The breakfast choices at our hotel were too numerous to imagine. As for me, I chose yogurt and cold cereal. After breakfast, our bus took us to Alcobaça to to see the Monastery of Santa Maria, described as being “Cistercian Baroque-Gothic.” The Cistercians were monks who arrived in 1228 with the plan to create an abbey designed for hard work, prayer, and total silence. Inside are the tombs of Portugal’s most tragic romantic couple, Dom Pedro and Dona Inês, who met and experienced love at first sight at Dom Pedro’s wedding, which had been arranged by his father. After his wife died, Dom Pedro’s father refused to let his son marry Inês. Note that they already had four children by then.
Next we went to the town market. This is an enclosed space about the size of a football field that offers multitudes of fresh produce and flowers. Smaller rooms led from the central area, one offering seafood, and another with caged chickens and rabbits that won’t be kept as pets by those who purchase them.
Then we went to the fishing village of Nazaré that has become a beach resort. Maria approached one of the local women who was wearing seven petticoats, the traditional outfit of sellers of barnacles. She came back with enough for each of us to have one. When in Rome… They were crunchy and salty.
Time for lunch. We tried to join others in our group who were already seated at a cafe, but there was not enough room. It is not typical for restaurants to tell prospective diners how long the wait will be, because diners are never rushed. We moved on to another cafe that turned out to be a fantastic find. Nick enjoyed an octopus salad, while I feasted on shrimp and clams simply prepared with oil and garlic. I developed an appreciation for Portuguese rolls, too.
The bus took us back to our hotel. That night we had dinner together with the whole group, enjoying conversing with a Canadian couple, Roy and Laurie. Our meal consisted of vegetable soup, duck breast, veggies, rice, and for dessert, a gingina and a poached pear (my absolute favorite).