Viana do Castelo

Today we visited the lovely town of Viana Do Castelo, which was an excellent contrast to yesterday.  Yes, there was some walking involved, but no rocks, no blackberry vines, no scary heights…well, no scary heights to anyone but a heightophobic (I can’t remember the right word) person like me.

We took the funicular up to the Cathedral on the hill, Santa Luzia, which looks a bit like Sacre Couer in Paris except grayer, natural stone color, instead of white.  I had thought it would be nice to walk up but the guide book said “The walk up is either for people who are very fit or penitent,” and none of us were feeling that fit and we aren’t the penitent type at all.  The kids found all sorts of places to lean over walls with dizzying drops on the other side of them, causing me a great deal of queasiness, but that’s just me.  They also went up to the observation tower in the dome, which I let them do with their cousins while I stayed below and enjoyed other pursuits.

I was a little disappointed when I found out the Cathedral was built in the 1950s.  That’s not historical at all but, I guess, brilliant new buildings are being built all the time.

My brother Ben said that the view had been mentioned in National Geographic as one of the 10 best scenic overlooks in the world but it was kind of comical that it was so foggy we couldn’t see a thing.  Then the fog lifted and we could see the town stretched before us;  the river, the port on the river, another river leading into the river, and down to the sea.  It was pretty, but not an entirely pastoral scene, you could see factories, and roads and bridges.  I mentioned that I wouldn’t quite rank it as among the Top 10 scenic overlooks in the world, but then I walked around back of the cathedral and realized that it was a very different view from every side.  East was the ocean, north and west were sort of mountainous, and south was the town.

Then we came home to Afife – amazing how a home base can come to seem like home in just a couple of days- and had an amazing dinner.  The portions would have been deemed huge by any nation’s standards.  And now, I’m waddling off to bed.  Good night.

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