Day 38: Fatima to Pombal - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 16, 2024

Day 38: Fatima to Pombal

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Here in Portugal even our quite modern hotel last night featured beautiful tiles and marble steps in the stairwells. We are seeing more tile surfaced houses and more tile generally, as we approach the centre of the country, or what is the same thing, the closer to Lisbon we are.

Tile and marble staircase.
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We started the day by going back to the Sanctuary for a bit of a closer look. This time we started properly, at the Chapel of Apparitions. We arrived just before the priests came for their first service. But they soon got things underway. We also had the arrival of the infirm, some helped by nuns. Yesterday we were unsure about whether there was a healing culture here, as there is so strongly in Lourdes. There is, but they lack the spring fed flow of holy water, so it seems they need to hand bless every vial, and they are not offering holy water bathing. 

The Chapel of Apparitions
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The spot with Mary, behind the altar, is where it was all said to happen.
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The staff arrives.
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Ready to go.
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Some infirm arrive under their own steam.
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Some get an assist.
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We left everyone to do their service, and went to pick up on a few random things around the site:

The basilica is topped with the same style crown that the Mary statues favour.
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In a side garden there is a sort of random portrayal of Francisco and Jacinta. No sign of Lucia.
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A Christ figure lines up nicely for a shot with the basilica spire.
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The Christ, like Mary on the spire, wears his heart on his shirt.
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Karen PoretMost Sacred Heart of Jesus..aka God’s love for mankind.
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1 month ago

The Fatima thing was down on communism from the start. So it makes sense that they received a donation of a piece of the Berlin wall, and set it up on their grounds. Interestingly it is protected behind glass (making a photo difficult). Like many former brutal things, this is now a cultural artifact that needs preservation. The fact that 25 years after the fall of the Wall, Russia launched a new set of aggressions, in Ukraine, makes this display rather poignant.

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Quoted from Jean Paul II : Thank you heavenly pastor for having guided the people to freedom.
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Noting some Pope statues in the distance, we suspected an appearance of the notorious Pius XII, but no, it was Jean Paul II and Paul VI. I was wondering about the lack of my favourite, Francis, but maybe you have to be dead to get a statue?

JP II went everywhere!
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Paul VI in 1967
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Here is a distant view of the basilica, illustrating how large the grounds are for assembling multitudes.
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Before leaving town, we had one more look at the souvenir shops. One was like a strip mall, with 45 identical cubby hole sellers.

Souvenir mall.
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Around shop 25
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I was trying to think of a name for this common display. Ok, it's a bevy of Marys.
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Admittedly it was raining, making it hard to take pictures, but by mid day we still had not run into anything particularly photogenic anyway. We decided to make a picture of what we were not making pictures of. See:

Blah.
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We were a little happy with the bus shelter that gave us a spot for lunch. So that has made the blog as well. But in truth, the bench was rather skimpy!
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One thing, that recalled the glories of another day (i.e. yesterday), was the prevalence of Fatima signage. In these cases, we now knew precisely from our trip counters how far anyone following these signs would have to go. It does seem that all roads in this region lead to Fatima.

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Looking for excitement, we toyed with being concerned that this was our route going steeply up. But in fact, there was a sharp turn to the right. No fun in that!
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Pombal, our destination, is built on the river Arunca, and has a park running along it. The park offered a bike path, which we appreciated.

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Closer to town, some landscape architect changed the bike path surface to pavers. But these were poorly installed, and the surface had developed longitudinal cracks. I got to watch Dodie's bike go skittering way off course on one of these, but was glad that she kept her balance.
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They did have a White Wagtail!
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Hey, come back!
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On learning that we were coming to Spain, our friend Cam hoped that we would find Churros, which is a kind of donut that gets filled with chocolate, or maybe Nutella. We did pass a lot of churro stands in Spain, but they were all closed - out of season? Now, in Portugal, we spotted what looked like our first live one.

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But since this is Portugal, churros are a sideline, and the large print goes to "Farturas". Farturas are a churro like donut, but fatter, and are sprinkled with sugar. Fartura in Portuguese means "plenty". I asked the lady in the TI here what this name means, and it seemed it was the first time she had thought about it. Her only theory was that they are cheap and easy to make.

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I had no idea what I was buying and needed a lot of guidance from the lady.
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This shop seems to be a chain with HQ in Coimbra. The bag is a little confusing. They mention Spanish churros, and this came to us stuffed with Nutella. But Farturas Recheadas means stuffed Farturas. The one thing I thought I had learned was that Farturas are dusted and not stuffed. This may need more research!
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A stuffed churro
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I think he likes it, but hard to tell from the photo.
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Down the street - the competition. Research could have started there, but we has seen our hotel and were eager to arrive.
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That's it, the hotel.
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With the castle visible behind.
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The town of Pombal is named after the Marquis de Pombal, who lived 1699-1782. He is known for his work in restoring Lisbon, after the 1755 earthquake that levelled the place and caused damage for 100's of kms around. However he s also known for brutal tactics against opponents, such as burning a village and all its inhabitants. He also expelled the Jesuits from the country, presumably in some sort of power struggle. Under King Joseph I, Pombal was basically the first minister. Knowing some of this background, we went first to look at his statue. Whoever did the statue made Pombal look suitably nasty.

Pombal bust downtown.
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This may be in fact quite an accurate image.
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Near the Pombal statue, a bit of a festival was setting up, including some food trucks. So food trucks is not just a US phenomenon.

Quite a fancy food truck.
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This one is using a quite common (for food trucks) Mercedes van.
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Our hotel room was spacious and great, and with a balcony.

Wow, Bird of Paradise on our 5th floor balcony.
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Karen PoretSmart plant! Blocks the stuff you really don’t want to view;)
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1 month ago
Looking down, we see the food truck scene, and the Farturas competition.
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We set off to see the Pombal old town, and this turned out to be mainly the Marquis of Pombal square. The square had a church on one side, from 1615, (Church of Sao Martinho), a building that used to be the prison (now a museum), a building where Pombal lived in his old age, and a one that used to be his barn (now an art gallery).

The church, Pombal old age home (right), the prison, and so forth.
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Inside the church, we noted the baptismal font, surrounded by beautiful tiling.

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At the front, are coloured stone carvings of biblical scenes, done by a French sculptor.
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One of the sculpted scenes.
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We also found this slightly unusual statue, depicting a grey haired Joseph with his son. As usual, the son has already learned to make that shape with his hand.
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The blue and white painting above the altar depicts some kind of war scene. Religion and war, of course, often went hand in hand.
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Not sure who is fighting who.
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That's the castle up beyond the church - not in our walk plan this time!
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The old town has a few narrow alleys, but not so many.
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Here is a place with a lot of character.
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and a nice courtyard beyond the gate.
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That was it for our tour of Pombal. As you see from the track below, 1.6 km took us around the whole place!

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Today's ride: 45 km (28 miles)
Total: 1,824 km (1,133 miles)

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