Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Braga - can you better an Orford tart?

Muros to Braga, 161 miles

Last words on the blog yesterday, "we decided to head south into Portugal tomorrow hoping for more sunshine and fewer bugs". Here we are, in Braga - definitely fewer bugs, but Galicia's drizzle has been supplanted by a Portuguese monsoon. A couple of weeks ago I remember being somewhat dismissive of people who stride out sightseeing in the rain as typical of an ingrained 'mustn't grumble' streak in the British psyche. Really, today we had no option but to conform to the stereotype, donning cagoules and grabbing brollies, then sallying forth to discover the damp delights of Braga.

Swapping country does require adjustments. I remember our week in Portugal on our trip in 2014, initially the country's charms were not quite so obvious as Spain's. It is somewhat poorer, not quite so stylish, the apartment blocks a little more utilitarian, the pavements potholed and the streets not so neat and tidy. Walking the two kilometres from Braga's municipal camp site to the city centre we had the same impression, granted, the rain did nothing to lift our spirits. 

Once you reached the old centre you begin to see some of the city's delights. It is an interesting, and slightly quirky place. I thought I might post some photos by 'theme' rather than the usual pictorial walkabout, just for a change. 

1.Braga: Humongous Baroque Edifices...

Many Baroque buildings - churches, monasteries, confraternities, educational institutes, charitable foundations....

Braga was, and possibly still is, a power base for Roman Catholic conservatism  in Portugal - the gloom seemed appropriate.

The city hall, I think, (not Baroque, but Neo-classical - just sayin'.).)

The cathedral - not Baroque either on the outside - the inside is a  Baroque gold-fest apparently.

A bit of colour on a grey, wet day.

2. Old streets, quirky shops... 

Jolly coloured tiles - typical of the older streets.

A shop selling handmade guitars - including the one in the doorway which was  the size of a cello.

What is 'Wall Street English'?

The old market - lots of produce (including live chickens) virtually no customers.

3. When does a statue become a dummy?

There seemed to be lots of figures, old, new, tasteful and kitch scattered about the streets of Braga. It raised the question, at what point does a dummy, or an effigy become graced with the term 'statue'. In other words, what raises the 3D representation of the human form to being 'art' - is it the function, artist's intention, or being part of a category of similar objects also called statues? 

OK - this is definitely a statue...

This slightly disturbing figure of a monk was holding up a restaurant's menu - not a statue - agreed?

This image of a naked child spouting water - see lots of those on fountains - it's art innit?

This slightly creepy figure of a child - it's an effigy - not art.. but what?

This odd looking figure on a balcony - what is that all about?
Undoubtedly art...I wonder what the significance of the forgotten jacket was.....
4. Lunch (the Orford tart question)

In the summer we visited Suffolk we happened upon a fabulous artisan bakers in Orford where we discovered the delights of a flaky pastry and egg custard concoction which they termed a Portuguese tart. Subsequent research revealed these were actually called 'nata' and are a bit of a national culinary institution. So, how close to the real thing did the Orford attempt get. Very close, but Nata Sabores' were even crispier and when dusted with cinnamon reached level of divine scrumptiousness. More in depth research required here.


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