Well I certainly feel like I have been able to scratch below the surface of Portugal a little. Over the past two weeks I tried to consume quite a lot that Portugal has to offer. This includes spending a lot of time in their cafe’s consuming their very smooth tasting coffee which seems to be best served as a small shot and eating as many custard tarts as possible.
I have had moments of being in family run unpretentious restaurants that only really have locals in and ordering food that I have no idea about but it has all been delicious. This may of course be aided by the fact that I can be a really unfussy eater when I want to be, but seriously Portugal has certainly kept me well fed for a very good price. The people I have met have been generally friendly and you can see that they are generally proud of their country. Of course I have touched a little on the problems the country may be facing and of course you have to take everything with a pinch of salt but one lady who runs one of the hostels I stayed told me “If you compare the problems we have to somewhere like Brazil then everything seems a lot simpler”, she has a point. From what I have seen of the rest of Portugal I certainly would like to go back and explore a bit more. Feel free to read my previous post which has now been edited and some photos added to hopefully add some context. In this I want to mention more about Braga, in specific Bom Jesus. I read about this pilgrimage probably via the Rough Guide book and according to them some of the people who walk up the steps on this pilgrimage site on their knees and there really are quite a lot of steps.
Now you may find the things that people do in the for religious pilgrimage a bit odd but I have to respect them. Walking up to Bom Jesus myself I could feel the calm and serenity in the air. It’s only a short bus ride from central Braga and the busses run twice an hour so you can get up there and back in less than a day but I would encourage you to spend a bit more time up there, take in the grounds and maybe take lunch at the top. Just spend some time up there and you may find some sort of tranquility or even enlightenment. I certainly found some calm up there. I’ve dropped in a few photos below of the walk up to and the cathedral itself, I’m not sure if the sense of calm comes across on them but I would say if you are ever in the area try to go see it.
So with that and the adventure of Guimaraes it was time to head back south but if I ever get another chance to go to that part again I would try to go to Barcelos where the national icon of Portugal (The Barcelos Cock) originates and a few other places I am sure. There is a lot inside me that would want to ride a motorbike or a bike around this area too as it’s lovely, maybe next time.