Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Unamazing race: six interubanos, two stopovers: Batalha and Alcobaca

The other two UNESCO monasteries on our combo tickets are in Batalha and Alcobaca. From Tomar to Obidos is only 100km; our original plan was to only stop in Batalha on the way, but when we realized en-route that all buses from Batalha to Obidos go right by Alcobaca, we decided to make a second stopover, something we almost never do. This way we didn't have to struggle with reduced bus schedule on the Saturday before Easter trying to visit Alcobaca.

In the end we ended up taking six interurbano buses, none of which ran on schedules we expected. We first caught the 7:50 bus from Tomar to Fatima, then had to catch another to Leiria, never mind the website showed a direct bus even during school holidays. The bus arrived behind schedule, so we missed the connection in Leiria by 3 minutes, waited for the next one, 30 minutes later.

Having learned our lesson, immediately upon arrival in Batalha around 11:00, we checked with the very kind tourist office. Yes, there is a bus at 14:13 - you can go to Alcobaca - we can store your bags, but we are closed for lunch 13:00 to 14:00. We ended up parking our backpacks at the very-friendly-to-luggage-storage Monastery ticket booth. The 14:13 bus was only late by 10 minutes. However, our progress was stalled for 45 minutes by a three-car collision on a two-lane country road. We arrived in Alcobaca at 15:46 instead of 14:46. Once again we parked our bags at the Monastery ticket booth while we toured. Having arrived late, we had to leave a later bus that required a transfer in Caldas da Reinha. Of course, the bus arrived behind schedule in Caldas, missing our connections by 3 minutes, so we waited for the next one 45 minutes later; again their website showed more frequent though nonexistent buses. Finally around 8pm we arrived at our guesthouse in Obidos. I was never happier to arrive.

This has to rank among the most frustrating travel days for us. While I would not suggest skipping Batalha and Alcobaca, I certainly would rank them below Tomar, in that order.

PS: Two days later when we arrived in Nazare, our very kind landlady is very happy for us that we went to Alcobaca on Thursday instead of Saturday per our original plan, as she heard that the site was closed Friday and Saturday due to a worker strike. Any lingering frustration and doubts on our part immediately evaporated into relief. We later found online that some 10 Monument sites around the country, including Batalha and Alcobaca, went on strike for "shortage in staff".

First, the Monastery of Batalha, built to commemorate a Portuguese victory over the Spanish in 1385. It is also the burial place for the Aviz Dynasty, including Henry the Navigator (photo below).
Tomb of Henry the Navigator - Batalha, Portugal

And the chapel for the royal tombs.
Batalha, Portugal

There are also the so-called unfinished chapels, which are striking with their massive ornate columns and portals; but no dome or ceiling!
Batalha, Portugal

Batalha, Portugal

Batalha, Portugal

Batalha, Portugal

Batalha also has the tombs of Portugal's Unknown Soldiers.
Monastery - Batalha, Portugal

The Monastery's Church is huge!
Batalha, Portugal

Batalha, Portugal

Cloisters.
Batalha, Portugal

Monastery - Batalha, Portugal

Batalha, Portugal



And on to the Monastery at Alcobaca.
Monastery - Alcobaca, Portugal

This is just one aisle of the Church.
Alcobaca, Portugal

...with more royal tombs. This one of Queen Ines.
Alcobaca, Portugal

An awesome dining room with a nifty pulpit.
Monastery - Alcobaca, Portugal

Monastery - Alcobaca, Portugal

Big kitchen with running water from a diverted river, and a huge fireplace.
Kitchen - Alcobaca, Portugal

Kitchen - Alcobaca, Portugal

Beautiful cloisters, of course.
Monastery - Alcobaca, Portugal

Alcobaca, Portugal

Alcobaca, Portugal

Alcobaca, Portugal








2 comments:

Crash Eddy said...

Holy bat guano, Robin. I had to quit adding up construction expense for all these cathedrals when my total exceeded the USA national debt. Imagine what effect this "tax" has had on the population over the centuries. Why, they could've had a bigger military ... like us.

john said...

@Eddy - The other side of the story - not that I disagree much with your comment - is that building these churches often did contribute to Art and Engineering.