Saturday, April 13, 2013

On the way out of Portugal, we stopped in Coimbra with its university. We had an hour to walk around and get a drink. Myself and a Polish lady scaled the steep road to the university buildings. It was a great walk and a nice view but little else. We came down a different way and found ourselves several blocks over from the meeting place, Hotel Astoria, near the river. I had a general sense of needing to "go left" but was afraid of overshooting it. We asked directions twice and finally found the place with five or ten minutes to spare. The breeze coming off the river down the narrow streets was a good indication we were heading in the right direction.

My Polish companion bought postcards as we walked but I waited until we found the meeting place before dashing into a bank to exchange two €50 for smaller bills. I also grabbed a Coke, a 350 ml bottle for more than €4, about $9. It was the first time all trip I'd felt ripped off but I was in a hurry and the clerk could tell.

We drove another hour to our lunch spot, spending some of that time praying the rosary. I felt the rosary was a penance for some who met the bus late after their free hour in the college town. (One claimed she got lost.)

For lunch, I had another Coke and an omelette (Oro) on a baguette. It wasn't the best choice because the egg was cold but there wasn't anything wrong with it. I ate it even though I wasn't very hungry. I was glad I did because dinner was late! I was appalled that two ladies who sat with me at lunch - the two who had ridden with us to the airport - had smuggled food from the breakfast buffet, including a serving of yogurt!! They ate their swiped food as their lunch. Maybe they thought lunches should be included on the tour?

We drove then to Braga, still in Portugal. In Braga, we saw the basilica on the high mountain.

Santuário do Bom Jesus Do Monte

Supposedly the cross just appeared there one day. The altar area is a complete crucifixion scene with statues of all the players. Outside are statues of Annas, Pilate, Caiaphas - anyone involved in Jesus' condemnation. There is a cable car - two in fact - that work opposite. Water fills the undercarriage of the car on top of the hill until it becomes heavy enough to travel to the hill bottom. This action hoists the other car to the top. This has been in operation since it was built in 1885. There are also great steps up the side of the hill and I observed a woman with a special needs daughter of adult age, walking up the steps in pursuit of healing. Seeing their struggle, I plainly asked God to do it, to cure her, and not make them go through this. Undoubtedly, they walk the steps regularly. There was no celebration in their humble, upward progress, but their devotion was remarkable.

I mailed five postcards in Braga, including one to home. Father was frustrated with us for writing out and mailing postcards. Well, I had written mine out days earlier and was only waiting for a place to buy stamps and find a mailbox. I told Father it was a form of evangelization and he seemed open to that idea.

We went also to a Marian shrine.

Santuário do Sameiro

There's a "garden of Gethsemane" and a huge, open plaza at the end of the hill that looks open below. I did not look over the edge but people said there were stairs. Stairs they would never take!

Santuário do Sameiro

We entered the church like gangbusters, snapping pictures. It was very clear that we disturbed the people who were praying there. I refused to stand directly in front of the sanctuary to snap my picture, in front of other worshippers. From here we drove on to Santiago, Spain. The hotel was very nice. The hotel is "green" and lights in the hall are on a sensor, turning on only as someone passes. There were no lights in the stairwells which I took to my room on the second floor because the elevator was slow. My room was nice and dinner was nice.

First Dinner in Spain

Fr. Williams sat at our table and our conversation was lively. I had arranged with him that morning to hear my confession that evening. It was a Friday evening and we were just beginning our pilgrimage, so confession seemed in order. After a few glasses of wine with dinner, Father agreed to meet me in the hotel lobby afterwards.

Our meeting was private enough for the public place. With the benefit of the dinner wine's relaxing effect, we turned sufficiently thoughtful to celebrate the sacrament of penance. After saying whatever I thought necessary regarding my sins, Fr. Williams told me that my husband needs to get in touch with him privately about becoming a Christian. Somehow, according to Father, my husband's conversion would greatly help my spiritual life. My husband would never have a conversation with a priest about religion. My assigned penance was a rosary which I completed the following morning.


Christian LeBlanc said...

Terrific travelogue: both informative and informed.

Moonshadow said...

Thanks for reading. I'm still polishing up my description of things but this is the general story.

Richard Maffeo said...

looks like a great trip!

Anonymous said...

Your commentaries are so dry, so unsparing of details. It's enjoyable to read them. I remember my whirlwind tour of Europe after high school, with a band tour--all the prayerful places felt crazed--Notre Dame was the worst of all--but at Sacre Coeur on Montmartre, Paris, they had a rope and it said "You may only pass this point if you're going to pray. No picture taking." I went up to pray in that holy darkness. One of the best memories of the trip.

Anonymous said...

I just realized that word "dry" could mean "boring," and it absolutely wasn't meant that way! I meant "dry" as in "dry wit." :)

Moonshadow said...

No worries, Kathleen, about "dry" ... but "unsparing?!" :) I'm given to mania in RL so I cultivate a drole - mais jamais drôle! - online persona.

I've heard of those French places you mention. How chaotic depends on the season of the year, I'd think, with summer busier than the fall?

If my writing jogs fond memories of similar experiences, I'm blessed. Peace