Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Viana do Castelo did not disappoint

Our Nazare landlady told us that the only other place in Portugal she would consider living is Viana do Castelo in the north. Viana did not let her down.

We arrived in the afternoon on May Day aka International Workers' Day. While Braga, at least twice the size of Viana, was all quiet, Viana was having a lively celebration with speeches, awards, and traditional folk dancing, while a mix of locals and tourists looked on. Viana city center has a lived in feel (people hanging out/going around their daily business) that many Portuguese city lack.

After a month in Portugal we finally caught on that almost every town has these hiking/walking trails that take you to see something interesting, a lot of times historical, that we rather enjoy. We took advantage of those in Viana. The first day we walked the PR9 around the hill above town. Part of the trail was on the old aqueduct; granite pipe rather! It was super fun. The second day we caught the train two stops north to Carreco to walk the PR7 back along the coast, plus the GR1. We have come across the Camino countless times, now that we are close to Mecca (150km to Santiago de Compostela) we finally saw people walking the Camino for the first time. The official Camino is actually further inland, the GR1 is much more scenic.

When we were planning, our whole Portuguese scheduled was based on staying through May 3 for the Festival of the Crosses in Barcelo. Now that we have seen some many processions, the festival didn't seem so important. Nevertheless, we took the train 40 minutes to Barcelos to check it out. We were much surprised by the festive atmosphere. The large fairgrounds and streets were fully decked out, granted it is a 10-day festival. On this day of the Grand Procession, it seemed like half of Portugal was in town. It was the most lively scene in our whole month in Portugal. John predicted that at the rate we are going, I would be tired of processions. Though this procession did feature a few elements we have never seen before, I can see how John might prove to be prophetic. In any case, it is a good way to end our tour of Portugal.

May Day in Viana do Castelo.
May Day - Viana do Castelo, Portugal

01 May Festival - Viana do Castelo,  Portugal

Our hike on the PR9 above Viana started at the Santuário de Santa Luzia with great views right to the Atlantic Coast and left up the Lima River Valley.
Santuário de Santa Luzia - Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Santuário de Santa Luzia - Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Another walk, another aqueduct. The PR9 follows the aqueduct north for 3 kms or so; most of the time the trail is on top of the aqueduct.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

There were a couple of interesting side trails to watermills and water mines.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

A tower with a view.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal

And don't get the PR9 confused with the PR10.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

View from our apartment up to Santa Luzia.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Our second day, we rode the train - 2 stops = 9 minutes - up to Carreco, and walked 14 kms or so back to Viana. Carreco had a couple windmills, some ancient rock carvings, and a lighthouse.
Viana do Castelo

We also made a new friend in Jose who was walking the trails with his dog who soon adopted us as part of the pack.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Old salt pans by the coast.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

After walking around in Carreco, it was another 9 kms back to Viana, with great sea views, and a comfortable walking path.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

And a few more windmills as we neared Viana.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

And after a brief rest, we catch the train to Barcelos for the Festival of the Crosses.
Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

It's a big festival; lasts for a week; the highlight is the Grand Procession of the Crosses. Wow! First, several floats come out of the church.
Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Then, a seemingly endless stream of crosses, each flanked by candles.
Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Festival of the Crosses - Barcelos, Portugal

Here's some video.


The video link is here.





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