I still have a few days left in Portugal before crossing into Spain, but I have an observation rolling around, waiting for further confirmation. Portugal seems, up to now, to be the following:
Portugal is the California we wish still existed.
A few similarities:
- Lemon, orange and other fruit trees not found most places
- Numerous wine regions and varieties (with 1965 prices here)
- Forest Fires (okay, we wish those weren’t shared or so numerous)
- A relaxed lifestyle that in this naive and idealized picture I currently have is strikingly close to “Beach Blanket Bingo”
- Pointed political contrasts between North and South
- Real Estate prices from the era of “Beach Blanket Bingo”
- A feeling of willful and deliberate detachment from the rest of the country/peninsula (although this feeling in terms of California is more 2017 than 1965)
- Lots of swimming pools
I’m spending a forest fire hot weekend in Braga, largely off the bicycle, cooling off via aforementioned swimming pool and rockin’ Whirlpool air-conditioner. Yes, decadent in a very California sort of way.
Photos below capture a bit of the last few days, although I didn’t snap the surfboard-toting guy getting off the train in Espinho and other “evidence” of California here. Because, as you see below, some things are just gloriously Portugal, including a strange ceremony involving a pig.
Decorated bicycle in foyer of Aveiro library
Unlike certain Iberian countries that rhyme with rain and plain, Portugal trains take bicycles in a very user-friendly way. On the train from Aveiro to Braga
And the train itself is perhaps the nicest 2nd Class ride I’ve ever taken, right down to being wonderfully devoid of fellow riders.
View from the window of my first guesthouse in old, central Braga
About that pig. There’s a blurry pig in that blurry cart, pushed by very blurry guys in ceremonial dress and sandals. It’s the “Black Pig Race” parade through the streets of Old Braga. I’ve found very little information on the event’s history, and that’s probably a good thing, as the “race” evidently involved pigs racing through town to the point where organizers decided this year they had to replace the long-standing actual pig race with a “human obstacle course race.” This ceremonial pig is the only pig remnant of the old race format.
The absolute highlight of the parade is this drumline consisting of young people, a majority of whom are women. Photos below attempt to capture a bit more of their joyous energy.