Setting Forth – to Fatima via Frankfurt

Abu Dhabi – Frankfurt – Lisbon

Night flights aren’t the best thing happening especially if it means changing flights in the middle of the night and fighting the urge to sleep. Lucky though for us – the flight to Frankfurt was empty and almost everyone had the opportunity to stretch out. I didn’t … and caught some of the most spectacular aerial night views as we crossed the continent. Flying at 12,000 meters, with absolutely no cloud, the cobwebs created by the string of lights is an awesome sight. Interesting too were the patches of light in the intense darkness as we passed over smaller towns and still smaller villages. A friendly member of the flight crew gave us a running commentary of what lay beneath our wings – thank you Lufthansa  for that personal touch.

Ever heard of the chronic hygiene freak who chose to wipe every part of the seat with a wet wipe? Little overboard for me, and you’ll see why. When sleep took control and the eyes  could fight back no longer, all hygiene was forgotten. Miss Hygienix found an empty three seater next to me, picked up all the blankets and pillows that she could find and crept under them to sleep.

Ooops! Forgot to disinfect the place… should I have reminded her?

Wish someone had reminded me of great photography opportunity as I gazed mesmerized out of my window. Sadly though, only remembered my camera at a much later stage when the cabin lights had already been switched back on for an early breakfast, and the reflection made pictures near impossible.

A long wait at Frankfurt, but fun and some real good ‘frankfurter’.

The minute we saw Rui at the Lisbon Airport, we knew we had the right man. His warmth and joy at seeing us, made us feel at home the moment we landed on Portuguese soil.

We were a little skeptical when we decided to book some tours with a company we found through and online search, but were quite convinced after Gil from Around Lisbon began writing to us. Rui is a walking encyclopedia on Portugal and you just need to flip to the right page. Gil had kindly agreed to do our transfer to Fatima and the hour-long drive was filled with insights from Portuguese history and culture. At the Santo Condestavel, Rui left us with an assurance that we had great friends in Portugal  who were willing to help in any way they could.

We spent the evening browsing through the shops on the way to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, picking little souvenirs and keepsakes for family and friends.  We decided that each of us would buy a special Rosary as our personal remembrance if the visit, and pray with that Rosary during the evening  prayer and candlelight procession at the grotto.

What an amazing experience that was! Pilgrim groups shared turns in reciting the decades and we prayed that evening in seven languages. But even then, the few thousands gathered together sounded as one – one body, one Church that our Mother brings together every day to celebrate her Son’s redeeming sacrifice.

As we walked back to the hotel, we all concluded that we had not had enough… tomorrow we would be there again to share the wonderful prayer  with a few thousand more brothers and sisters.

Earlier that evening Nuno, the manager  of the Flomar restaurant  spoke of the hundreds of thousands in the candle light processions  on the feast days – now I wonder what a faith experience that would be!

Nuno fed us with a sumptuous meal of fresh grilled Robinho, Baccalahau and Resois de peixe and some good Vinho Tinto topped with a wealth on information of the best things to do over the next day in Fatima.

The next morning, After having a good brekfast at the hotel we walked down to the sanctuary, and went to the Basilica. We met a friendly priest, Fr.Rodrigo from Sao Paulo,
who blessed our rosaries and took some pictures with us. We then visited the museum and were amazed by the things that people have donated to the sanctuary
in thanksgiving for favours recieved. The pinnacle of the treasures was the crown made by the women of Fatima with the bullet that struck Pope John Paul II
in the centre.The crown is placed on the statue when it is taken out in processionon on feast days. We then took the train to the ‘Casa del Pastorinhos’, the homes of the children.
We walked down to the place where the Angel appeared to the children, and met an old lady, and got talking to her. It turns out that she is the neice of Lucia, one
of the three children who Our Lady appeared to. It was interesting talking to this 92 year old lady who prefers to spend most of her day by the well where the Angel appeared to her aunt.
With tear filled eyes she recounted to us the stories of the apparition, that she had heard recounted in the family, perhaps a million times, from the time she was a baby.
Wandering around the farmer’s market, we found some of the best peaches we have ever tasted, and some good conversation in the bargain.

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