Friday, September 28, 2018

Our Trip to Viana, Portugal

I've been posting about Galicia next door at my Fourth Wish blog, so I'll save blogging Portugal for this blog. (Portugal and England do have a connection, although it goes back much further than the Victorian Era.)

We normally spend a few days in Braga, Portugal, each time we come to Spain. I have set a mystery novel in Braga, and in the process of doing research, my husband and I made several wonderful friends there. One of them moved to Viana do Castelo, not too far from Braga and not too far from our Spanish location, so this time when we went to Braga we added a day in Viana.

We stayed at a very nice and modestly priced hotel in the historic section, Hotel Jardim (Garden Hotel) with a view of the Rio Lima. Viana is actually situated on the estuary where the river meets the Atlantic ocean and it is also at the foot of beautiful mountains. It's a truly beautiful city.

View from our window.
You can see the river is
like a mirror. 

Another view of the hotel
Our friends, Joana and Luis.
It's impossible to see all of Viana in one day, so we didn't try. But Joana, whom we knew from Braga, and her partner, Luis, whom we met for the first time, gave us a wonderful tour.

They took us by Funicular up to the Santuário de Santa Luzia.  (Santa Luzia is the patron saint of healing eyes, and since I have glaucoma, it seems in retrospect a fitting basilica to have visiedt in this city so full of beautiful sacred buildings.)

The four immense rose windows are spectacular from inside. (I didn't take inside pictures, but the nave and apse and individual alters were awe-inspiring. Outside, I did take this picture outside of an ancient statue of Christ in an alcove. The the church offers breathtaking views of the city,  river, sea, and beach.
The bridge you see here is the Eiffel Bridge,
inaugurated in 1878, designed by the same
Eiffel famous for the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 

This was a close-up of the
beach, taken from above.

Before and after the trip up to the Santa Luzia Basilica, we walked through the historic part of the city, including the main plaza overlooking the river.

The remarkable rectangular sculpture with the broken chain you see below symbolizes Portugal's freedom after the authoritarian Prime Minister Salazar died in 1974, followed by the bloodless "Carnation Revolution" four years later. The plaza has a second interesting sculpture, but I didn't learn its significance.

I love the famous "Azulejo" tiles so typical of Portugal. Traditionally they are blue and white, or blue, yellow and white. But the tile work all over the city is wondrous and is often in different colors. Viana has a museum of Azulejo tiles, tracing their history (originally was inspired by the Moors) and their development through time.

The museum
Inside the museum
On a building wall outside

A really intriguing feature was the hospital ship that had been used in the 1950s to give aid to fishing boats. Viana has an old section of town devoted to the fishermen of yesteryear as well. This ship is no longer in use but is now a museum. We didn't go inside, but we were certainly tempted.

There are also numerous small plazas, parks, and fountains.Many of the names eluded me, but here is one of the small parks, and one of the pretty fountains. And here is a group photo of ourselves someone kindly took.

Luis, Joana, Me, Rajan, (L to R)

After we walked around quite a bit, we went to a restaurant in "old town" famous for its fish, and I must say I had a delicious salmon to remember, although the serving was overly generous. Then, as the evening wore on, we went to a bar. Over a savory red wine, we talked late into the night. Thanks to our friends, it was a wonderful afternoon and evening to remember.

One last view of the Basilica, high on the
hill before we drove off from the Marina,
where we had parked overnight.

Do you like old cities? When you vacation somewhere, what attracts you? Parks? Beaches? Statuary? Churches?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

We Are Traveling — New Post to Come Soon

We are on our way to Galicia, Spain, tomorrow, while our neighbor watches our place here. Once there, I will get back to blogging. I have a couple book reviews to share of books I've enjoyed lately. Till then, hope everyone had a great Labor Day week-end.  Ciao for now.