We entered the River Tagus and headed inland up river towards Lisbon and the "25 April Bridge". This bridge was built by the same company that built the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and has a nickname of 'The Buzzing Bridge' because of the noise of cars and trains passing over the steel gratings. It certainly was noisy, as we sailed underneath it, and docked just upstream from it with the monument of Christ The King (Cristo Rei) on our starboard side. This was an appropriate greeting for us as we joined our tour to 'Fatima'.
We travelled through the Tagus Plains, enjoying the scenery, with many spring flowers in bloom, and the bullfighting region of Vila Franca, before reaching the pilgrimage site of Fatima. According to local lore, three peasant children observed the 'Lady of the Light' believed to be the Virgin Mary. Over a period of five months these children had several apparitions, when finally a miracle was said to have been written in the sky, in front of over 70,000 witnesses. Today, many people from around the world make the famous pilgrimage to Fatima in search of the miracles
For me it was a wondrous site to behold and experience and although it was full of people there was an air of complete peace and serenity, and something I am so glad I experienced.
After attending Mass and the Rosary, in the Chapel of Apparitions, we walked around the magnificent Basilica, with its spectacular stained glass windows and paintings and visited the tombs of the three peasant children. Finally a visit to the ultra modern church, which can seat up to 9,000 people.
On our arrival back to the ship, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and a few hundred yards away was a street lined with bars and cafes. Yes you guessed it, four of us said, this calls for 'blast from the past' - a bottle of Mateus Rose. However, that was not the highlight, because who should come running past us but a trim, fit man, with brightly coloured orange shorts, it was indeed our Captain, who gave us a wave, and we responded, by telling him not to leave without us.