Jun 21, 2011

Portugal: eat, PRAY, love - Saints and Sinners

Places of worship are synonomous with Europe. From skull chapels to monasteries, architecturally and historically they're often the most notable part of any city or small town. That and they're usually abundant and free. Understandably spiritually is a big component of any EuroTrip.

Coming from a religious family I was strongly encouraged to attend the great religious spectacles of Europe, 'Semana Santa' (Holy Week) in Spain and 'Our Lady of Fatima' (May 13) in Portugal.

The trip to Fatima was certainly interesting. It was not a destination I would have chosen had it not been for my fathers insistence. Unbeknownst to me the cheapest hostel was way out of town in an isolated adventure hostel. The weekend of solitude amidst the great outdoors gave me a spiritual experience of a different nature (pun intended).

It began with a walk from Fatima to the hostel to bypass the outgoing traffic. As usual I was feeling my way through without a map, not being a big city this wasn't exactly advisable. 2hours later, completely lost with nightfall approaching I got a little tense. Thankfully one of the handful of taxis in the region passed. My guardian angel was watching over me. A budget busting €20/20min later I was at my new home (the 6hr return bus trip from Lisboa cost about the same). It turned out I would have had to pay that much anyway, I just exhausted 2hrs walking in an abitrary direction.

My time in Fatima and Alvados whilst not festive was refreshing and rewarding. No matter how challenging something is, we usually have an expectation of what we're signing up for. This undertaking was as genuine a "Mystery Flight" experience as I could hope for. There is definitely a quiet magic to nature that encourages one to look within. Its something I've been able to tap into a few times in Portugal which has been an unexpected treat.
PRAY: Saints...
fatima, may 13, crowd, peopleThe masses at Fatima. Domingo 13 de Maio, 2011.

The devoted, Phew!

fatima, old ladiesI must deliberately and carefully lay down my life for Him.

fatima, cross, stationsTo the station with a cross

PRAY: ...and Sinners
alvados, nudeThe naked truth

Being around travelers and students, money is scarce and mischief abounds. A lot of creativity is involved to stretch the dollar which doesn't always mean the most moral of paths. You don't need a religious upbringing to feel shame or guilt, karma has definitely been a recurring conversation amongst peers and something I've had to wrestle with. More pertinant now as I've been on the bad end of it in recent weeks (items stolen including wallet and passport). It's possible to rationalise oneself out of guilt and there were times in Fatima worth asking forgiveness for. Definitely a work in progress but it's made easier when you surround yourself with good people.

Find the 'Portugal: Eat Pray, Love' collection here
Portugal: Eat - Fine Food with Friends
Portugal: Pray - Saints and Sinners
Portugal: Love - Portugal sure is warm!

Have you ever done anything you were guilty of on the road?


  1. Great job my new friend. U are writing very well. I wish u can anjoy as much as possible this time here to never forget it. Good luck men. Nice to meet u!

  2. Thank you my friend. It was a pleasure meeting you too.