Day 27, Part I – Bravães and Ponte de Lima

Day 27 – April 7, Saturday

At long last, we managed to get up early-ish (about half an hour after David wanted to, because our alarm didn’t go off). Our journey to Ponte de Lima first went through Vila Verde (which had ungodly traffic) up towards Ponte de Barca, where we made a detour to Bravães to see a little Romanesque church we’d read about.

That’s the full width of the church. It’s tiny.

The church, São Salvador de Bravães, was built – depending on who you ask – around the 12th century, at the request of a rich man from Porto. The facade is plain, but the decoration at its main doors is considered an exceptional example of Portuguese Romanesque art. You’ve got monkeys; you’ve got oxen; you’ve got Christ carried by two angels. I loved it.

One of the things that is considered exceptional is that the fairly-crude artwork was left alone. In many churches, the facade would have been redone over the centuries, but this tiny parish church is just as it was… give or take some years of erosion.

After our quick photo stop in Bravães, we continued on to Ponte de Lima. We parked on a random side street, then looked in vain for the tourist office. We finally found a woman who could tell us it was in an “stone tower, antiga” and could gesture that it was over there somewhere, so off we went.

See the stone tower on the right? That’s the Turismo. Now you know.

Unlike Guimarães, this tourist office was incredibly helpful. We got a map of the town (written-on, of course), directions to an internet café (for me) and to a bike rental shop (for David and Quinland).

Even with the map, I could not find the café as it had no signage at all, so I had to go back to Turismo and get more specific directions. On the way there and back, I got to walk through that great big open-air market, so it was no problem for me! As it turned out, the café didn’t have the wi-fi I wanted after all, so I just read a book and sorted photos in Memory Manager.

(We interrupt this post to mention that the vacation park lobby I am sitting in to get internet service here in the Netherlands has a) many small noisy children, and b) a machine with “The Claw” that plays “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands.” The small children keep losing to the claw, noisily; there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth and – as far as I can tell – gloating by the children who actually had some luck. It’s kind of driving me insane.)

For David and Quinland, getting the bikes in Ponte de Lima was a bit of an adventure. Not because of lack of signage; there was a very prominent sign with a big arrow that pointed directly to … a parking garage and a hallway leading to some restrooms. They prowled the area looking for something that looked remotely like a bike rental office, to no avail. Finally they asked the parking attendant who said, “Rent bikes?” and then opened a secret door to a room full of bikes, which he rented.

They had a fantastic bike ride with incredible views of the town and its namesake bridge.

When they got back, we returned the bikes and then stocked up with fruit and pastries at the market before we left. We didn’t buy any souvenirs or useful goods at the market; David doesn’t want to buy anything that is not consumable, because of Ryan Air.

As we headed out for Viana do Castelo, we realized that Quinland still had her bike lock key. We headed back in the general direction of the parking garage / bike rental when suddenly we saw the woman we had returned them to walking along the road. Q jumped out and gave her the key, and it was smiles all around.

Stay tuned for more about Viana do Castelo!

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