Friday, April 21, 2006


Day tripped (by bus. Both of these townies are only 20 or so kms from Nazarè, but biking the round-trippy through uphills is a big pain in the neck) to Batalha and Alcobaça, two must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites, mostly because of the monasteries.

In the Church of Santa Maria de Alcobaça, the acoustics are impressive. What do you expect with a vault like this?

In the Batalha Monastery, one of the most interesting features is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, dedicated to the soldier that died in the great war 1914-1918.

They also have a museum of offerings to the unknown soldier: everything from banners, photographs, engraved stone tablets, medals, crowns of flowers, palms and olive branches of bronze, plaques, letters, ornaments in filigree of gold, from presidents and ambassadors and representatives of all countries: USA, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Poland, France. They even have medals (of all sorts, of valor, conmemorative, etc) from commanders, lieutenants, and soldiers of future wars, some too, who also died in combat, many years since.

And as I wandered around the room filled with all these reverent treasures, I couldn't help thinking: What bulls$#%t. None of this is worth anything, the moment a kid dies alone in a war that is as nonsensical and meaningless as this collection of trinkets.

Tomorrow: Bike to Leiria and onwards to Pombal, if time permits.

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