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Guimarães

Posted on Friday, 06 October 2006 at 01:14.

Since there are no Portuguese classes this week, I had Monday 2nd off, so in the afternoon I decided to go to Guimarães, which is a city about 20 km south of Braga. The universidade has more buildings there, and I was told it was a pretty city. I didn’t really know how to get there, but I figured going to the bus station — where I’d never been yet, either — would be a good start. I had a good idea of where to look for the bus station, but once I figured I was really close, I didn’t see any station. It turned out it was cleverly hidden in a rather nondescript concrete building, with stairs inside going down, leading out again at the back side where all the buses leave. I bought a ticket and waited about half an hour, then entered a big touring car which took us to Guimarães in a 50-minute-long trip. I met and chatted with Dimitri from Cyprus who was in Portugal doing some sightseeing. He explained to me a problem he had with his Dutch friend: whenever he called him, his friend would hang up. I sadly told him I couldn’t — or rather, didn’t want to — help him.

Once in Guimarães, Dimitri and I wished eached other the best and said goodbyes. I asked a random person which general direction the city center was and walked to it in one go, without getting lost. Yay. Sadly, it was a rather rainy day, but hey, what Dutchman lets a bit of rain stop him? I was happy once I was warm and dry inside the church of San Pedro, though. Very pretty, with many flowers, and a donation box especially for the bouquets. The ceiling had an interesting quote on it.

Back outside I started walking some more, and yes, Guimarães was nice indeed, but it was pouring and dark and dreary and I was sure it’d have been a lot prettier if it’d been sunny. For lack of a better shelter, I hopped into the next church, and this one was even prettier! Many alcoves with colourful statues lit from the back, and so much goldwork (or golden work, rather) in the front! After spending some time there taking pictures, people entered and turned on the lights, revealing chairs and music stands — for a concert? They sat down and began their sound check, and soon more people entered and did the same. It turned out there was going to be a concert at 21h30 and they were going to rehearse now, but sadness: the last bus back to Braga would leave at about 20h. Ah well, the rehearsal was nice enough and gave me plenty of opportunity to take pictures. I was even allowed to climb up to the second floor, having a nice view over the church from above.

At about 19h’ish I went back outside, looking for something to eat, and found a pizza restaurant in a shopping center (the Portuguese seem to like those). Mmmhm. Pizza. Hadn’t had that in a looong while. At 19:45h I figured it was about time I go back to the bus station, but I hadn’t finished my pizza yet, so I asked the waiter to put what was left in a box for me and went outside, kind of in a hurry since, well, I didn’t want to miss the last bus.

Which direction was the bus station again? Panic. I asked a random woman who spoke good English with a British accent, but she replied, “the bus station? And in ten minutes? But it’s so far away!” Panic. No, I was sure it wasn’t that far. I asked her in which direction the church of San Pedro was, and she pointed, objecting the bus station wasn’t in that direction at all. I thanked her kindly and walked quickly in the direction of San Pedro, soon recognising my surroundings again, on and on, following the quickest route I could think of. But man, did it rain, and it was too windy for my umbrella. My pizza box got all wet, and the cobblestones were slippery, so I walked on the road most of the time, hopping to the sidewalk whenever a car approached. I don’t know why people pave the sidewalks with cobblestones that get slippery when wet, in the wettest area of Portugal, of all places. Down, down the alley which I’d walked up on the way to the center. Hmm… was it really that long? On and on, crossing a small courtyard, and there are the tunnels leading into the station. What’s the time? 2 minutes past time-for-the-bus-to-leave. There were two buses still. I stopped at the first one, asking “Braga?”, to which the driver points to the second one, which was just closing its doors and slowly driving backwards out of its parking place. Run, run, knock on the bus’ door, and the bus slows down and I get in, panting. Phew. For once I was glad that Portugal is slow at times.

Back in Braga, I had to walk about 15 minutes to home, but it was okay; I knew exactly how to walk. But I was very glad when I was finally back in my room.

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