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Dom | 15.07.18

Minho as a Vigo appetizer

Ponte de Lima

There is one thing we (all) don't talk enough about. Traveling is contagious. There's a traveling bug that settles inside us when we start doing it, and when we stop to think, we realize that there is no way to get rid of it... even if we wanted to.

 

Our trip to Vigo started when we were returning to Lisbon after the road trip on the Estrada Nacional 2 between Montargil and Chaves. When we stopped at a service station on the motorway, while Sarah went to buy something, I checked my phone to see when Atletico Madrid was going to play in two cities: Vigo and Sevilla.

 

My passion for Atletico Madrid has made us make several trips to the Spanish capital. Now, after the trip to Chaves, I thought we could enjoy a different one, that would allow us to see a little more of Portugal and, at the same time, an Atletico game.

 

Headquarters in Ponte de Lima

Ponte de Lima

The trip would have to start Friday night after work. The main goal was to get as close to Vigo as possible so that we could enjoy a better day on Saturday.

 

We started looking for hotels after Porto and figuring out how many hours we would need to get there. We wanted to find something cheap, comfortable and, above all, that would allow us to do a late check-in. We chose a hotel on the outskirts of Ponte de Lima, perfectly fulfilling the idea that we had to be able to explore a little of Minho.

 

The game was initially scheduled for 16h15 (Spanish time) but it was postponed to 18h30 because of the extreme heat. It was a perfect change: we would have plenty of time to see some places we wanted to visit in Minho before heading to Vigo.

 

Ponte de Lima, of course, was the first stop. We parked near the bridge, in the shade of a tree that seems to have been planted specifically to satisfy us on a morning of immense heat.

Ponte de Lima

We took some pictures near the car and decided to cross the bridge on foot, after buying a big bottle of water. Portugal's "oldest village" breathes vivacity and the children's canoeing competition that is taking place is just another sign of it.

Rio Lima

Ponte de Lima has a great canoeing tradition

We stopped to see a few minutes of boys and girls pounding at the best speed they could. Friends, family, and monitors were shouting words of motivation and who knows if we didn't see the next Fernando Pimenta or Emanuel Silva, two Portuguese canoers that won a silver medal at the London Olympics.

 

Next stop: Viana do Castelo

 

It was time to get back in the car and start driving. The goal was to go straight to Viana do Castelo. We had one thing in mind: the Sanctuary of Santa Luzia. The heat made everything more and more complicated, but we accomplished our mission.

 

There were not many people there, but a huge limousine waited for some newlyweds. We didn't go in - we didn't want to disturb - but we took the opportunity to photograph the Sanctuary and absorb the views over Viana do Castelo. It was a perfect idea.

Sanctuary of Santa Luzia

Sanctuary of Santa Luzia

View over Viana do Castelo

Lunchtime was approaching and we didn't know where we would eat. The idea was to follow the coast to the north, Vila Praia de Âncora, Caminha, and Vila Nova de Cerveira until crossing the river Minho to get to Spain.

 

But the destiny has changed (somewhat) the plans. On the way out of Viana do Castelo, a couple was hitchhiking. At first, we ignored them but after talking to each other, we decided to make a U-turn and ask where they wanted to go. "Âncora," they said. "Well, come in."

 

She was Spanish and a journalist, he was French and a Political Science student with a big question mark about his future. The two of them lived in Toulouse and had arrived in Porto two days earlier via Marseille. They were on their way to Vigo to meet a friend who worked at the Cíes Islands.

 

Lunch in Vila Nova de Cerveira

 

The conversation was timid and interrupted with moments of silence. A little embarrassed, they ended up asking to stay with us for another few miles. In Caminha, we stopped so they could get the ferry to Spain but the next one was two and a half hours away. Once again, they asked us to keep on going.

 

We said goodbye in Vila Nova de Cerveira. They were going to cross the bridge and we needed a place to eat. We parked in the center and wandered through small alleys, jumping from shadow to shadow. Everything was decorated with pieces of crochet, but nothing came close to the house we saw, to our left. It all seemed to be made of wool, from the bricks to the clothes hanged between balconies. 

A peculiar house at Vila Nova de Cerveira

It was no surprise, therefore, that the few passing tourists lined up for the opportunity to take some pictures.

 

On the way to Vigo

 

After a comfortable - and refreshingly - meal, we agreed to go straight to Vigo, arriving in time for a possible beach dive before the game. It was Saturday, the thermometer was above 100 degrees (Fahrenheit), and the beaches should be packed, but as we had done on the trip to Chaves, we only needed five minutes to change clothes, get out of the car, go to the water, dive in and get back.

 

The challenge was more complicated than we had hoped. Like us, there were dozens of cars looking for a place to park. We gave up the idea and opted in for an intermediate solution: I was going to stay in the car in the parking lot of a Spanish third-tier team (FC Coruxo) while Sarah went to the water. Then we shifted. After we stopped the car, we were rewarded. A couple was getting out and we got a place to park the car almost in the sand. Perfect! 

Vao's beach

The water temperature wasn't great but it was so hot outside that it was not a problem at all. It didn't take us more than twenty minutes to get out again, with a refreshed body and our minds already at the soccer game.

 

The biggest challenge was the same once again: parking. We got a place almost a mile away from the Balaídos stadium but, seeing things on the positive side, the road there was downhill. Yes, if you want to be pessimistic you may point out that we had to go up the whole way back to the car. Come on, let's forget this part for now.

Celta-Atletico at Balaídos

The atmosphere in the stadium was interesting. Luckily we stayed in the shadow, so we did not suffer as much as those who were on the other side. Celta beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 (it's a kind of curse I have: in the eleven games I saw, the colchoneros only won three and I was in a draw that could lead to the title in 2014 and in the Champions League final in Lisbon) and never seemed to have the win in the discussion.

 

Return to Portugal with the Sunday plan in mind

 

I confess: the way back to the car was not very difficult either. We still had no hotel booked for Saturday night but the idea was to stay near Porto so that the return to Lisbon the next day would not be too tiresome.

 

When we were leaving Vigo, we had the opportunity to see, possibly, the most beautiful sunset we have ever seen (a pity the motorway did not help us to take a single good picture) and we kept going, already with a hotel room booked in Gaia.

 

Sunday was not just a pitstop on our way back to Lisbon. We had decided to go to Aveiro. Sarah had never been there and I had only been to work - two different times, always to interview Beira-Mar players. Now it would be just the two of us and with plenty of time to do whatever we wanted. We passed by the river, crossed the Bridge of Laços de Amizade, had lunch while watching the start of the Formula 1 Grand Prix on the mobile phone, bought some Ovos Moles (a famous Aveiro's delicacy) and drove to Costa Nova to see the famous colorful stripes' houses.

Bridge of Laços de Amizade

Aveiro

Famous houses of Costa Nova

By this time, fatigue had already invaded our body. It is not easy to walk in the heat for so long. So, in the middle of the afternoon, we decided to return to Lisbon. With the feeling of duty fulfilled and... already with other trips in mind. It is contagious!

 

 

 

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