30 december Lavra (PORTUGAL)

Eduarda convinces me to taste a typical Portuguese cake, a sponge-cake with a layer of eggs at the top of it.

I taste it. It's rather good. One second later, Pedro comes and cuts a huge slice of it, sits and starts eating it with pleasure.

After drinking my usual yogurt, I go to sleep even because it's three a.m.

Just few minutes later I see Pedro and Eduarda standing in front of me in a interrogative way.

"How do you feel, Mark?" - "Very well, why?"

They explain me that they have discovered that cake was expired few days before, in fact there were several mould spots.

In the end we joke and laugh about that till we fall asleep because we were very tired!

01 january Lisbon (PORTUGAL)

First day of 2001.

We wake up late in the morning and we decide to go and visit the capital.

We prepare our back packs and go. First step: Coimbra.

100 km from Oporto we meet the nice university city of Coimbra. We can define it, with Aveiro: the Portuguese Oxford or Cambridge.

We find an empty city, almost a ghost one. Maybe they were still sleeping after the New years Eve.

Everybody but two weird guys who were hanging around in the city center roads with their back packs.

Two hours by car and we reach Fatima.

A very touching and impressive sanctuary. There is a huge square and at the top of it a small church, it's all in glass in order to show what there is inside, it keeps the statue of the Virgin Mary, they say that it's the most beautiful in the world.

They celebrate one messin a row. There is a kind of fireplace where thousands and thousands candle were burning. Next to that, there is the tree where the three little shepherds used to pray before each apparition. Two of them: Jacinta and Francisco died few later and now they are buried in the cathedral nearby.

I am impressed by the huge crowd of people who was listening to the mess so devoutly and, above all watching so many old people praying down on their knees, so many diseased, infirm...

What impressed me the most has been the stroke of the bell, I don't know why, but I felt each of that as a stab in my heart. I can't explain it yet so far.

In the end we leave again, destination, now: the capital Lisbon!

Here we are, seven hours by car later, but, as soon as we arrive, we receive a very bad news: Veronica, cannot host us anymore, so we don't know where to sleep tonight!

No worries. After all we are two inter railers!

After eating something, we were very tired, we take the car and decide to search a place where to sleep.

We hang around the city when we see a traffic sign which pointed the airport! Our inter rail spirit wakes up again. We decide to go to the airport, passing near the Sporting Lisboa and Benfica Stadium (Pedro's favourite team).

We get to the airport, we have a bit rest but twenty minutes later we decide to do a Lisbon tour by night , as we did in Luxembourg City two years before.

The city is huge and very pretty.

There is a big bridge on the Tagus river (Tejo) which was built as a copy of the one in San Francisco and not far from there is a statue of Jesus with opened arms as the one in Rio de Janeiro. Don't these Portuguese have any new ideas?

We decide to settle along the river, in a quite place...

I feel as I'm spending a typical inter rail day in winter time: long trip, brief visit of unknown cities and classical question about where we can spend the night.

 

02 january Lisbon (PORTUGAL)

The wind blows very strongly, also the river seems to be hostile to us.

Pedro is almost asleep, she's lying in the backward of the car while I'm guarding.

Time 3.24 Now I'm hungry!

Time 3.41 Veronica has behaved very bad with us!

Time 4.20 I'm also getting cold now. Actually we are in January and I'm wearing only a plush. Pedro is still sleeping!

Ore 5.20 Pedro is sleeping so quietly. Too bad I left my scarf at home... I was drawing something just to waste some time, but seven hours later with the pen in the hand, my fingers start to hurt!

Ore 6.30 Pedro is starting to guard.

Ore 10 Here we are again. We soon vist the Geronimo's Monastery. There are many tombs of important Portuguese characters, also the one of the navigator: Vasco de Gama.

We visit the Belem Tower, dedicated to the navigator: Magellano.

Before going to the city center, we stop to see Benfica Stadium. While we were walking around we notice a door, not properly closed, we try to enter in, we manage, we climb hundreds steps, another door and: WOW!!!

Amazing! The whole stadium for us. It's wonderful.

But our tour in Lisbon keeps on till the area dedicated at the International fair of 1998, the so called: EXPO98.

I walk along the avenue where there are all the flags of the world! Cool.

In the afternoon Veronica calls us to go back with us.

Damn, the return trip has been really hard, Veronica wants to drive, she starts going at 140 km/h, overcoming interminable line of lorries, under a heavy rain, on a slippery road and talking on the phone without earings. I get very angry.

06 january Lavra (PORTUGAL)

This morning we have breakfast in the bar under Pedro's house and, while I was drinking my glass of hot milk, a certain Domingos enters, a forwarder of Porto football team. He, as many players of this team, lives in this area.

In the afternoon I go with Hugo to watch the football match between Porto against "Estrella da Amadora", in the Porto Stadium.

It has been really exciting because it was a First Division match. The first half ends 1-0 for the guests. Porto is playing very bad and has received a very "stupid" goal. At the end of the first half Domingos enters, just the one I met in the bar this morning!

The second half starts. Few later we score the first goal and again some more minutes later and just Domingos scores the definitive goal of the 2-1 for Porto.

We have won.

07 january Viana do Castelo (PORTUGAL)

We visit a delicious town 30 minutes far from the border with Spain: Viana do Castelo.

We walk in the city center, really characteristic, with itsr narrow lanes, all very picturesque. It reminded me of York.

I liked very much "Santa Luzia" Church and we could admire a wonderful view of the whole city lightened up by night and the river which, in a romantic way, entered the Ocean...

08 january Oporto (PORTUGAL)

Tonight I have played football with the dear Hugo.

I enjoyed very much playing with all these Portuguese guys except for the communication problems, it's not always spontaneous speaking English...

09 january Lavra (PORTUGAL)

Last night in Portugal.

I was thinking that I will never forget the sweetness, the affection and love of the dear Ofelia, all the crazy things, the friendship of the nice Pedro.

I will miss Pedro and Ofelia so much, my Portuguese family.

It has been another unforgettable and intense journey, as I usually say: "It doesn't matter the place but the company!"

10 january Lavra (PORTUGAL)

Now I'm alone in that room, Pedro is out, Ofelia at work and Veronica is sleeping in the next room.

My suitcase is again opened on my bed.

This time is full of all the Portuguese adventures and misadventures and it represents another important brick of my life.

I'm going to pack the last things, after that I'm going to close it and with it, another chapter, another experience will be filed in my heart and in my mind.

Obrigado Portugal!

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