29 March 2012
Braga will be the first city in Portugal going to heaven as once every other building in Braga was a church or seminary. Today, churches are still abundant in this relatively small city. Once entered into the city centre, you will feel the intensive religious atomsphere around. First, Easter Semana Santa banners hung everywhere prior to the festival. Church is more frequently seen than in other cities.
The city is clean and bright. Buildings have been restored. Flowers were everywhere. Well, it's lots of money to make the city beautiful. Not all European cities are lavishly decorated with flowers.
Braga can be reached from Porto by suburbano. The journey lasts about 1 hours 10 minutes, costs 3 Euro. A quicker suburbano runs some time, 15-20 minutes less. Or you can take IC train which cost 10 Euro. My experience, take the suburbano from Sao Bento. Taking out the travelling time, you can still enjoy a good full day in Braga and the nearby Bom Jesus.
Before leaving the city to visit Bom Jesus, take a trip to visit the Palacio do Raio (or Casa do Mexicano) with a beautiful unique blue tile facade.
Time to take care of the stomach, a decent lunch. We walked around and bumped into Ferreira Capa. It is a nice bakery. You can order your customised sandwich. Their multi-grain bread was gorgeous, comparable to the quality in Germany. Or order any choice of their daily special. We paid 10 Euro for a dish of pork with potatoes, customised sandwich, a coke, a tart. Good value! Braga is a living town. Restaurants and bakeries are every where. Full meal seems too much. Ferreira Capa is modern. The other bakeries are rather traditional and serve mostly sweet.
Ask the Tourist Information (with lunch break) on where to get a local bus to Bom Jesus. It runs every 20 minutes. Upon arrival, you can choose to walk up or take a tram climbing the slope for you. We walked. It's not difficult. Believe me. The bonus is to see the art of chapel dotted along the way. A scene in each chapel recalls the way Jesus to death. It reminded me on the visit in Varese.
Once you have the view of the Bom Jesus, turn around and enjoy a panoramic view of Braga. Of course, admire the marvelous architecture of the great church. The style is rare, though not unique. The church in Lamego is similar but Bom Jesus is more famous. Statues stand proudly on the staircase.