Our final Portuguese blog entry. Leaving somewhere is always hard, especially when there has been an impartation and exchange that was beautiful, unique and rare. When you step out from the boundaries of home, the things that define your daily structures and routines, and when ‘familiar’ is thrown out the window, you are given a perspective that leaves you questioning and examining those things that create your everyday life. Travelling grants you this luxury of reflection and reminds you of the beauty of things you may have let become complacent, reminds you of the pace you should be living as opposed to the one that always creeps in and makes ‘busy’ a lifestyle, and also highlights the things that have become habit but demand new life and change! Or maybe it just gives you an excuse to spend all the money you have been saving, feast on food like it’s the last day on earth and just feel free of time and structure!
Easter was incredible, and close to Braga was the town of Guimarães, which was crowned Portugals capital of Culture.. which is a big call, and definitely added a different expectancy when approaching its heart. Having read about a flea market in the town square we were eager to start exploring. We had no concept of the town layout, so we popped our forgein heads into a shop to ask for directions.. only to be told the market wasn’t on! We were sad. ‘Keep walking’, a little voice whispered into all our heads, and before us, under a low arched building, standing like a rambling exposed attic that you stumble across at your grandparents house, we walked right into the embrace of a small flea market! What! Our sadness turned to glee, and we took the time to explore the few stalls, that reminded me of a faded wooden cupboard that had just burst open, spilling forth a random, yet appealing, array of goods. Ahhh.. our love of flea markets!!
A visit to the castle was a must, as we sat perched upon the high stone turret looking over this quaint village. On our walk back down the streets we could here drums booming, and as we progressed, the beats grew louder and louder, until we came face to face with a mind-blowing street parade of drummers and dancers. The striking beat quickly crept its way into onlookers skin, and one could not stand still. As the bass drum players raised their drums in the air, booming them with passion, the street burst alive with dance! At this moment we now understood why they were called the Capital of Culture. We couldn’t help but follow the addictive sounds they were creating, as they walked the old town streets and ended up where our little market was situated only hours before. Smiles beamed on faces, as the dancers threw themselves into vibrant movement, hands in the air, hair flicking in all directions, whilst the drummers echoed their beats and danced themselves! What a sight, what an experience.. what joy!
By this stage it was Sunday, and that meant we had to leave the North and make the journey back to Lisbon. We had planned to pick a place to stay just out of Lisbon, before entering the city. We stayed in Obidos, which was bitter/sweet. Sweet because it was absolutely stunning, like entering a dream! Bitter because we only had one night there, and we wished we could’ve stayed longer. We arrived to a dainty market, live music and their famous liqueur served in chocolate cups… yes that’s right, chocolate cups! Oh the handy crafts were just incredible, and sitting in the gateway entrance to the walled village was a dear old lady hand embroidering the most gorgeous linen. Jane and Rachel were so moved by her work, her absolute precision with detail and her humble nature. The colours she placed against the linen, made the flowers come alive, bursting with springtime bloom. Though no English spoken, appreciation was exchanged as we watched her worn hands work, producing beauty! These pieces we bought off this precious soul will be treasured for life!
Arriving back in Lisbon did have a sense of arriving home. Our familiar and friendly guesthouse, the produce store where we would stock up on olives and cheese, and the old man with white hair and a crooked smile. The tram 28, taking us to all our favourite nooks.. like that beautiful little store we mentioned in our first Portuguese blog. We just had to get some handmade slippers from these lovely women, of which were all embroidered and made by their grandmother in north Portugal! We had timed it perfectly to visit the much loved Lisbon Flea Market.. with stalls and stalls of treasure. (a must do if you are heading to lisbon!) At this stage we thought nothing else could fit in the suitcase.. but we still left the market with 3 bags full confident we could squeeeeeeeeze just a few more bits and bobs in.
Our last day trip was so the fairytale town of Sintra, and in the pouring rain we ventured up mountains to the most stunning Royal Palace, which embodied rich and extravagent colour, pattern, style and of course breathtaking tiles.
We are not good with goodbyes, (especially when you are lugging heavy suitcases, back packs, a bag of ceramics, and hats!!).. but the time had come for us to go home, bringing with us the physical delights and the internal wisdoms we had picked up along the journey. From South to North we were greeted with big hearts and souls, and a nation of people who cared and treated us like family. We were inspired, humbled and indeed treated by the amazing artists we met along on our travels, committing to the practice of handmade and carrying years of tradition and craft down the line, keeping its heritage alive. We experienced the language of handmade in many ways, in the subtle smile behind a weaving loom, to the kisses upon cheeks of store owners. We were blessed to have this experience, and we hope it inspired you, the reader, in whatever way it needs too.
Now we are back home, with the Australian soil under our feet, the winter sun beaming through our trees, which are clinging to the last remaining leaves upon their branches, we continue our endeavour to speak the language of handmade here, and afar! We would love to hear from you at anytime, what you absorded from our trip and your own experiences.. email@example.com So between here and the next pen, enjoy the day!