Portugal: One Foot in the Past and One in the Future

While many things are changing in modern Portugal, the nation still holds steadfast to many traditions

Fátima is one of Europe’s top pilgrimage destinations. There are plenty of picnic benches, endless parking and desolate toilets for the masses. (Courtesy of Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door)

(Continued from page 1)

Wandering around modern Fátima and its commercial zone, I’m impressed by how it mirrors my image of a medieval pilgrim zone: oodles of picnic benches, endless parking, and desolate toilets for the masses. Just beyond the church, 30 stalls lining a mall await the monthly onslaught on the 13th. Even without any business, old ladies still watch over their booths, surrounded by trinkets for pilgrims--including gaudy, wax body parts and rosaries that will be blessed after Mass and taken home to remember Our Lady of Fátima.

Vivid memories of Portugal--whether heavenly sweets or slick new freeways--are abundant in this country with one foot in the past and one in the future.

Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. E-mail him at rick@ricksteves.com, or write to him c/o P.O. Box 2009, Edmonds, WA 98020.

© 2010 Rick Steves

About Rick Steves
Rick Steves

Rick Steves is a travel writer and television personality. He coordinated with Smithsonian magazine to produce a special travel issue Travels with Rick Steves.

Read more from this author

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus