Monday, September 21, 2015

Trip to Tomar

My friend approached me the other day about wanting to go visit 3 monasteries around 2 hours outside of Lisbon. We decided to go after school on a Friday, stay overnight, and come back Saturday evening. Not everything went as planned (we only actually ended up going to one out of three) BUT the place we stayed, a town called Tomar, ended up being a lot more fun than one might have thought. To get there, we took a bus from Lisbon which took about 1.5 hours. We rented out a room in a guesthouse called Residencial Uniao. It was late already so we weren't actually able to view the monastery on the hill above the town that day, so instead we just wandered around.

Square where you can just see the monastery peaking out behind the trees:

We ended up walking into a matchbox museum. It contained room after room after room of matchboxes from all different times and organized by the country it cam from. It was probably the most overwhelming thing ever because all of the boxes were so beautiful but it would have taken days to look at them all:

To get an idea of how many matchboxes we could have seen that day:

 A plus is that it's completely free and they had some cute matchboxes that you could take.

Right across from the museum in the same courtyard was a tile workshop where women were using pottery wheels and painting tiles:

We decided to walk around the grounds surrounding the convent next.. we had NO idea how huge they actually were at that point....

Dramatic picture taken outside the grounds by my friend:

 It was really beautiful while the sun was setting. We WERE looking for an overlook but we got so lost we just ended up wandering through some hills until we completely lost hope.

Ok so this next part was the best thing of the whole trip besides the actual convent. In Tomar, at the corner of the main square, is a restaurant called "Taverna Antiqua". This place is SO GREAT. The inside of the restaurant is completely lit by candles and is decorated like a tavern from the middle ages. The tables are made of rough wood and the benches are covered in animal skins. The glasses are made of ceramic but in the shape of goblets. They have drinks like mead, cider, and farmers beer. The food is really interesting and a lot of it is made with things like chestnuts and apples. Even the bathroom was cool: the door was weighted and the sink had a bamboo stake spout and was surrounded by candles (kind of Japanese style?) All of the waiters are dressed in tunics.

I ordered some mead, it was really really good:

 The inside of the restaurant:

The bathroom door with a hanging weight and a sliding latch:

 The sink:

Our food: We decided to split a roasted leg of ham after the waiters suggestion. It came with chestnuts and greens also mixed with chestnuts. There was so much food here it probably could have fed at least one other person:

The waiter was really nice so we decided to take pictures with him at the end. It was funny because the entire time we were there I kept playing with the wax from the candles because they were everywhere and dripping and I couldn't help it. The waiter kept making fun of me and at the end he asked me if I wanted my own chunk of wax. It ends up they collect all the melted wax from the tables, keep it in trashcans, and at the end remelt it to make new candles. I went home with a big chunk that day and it's still in my bag.

DAY 2:

The next day we were finally able to see the convent, called Convento da Ordem de Cristo. The place was huge and it was really interesting because it had originally been used by the Templars.

 Dormitories for the monks:

 The kitchen:

The Dining hall:

 The aqueducts:

 For storing oil:

 On the way out:

 And here are the rest of the pictures we took:

Birds nesting in little beehive looking nests under the roof at our hotel:

We decided to take pictures with the waiter from the restaurant we ate lunch at as well:

 On a final note, I was able to skip a level of Portuguese to go to a more advanced class. I am really happy about it. Today was the first day I was there and I was very nervous at first but it ends up that I understand mostly everything that is going on both with speaking and reading. *My* speaking skills are not so good right now though so hopefully I will improve quickly.