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Bombarral: A Forgotten Hub

by Łukasz

Portugal is a country full of small, charming towns just on the outskirts of the main touristic trails. Bombarral is one of them. Once a major hub for the railroad transportation, now it is a fairly forgotten place, especially by the international tourists. It is at the very beginning of its new life. The rebirth might happen thanks to the fresh political power governing the place, but time will tell if they will manage to work it out. I believe it is worth it. And I think you will too, after spending there more than one afternoon.

 

Bombarral

 

It is easy to get to Bombarral, especially by train (my personal favorite) or a much faster bus, but coming by car might prove to be even more convenient once you learn how many things are there to see in its surroundings.

 

The town itself, though... there's not that much to see. I can recommend a walk which will take you less than an hour: from the train station to the church Santíssimo Salvador do Mundo, across the city park, to the square in front of the municipality (nearby are also the city's museum and the theater), next to Capela da Madre Deus and back to the train station. One walk Bombarral instant. That's just the first impression.

Staying longer, you learn more. You learn to appreciate the details of Bombarral. Really close to the church Santíssimo Salvador do Mundo you can find Pastelaria Real where you can enjoy, I think my favorite, version of the famous pastel de nata here with a pear hidden under the cream (amazing!). The park is a fantastic place where to charge batteries, when there I felt like I'd be time-traveling to to the Portuguese nature's past. Both, the theater and the museum also deserve a closer look should you like this kind of places. The train station itself is also a great spot where to spend a few more moments there to admire the tile-work decorating its walls.

 

Sobral & Carvalhal

 

Wandering Sloths were not living in Bombarral. We have been hosted by the Country Villa in Sobral: a small village just outside of the town. The beautiful house had been our safe haven and inspiration, the village – not that much. Except of a little church, great, panoramic views, and a lot of peace it doesn't have other attractions that I would see nor test. Nonetheless, it gives a chance to be in a walking distance, you should already know how much I enjoy it!, to some very attractive spots.

 

The first of those, definitely worth recommending, is Carvalhal. It's yet another small village, but unique due to well preserved medieval urban planning enchanted in its streets and... churches. In order to get to the one in the center you need to ask the lady from a nearby shop but you won't regret it. Another, Ermida da Nossa Senhora do Socorro, is a tiny, modest, and usually closed chapel but hides inside a magical interior from scratch designed to be covered by tiles. It's a beautiful piece of the Portuguese art. I'll be glad to help you out in getting the key (we know a guy). The third of the churches, the Sanctuary of the Lord Jesus do Carvalhal has a very interesting history connected to the fishermen and Sunday bread picnics.

 

Buddha Eden

 

As much as the art which you can find in Carvalhal churches is somewhat spectacular, the most touristic place of the area is totally different: the biggest oriental garden in Europe Buddha Eden built on the premises of a Bacalhôa vineyard. I will not use too many words to describe it saying what follows. I believe that it is a wonderful project with a wasted, or mismanaged, capacity. It makes me think of places designed for compulsive instagrammers. It once was free to enter, once you could have a picnic on its grounds. Not anymore. It is a patchwork of modern art and Eastern traditions with meaning lost in the noise of the sheer amount of what is planted within the borders of the garden. It could be an educational masterpiece promoting East. It could be many things but it is not. But... but the wine which you can get there is fantastic.

 

Finally...

 

Bombarral for me is a place with a lot of potential which now can serve as a great home for you when you stay in the region. A different kind of a hub, one for expeditions into the Oeste. Even my favorite Montejunto is very close, and cheap train traveling gives a comfortable, even if lacking punctuality, access to Óbidos or Caldas da Rainha. So, Bombarral? Give it a chance!

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