|This morning we do a meeting, over coffee and croissant about what we will do next – the itinerary spreadsheet is being over-ruled. We leave Pontevedra and follow the Bay of Biscay to the Pyrenees to Portugal. We see more and more vineyards, even a little church surrounded by vineyards on all sides – it seems as if the property lines are grape vines rather than fences or hedges. The housing styles change – we are in Portugal as there is no border control or passport check…..however, the words on the signs are different – neither of us know any Portuguese, but we notice a phenomenal increase in English signage…and three radio stations playing American music!
We arrive in Braga’s old city and spend several hours walking around. Again, it is an overlooked gem of a place. There is a young man playing an accordion on one of the cobbled streets….. two old people roasting chestnuts and selling them on the street. The shops and bars are quaint and well-cared for – the people are friendlier than Spain. Every street that spokes out from the main plaza has some sort of church at the end. One feels like perhaps the most sacred we’ve been to. It is a small sanctuary, roped off from the regular traffic. It has a primitive quality, like Aztec or another ancient people. In the foyer are bronze plaques naming the afficient fathers in order – beginning in 45AD to 1999! Their tombs reflect they were people of short stature.
It’s a beautiful day and the freeway ramps are lined with pampas grass. We drive on to Porto – a huge city, but clean and more prosperous appearing than the counterparts in Spain. We look around a bit and decide not to stay, instead heading down to the coast. Our first foray down a street to the sea reveals giant breakers – Linda reminisces about San Diego. We find a town called Espinho. There are large beach front hotels – why? Gambling gringos! We decide to make this a time to celebrate and relax, booking a nice room on the ocean – a sliding glass door opens on a little balcony and we can see, and hear, the crashing surf.
Mark finds a hole in the wall restaurant, Casa Flora Adega Restaurante, where we go for dinner. We don’t know what to order and they can’t understand us so we trust the man in charge. He has the kitchen prepare a feast, Bacalau (traditional Portuguese) – appetizers, wine, baked fish with salad and fried potatoes, bread – 29,60 Euros. We waddle to the closest casino where Mark plans to win the price of the weekend at craps – but they don’t play that here, so we head home to the sound of BBC world news and the crashing of the waves!