Our tale begins with the birth of little ‘I’ last year. With her gorgeous dark hair and infectious smile she soon won over our hearts. And the Mr was proud to be asked to be godfather at her Christening, this Easter. As her parents are Portuguese it meant a trip to Portugal to help celebrate the happy occasion. Our trip was to be in two parts; a short stay in the mountains for the Christening and a few days in Lisbon.
As we drove to our small cottage (in the Rio Maior municipality) which was to be home for a few days we couldn’t help but fall in love with Portugal. The mountains rose up either side of us as we travelled north from Lisbon. Eventually we turned off the main road and went up. And up. And up. Our home for the next few days, a stone cottage in a remote village, was right at the top of a mountain. We woke up most mornings to find ourselves in the clouds.
It was spectacular. Our Airbnb hosts were gracious and welcoming and the cottage was traditional, stone and freezing! But we had a fire, heaters and plenty of blankets so we were…well still freezing! But that didn’t stop me standing on top of the roof terrace gazing out and wondering how easy it would be to swap to a life here.
This time in the mountains was dedicated to the Christening and so, as the Mr went off to meet the priest and do pre-godfather duties, I stayed in the cottage and relaxed. After a long term at work all my body wanted to do was rest and read! Plus the rain was relentless. Staying in the house 1, Walking in the Village 0.
The next day dawned sunny and bright, thanks goodness as it was the day of the Christening. We arrived early and took the chance to explore the outside of the Church and take in the views around us.
The Church, Dólmen-Capela Igreja de Santa Maria Madalena, was a stunning building and I was intrigued by the megalithic chapel attached to it.
This was my first Christening and it was part of the Easter Sunday Mass. It was very interesting to watch the Mass although my lack of Portuguese meant I understood nothing that was said!
Afterwards we travelled a short distance to another venue where we were fed the most delicious traditional Portuguese food (lots of it, it lasted the whole day!) and met friends and family of our friends. I soon learnt the art of communication by gestures and smiles. Everyone was very warm and welcoming. We even got a treat in the form of a local tour from Adilia, who we actually know from the Norfolk Street Bakery in Cambridge! She took us to see some local sights and it was great to get an insight into the day to day life of people in the area we were visiting. First stop was the Potes Mouros (Moorish Pots) that were apparently still in use in the fifteenth century. Not much is known about them but it was interesting to see something used for storage so long ago.
Afterwards we jumped in the car and went to visit a spring and drove back up the mountain to a scenic spot in Chãos. Here we saw what used to the local school (the teacher geek in me loved this!) and wonderful views! These weren’t major local tourist destinations but they allowed us to explore and get to know the area we were calling home for a few days. A huge thank you to Adilia for showing us around!
In my next blog post I will share with you a day trip to Óbidos. Óbidos is somewhere I definitely wish I could tuck into my Cabinet of Curiosities and visit all the time. I truly fell in love!
Thanks for reading!