Sunday, April 04, 2010

easter in portugal

happy easter, dear readers! after we arrived in madrid last week, we decided to take a holy-week break from blogging. we also decided to take a road trip to portugal. that's the great thing about being granted a schengen visa—you can take a trip to any of the EU countries. and you don't even have to bring your passport! (but we did just to be on the safe side; besides when you pay by credit card and they see you're from another country, they sometimes ask you to present your passport.) we drove from madrid to portugal in about three hours and if you missed this sign you wouldn't even have known that you had already entered another country!
there was no border control. and none of those huge arches that say "welcome to [fill in barrio/city/province/country]" that we're so used to seeing on road trips in the philippines. from the border, we drove another three hours to the alto douro wine region and we swear, it was like we were driving through the cordillera region again! twisty roads? check.
pine trees? check.
rice terraces? check.
rice terraces?? only these aren't rice terraces—these are grapevine terraces! this is wine country we visited and, just like our rice terraces, is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
we stayed in a charming little place called casa das pipas, which is the guesthouse located within the quinta do portal winery. haay we could live here...
nearby is sabrosa, the town where ferdinand magellan was born (yes, the portuguese explorer credited for "discovering" the philippines, then promptly killed by lapulapu and his men as soon as he set foot on the beaches of mactan). the town erected a statue of him in the middle of a rotonda, and the house where he was born still stands.
today we went to hear easter sunday mass in a village chapel much like this one (they all look the same):
simple on the outside but with an elaborately decorated altar completely covered in gold leaf, quite similar to this:
of course we didn't understand a word the priest was saying and his sermon was sooooo long. at medyo nagulat kami during peace-be-with-you kasi hindi lang tungo kundi beso—on both cheeks pa! how very european! then when we went for communion, before he gave us the host, the priest asked us, "philippines?" and when we said yes, he said "welcome!" then before he gave the final blessing, he told the congregation that there are new parishioners from "filipinas" and that everyone must welcome us with open arms. of course we only found out about this after mass because someone from our group speaks fluent portuguese. that made us smile :-)

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