It was a marvelous three months of investigation and adventures. As many of you dear readers know, our recent trip to Portugal was to figure out if this would be a country we could live in long-term. That premise shaped our choice of city, our daily agenda, and the practical matters of just doing life (shopping, dining, entertainment, weather, activities, etc.). The short answer to “Could we live here?” is yes…but…. We came to realize that we missed our Reno nest more than we thought we would, wanted to be able to conveniently reach our grandbabes and extended family, and were honestly not going to become fluent in Portuguese. However, if anyone asks for a recommendation on where to visit in Portugal I would definitely encourage time in Braga.
In no particular order, here are the final shares of our wanderings:
Church of São João do Souto, just at the edge of the historic pedestrian-only center, offered a Happy Hour special: a tour of the sanctuary and a glass of wine for €5. We admired the rooftop gargoyles and decorative carvings.
We were entertained by the adorable children running about the courtyard where we had our repast.
Clearly we had a lovely evening!
Across the walkway from the church was a pocket park that with an installation by the Portuguese artist João Alexandrino. The tile-faced polyptych marks the 25th anniversary of the Literature Grand Prize and (according to the interpretive plaque) “emphasizes the importance and power of contemporary arts and books in the culture”.
Another church roof that caught our eye. We loved the attention to detail and the variety in the carvings.
About 4 blocks from our flat is the Municipal Market; food booths indoors with a central open area filled with vendors who come in daily with fresh fruits and vegetables. This particular photo was taken the weekend of Carnaval. It was early evening and already there were shoulder to shoulders crowds, local musicians playing at full throat, and plenty of costumes, confetti, and ribbons. Fun fact we learned: turns out Braga has the largest population of Brazilian immigrants in Portugal.
We spent most of our Carnaval evening at an open-air cafe on the Praça. You can see Bom Jesus (covered in an earlier post) on the hill in the distance (just left of center). There was a festive and companionable vibe and lots of interesting people watching.
Bob was in such a jovial mood that he consented to having his photo taken at the Jardin de Santa Bárbara gardens.
We took a day trip to visit our dear friend, Lynne, in Moledo, a beach town at the very north end of the country. Our first destination was lunch at Louro Gastronomic, a Michelin-star restaurant that featured a 5-course winter tasting menu. We were the only table in the place but the staff didn’t shave off any amenities and provided us with excellent service. To our delight, the chef surprised us by expanding our meal into seven courses and added an extra dessert! Three hours, many plates of food, and two bottles of wine later we drove over to Ponte de Lima to see the medieval city’s beautiful Roman-built bridge.
Bob vs the Romans.
On our return drive to Braga we were gifted with a double rainbow.
As we got into the city and close to our flat we watched the crowds of people dressed in red making their way to the Braga Municipal Stadium for an evening futbol game.
Estádio Municipal de Braga was designed by Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. It was carved out of a rock at the site of a former quarry and consists of two sets of stands, connected to each other by steel wires. Notice the absence of handrails in the seating area.
One of our last outings was to the Museum of Archaeology D. Diogo de Sousa. This relatively modern museum (opened in 1980) has galleries beginning with pre-history and continuing through Roman Times and the Middle Ages.
Map showing Bracara Augusta, now Braga; founded in 20 BCE as the capitol of the province.
The city was named after Emperor Augustus, who reigned at the time of its founding. The mosaic behind the bust of Augustus is a hunting scene, dated 4-6C CE.
Broken piece from a Roman sculpture.
Marble relief with theater masks.
Now it’s just totally random stuff:
Museu do Traje Dr. Gonçalo Sampaio houses a small collection of musical instruments, costumes, and clothing indigenous to Northern Portugal.
Just had to get a photo of these tomatoes.
And these HUGE red peppers.
Shelves of boxed wine – even individual portions.
The week we were leaving and fully a month before Easter they were already decorating the streets for Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations. It’s a big deal!
Scene in front of Braga Cathedral. Love the comfortable proximity of religious and secular activity.
A collection of brochures showing the range and variety of opportunities available during our stay.
And finally: throughout our time in Braga Bob and I played a bit of a guessing game about what you would call a person who lives in Braga. We toyed with Braganite (as in Renoite) and Bragatonan (as in Minnesotan) but it turns out the correct answer is Bracarense. Thank goodness for Google!
Beautiful countryside, interesting adventures, delicious looking food, and great insight into new areas. thanks for bringing us along!
My pleasure, Julie. Hope all is well with you and yours.
👏😃 can’t wait to see you again!
It was wonderful to have time together. The new haircut got Bob’s stamp of approval. Hope all house fit-ups go smoothly and quickly. You are due to go on to other pastures. Keeping the vision!
So happy that your time as Bracarenes was so wonderful, but I’m glad you are coming home too. As always the photos and commentary make it seem like we are almost with you. Undoubtedly a special place if you can eat at a Michelin star restaurant with extra service and courses — amazing. Can’t wait to see you!
It was definitely a wonderful 3 months but it is always great to be back in our nest. We head your way for the merry month of May and will be in touch regarding a meet-up.
Braggart comes to my mind!! Looks like a lovely place for me to visit !!!
Marilee – you win the naming prize! I love it.