Thursday, April 04, 2013

My journey of faith

I have the month of April to get ready for my next trip which I mentioned a few weeks ago. My friend Rosa and I along with a group of about 40 other people are going to the Azores, Portugal and Spain on a religious pilgrimage. Now don't start laughing too hard that I would be going on a religious pilgrimage. I am not Catholic but the trip sounded interesting so I decided that it would be a good opportunity to go.

 Rosa and I have been friends for more than 20 years. She is originally from Portugal and invited me to go there with her many years ago but I couldn't go. She invited me in December and the timing was right this time so I decided to go. We'll be going for 2 weeks and we'll be seeing a lot with a very full itinerary. The travel agent said that should we wish to opt out of any of the activities and do our own thing, we can do that.

Here is a map of the Azores, Portugal and Spain. The Azores is almost on the far left .... way in the Atlantic Ocean.

Map of Azores, Portugal and Spain

 Here is our itinerary for the 14 days:


  • Depart Canada to Lisbon

  • Arrival in Lisbon, transfer to the hotel, rest of the day free, dinner at the hotel
  • Full day visit of Lisbon, including the magnificent Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a work of art considered as the most prominent monument of Lisbon, Torre De Belem, Monument of Discoveries, Rossio, Paca do Comercio, Avenida da Liberdade, Saint Jorge Castle, located in the highest hill of Alfama, the oldest quarter of Lisbon, mass at the Convento de Sao Vicente De Fora. transfer to Airport late afternoon for the flight to Ponta Delgada Sao Miguel. Upon arrival in Ponta Delgada, transfer to Hotel for Overnight. São Miguel, called The Green Island, covered by forests, pastures, beautiful landscapes, many deep crater lakes, geysers and cozy villages, it is the largest and most enchanting island of the Azores.
  • Free day on your own to visit the city; The City Gates, or “Portas da Cidade”, São Sebastião Church, Constructed in 1547, São José Church, built in 1709, a hispano-mexican influence seen in the sculptured religious statues, blue and white tiles and wood work done in Jacarandá wood, baroque style. Esperança Monastery, known as “Convento da Esperança” or simply Church do Senhor Santo Cristo”. In April 1540 constant pirate attacks along the coast, forced the religious order to leave the convent in Caloura. They brought with them the statue of Christ of Miracles to the Esperança Monastery. The Festival of Sr. Santo Cristo is the most important religious festival in the Azores. It started at the end of the 17th century with the fame of the miracles obtained. The procession dates from that period, and even nowadays follows the same itinerary, it comprises of tens of thousands of the faithful who come from every island in the Azores and from the Azorean communities spread over the world. Ponta Delgada is transformed into a town full of colour and animation during the days of the festival, even the streets where the procession passes are covered with carpets of laid out flowers, overnight in Ponta Delgada.
  • Full day to participate in the religious festivities, overnight in Ponta Delgada
  • Today we will visit; Lagoa Do Fogo (Fire Lake), contrasting with the breathtaking mountain range. Ribeira Grande A walking tour through the city to observe the architecture of many of the older buildings including; The churches, “Nossa Senhora da Estrela”, the City Hall, continue to Miradouro de Santa Iria for the breath taking view of the North coast, Gorreana Tea plantation and factory, for the splendorous views of the tea plantation, visit the factory, Miradouro do Pico de Ferro, the look-out point presents a stunning view of the lake, and the valley of “Furnas”, a true paradise, Furnas lake, surrounded by a beautiful flowered shore which inspires moments of tranquility and romance. The area of the “Caldeiras” (Hot Springs) at the lake, serve as a natural kitchen to provide a fantastic meal of mixed meats and vegetables “cozido”. “Caldeiras” and The “Terra Nostra” Park is one of the most beautiful parks in São Miguel. Lunch in Furnas, return to Ponta Delgada for overnight.
  • Today we will visit; Sete Cidades;‘Vista do Rei’, with superb views over the, crater of Sete Cidades, a major nature attractions of São Miguel, the paradisiacal landscape, with two lakes, Lagoa Verde with crystalline green water and Lagoa Azul with striking blue water, separated by a narrow land bridge a truly unforgettable sight, as well as the charming little hamlet of Sete Cidades with its curious houses, a small neo-Gothic church at the end of a cedar-lined road, continue to Capelas for lunch in a special Quinta and a visit to it’s the Museum return to Ponta Delgada for overnight.
  • We depart from Sao Miguel this morning, transfer to the Airport for the flight to Porto. Upon arrival in Porto we will start the visit to the North of Portugal. Guimarães, The Cradle of Portugal, visit the Castle were the first king of Portugal was born; Braga known as the Rome of Portugal it is packed with splendid baroque churches, and the ringing of their bells, are a constant reminder that Braga is and has been a religious power centre. The hand of God even extends beyond the city to the biggest attraction, Bom Jesus do Monte or Braga located high on a forested slope at the top of a splendid baroque staircase that climbs up in a series of terraced zigzags, Mass at Bom Jesus de Braga, overnight and dinner at the hotel in Braga.
  • Today our journey takes us to the city of Santiago de Compostela the capital city of Galicia Spain, mass to be celebrated in the Sanctuary of Santiago de Compostela one of the most important sanctuaries of Spain and where St. James, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, is buried. Return to Portugal for overnight and dinner at the hotel in Braga
  • Today we visit Porto the second-largest city in Portugal, mass at the Cathedral (Sé do Porto) located in the historical centre of the city one of the oldest monuments and the most important Romanesque monuments in Portugal. Visit to a port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. Continue to Coimbra to Santa Clara Convento where Rainha Santa Isabel is buried, on to Batalha to the Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, the most beautiful Gothic monument one will ever see. Continue to Fatima, one of the most visited Marian shrines in the World, the apparitions to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, as they tended sheep in an isolated ravine called Cova da Iria, began on the 13 May 1917 and continued each month through October, dinner and accommodation in Fatima
  • Today we visit Nazare, the most picturesque fishing village of Portugal it is here that women wear several layers of petticoats. The fishing boats are Phoenician in design with bright colors and eyes painted on the vessels, supposedly with the magical power to avert storms. High above the town is the view point Sitio. Monastery of Alcobaça, one of the most magnificent gothic monuments in the country. In the church are the tombs of King Pedro I and his murdered mistress Inês de Castro. Over the centuries this monastery had an important role on Portuguese culture. Obidos known as the "Wedding Present Town" because it was a gift King Dinis gave to Queen Isabel on their wedding day in 1282, Europe's most romantic medieval villages with picturesque cobblestone streets lined with colorful houses all encircled by the walls of a 12th century castle, Tomar a charming and historically outstanding town it is dominated by a 12th-century Templar castle containing one of the country's most significant and impressive monuments, the Convent of Christ a World Heritage Site.Return to Fatima for dinner and overnight
12 MAY 2013: FATIMA
  • Day in Fátima, to visit the house of the Pastorinhos and attend festivities in Fatima candle light procession and mass in the evening, dinner and overnight in Fatima
  • After the mass departure to Lisbon at 3 PM Overnight and dinner in Lisbon
  • Early transfer to the airport for the flight to Frankfurt and on to Canada
I'll be writing/blogging more about the trip as we get ready and while we're there so keep coming back.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

And I don't have a picture of you wearing the "now famous" birthday hat. Next time. Posted After 10:27pm so it's officially your birthday.

Love mom