When traveling to a country like Portugal which is full of history and tradition you have to take in a festival. There is lots to choose from but it is a matter of timing and a bit of research. Festa dos Tabuleiros would be ours. Young girls in traditional white costumes carry towering platters of bread and flowers on their heads.
They walk for up to 7kms balancing the platters. We were told that the tower is the made the same height as the girl carrying it and weights up to 50lbs. But that happens on Sunday and it is Thursday
Our B&B is 70kms from Tomar where the weeklong festival takes place. Our plans were to arrive early so that we could get a good parking spot. Portuguese people have this amazing talent that enables them to park a car anywhere which can result in you spending a lots more time at the festival then you plan, because you can’t get your car out. With the first part of the plan executed we were left with 6 hours in the searing heat.
The city of Tomar, has this festival every 4 years. It started this year on the 4 of July, we are here on the 9th. This is the day all the streets will be decorated in different themes. The plans are kept secret until unveiling day which is today.
There is sheets of plastic covering the entrance to each street and the people that live on the street are busy decorating. We peek behind the plastic to get an idea of what is going on and it is pretty cool.
We manage several stops for gelati, coffee, salads, and more gelati. At our final gelati spot the young man speaks excellent English and is impressed with Philippa’s fully accented Portuguese. She now has ordering gelati down to a fine art. He comes out to join us and suggests we have dinner at the medieval restaurant opposite the church, Restaurante Taverna Antiqua. Only in Portugal does someone recommend another restaurant other then the one they work at to customers. We headed over to the restaurant had a great meal and could hear the music start as the streets were being opened.
The girls are ready to see what all the fuss is about and are not disappointed. Some of the streets are more the 1/2km long and they are brimming with paper flowers, garlands, bees, cornettos, candies you name it. The people are being congratulated on their accomplishments and how amazing each street looks. There are lots of children wearing the traditional outfits, girls in the white dress and sash and the boys are in the butler outfit.
The children of the street are selling mini flower arrangement to help pay for the cost of the decorations. Others are selling t-shirts with the streets theme.
There are 1000s of people here now and the streets are a big party. We had a wonderful time and have 40 thousand photos of the whole festival. Then we executed the final stage, getting our car out without a problem