Day 27, Part II – Viana do Castelo and Piranha Pedro

Day 27 = Saturday, April 7, 2012

From Ponte de Lima we headed out for Viana do Castelo, which Pedro had told us was a must see. Sadly, we didn’t do his recommendation justice.

First off, Quinland had her heart set on going to the beach, but our handy-dandy GPS took us all over heck and back instead of directly there. At one point, it dumped us onto a toll highway heading out of town, but we ended up getting off before we got to the toll booth. We completely missed the window of nice weather, but we made it to the beach in time to see two guys parasailing on surfboards. It was very cool.

Q put her feet in the very cold water and played in the very cold sand, while I shot photos of the surroundings.

David got tired of the whole thing fairly quickly, so we headed back to the car and headed for the center of town. I got dropped off to go get a map at Tourismo, where the lady was very helpful. In fact, she was so helpful to the Portuguese people in front of me that she took ages explaining things to them… telling them animated stories… going back to her storeroom to get them some additional materials… and then, finally, it was my turn. I got an English-language map with a little rehearsed speech. She drew all over the map, of course.

Map in hand, we decided that our number-one priority was to drive up to Santa Luzia, a church which was modeled on Sacre Coeur in Paris. We drove up a hairpin road up a hill and found the church there, overlooking the city.

There was an elevador to take you to a viewing point atop the church; I was willing to go up (David and Quinland were not, of course), so I paid the one-euro fee and hopped in. I was greatly disappointed – not by the view – which was great -but because we only went to the base of the dome, and not, as I had thought, to the top. Still, I took a slew of photos.

Here’s a view of the beach with the parasail-surfing dudes.

When I came back down, we went inside and got a look at the lovely rose window.

By the time I came down to join David and Q on the firm ground, we were all tired, worn out, and in need of the WC. It was getting late by this point, and we had a dinner date at Pedro’s at 9:30, so we decided to head for home. The other wonders of Viana do Castelo – and I am sure they are many – will have to wait for our next visit to Portugal.

On our way back to the hotel to change, I stopped at Pingo Doce to get Q a few treats for Easter (in a Winnie the Pooh bag in lieu of an Easter basket). David and I got to sleep for an hour or so while Q took the computer downstairs to go online, and then we all headed out to Pedro’s.

Pedro lives in a town between Braga and Guimares, in a big U-shaped apartment block. His apartment was really nice (though he apologized for it, for some reason) and dinner was wonderful: clams steamed with olive oil and onions for a starter, then pasta with a creamy salmon sauce, and ice cream and a fabulous melted brownie thing for dessert. Pedro was funny and kind and spoke excellent English, as we told him all our trials and tribulations with the Portuguese language.

After dinner, we got down to the serious business of the evening: The Playing of the Board Games. We played Piranha Pedro (David lost) and Die Speicherstadt, which Pedro won and I really liked.

Then we were all so tired (it was almost 2 am) that we went home to sleep. What a day!

Expenditures: Bike rentals, food at the market in Ponte de Lima, elevator fare, Easter treats.

Experiences: My first time seeing parasurfing! Our first invitation to dinner in a Portuguese home (since 1994!).

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