Braga: Day One

The express train to Braga from Porto Campanha station took under 40 minutes. While I was at the station, I bought a first-class express train ticket back to Lisbon so I wouldn’t have to worry about it Monday morning. I called an Uber and was at my Airbnb just outside the historic center in 6 minutes. The self check-in was flawless and I was impressed with the size of the apartment and how well provisioned it was.

Earlier, I’d received an email from FreeTours changing my city tour from 3 pm to 11 am, even though I wouldn’t be in Braga until two. Oh well, I booked the 5:00 tour but that, too, turned into a no-show, despite the email confirmation. Oh, brother! I just visited the key sites on my own.

My impression of Braga is quite favorable. It’s a traditional and elegant city. Another notable difference is how more religiously observant it is. Its many churches were having First Saturday masses.

It’s the oldest city in Portugal and was founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD before falling to the Visigoths in the 5th century. It was under Moorish rule from the early 8th century until its reconquest in 1040. The Sé, its 11th century cathedral, still stands. It’s a combination of styles but still serves as the seat of the archdiocese, the oldest in Portugal.

Much of the historic core is pedestrianized and is full of families with children, often with grandparents in tow. It reminds me of Salamanca, which I visited in 2013. It’s a glimpse into the old, traditional Portugal. For example, since tomorrow the weather will be sunny with a high of 85, I’d hoped to rent a bike; but the shop told me that most businesses are closed on Sunday.

I passed by a beguiling cheese shop, CorriQueijo (cheese is normal), which was closed in the early afternoon. When I came by later I bought a few hundred grams of Portuguese cheeses, including a raw goat milk one, a blue, and a soft cheese from the Azores. They also had a little tasting along with a glass of Alvarinho, produced in Braga. I bought a bottle.

I decided to eat dinner at Caldo Etornado. The advantage of coming from a culture where 7:30 pm is a civilized dinner hour is that one can always snag a great outdoor table in a country where 8:30 to 9:30 is the preferred time.

I ordered the roasted pork shank with a glass of 2019 Tons Duorum and a side of sparkling Pedras water, the go-to in Portugal. The serving was enormous, but I got through half of it and all of the spinach.

Although they look like French fries, they’re called “sliced” French fries.

I walked the dinner off with a stroll around town. It was pretty quiet since Braga was playing a football match against their rival, Porto.

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