Today is an exciting day for us.....we're heading to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.
Since we only have one pit stop planned for the day, we decided to walk around Braga old city before heading out. We didn't take any pictures of Braga old city. Through our short encounter with this city, two things strike out. One, pretty unusual to have 3-4 churches within an old city. That said, it did spoiled our plan of using the highest building....usually the clock tower of the cathedral as landmark to help us head back to our starting point. Second, the city streets circled round similar looking churches like a maze. While we did get lost while walking around, it was still fun.
By noon, its on the road again! First stop, Bom Jesus to visit the Chapel of Miracles (Capela dos Milagres). If you planned on visiting, do be careful. There is a church named Bom Jesus and there's a town named Bom Jesus. They are far apart...maybe an hour drive! As many others, we also mistook the first sign that we saw to refer to Bom Jesus the church. We did sense something was not right but we didn't heed our hunch. Anyway, after wasting some precious time, we finally figured out and get to our intended location,
The most remarkable thing that draws us to The Chapel of Miracles is the life-size figurines depicting the Stations of the Cross as we climbed each level towards the grand stairway that finally leads to the church.
|Each level of these path is flanked by life-size figures depicting the Station of the Cross|
The fresh air and tranquility of the place made walking a joy and the figurines add "colours" to the otherwise monotonous walk.
Finally, we reached the end of the Stations.....and there presented to us was the grand stairway!
|An artistic water fountain that marks the start of the stairway|
|Close-up of stairway|
Half-way climbing the stairway......
Awaiting for us at the top of the stairway is the Chapel of Miracle and a breathtaking view of the Rio Cavado valley.
|Chapel of Miracles|
|View of Rio Cavado valley and the distant mountains|
The crisp fresh air, the fantastic view and the quietness was too tempting for us. Before we knew it, we've spent half hour sitting there doing nothing, just enjoying this moment.
With a long drive ahead, we made a quick visit to the church before making our descend.
|Interior of Church of Miracles|
While we had seen many sculptures of Mary, this one stood out with the artist presenting not the loving side of Mary but the agony that she went through with the crucification of her son.
Another interesting presentation that we had never seen was numerous saints praying for the children of God to Jesus. With so many saints praying, of course we said ours too....a good and safe journey till we get home.
If you are planning on a visit but don't want to make the long walk, no worries, there's a winding road that you can drive to the top......but you will miss a lot of fun walking up.
It was off-work peak hour when we reached Lisbon....the traffic was crazy and the many one-way streets just add to the madness. We saw our hotel, Turim Europa Hotel from the main road....excited....thinking that was easy! But, after circling round the different streets for almost an hour, we still couldn't figured out "THE" road to turn in. Again, our guardian angel sent us a helpful lady who brought us there before heading to her appointment. According to her, it is a very weird turn that most foreigners including some locals had problem finding.
Our trip to Spain & Portugal so far had been filled with many fond memories of good Samaritans who took the trouble to go off their path just to help two strangers. We were more than grateful to them.
By the way, if you intend to stay at Turim Europa, do note that the so-called "free parking" that the hotel said it offers is actually street parking on a first-come-first-serve basis. Parking in the hotel is payable! We were quite upset with the misrepresentation by the hotelier when we booked. Lucky us, we managed to secure the last free parking space just in front of the hotel.
It was 7pm....night is still young.....and we were restless. We decided to try our luck at a recommended cheap and good seafood cafe in Cascais, a coastal town some 36 km from Lisbon. It was supposedly a 40 mins drive using the highway but it was still peak hour and that means massive traffic jams! We finally got the car parked, had a walk around the seafront town and settled for dinner in a restaurant at 9pm! There may not be much left for us to do after dinner, but hey, we still managed to visit a shopping mall and grab some snacks.
On our way back to Lisbon, we had another blessing. Me, the wife who hates keeping coins decided not to spend any that night. What's the big deal? It saved our night! The toll booths which were mended by humans earlier in the day, became a self-service booth. At 12.15 am, having no coins to pay toll and no other cars at sight and risk getting stuck at a foreign highway will be disastrous. So, drivers, remember to keep your change!
This post first appeared on Carefree And Off-the-beaten Tracks Travels Around The World, please read the originial post: here