Meandering through cities, wandering across ancient stone hallways of massive churches and monuments in the countryside, occasionally we pass a farmer and his wooden stand along the side of the road, I always make a point to stop and investigate the local produce stands. I have a photo of myself along a rural road in France, wallet open, letting a withered old farmer pull Francs out of my wallet for the bag of walnuts I purchased. We communicated with nuts, he may have robbed me of Francs, but I’ll never forget the simple encounter.
In Portugal, everyone snacks on sweets, I love dark chocolate, but multiple sweet stops is not high on my list, thus if I encounter a vendor selling nuts or fruit, I line up front & center!
A historic visit in Tomar to the Convent of Christ, originally a 12th-century Templar stronghold, the order was dissolved in the 14th century the Portuguese branch was turned into the Knights of the Order of Christ, that later supported Portugal’s maritime discoveries of the 15th century. The convent and castle complex is a historic and cultural monument and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. Filled with cloistered rooms, numbered crypt laid under the stone floor, radiant religious Portuguese tiles and fading frescoes.
An upper rampart view provided an elevated view of the original vegetable and fruit gardens which sustained many people hundreds of years ago. These empty buildings and grounds are haunted by interesting stories.
On departing, I turned back toward the garden and to my surprise a woman had set up a fruit trolley while we were inside the convent. Perfect- healthy snacks. Helia spoke a bit of English, and my guide translated for me… I carried that little bag of dried figs around for days, noshing from a local garden. She had a basket of small wild strawberries, that she fermented – just the aroma of the liquor was too much, so I didn’t indulge in the local berry liquor, but I did buy a large bag of dried oregano! I’ll be reminded of this simple exchange whenever I stir the fragrant oregano into a delectable salad dressing or marinade.