Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Portugal: Braga and around

Braga is the third largest city in Portugal but it is a rather small one with an old town that doesn't require more than an afternoon to be explored. However, it's not the city we wanted to visit but a nearby basilica, Bom Jesus de Mont (Good Jesus of the Mount) which is the most visited church in Portugal. It is the staircase leading to the church that attracts many tourists, although I'm sure it has a religious value to Christians, too. As expected, Aaron found a few tracks that would take us to the sight. There is a perfectly fine road all the way to the church but that would be too easy and boring! The tracks wound through lovely forests and past some other, less recognised, churches.


We were amazed with the number of abandoned buildings. 


Some still had their original features.

We enjoyed the pool by the campsite despite it being swamped with locals. It was extremely hot during out stay in Braga and we had nights when the kids couldn't sleep in the tent and we had late evenings just sitting outside and waiting for the temperature to drop to be able to go to bed. 

As always Marcel was busy making things. Here's a fruit basket and below an aeroplane.


Sta Marta dos Corticas - a little church at the end of the first track

The Saint Mary Magdalene Chapel in Falperra - it was a long way up, though not the longest. Portuguese seem to like a good climb to their churches.

Another track - another church - another staircase

Bom Jesus de Mont - our destination 

Bom Jesus de Mont is one of Portugal's most recognisable icons but most people visit the place not for the church but the baroque staircase, Escadaria do Bom Jesus dating from different decades of XVIII C.

And here's the staircase.


Barcelos is a medieval town North of Porto mainly known for its weekly market which is said to be the biggest in Portugal and probably even in Europe. It's on every Thursday and attracts locals as well as tourists. Obviously it was on our list of places to visit and we happened to be in the area at the right time. So on Thursday morning we set off to Barcelos. The town was very busy as we expected and it was difficult to find a car park especially for us since we weren't familiar with the town and hence didn't know where, apart from the obvious, car parks were. We drove around at first but couldn't find anything so we turned for help to a couple of guys waving at cars and showing them where to park. It wasn't obviously a free service, we were very well aware of that as we'd used similar services in the past, however when asked about the price, the guys refused to say. Unfortunately for us, we only had €20 notes which got immediately hidden in one of the guys' pocket and that's where our negotiation started. At first we were only given €5 change. When Aaron firmly indicated he wanted more, the guy took a few more coins out and was trying to hand over €9. He was obviously told to give more back. Eventually we agreed that he kept €6 and we had the change back. 

Once the car park fee got sorted out, we walked to the market square. It was indeed a big one with a variety of products from clothes and shoes through veggies and fruits to even still alive chickens and rabbits. Everything looked pretty good and since it was a very hot day we couldn't help but buy lots and lots of fruit.  

Upon return to the car Aaron was approached by a man, a tourist as well, who shared his experience with the car park guys. He gave the guys €5 but they'd noticed he had €20 note and asked for more so he gave them the €20 thinking he'd have the 5 and some change back but his €20 along with the €5 simply disappeared in a guy's pocket and the three of them just walked away. Our €6 car park fee sure looks like a small price in comparison!

At the market

Rooaters - they are everywhere!
The rooster - the national symbol of Portugal, can be found on ceramics,  towels, aprons and lots of other items sold at local markets. The legend goes back as far as 16th century when a humble pilgrim stopped to rest in Barcelos on his way to Santiago de Compostela only to find himself wrongly accused of theft and then condemned to be hanged. The pilgrim claimed to be innocent and told the judge that his dinner, a rooster, would affirm it. As the judge was about to tuck in, the cooked cockerel began to crow. The pilgrim was obviously set free. 
It was a hot day.

Barcelos on any other day than Thursday

                                                           A hot day again

 Micky is taking care of our treats from a local patisserie. 

This is where the market is held every Thursday.

Lazy afternoons at the campsite in Braga

Delicious food purchased at the market in Barcelos


Traditional bath


No comments:

Post a comment

Morocco: Western Sahara: Tan Tan - Alsa

Our next route was taking us from Tan Tan (the end of first route) across the Western Sahara to a town called Alsa which Chris Scotts whose...