The U.S. Doesn’t Have These

What does Europe have that the United States doesn’t? Bidets, Magnum ice cream bars, and towns like Óbidos, Portugal. I’m not sure whether there’s less tourism to the U.S. or whether it’s just different tourism. Our big cities are much more spread out, plus our shorter history yields fewer noteworthy sites for tourists to visit. In Europe, small towns thrive…

Convent of Christ

Tomar, Portugal We left Évora (which, by the way, is lovely) and drove north about 2 1/2 hours to Tomar for a day trip to see the Convent of Christ. The monastery was built in the 12th century by the Knights Templar. Its enticing architecture is, like many sites in Portugal, a combination of styles: Gothic, Renaissance, Roman,…

Rebirth

On November 1, 1755, an enormous earthquake hit Lisbon. Thousands of people had left their homes for church early in the morning to light candles in honor of All Saints’ Day. As buildings shook and crashed to the ground, they erupted in flames, and the people of Lisbon ran down to the large open plaza near…

Monasteries and Castles and Palaces, Oh My!

My family arrived at the monastery in Belém on Sunday morning. It was the first thing we did after arriving in Lisbon besides dropping our bags at our hotel. We were exhausted, definitely, but we were also thrilled to be in a new place with nothing to do but experience its culture. The monastery in Belém…