Hello – Welcome to WDEOD, a site full of Doris’ photographs!
Its purpose is to share the shots she took in her 50+ years of travel. I’m trying to do a post a film – so one tour may have many posts.
To see what I’ve put up so far, use the menu (three lines up there ↑ if you are on a phone or tablet) to go to a place or a year.
Portugal – September 1965
For a few tours, Doris labouriously wrote out a journal. This would be so she could give an ‘illustrated talk’ or three.
This is the transcribed version of one such. Any blazingly obvious malapropisms are probably where Microsoft Speech Recognition and I do not get on!
These are Doris’ words …
[Page 01 – Introduction.]
What is it that inspires so many people to save throughout the year for one fortnight’s glorious fling in a foreign country? Some look for spectacular scenery and many seek the warm sunshine and golden sands of the Mediterranean. But there are others who have the curiosity of Riki Tiki Tavi, and wish to see for themselves the ancient sites, interesting and beautiful architecture or strange customs, and would, if finances allowed, wander from place to place, using any means of transport and under heeding discomfort in order to experience the satisfying thrill of seeing these wonders for oneself.
Unfortunately, most of us must earn a living, and for those with a desire to see as much as possible whilst on holiday, the coach tour is now the best way, providing the traveller studies the brochures to make sure that he or she finds the right one.
For me, the Wings tour of Portugal was ideal. With one night’s stop at Leirier, two at Santarém and Coimbra, three at Oporto and six in Lisbon, we had time to stop, stare and savour the atmosphere in the various towns that we visited.
Portugal had been on my travelling list …
[Page 02 – UK]
… for years, but for one reason or another it had been postponed. At last the day of departure, 28 August, 1965, approached, but did not pass without mishap.
I understood the travel instructions to say that travellers should report at London Air terminal at 4.00, departure at Heathrow being [blank]. If I left the house at 210 to 215 there should be plenty of time to does to spare, or so I thought. After waiting impatiently at the bus stop for 20 minutes, I checked the instructions and soar to my horror that arrival should be at 330 at the terminal, bus leaving at 345. 4.00 for arrivals at Heathrow. A further wait and no bus! I was getting frantic, so hailed a passing car. When I explained my unfortunate position, the driver very kindly took me to the station where eyesore the strain signals indicating an arrival. Racing on to the platform, the signals dropped and I found that I had just missed the train, and had 20 minutes to wait. Of course when it appeared he crawled along but at last I arrived at Charing Cross at 3:32. I’d told the cabbie I had little time and he took the quickest route to the terminal.
If I had known the correct procedure, I would …
[Page 03 – UK]
… have caught the bus, but instead I hurried around the terminal looking for the wings representative. The receptionist called for him over the loudspeaker system, but it was soon obvious that there was no representative. An official at the departure desk summed up the situation and took me across to the late arrival desk, where a call was put through to transport and I was informed that the bus had just left. My kind guardian took me to a taxi and told me not to worry anymore, as the cab driver would get me to Heathrow on time. As we left I saw the Airport bus turned the corner, soon we had overtaken it, so I decided to relax and enjoy the start of my holiday.
Near London, large factories lined the way, but these eventually gave way to fields and heathland, lush and green, a legacy of our rather wet summer. I wondered what the countryside in Portugal look like and imagined a dry, dusty, arid landscape.
It was in the customs that I first caught sight of two of my fellow travellers. I smiled warmly and said ” At last I have caught up with the group” but the response was a weak smile and a rather blank look from the two young men
We did not have long to wait for the …
[Page 04 – UK]
… announcement that BKS passengers to Oporto should assemble at the departure gate, and soon we were in the coaches that would take us across the tarmac to the waiting plane. We waited whilst two latecomers were hurried along to the coaches, an then sped over to the BKS Britannia.
I was rather amused when the air hostess asked people who had young children with them and two boys in their teens accompanied by their parents made their way forward to alight the plane first. I am sure this is the only occasion when they turn themselves children.
I found a seat by a window just over the front of the wing, and I hoped to get a view of London if the weather permitted, but this was not to be. A heavy haze and low lying clouds covered the capital, and remained below us until we crossed the Spanish Coast. Our aircraft flew high above the clouds at 19,000 feet, and took just over 2 1/2 hours to reach our destination. And appetising cold dinner was served, and time passed quickly. The two ladies seated beside me were also booked on the tour, but I learned that many of the …
[Page 05 – Oporto]
… other folk were staying at seaside resorts in the North Portugal region and were travelling with horizon.
Suddenly we began to lose height rapidly, and the signal to fasten seat belts was flashed on. It was at this time that the plane circled and looking out of the small window, I saw a wonderful view of the Douro Estuary. The golden light from the sun almost as setting points, was reflected in the winding river and from a height it seemed that we were looking at a molten stream of gold which had burst forth from the purple hills. I frantically tugged at the camera in my hold all, but the safety belt hampered my actions and the plane glided over the river with its three bridges silhouetted against the gleaming WATER, and on to the Airport. Once again I had missed getting a photograph of great beauty, but I shall always remember my first view of Oporto, the gate to the Atlantic, for me, the gateway to a delightful country, Portugal.
[Page 06 – Oporto]
After my luggage had been checked through at the customs, I made my way to a waiting coach. Gradually it filled up, but there seemed to be some trouble about a case, which belonged to one of the two ladies, who had arrived late at Heathrow. Our young Portuguese courier, Ruis, counted and recounted and also had the plane checked, but we learnt that the BEA people in London had not loaded the case on board. Subsequent negotiation on Ruis part enabled the owner to catch up with the case or vice versa but that was not until several days later when we arrived in Lisbon.
Our hotel was situated in the centre of the town, and it was here that I first saw Winifred Bell, who not only shared my room, but became a very agreeable companion and friend. After we had had a refreshing wash, we decided to take a stroll around the town, before retiring all the shops were brightly illuminated, and we were surprised to see that there were grand displays of goods both in the windows and the main body of the shops. In the soft furnishing stores, towels, tablecloths and bedspreads hung from strings across the ceilings and pyramids of cushions etc. decorated the floor. In toy shops, dolls, many with pink, but some oriental faces, teddies and other animals picnics in the shop entrance at or stood in the attitude of dancing or social groups. Even in a tobacco shop, the floor was covered …
[Page 07 – Oporto]
… with alternative boxes of cigarettes and boxes of matches, standing in precision lines, like rows of cardboard soldiers. Each night after the last customer had gone, the assistant busily set about arranging the entrance and floor. The time spent on these elaborate displays must amounts to a number of hours during the week.
We retired to bed, but not to sleep – our hotel was situated near the centre of the town in a very narrow street and it seemed that all the motor vehicles and cycles had decided to travel along our way. In addition, like many Continental Hotels which are not in the tourist area, are hotelier had not heard of interior sprung mattresses and I, for one, found the “friendly donkey” my own name for a paillasse, very hard.
Next morning, after breakfast, we all assembled in the coach, to be taken on a tour of Oporto.
Our driver, Alfredo, was a short slightly tubby man, who always greeted us with a smile and a word in English, or in French to those with a knowledge of that language. Ruis, our courier, was a handsome young man of 25, still at college, and spending his vacation …
[Page 08 – Oporto]
… as a guide. It was his second year with the Wings, and he certainly proved to be excellent, most attentive to all needs, especially those of the photographers.
He introduced the city guide Elizabeth and we started off on our tour.
The street in which our hotel was situated leads down to a very large green square, where a large town hall, the erstwhile Palace of Carraneas, stands.
At the edge of the green was a charming nude statue. The continuation of the square is Praca de Libardade. Here many of the city’s conveyances have the terminus and a large stature of Dom Pedro on horseback, looks contemptuously on. A steep ascent from here took us up to the terrace on which the Cathedral had been built.
The architecture was in the Romanesque style, a rather square facade with a crenellated parapets and lovely rose window in the centre. This was flanked by two square towers surmounted by domes. The interior was very ornate, it’s all waters and chapels covered in dull gold and richly carved in the Italian baroque style. One chapel on the left of the high altar dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament was made of solid silver. This could be dismantled piece by piece to aid the cleaning and polishing, but this takes years. Whilst we were sightseeing in the cathedral, many people were a prayer and services were being held in the chapels. I felt most …
[Page 09 – Oporto]
… uncomfortable, and was glad when we passed into the cloisters. Here was the same quiet serenity that can be found in our own English cloisters, but with a difference. The sun shining through the gothic stone arches fell on the blue and white aguljos or tiles, which portrayed historic scenes, and covered the walls.
Leaving the cathedral we stepped out onto the terrace and surveyed the surroundings. Ahead was the monument built in 1921 to commemorate to 600 years since the liberation from the Moors. Part of the old monastic buildings, used as archives for ancient documents, was close by, and from the terrace we looked down upon a typical domestic scene, small children, girls and boys, were playing in the streets, teenage boys cycling around on borrowed bikes. From the balconies of the flats women were gossiping was hanging out their laundry. Through a gap in the buildings the river could be seen, but a haze blurred the view.
Descending from these rocky plateau we saw evidence of much excavations, and was told that this is all done by hand. One can only …
[Page 10 – Oporto]
… appreciate the enormity of the task when told that Oporto is built on solid granite. Some of the slums which had grown around the cathedral had been pulled down to make away for a new building site, but many still remained as there was not enough houses to accommodate the evacuees. Explosives would probably bring these down and maybe cause damage to the church, so the task of leveling the ground goes on slowly.
Since Pre Roman Times, Oporto has been a place of importance, first as a settlement called Portucale, later becoming the largest city in the north, in the seventh century was called Oporto. Its inhabitants usually drop the” O” saying ” Porto” or even “Port”. They are justly proud of their city and its river Douro. Although highly industrialized, its chief call to fame and the greatest source of income is from the wine, which took its name from the city in the 17th century when members of the English community experimented with the mediocre wine and produced Port.
It is along the left bank of the river that the wine lodges are situated in the district named Vila …
[Page 11 – Oporto]
… Nova de Gaia, whilst the city proper is contained on the steep granite side of the right bank.
The three bridges crossing the river have secondary names giving the origin of their builders and in order of both aged and position from the source they are the French, built by Eiffel, the Belgium and the Portuguese or more correctly, Pont de Marie Pia, Pont de Luis and Ponte da Arrabida. The latter is a very modern bridge.
We cross the Pont de Luis and found that this was built on two levels, both for the use of vehicles and pedestrians. From a terrace on the left side, we had an excellent view of the town, bridge and river. High on the rocky bank, we could now see fortifications dating back to Alfonso Henriques days. This nobleman had raise an army in [blank] and set about throwing the Moors out of Portugal. The Severn Moorish citadels which he routed are today incorporated into the national flag.
Returning to the right bank via the lower bridge we saw a very colourful market with stalls sheltered from the sun under bright umbrellas and canvas awnings, set out along …
[Page 12 – Oporto]
… the riverside. Shops displaying cheap gaudy clothing, fruit and household utensils opened on to the bank. All were very dilapidated but very picturesque. An archway showed even greater slums beyond, contrasting with an abundance of Morning Glory which cascaded down the rock face behind. Win and I made up our minds to try to visit this area in the afternoon.
A little further on we alighted from the coach and climbed the stone stairs to the Gothic Church of Sao Francisco. This is no longer used as a place of worship but as a national monument. The interior of this church is in sharp contrast to the more simple exterior. The many chapels and altarpieces are heavily carved in the Italian rococo style, and thickly covered in bright colours and gold leaf. One in praise of our Lady of the Quiet Sleep, shows the Virgin sleeping in a glass casket. Over this an altarpiece portraying the many discoverers and their ships, rises to the ceiling in a profusion of colour dominated by the rich red gold.
Descending the steps of the church we watched as a very colourful family, who had been selling fruit by the roadside, alighted on to a bus with their
[Page 13 – Oporto]
enormous baskets of melons lemons and oranges. I can well imagine the pithy remarks of some of London Conductors if folk at home tried to take such large cargo aboard.
We now made her way to some gardens near the river and saw to our amazement a traffic jam of such dimensions that even one of our own policeman would think he was suffering from a nightmare in trying to sort it out. Nothing daunted but our guides descended and proceeded with all the authority of a strong minded woman to direct the vehicles. Whilst we waited, we were told that today, the last Sunday in August, the people in the surrounding villages celebrated the festival. Its origin was lost but it is probably associated with pagan harvest rights. The villagers spend months making paper costumes and these are now most elaborate. In them they parade through Oporto until they reach a certain part of the river and here they throw themselves into the water. After the parade, everyone buys and eats melons. This is no doubt to ensure fertility as the melon is prolific with seeds.
As we were unable to get through the crowds we saw little of the procession, just a few …
[Page 14 – Oporto]
… glimpses of paper towers, so we continued our tour of the city.
We were shown to monuments of great interest. One was a record of the wonderful Portuguese discoveries. A large stone erection with a map of the world engraved on it and all the past Colonies with the date of their acquisition by the Portuguese.
It was an astounding record. Under Henry the navigator, who was born in Oporto, sailors were sent into the world to discover what lay beyond the lands and seas already known. It is said that some Sailors from Cascais sailed as far as Newfoundland, and it was the story of the adventure which inspired Columbus to journey westward. This probably had some foundation for Columbus had trained at the naval school which Henry had founded in Southern Portugal. It was under Henry’s Command that the voyage around Africa to the Cape Of Good Hope was made, and this led to the Vasco Da Gama voyage to India. And so started the prosperous days of Portugal, for their Sailors, with their ships brought the silks, jewels and spices so beloved by the wealthy people in medieval times, but the long overland …
[Page 15 – Oporto]
… caravan journeys of your were dispersed with. These had taken up to three years, to cross the Asian deserts and mountains facing not only the dangers of climate and country, but also the perils of marauding tribes.
The second monument was a modern sculpture showing men knocking away at a strange object. This commemorated the Centa wall is, where Portugal was fighting for her liberation from the Spaniards. Armies of men left the city to fight, and the population remaining behind, slaughtered all their cattle, gave the meat to the liberators and kept the offal for their own consumption. It is said, that this was the first time that tripe been eaten. Now it is a dish of the region. A more traditional looking at how they and the object betrayed would have been self explanatory, but as one cannot identify the ” creature”, I think the modern form in better taste.
Our coach was now travelling along the right bank of the Douro and we were fascinated by the older dwellings, which looked so colourful and gay. We were informed that these were due to be demolished under a slum clearance …
[Page 16 – Oporto]
… plan, but like so many people in slum areas all over the world, most of these folk objected to removal as they did not wish to be parted from their friends and the only home which they had known. The authorities had allowed him to stay, on condition that they cleaned and painted their residences. This they had done, in all colours. Many of these houses had tiled facades, in blue and white or reddish brown, yellow and white. Most were three storeys high having wooden or iron balconies or which bore tubs and pots of geraniums, dahlias and greenery. He did not take a close inspection to show the dilapidated condition of many of these homes, but the paint covered a multitude of sins and the appearance was very picturesque.
We passed the Newbridge which our guide chose to call the Elizabeth Bridge, but here the mist was very thick, so she suggested we should now have coffee. We stopped and walked by the flowerbeds which lined the riverbank before descending down the path to a cafe which had been obscured from view. Most of us ordered …
[Page 17 – Oporto/Matosinhos]
… Gallo, which is a Portuguese version of coffee made with milk. Whilst we drank, we watch some people bathing and wandering along the seashore. This was very rocky. A good place to search for marine life, but I should imagine knees and toes were in danger of being stabbed or grazed on the rocks.
The beach at Matosinhos was a better proposition and it was here that we made our next stop. We had left the river at Foy de Douro where its waters raced to join the Atlantic breakers, to travel with along the coast to the fishing port of Matosinhos. Periodically, a granite ports at perched on the cliff with its towers looking out to sea. Now obsolete for the original purpose, they made an interesting addition to the surroundings, especially the one named Castelo de Queijo, or Castle of the Cheese.
We made a tour of this neighbourhood and saw many lovely villas nestling in their flower decked gardens. Son had tile decorations, the whole wall or just a circle, others had beautiful wrought iron gates, had always or …
[Page 18- Oporto/Matosinhos]
… balconies, the latter holding many colourful pots of gaily hued flowers. Hibicius, purple bougainvillea, blue Morning Glory and plumbago hung over the garden walls and trees bearing pink blossom, which looked like a variety of lilac decorated the streets. Ruis told us that it was called the India tree.
Returning to the river, we crossed over the Arribida bridge. It’s simple lines were very pleasing, but the huge modern statues on either side, looked more like skeletons and detracted from the general appearance. Situated on the high ground of the left bank was the new Sports Pavilion, and the National Fair Ground. Proceeds from these are used to send poor children on a three weeks’ holiday and our guide strongly recommended a night’s outing in the amusement park.
We’re he crossed the modern bridge and returned to our hotel for lunch. The first course was hors d’oeuvres and we were faced with a bewildering variety of some thirty dishes. Fish, meat, caramel cream, followed by melon and then huge dishes of other fruits, oranges, bananas, peaches, pears and …
[Page 19- Oporto]
… apples. After an excellent coffee, win and I retired to the shady garden where we spent a pleasant hour alternately sunning ourselves and then withdrawing to the shade of the lemon trees. These were bearing both fruit and sweet smelling flowers.
When we had recovered from the effects of our lunch, we set out to try to find the Cathedral, as the morning light had not been in the right position for photography. But first of all, we went to the nearby attractive square which was graced by the flowering Indian Trees, and many tiled houses. Then continuing on our way we came to the very tall towers of Clérigos Church. This is one of the most noticeable landmarks of Oporto. The baroque tower with its ornamental decorations rises like a gigantic candle, and its fabric being in Redstone adds to the simile. In a nearby park, a gay band started to assemble. The ages were in the region of from 10 to 17, and they were all dressed in smart red costumes. Some carried instruments. I hoped to get a natural picture of one or two, but this was quite impossible, one glance at …
[Page 20 – Oporto]
… my camera and I was besieged by children imploring me to take a picture of their planned. Having obliged, we continued on our way. By this time, I knew we had not taken the correct turning, but thought we would make our way via the back streets. Here in an atmosphere of smelly garbage we were met by small boys all demanding “scuds”. We tried to dismiss them with shouts of ” scram”, and ” hop it”, but found the most effective one was the Arabic “Imprshi”.
Around the streets we saw a number of cats, or plump and well cared for. I could not imagine that the people had enough money to feed pets, but these were obviously domestic pets for the replied to our caresses with a Portuguese meow and purr. Eventually we came out on to a terrace from which we had an excellent view of the cathedral and surrounding buildings.
Below I saw an amusing domestic scene. Mother was washing clothes in the bath on the pavement and hanging them to dry on the stonewall, whilst a small boy of two dressed only in an extremely short vest was crying and …
[Page 21 – Oporto]
… protesting vigorously. I wondered whether he had been divested of his other garments and this was the reason for his outburst of tears. Another question was from where had mother got the water?
We descended many series of steps and eventually came out at the foot of the Belgian Bridge. The gay market of the morning had gone, now the bank was lined with boys fishing, or bathing, whilst some of the women were busy washing clothes. Young girls were walking in twos, eyeing the young men. Some of the shops were open, but more as a means for their owners, who dwelt within the dark rooms, to sit in the warm sunshine and gossip. I wondered behind these, to get a closer view of the glorious morning Glory, which grew near some hovels and was at once pestered by the juvenile population.
Before continuing towards the estuary, we decided to walk a little way to nearer the Eiffel Bridge. Here we were accosted by some small girls. Their object was not ” scuds”, but a request a I should take their picture. The asked in such an appealing …
[Page 22 – Oporto]
… manner that I could not resist, neither could I pretend to snap. I learned, years ago, that children cannot be fooled, and having once been caught out, pretending to take a picture, have just have not risked being caught again.
We retraced our steps and then continued on beside the river until some warehouses barred our way, then returning to the main road we found ourselves at the Praca Infante Dom Henriques.
Here in a square surrounded by trees and shrubs on a hillock stood a statue of the great navigator, he had to whom, the Portuguese owe so much. Grandson of Alfonso Henriques, first King of Portugal and third son of Joas and Philippa, the daughter of England’s John of Gaunt, Henry was born in 1394 to 1460, and is said to be the first to use a compass.
It was from this square that we took a taxi to the Matisinho Beach and Castello de Queijo and then sauntered towards town. The beach was now crowded with bathers and gay with coloured beach tents. The sea was rather rough, the Atlantic rollers breaking over the rocks threw up great cascades of water.
[Page 23 – Oporto]
We walked along the cliffs until we reached the cafe where we had had coffee that morning and here we were fresh ourselves with lemon tea. Other members of our party had also decided to return to this [blank].
We thought we would try the tramcar to take us back to the town centre, and when we boarded a vehicle we saw Frank and Dave, the two boys I had met in the Airport, and Geoff who came from Huddersfield. We learned that most of the party had been to Matizinho for the afternoon, two brave souls had even swam.
At a dinner that night we were introduced to Granja, and this remains our favour wine during the holiday, although we did try one or two others.
That evening, we relaxed in the lounge, now and again giving a glance at the so called colour television. This had a peculiar striped affect blue at the top, green at the bottom and amber in the middle. If this is colour television, they will welcome to it.
Some of the folk visited the funfair. I think Geoff had the greatest fun. He made friends with a boy of about 13 who took him around town, after this they went to the fairground. Here, with junior …
[Page 24 – Oporto]
… keeping an eye on the financial side, they tried as many entertainments as possible, sampled candy and ices and in all had a wonderful time. Jeff was quite impressed that the lad had refused to gift of money afterwards, my guess is, that the boy was in seventh heaven and a mere money would have brought him back to earth.
Next morning we started out on our tour, the first hotel at Leiria about 100 miles south. We left Oporto by the road that ran past the Cathedral. This had been cut through the granite rock and through an arch in this rock we could see part of a fascinating market. Win an I promised ourselves, that we would visit this market when we returned to Oporto and see if we could purchase one of the peasant aprons.
Above the market, high on its lofty terraces, stood the cathedral. The distant views of the river were again veiled in mist and this persisted for a few miles beyond the city.
We had not left the environs of Oporto when our driver was signal to stopped by police on motorcycles. For some 5 minutes or severe cross examination went on, and documents were produced. We began to …
[Page 25 – Oporto]
… think that our Albert was doomed to the cells, when at last the police departed and we were able to continue. Ruis explained that are very severe check was kept on drivers, especially those conveying tourists.
We now noticed the countryside and was surprised to see how green and fertile it seemed. Most of us had expects to see dry, arid land, almost verging on desert. The astounding part was the fact that there had been no rain since April.
Small whitewashed houses with roses or Morning Glory growing on the walls nestled in little villages. Each had their plots of maize, cabbages and haricot beans. We tried to guess, at what stage of growth the maze had now reached, as much of the leaves had withered, and was told that harvest would be in four to five weeks’ time. The cabbages also looked strange, their stalks rose to 18 inches before the leaves sprouted. Whether this was their natural form or whether the lower leagues had been gathered for food or to prevent insects from attacking them, I do not know, but as we saw so many like this, I think the former is correct.
Many of the small gardens had lemon trees and some apricots, peaches or apples. On several porches, melons …
[Page 26 – Between Oporto and Leiria]
… or cantaloupe, in all shades from green to bright orange, were ripening in the warm sunshine. Each homestead had its own vineyard, green and purple Grapes, looking luscious against their leaves which were now changing colour, and whitewashed trunks.
The hay ricks in this neighbourhood were built in an amusing shape, bulbous and round, there straw covering tall, pointed Cone with a wide brim. The affect was a plump witch or Welsh woman, as seen from the rear.
Between these villages were enormous words of cork, pines and eucalyptus. The combination of the silver grey Australian gum trees and the red trunks of the debarked cork trees against the cobalt blue of the sky was a colour scheme to delight the eye. Even the pearly grey resin which oozed and ran down into little earthenware pots from the red scars made in the trunks of the pines was in harmony with nature’s scheme.
We stopped to survey a giant heap of cork bark.
This was one of Portugal’s chief exports. At one time, the raw cork was exported, but now it is …
[Page 27 – Between Oporto Coimbra and Leiria]
… manufactured into corks, mats and other articles, this giving employment to many people. The cork tree takes about 25 years to mature, and then it’s bark can be stripped every nine years.
Other exports include sardines, eucalyptus, turpentine, Port Wine, wood and embroidery, the latter coming mainly from Madeira.
We reached Mealhado and crossing the bridge, I saw several women washing clothes in the tiny streams which was all that was left of a wide river. I could see or one woman using a wooden them angle, probably her own, brought down to the local wash place. Ruis said “Every Portuguese family has a washing machine. You can see her down at the river every day.”
In this area, I saw many different methods of irrigation, among them the waterwheel, which has a number of buckets attached to its rim; also a water lift which has one upright post and a crossbar, the latter bearing a large bucket at one end and a heavy stone at the other. The operation of this is the same as a see saw.
We reach Coimbra and made a coffee stop on the north side of the river. Whilst my companions …
[Page 28 – Mealhado]
… arose from the coach seats to sink a wearily into the nearest chairs outside the two nearby cafes, I hurried back to the bridge.
I had noticed a number of flags decorating the bridge and thought I would take a picture as these may not be flying when we returned the following week.
The Mondego is the favourite river of the Portuguese, as its whole entirety from source to estuary is in Portugal, but what a sad, meager stream at my eyes. In addition to one or two tiny ribbons of water, and were a few puddles, left, where shingle had dammed in the water. Here, women were busy robbing and struck been in [gine] baths or in the actual river. Sheets and garments were laid out on the shingle of the riverbed, to bleach and dry in the sun.
Returning to the party, I saw a woman walking towards me with a huge bundle on ahead. I took a picture with a telephoto lens and she smiled and thanked me. I wish I had delayed the shot until she was near, for I am sure she would have posed for me. This was the first of many pleasant encounters with the people of Portugal. They were always delighted to pose for photographs.
[Page 29 – Mealhado]
Indeed, they usually said ” Obrigado” – Thank you.
After my solo excursion, I rejoined my companions at the cafe and found an excellent Gallo awaiting me.
Continuing south, we passed the gateway, which seemed to be out of Snow White and two life sized effigies of medieval trumpeters flanked a sign reading Portugal.
Climbing a steep hill, we had a wonderful view of the old University City, rising high on terraces, the tower of the old Palace standing on the summit. We were all glad that on our homeward journey we would spend a whole day here.
The countryside was always changing. Not a straight wide autobahns for the Portuguese. The roads, quite a good width, had the curves of an English road, (not lanes), and the undulating hills showed a sandy ribbon unfolding away into the green fields or vanishing into the blue green forests. Now we saw small olive plantations, and in the villages, the houses were colour washed, somebody pink or blue. In the gardens, in addition to the grapes, we saw figs, almond and peach trees. Whilst tall sunflowers oleanders, plumbago added fresh hues.
The patches of heathland that we passed …
[Page 30 – Mealhado to Leiria]
… were made gay with clumps of broom and the large pale blue chicory flowers. The huge fleshy leaves of the agaves clawed their way, skywards, as if to make way for the gigantic flower spike. The lifespan of this plant is some 20 to 25 years and for most of this time it grows its succulent leaves, and maybe gives forth a pup or two at the base. At last, almost as a gesture of having its last fling, the plants sends its huge flower stem, which reaches 12th to 14 feet high. The bloom and parent then dies.
Our coach came to a stop and Ruis asked if anyone would like a snap of the oxen cart. Those with cameras hurried out and waited for the peasant woman, dressed in black, leading the cart, piled high with wood or was it small pieces of cork bark?
The route we had travelled, had been over high in mountainous land of some 3000 feet above sea level, when it started to descend, we saw a small town nestling in the valley, and looking to our left on a high hill stood a beautiful 12th century castle. This …
[Page 31 – Leiria]
… completely dominated of the town, and could be seen from a greater number of vantage points, river, garden, market and town square.
Leiria is a pleasant historical town, very clean and spacious. Our hotel, a family peusao made us very welcome. We made our entrance through a dining room. It’s panelled walls, decorated with peasant pottery, tiles and ironwork to look so attractive that we hastily washed ourselves and then without waiting for our cases, descended the stairs and made our way into the restaurant.
The meal was delicious. Soup, fish, meat and sweet courses followed by cheese and greater bowls of fruit. Two varieties of wine, one red and one white and Port Wine were also served with this meal, without extra charge. Wing and I did not wait for coffee, as we wish to unpack a couple of dresses for the evening, and there was little time to spare, before our excursion to the Nazaré.
Shortly after leaving the town, we drove through lovely pine and eucalyptus words. The owners of small farms in this neighbourhood were more enterprising than those in the north, for they had little thatched wayside shops where …
[Page 32 – Marinha Grande]
… heaps of melons were offered for sale.
Marinha Grande a he had an interesting story. It was here that William Stephens, an English man, started a glass factory in the 18th century, and today it still employs a large number of the population.
Outside the village our coach paused; I do not know why. My eyes were on a group seated around the grassy road island, at least two of the women were sitting, whilst a third, her basket near at hand, was lying full length on the ground, and appeared to be having a doze. I quickly snatched the trio, to the great amusement of the youngest, who hastily told the recumbent one. That lady was not at all embarrassed, just smiled and resumed her slumbers.
We were going to travel through one of the national forests which had been planted by King Denis and before we could enter, we stopped to obtain permission. This was a delightful park. Near the entrance, the trees were Mason the pines, many had been felled, but soon these gave way to a greater number of varieties, both conifer an deciduous. I was surprised to see the tamarisk growing under tall trees. Of course the chalk, sandy soil since this variety
[Page 33 – Pinhal de Leiria]
But hitherto, I have only known it to grow in the open, it is particularly good as a windbreak in coastal places. Under the trees, shrubs and blackberries grew, and a stream and gurgled and splashed over the stones on its downward course. Although the large Rivers, Vonda and Mondego were nearly dried up, the little stream was full of sparkling clean water.
[Film of shots that do not seem to be included in the narrative are placed here…
As we left the National Park behind, we caught glimpses of the blue Atlantic, between the slopes of the hills, and a little later were looking down on a small bay with attractive villas obviously a holiday retreat. Nearby was a small pine plantations, each tree had four or five cups to catch the resin from as many deep cuts. We decided that this little wood was doomed to make way for further holiday development, and the authorities were “making hay while the sun shone” and extricating as much a resin whilst the trees lived.
Our coach stopped at a small village, and when we crossed over to a stone parapet, we found ourselves looking down 300 feet to Nazaré below. The view was magnificent. The near white sands stretch for miles, running to meet a …
[Page 34 – Nazaré]
… mountainous headland which lay at right angles to the beach. From our position, the whitewashed houses of lower Nazaré and scores of fishing boats pulled high out of the rough seas, look like toys and one had the sensation of being in a plane.
It is said, that we were standing near the site of a miraculous occurrence. In 1182, one misty morning, a hunter was rather foolishly chasing the deer. Suddenly through the fog, he saw the deer have vanished, and knew he was near these lofty cliffs. The speed of his horse was so great that he knew he could not stop its headlong gallop in time, and a cry to heaven for help, burst from his lips. A vision of the Virgin appeared and she held up her hand. The horse stopped right on the brink of the precipice. As a thanksgiving, a sanctuary called the house of our Lady of Nazareth was built, I do not know whether this legend gave the village’s name or not, but as Nazaré is the Portuguese version of Nazareth, it seems unlikely origin.
The village, itself, is considerably older than the story. The Phoenicians settled here, two or three centuries BC, and the dark haired people with long aquiline noses, are said to be descendants of these …
[Page 35- Nazaré]
… seafarers. Their high prow boats, are also closely related to those of their ancestors, and a few years ago, nearly everyone bore a pair of eyes on its bows.
We descended from upper Nazaré are to the lower village, nestling right under the cliffs. I was surprised to find the place quite crowded, many other tourists were also visiting this a well known fishing hamlet.
Some of our fellow passengers made their way to the bathing tents, but even if the water had not been very rough, I would not have been tempted to spend one minute from exploring and savouring this unique village. As we walked along the shore, we could see dozens or was it hundreds of fishing boats, of all colours, with mystic symbols painted on their prows.
A great deal of activity was going on. Pairs of oxen were pulling the boats up high on the sands, the grown up members of families were busy mending and making nets. Some were hanging hawks on nets, young children sprawled in the sands whilst …
[Page 36- Nazaré]
… their older brothers and sisters helped their parents.
Some of these families were sitting in the shelter of tents, which were probably erected as protection from the sun. At the time, I was bemoaning the fact, that the sun was obscured in the misty haze.
Standing on the sea wall, I felt quite dizzy with this kaleidoscope of colours and movement, it was difficult to pick out the individual groups and happenings. So I climbed down on to the sands and made my way nearer to the sea edge. The Atlantic rollers were pounding in and I wondered if this was the reason so many boats were ashore. The currents here are very treacherous, there is one part of the headland called Widow’s Point where so many men have lost their lives.
Evidence that some of the fishermen had been to see that date, was the scene of an elderly woman in black acquiring long silver eel like fish from one of the boatman. Her somber address was in great contrast to the clones of the men. Their shirts and trousers were in various plaids, all colours of the rainbow, and …
[Page 37- Nazaré]
… on their heads they wore long stocking caps which hung down to well below the nape of the neck and finishing with a large pompom. In this cat, the men keep their purses, tobacco, matches etc.
The women’s dress also varied from the somber garb of their sisters in other parts of Portugal, although one or two elderly ladies, presumably widows, dressed in the traditional black. For the most part, their blouses were patterned and skirts striped, with bright flowered aprons, and as they walked and disturbed the hem of their skirts a burst of rainbow colours showed from beneath their outer garments. Anything from 7 to 14 petticoats are worn, each with scalloped edge in pale shades of blue, yellow, pinks, green and mauves. Many of the younger girls wore scarves draped low on their forehead, caught back, near the crown, allowing the ends to fall down the back.
Neither men nor women wore shoes. Indeed my own was so full of sand that I wish I could take them off, but my hands were busy holding and using the camera equipment. If I had been Portuguese, I would have placed them on my head and in such fashion satisfied both comfort and convenience.
[Page 38- Nazaré]
I have a read that are a few years back, President Salagar ordered that all women should have shoes, and then it was nothing to see the female population carrying these items on their heads.
I wandered along the sands looking for the traditional “eye”, which in olden days have been painted on to the prow of the boats to enable them to see the way. The I has been used in many countries, even as far as the Klongs in Bangkok. Ruis later told me that the previous party has spent half an hour searching for one, and had failed. I was luckier. One boat a little way apart from the others possessed a pair of eyes, and underneath their watchful gaze, a man, probably the owner, lay fast asleep, although it was well past siesta time.
Eight men staggered past me bearing a large net on poles, I have read that a lookout is employed to watch for schools of fish and when one is sited, even at dead of night, the alarm is given and everyone hurries off to reap the harvest.
When the heavily laden nets are brought back, the whole village hastens down to the shore to pull in the catch, for the livelihood of all, rests on the success …
[Page 39- Nazaré]
… of the fishermen. During the winter months, when storms and high seas prevents the boats from going to sea, life becomes very difficult, and the whole economy of the community is threatened.
One should, therefore, be pleased to see another industry growing. Tourism has found its way to this once remote spots, and when we explored some of the streets, we saw many souvenir shops. Pottery is one of the popular items in Portugal, each district devotes itself to a style, that in Nazaré was very bizarre and gaudy, but I thought some of the bags, skirts, and even bedspreads made in two colours with figures and patterns woven into the cloth, quite pleasing. My companion was very interested in shopping and I in turn, had been rather too involved in the beach scenes, that we had little time to see the byways. Nevertheless, I found a very small square which possessed a pump and here were two women getting their water. One, an elderly woman helped the younger one to swing a heavy stone jar on to her head, then proceeded to carry her own vessel in the same manner. She saw that we wish to photograph her, posed, with the greatest dignity. When we …
[Page 40- Nazaré to Leiria]
… thanked her, she put out a hand in a gesture, to say ” it was nothing”. The graceful bearing, yes and graceful manner of his old peasant woman with the lovely smile, was a lesson. I felt quite gauche in comparison.
Our visit ended. In the few hours we had spent in Nazaré, we had barely scratched the surface, and I would have liked to remain longer and continue my expiration. But with so many places to see, one must be content and grateful for the experience of seeing just a little of this unique corner of Portugal.
Ruis had told us that a surprise was laid on for us that evening and when we returned to our hotel the Pensao Central I notice that all the tables in the middle of the dining room had been withdrawn, leaving a good space. Win an I soon completed our toilet, and changed into fresh clothes and descended to the dining room. The evening meal was as dissolutions as the lunch, again accompanied with wines and Port. As the sweet course and coffee was being served, the front door, which it may be remembered, opens right into the dining room, was thrown wide and a crowd of peasants folk came in. They passed quickly through the room, so I did not register the outer garments of the men, my eyes were on the …
[Page 41 – Leiria]
… black cloaks and hats of the women. The latter reminded me of grandma’s bonnet of a decade before the war, perched on the front with a large pompom also black, was ribbons securely held the creation in place. These were Fisher folk from Nazaré.
When they reentered, we saw that the four girls wore colourful skirts and blouses with aprons of satin, embroidered with large flowers. The plaid blouses and trews of the men were the most colourful we had seen. Three men arrange themselves in one corner and produced a strange assortment of instruments. One had a piano accordion, another had two large cones which he rubbed together in one way strokes making a sloshing noise and the last member of this trio carried the percussion. This was a large red earthenware jug which he beat across the mouth with A fan, the sound which issued fourth was vibrant and echoing. To an accompaniment, both tuneful and rhythmic, the other members of the troupe, four men and four girls danced, the dances of that region. As the girls world, their skirts billowed out into bell shapes, revealing the numerous petticoats below.
In one of the dances which was repeated several times, they forms the spokes of a wheel and …
[Page 42 – Leiria]
… spun around with such impetus that the outside men were almost at a 45° angle.
At the close of the entertainment, the hotel proprietor persuaded one of the dancers to show her under slips, and we counted 14. There may or leader, George, then humorously proceeded to turn up his trouser leg to make 14 turns.
To commemorate a steady at his hotel, the proprietor presented each of us with a small ceramic cock which was patterns with flowers. This is the Portuguese emblem of good luck.
Maybe the performance lacks the polish of a west end show, but we all thoroughly enjoyed a evening.
The following morning we were leaving Leiria, but had plenty of time to wander through part of the town. After the very necessary visit to a bank, where we watched many bundles of banknotes been transferred from the strong room, counted, placed in a sack and casually taken to a waiting car, we made our way to the market. Part of this was under cover, part in the open, and consisted mainly of meat, fish and vegetables.
The Rio Lena ran through the town and an …
[Page 43 – Leiria to Fátima]
… attractive park has been cultivated on his left bank. From these gardens there is a splendid view of the castle, which was built by Alfonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal.
The two squares we saw were spacious with young trees decorating the pavements and the surrounding buildings looking clean and new, but the side streets leading off, although beautifully clean and bright were narrow. Each house had attractive wrought iron balconies, and the street lamps in the same style, were attached to the dwellings.
After spending a couple of hours’ leisurely wandering around, we boarded the coach to commence the day’s journey to Santarém. We were sorry to leave the friendly hotel. Although we stayed in higher class hotels, during this tour, in none did we receive a warmer welcome. The decor, also was warm and homely. Much of the furniture in the halls on each floor, was antique and the floor covering which was striped in bright blue red yellow and black hand woven. Delightful pictures of the surrounding countryside, also originals, adorned the walls.
We travelled [blank] miles to Cova da Iria, 2 miles from Fátima. The fertile soil, here, gave way to stony slopes, the trees became bare and shrubs …
[Page 44 – Fátima]
… took their place. It was at one of the most barren places, that the Virgin of the Rosary appeared to three little shepherds, Francisco Jacinta and their Cousin Lucia, on the 13th of May, 1917. She asked them to pray and do penance to pay for the sins of mankind, and promised that on the 13th day of the next successive month, she would reappear to them in a vision.
News of the manifestations spread. The children were interrogated but maintained the truth of their story. On the 13th of October, 1917 a great crowd, said to amount to 70,000, gathered to witness the last appearance. There is no record to say, any, but the three children saw the Virgin, but all saw the so called Miracle of the Sun. This appeared to dance and circle in the sky, a phenomenon which Lucia had foretold some months before. A string welled up by the thorn bushes where our lady of the rosary had first been seen, and the pilgrims who drank this water fountain that it had miraculous healing properties.
Lucier is still living, a Carmelite nun, but the brother and sister died many years ago, not long after the year of the Miracle. Today Fátima is one of the great Catholic shrines in Europe, second only to Lourdes.
We left our coach to climb an incline and when …
[Page 45 – Fátima]
… we had mounted this, saw an enormous quadrangle which terminated with a series of white stone buildings. The Cathedral with its tall spire graces the centre, monastic and hospital buildings flank either side. On the left side, halfway across this huge square, stands a small chapel with a statue of the Virgin, standing by the shrubs where the apparition was first seen. As we walked towards the Cathedral, I saw a young man making his way, painfully on his knees, towards the church. During the days of pilgrimage, that is, the 12th and 13th of months from May to October, the square is full of pilgrims, many of whom have walked hundreds of miles.
We had lunch at one of the two “Estalagens” situated nearby, and here I saw a very attractive girl, also lunching. I wasn’t the only one to find this dark and beauty fascinating, Dave, who was sharing our table with Frank, also spent some time appraising her. In the foyer, I managed to get into conversation with her, and learned that she was a Brazilian from Sao Paulo. To my delight she agreed to pose for me, before departing in a car with three companions.
[Page 46 – Tomar]
Our next stop was at Tomar, where the Knights Templar build the Convent of Christ, and remained until their Order of Christ was abolished in 1334.
We passed through an ancient gateway and saw rising high on a hillock a medieval church, with turrets and bell tower, its walls, tall, severe and heavily buttressed. This was the original church, built in the round style so popular with the Templers in the 12th century. As we drew nearer, we could see that this church had been extended in a more flamboyant style. In thanksgiving to the Tomar Monastery, which since the days when Henry the Navigator had been their Grand Master had helped to finance the overseas expositions, King Manuel added a splendid new church in the 15th century. For inspiration, of this building the architect use designs from the sea, resulting in intricate patterns of cables, ropes, coral, seaweed, shells and even the head of a sailor. The most perfect example of Manuelian art is to be found in the Chapter House window which can be seen to advantage from the roof of one of the cloisters. The grime of the weather has been retained in the nooks and crannies of the ornate stone rococo, but this only adds to the charm when seen against a golden sandstone. Some five or six cloisters built between the 12th and 17th centuries, provide shady walks, the most charming being the oldest. Simple, with …
[Page 47 – Tomar]
… small gothic arches, and old Moorish tiled walls, this cloister has a window which gives a view of the older Moorish Castle, in whose grounds the monastery has been built.
The city has a famous festival, when the young girls parade in their national costume wearing great headdresses of bread and roses. This is to commemorate a legend involving King Denis and his saintly Queen Isabel. This lady personally took alms of bread to the peasant folk, against the wishes of the King who thought this was no task for his wife. One day, seeing her about to leave the palace was something gathered in her skirts, he stopped her and coldly ask to see what she was carrying. When the Queen dropped her skirts, she found that the bread had changed to roses, and it was these, that fell to the ground.
A small river runs through this picturesque town, skirting an attractive park.
A giant waterwheel some 20 feet in diameter is used for irrigation purposes.
We spent a pleasant half hour drinking refreshments under the trees in this park, before continuing on our way towards Santarém. We pass through small agricultural towns, including Barquinhar, where many bullfighters have settled …
[Page 48 – Tomar]
… probably because this region is famed for breeding good stock.
We stopped to take pictures of a gay party of peasants going after harvest the grapes. They filled their wagon to capacity and more, their numbers were probably the reason why three horses were harnessed in a row.
A number of donkey carts bearing loads of very large tomatoes, brought forth the remark from Ruis that these were for export to England to be used in making Heinz soup.
We were now in a very fertile valley in fact the province of Ripatyo. It means Bank of the Tajo or Tagus. The river born in the high Castilian plateau carried rich alluvial mud and deposited this along the banks, with the result that abundant crops of grapes, melons, olives and rice enriched the farms. The breach that Carries the road into Santarém stretch twice as far across the fields, for in winter this river floods a great deal of land.
The Romans founded the town of Scalabis but when the body of the young Santa Iria, who was martyred at Tomar, floated down the river in a marble tomb and …
[Page 49 – Santarém]
… came to rest at the foot of the cliffs, the name of the town was changed to Santarém. The old part of the town dates back to the 16th to 17th century but the ancient ramparts are from a much earlier period.
Our hotel was a family pensao, attractively decorated with wood panelling and wrought ironwork. The streets of Santarém are very narrow and from our third floor window we could see the roofs of the opposite buildings. One intrigued us with his collection of wooden hutch like contraptions. We learned later that these did in fact house rabbits, hens and at least one cockerel. In the early hours of the morning it seemed as if the last mentioned was actually seated at a window crowing his dawn greetings in our ears!
The following morning was free and after breakfast we made our way past the town hall to the market. This was gaily panelled with blue and white tiled pictures. Groups of women sat at large baskets of flowers near the entrances and beds of common lilies, red and orange, all added to the colourful scene inside the market, it was the vegetables and fruit which attracted our attention. Not only the bright hues, but the size of the wares brought us to a …
[Page 50 – Santarém]
… standstill. Tomatoes, larger than Jaffa oranges, and most commanding of all a giant marrow, measuring 30 to 36 inches in length. As I raised my camera to take the monster’s portrait its proud owner lifted some green vegetables which had been partly obscuring the view.
Leaving the market behind, we, Win and I, climbed the steep slope towards the ancient ramparts pausing at [blank] which now housed museum pieces, old sculptures, Roman remains etc.. As we looked in at the doorway and gave a cursory glance around, the curator begged us to enter, but owing to lack of time, we declined, saying we were return if possible.
Opposite, the Torre das Cabacas stands, its bell still rings out across the fields, to broadcast the passing hours to the workers, as it has for centuries past.
At last we reached the Portas Do Sol, and was greeted by a glorious view over the fertile plains and river Tagus. Here, the plane trees had already changed into their autumn dress, the sun shining through their leaves and the blue sky, all added charm to the ageing stonework of the fortifications. This includes lookouts, little stairways …
[Page 51 – Santarém / Portas do Sol]
… and arches, whilst the ground encompassed within the walls had been turned into a cool park, part of which contained a pond with swans and ducks.
Investigating further, brought us to a pagoda overhung with luscious purple grapes. A Gardiner seen me taking a close up of some of these, disappeared for a while, and quickly returned to present me with four bunches wrapped in the vine leaves. Some peasant women planting out young crops waved their hands. These people so friendly, so hospitable were a joy to meet. Even if their animals looked plump and well cared for, not having the lean hungry look that one sees all too often in some continental countries. The cats dozing contentedly in the sunshine, gave an answering purr if spoken to, and the dogs gave the international tail wag, beasts of burden, oxen and donkeys all looked in good condition.
The returns to the hotel, collected our bathing togs, and boarded the coach which was taking us to a quinta where we were to lunch. A quinta is an estate and those in the Ribatejo are all well stocked with farm animals, many specializing in breeding fighting bulls. The campinos or cowboys, wear white shirts, red sleeveless jackets and long woollen …
[Page 52 – Santarém / Quinta no 1]
… hats and whilst riding their horses and herding the fierce bulls, carry long poles. The effect is of a Knight carrying his lance in a jousting bout, wearing a jester’s garb.
At the farm we saw a variety of animals and fowls, but to my disappointment, no bulls. At the stables, beautiful horses, obviously aristocrats welcome to the caresses of one member of a party who had been a jockey in his youth. Pigs enjoyed the comfort of wired in enclosures, which all had their own indoor quarters for sheltering from the heat of the sun. Many factory pigs would have envied the fat sow who wandered in and out of the enclosure closely pursued by her brood of hungry infants.
In other pens were peacocks, quail, white turkeys, mandarin and other pheasants. Many more turkeys strutted about, outside the enclosures.
As we walked through a wooded part of the estate, we passed a small, but attractive whitewashed family chapel and then came to a clearing and sore long trestle tables bearing jugs of wine, cheese straws, nuts and other cocktail titbits. Having refreshed ourselves, we other tables set for …
[Page 53 – Santarém / Quinta no 1 / Quinta Santa Antonio]
… lunch. I expected a picnic repast, but we were served with all the courses including soup and fish and all piping hot.
While we were eating, we heard music and a group of young folk appeared and these entertained us with dancing. After they had completed their repertoire, we were invited to join in the dancing, and a very enjoyable hour was spent in this way.
Before we left, I wandered under the trees and found a number of large Cones some over 10 inches in length, and these I distributed to several of the ladies in a party.
From this quinta, whose name I never learnt, we went on to the Quinta Santa Antonio. The entrance of this estate was an attractive archway painted a warm colour something between pink and terracotta, and overhung with bougainvillea.
We had hoped that we would be able to swim in the glamorous swimming pool, but owing to the drought which Portugal was then suffering, the pool was empty. We were told that a large reservoir could be used, but it appeared somewhat uninviting and most of us declined, but Dave and Frank decided to risk it getting bitten by mosquitoes which may have been attracted to the stagnant water.
[Page 54 – Santarém]
The sun was now very high and temperature likewise, and I was contemplating taking a shower in the changing room, when refreshments were announced. Jugs of orange and lemonade had been served together with small figs, nuts and macaroons, so I contented myself with a gentle saunter around the flower garden and gold fish pool.
We had been told that we would see the grapes being pressed and “those who had bathed could tread the grapes”. Whether the fact that we had not been able to take the swim, was anything to go on or not, the only pressing we saw was done mechanically, but men were standing on the fruit, shovelling it into position. Outside, a carter fondled his horse, as they waited patiently for their turn when their load of green grapes would be emptied into the press. In another part of the wine lodge we saw high vats being cleaned to take the fresh wine. The heady smell of years of wine filled the air, I felt quite intoxicated, and I could not imagine how it was that the man who was inside the vat was not overcome by the fumes.
Leaving the logic behind, we passed a very fierce guard dog and then walked through the …
[Page 55 – Santarém ]
… vineyard. As far as we could see stretched the vines bearing large bunches of luscious purple grapes. The leaves had changed to lovely shades of red, purple and browns. I looked for the Vines which had grown the green or white grapes, but they were not to be seen. Instead we saw more carts coming towards us, carrying the fruit, so it appeared that the part of the vineyard where the white grapes were grown, was some little distance away.
As we returned to the coach we noticed a hedgerow of quince.
Back in Santarém, Win decided to have her hair washed and set at one of the three hairdressers which were all established within 50 yards of one another. The result of this visit was surprisingly successful, the coiffeur very glamorous.
That’s night we took a stroll around the town accompanied by Geoff and Antonio Rodri, the latter one of the hotel waiters. He was anxious to add to his very limited English vocabulary. We sat drinking coffee at an open air cafe in the park, whilst Antonio talked with pride about his two children. The other customers were all deeply interested in the television, a great …
[Page 56 – Santarém]
… feature in the open air cafes.
The following morning, we were departing for Lisbon, but there was plenty of time for a shopping spree and a walk. During our evening strolls we had noticed some colourful sweaters in one of the shops, and as their price was very low, Win decided to buy one. In another shop we saw attractive cotton material, which I thought would make a cheap summer dress. We entered the shop and found the proprietor already serving a customer. As we awaited upturn, we naturally conversed in English, admiring and remarking that the goods were good value, when the customer hearing a foreign voice, insisted that the shopkeeper should attend to us first. Having purchased a dress length, we both decided to buy some mother of pearl buttons, one set was in the shape of fish, only quarter of an inch long.
Our walk took us past the Franciscan convent, which was now used as a barracks and to an elevated position from which we had a lovely view of Santa Clara Church which had been built by Leonar daughter of Alfonso the third in 1260.
We left Santarém knowing that many of its beautiful views and lovely churches had not …
[Page 57 – Santarém to Lisbon]
… been seen, but that is the penalty of the tourist. Either one must stay in one place and thoroughly investigated that district, or one must use the highlights of the town and then depart to seek more exciting discoveries at the next stop. As Lisbon was to be the mornings destination, this was anticipated with great enthusiasm.
At Villafianca de Xira, the river widens, it is here that the last bridge across the Tagus, until the new suspension bridge at Lisbon is opened in 1966. We travelled along a wider road which had bushes of only and does and other shrubs between the dual carriageways, and soon we arrived at the Airport where we stopped to claim the baggage which had been left behind in London and had now been transported to Lisbon.
” See Lisbon and enjoy it” said Ruis and having visited Portugal’s Capital, this seemed a better phrase than the ” See Naples and die”. Most certainly, I thought this was a beautiful city. Built, like so many ancient cities, on seven hills, a town which was founded by the Phoenicians and inhabited by the Romans, Visigoths and Moors in turn until Alfonso Henrique drove the latter out, Lisbon is now the …
[Page 58 – Lisbon]
… capital of not only Portugal, but all of its overseas territories. A terrible earthquake in 1755 destroyed much of the medieval town, with its churches and palaces, leading the Moorish quarter Alfanna still clinging to the sides of the hill which supported the Castle of Saint George on its summit.
The Marquis De Pombal, prime minister to King Charles and virtually dictator, organized the rebuilding of the city and his statue backed by the gentle slope of the King Edward VII park faces down the beautiful Avenida da Liberdade which leads via the Restuadores and Rossios squares to the Black Horse Terrace, and the riverfront. The 300 yard wide Avenida, is divided into three carriageways and is ornamented with eight lines of trees, tall planes and squat palms, flower beds, goldfish bowls and small lakes. Resting by one of these lakes watching the graceful swans with their signet’s one is surprised to see the double decked buses pass by.
Yet a third part of the city has been built, this time in modern times and design. But retaining an elegance, worthy of the older period. Tall blocks of flats, painted in subdued shades of …
[Page 59 – Lisbon]
… blue, green, yellow and above all pink, sometimes bearing a panel of blue agulejos. Each window and balcony having its pots of geraniums, and vines, and Morning Glory; some plants hanging in graceful ribbons below the seals, others climbing up to reach nearer the sun, but all adding to, and softening the straight modern lines. The roads of the suburbs are wide and tree lined, with centres of lawns and shrubs.
It was through roads like this that we first entered Lisbon, and then passed the Marquis da Pombal statue, driving along the Avenida da Liberdade to our hotel, and we knew that we would love every moment of our stayed in this lovely capital.
After lunch, returns to our coach and was introduced to John who was to be our guide in Lisbon, and was to accompany us this afternoon on a tour of the city. Our route lay through one of the Severn narrow roads which made up the fashionable shopping district and terminated at the Black Horse Square or Praça do Comércio, to give it its correct name. Here we saw some of the ports life of Lisbon, ferries crossing over to the distant Cacilhes. Nearby are the stations for the south, also Estoril and …
[Page 60 – Lisbon]
… Cascais. Not far from the quays where the large ocean going liners berth we saw the new bridge being constructed. It found its embryos state very interesting, although the two main peers had been built, the rest of the metalwork was being constructed in parts, but both sides always balanced. We were told that the percentage of engineers was 80 Portuguese and 20 American. When completed, this will be Europe’s largest suspension bridge, and the fifth largest in the world.
Next we came to a small Harbour, which belonged to the local yachting centre and here was built the attractive Discovery Monument. Led by Henry the Navigator, the explorers of days gone by looks seaward from the bows of their white concrete vessel. It was from the nearby Tower of Belem that the seamen departed from their native shores in search of new countries and trade routes.
In those days the tower was one of many forts, built in the middle of the river, but today the river has receded and the beautiful Manueline fort decorates the coastline. Once a year in September, the priests give a service of blessing now to the fishermen but this anniversary recalls to mind the services at the …
[Page 61 – Lisbon]
… Jeronimos Monastery, processions and final blessings which heralded the great Vasco Da Gama is departures. The monastery, now a national monument can be seen from the river. Indeed the view of this lovely building with green lawns, fountains, swans and flowerbeds of canna lilies in the foreground was a memorable one.
It was built in richest Manueline style to commemorate the discovery of the Indian Ocean, on the instructions from King Manuel. Passing through the elaborate a doorway, the interior appears almost severe, and then one notices the varying columns some thick and heavy others slim, elegant and light finishing in fine fan vaulting. But to many, the cloisters with their arches and fan vaults and natural lines of shrubs and trees carved from stone where they had to all shades of gold patterned against the green was the most impressive parts of this building. This may not be a correct judgment for we had a little time to look at the splendid exterior and I hoped we would be able to return to Jeronimos.
Our next stop was at the coach museum. The …
[Page 62 – Lisbon]
Last Queen of Portugal collected these coaches, 53 are housed in an old Royal riding school, a further 30 are elsewhere owing to lack of space. The oldest coach dates back from the end of the 17th century, its frame heavy with gilt covered rococo carving. The interior was covered in crimrose velvet and tapestry embroidered with the coat of arms of his royal owner. Although no expense had been spared on the elaborate decoration, it must have been a most uncomfortable to travelling, having no suspension and large solid wheels. Our guide lifted the cushions in the back seat and revealed a chamber pot! The most elaborate coach was the one used to bring the Pope to Lisbon, indeed that was its only journey. A carriage of a later date had been reupholstered and was used for our Queen during her visit to Lisbon.
As we were leaving the coach museum, Dave, his eyes shining, edged up to me and whispered “She’s here”. I could not think to whom he referred, but looking around saw the attractive Brazilian girl who we had last seen at Fátima. I spent a few minutes exchanging pleasantries before rejoining the party …
[Page 63 – Lisbon]
… and continuing our tour of the city.
Passing through an attractive residential Leirier our coach climbed the hill to the south and we saw the city and river estuary laid out in front of us. A very impressive view. Near at hand was a Roman aqueduct which is still in use carrying water to the capital. Because of this, water was in good supply in Lisbon, but due to the fact that over the year, rain have fallen during four weeks only, the country was now suffering from a severe drought.
Great roadworks were under construction. Five major roads, complete with flyovers, were being built to carry traffic from all directions north of the Tagus, to the new bridge and on to the Algarve.
[Here are some odd photos of Lisbon, which I can’t quite fit into the narrative]
Leaving this scene of activity the road took us through the residential area of yesteryear where we saw a charming 17th century mansion with walls washed a deep pink, windows and doorways outlined in white; gates, balconies and porch built in beautiful wrought iron. To the north we came to the new residential area and to our surprise, saw blocks of flats. Surprise was not for the number of these new buildings, but for the elegance he and charm. The tall concrete blocks austere and grim were not …
[Page 64 – Lisbon]
… for Lisbon. Each block was washed in a soft pastel shade, blue, grey, pink, primrose or the deep pink. Balconies all displaying plant life, Vines of morning Glory, plumbago and bougainvillea geraniums. A guide told us that two window boxes were given free by the council, and the prize awarded each month for the most attractive balcony. The flats were all centrally heated and cost from 1500 to 4000 / 5000 escudos a month according to the number of rooms.
We stopped at a nearby cafe to partake of tea and cakes. Geoff and I wandered off to get a picture of the modern flats, and saw a small boy asleep by the roadside shrubs. As we returned, Geoff saw an older boy kick him awake. We took a photo of the land, but gone was the sweet innocent expression that he wore in repose. Other children, one a merry urchin of five came near. Another, seemingly to where only a dirty ragged vest was probably only three. A guide gave small coins to them, then chased them away saying they were gypsy children. He was annoyed that I tried to take their picture. Nevertheless the children returned to give our departing coach …
[Page 65 – Lisbon]
… a wave and a cheer.
It was to the “Cool Greenhouse” that we were next taken. Rushes covered the roof and defuse the lights, whilst rare tropical plants grew below. On Sundays and special occasions and orchestra plays here, and it must be very pleasant to relax in these calls surroundings listening to the “masters”. Outside was a large lake with an island on which flamingos lazily stretched their wings. Swans, both white and the Australian black glided near the banks, hoping for titbits.
Our evening entertainment was not so tranquil. Knowing that the bull was not killed in Portugal, I had agreed to join the party going to the bull fight.
[the journal ends abruptly here].
[… and some more of Lisbon and neighbouring Cascais]
[… and the last roll]