The next day was a write-off, as we only woke up at 4 PM - the jet lag finally caught up to us! Wow, that was a sleep. We decided to surge into Paris in the Clio for the night though and spent a lovely evening strolling past familiar landmarks, eating on the left bank in the rather touristy 5eme and then finally headed home at midnight. Man, we love Paris.
As usual I was keen to hit the sites, the older the better as my fascination with castles and any other sort of human assembled piles of rocks that haven't moved for centuries steams on unabated. Our first day would be our most ambitious, with a road trip to no less than two monasteries and an old fortified city on the docket. In fact, each one surpassed my expectations, making the 5 or so hours in the car totally worth it.
Obidos was our first stop, which was so pretty that each King of Portugal has given it as a gift to his queen since Dom Dini's wife Dona Isabella fell in love with it in 1228. They have done a stunning job restoring and maintaining the village perched on the hilltop, and it was a real treat to walk along the city wall and descend into the narrow village streets for beer and lunch.
The next stop was Batalha, home of a flamboyant Gothic/Manueline monastery built in the 14th-16th centuries, and founded after Dom Joao of Avis had his prayers answered and defeated a Spanish army of 30,000 with only 6500 men. The carving in this place was incredible, in particular the octagonal Capellas Imperfeitas that never got a roof put on it, but was a dizzying experience of stone knotwork and vines all magnificently carved.
The triad was completed in Alcobaca, with yet another monastery founded after prayers were answered for Dom Afonso Henriques in 1147 when he defeated the Moors (North African Muslims who arrived and took over in the 700s). The outside has been redone in the 17th and 18th century, and it hides an incredibly stark and ominous interior, not a single embellishment on a cavernous interior that reaches 26m in the air. Once completed in 1178, the adjoining cloister is said to have housed 999 monks who held mass non-stop in shifts.
Need to mention the short stop we did at the Museaum of Wine - the museum was forgettable, but at least we got some cool photos.
With all that history in one day, we decided to hightail it back to our villa for the night and had a relaxing dinner with Kate and Noah. The babe was asleep by the time we got in, so it was a lovely night for us wild ones and the parents alike.
Another great trip comes to an end... Sunday was spent travelling home. The most exciting part was getting through US Customs unscathed :)
For more photos of our trip, go to http://photos.steveandfiona.ca