblestone road. By road I mean something akin to a sidewalk just wide enough for a horse and carriage.

With some time to absorb the atmosphere, we headed into the town square where we watched children feed and chase the pigeons. It was a perfect afternoon, warm, interesting light created by the high cumulus clouds and happy portuguese taking advantage of their holiday time. Just as we were readying to leave, we heard music. Bagpipes? Really? Yes, bagpipes, drums and a sax, played by men in striped costumes, with face paint. One of them on stilts. It was great. My cheeks hurt I was smiling so broadly.

We left Tomar to head for Batalha to see what promised to be an amazing gothic cathedral. Excited to be on our way, we left Tomar without ensuring that we were on the right road, both of us trusting that we were headed in the right general direction. Wrong, we ended up too far north, had to triangulate our way back to the right road, getting caught again in small towns with narrow one way "you can't get there from here" evil alleys. Finally back on track (our mistake only cost us an hour really) we headed into town.

The cathedral was not hard to find. It's spiked pinnacles visable from all over town. We found a quaint Residecial close by, dropped off our things and scurried over to the cathedral to catch it in the quickly fading afternoon light. Not only where the light angles perfect, a double rainbow appeared. Right over the cathedral. We have the photo to prove it.

Had we not gotten turned around on our way to Batalha, we would have missed it I'm sure. Our photos would have looked like every other tourists and we wouldn't have believed it if we hadn't seen the rainbow ourselves.

We ate at a nearby restaurant and when we left, the square was dark but the cathedral was gently lit up making it loom eerily in the late twilight.

It was a day full of serendipity and joy.


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