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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Batalha Monastery

Continuing the theme of mediaeval monuments I wanted to post some pictures the gorgeous Batalha monastery which we visited outside of Lisbon. As you can see it has the same decorative Manueline style that we saw at San Jeronimus in Belem, there were flourishes, curves and decoration everywhere.

This place was enormous with an incredibly elaborate unfinished chapel with flying buttresses below. It was a clear cold day and there were very few other visitors, D. and I had the place to ourselves, fabulous!
The main entrance  is beautifully decorated but now it is unfortunately facing away from the town and towards the motorway. Overall this beautiful structure looks a little like an island floating in the middle of a rather nondescript area filled with outdates souvenir shops and an huge parking lot.
The single story cloister was very peaceful and filled with the sound of water from the Renaissance fountain. The tombs of Portugal's unknown soldiers are housed here along with an impressive honor guard.
I loved the shadows thrown on the walls from the lacy stonework in the cloister. As you can see each arch took a different form.
The unfinished chapel (below) located behind the apse is gorgeous but has no roof.
Here you can see the extraordinarily decorative stonework in the unfinished chapel.
Batalha is a UNESCO World Heritage site and entrance to the church is free, however you will need to buy a ticket for the cloister and the unfinished chapel. Highly recommended for the stone work alone. I took so many more pictures and we both enjoyed a leisurely stroll around.