Today we elected to walk a short 12 km and overnight in Barcelos. We had heard that this was a popular destination for the Portuguese, but we did not expect to arrive on the first day of a week long cultural festival… think Mardi Gras! Colorfully lit streets and buildings, a large carnival with all the typical rides, games of skill ready to suck the euros out of your pocket, and even a House of Horrors!
…and then there were the food vendors! Broiled meats served dripping in their juices on bread made fresh before your eyes in open fire ovens. INCREDIBLE, and it took only 10 euros to buy two of those huge gut bombs and wash them down with beer and wine. Our multi-linguistic finger pointing served us well.
The walk to Barcelos was a story in itself. Ancient wooded paths on 2,000 year old Roman trails. Hilly and at times a bit precarious, but the trekking poles provide a margin of balance and safety for 60+ year old legs.
Barcelos is the site of one of Portugal’s most beloved legends from which the iconic multi-colored Rooster, a symbol of the country, derives.
As we walked it occurred to me that many Americans may have a misconception about the “Old World” countries in general and Portugal in particular. I tend to take pictures of the verdant landscapes, agrarian vistas, and old architecture. However, there is another side to Portugal. It is a very modern and prosperous nation. There is excellent universal health care, an affordable world class education system, and even the moderately sized cities have well developed and well utilized public transit. We have walked through neighborhoods where there are row upon row of unique custom built homes whose price tags must me north of a million euros. Public high speed WiFi is readily available, more so than in the States. Violent crime is a rarity. With a population of 10.3 million, Portugal has approximately half the number of homicides in its entire country as metropolitan Kansas City with a population of about 1 million!
We continue to find the people of this nation to be kind, friendly, and eager to help us wandering Perigrinos.
Peace Everyone! Pete
PS. We are spending the night in the 3 star Hotel Dom Nuno. 45 euros for our ensuite room, including breakfast. We will splurge tomorrow on a luxury accommodation in a countryside resort.