Day trip to Guimaraes

Trip Start Nov 09, 2007
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Flag of Portugal  ,
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On our last full day in Portugal, really the last full day of the European part of our holiday we headed to Guimaraes for a day trip. We started by attempting to see inside the Se (Cathedral) which is literally across the road from our apartment. Having stayed here for 4 days already, we picked a time to see it when there was a mass being conducted so we were unable to see inside.
We headed down to Sao Bento station but as there was an hour before our train we sat in the sun and enjoyed a coffee and some Portuguese pastries. Sao Bento station is beautifully decorated with painted tiles depicting scenes from Portuguese history. We took the last ten minutes before our train was due to depart to use one of those photo booths. Jess and I squashed in together to get our picture taken.
The train to Guimaraes is modern and quiet and the journey takes an hour and a quarter. I enjoyed looking out the window although the girls would have preferred if I had remembered to pack some form of electronic entertainment.
Guimaraes is a World Heritage listed town and is full of beautiful old buildings, mainly churches but also some medieval castles and towers. We strolled around the town, choosing a charming restaurant called Santiago for lunch.
Guimaraes also has a cable car that takes you to the park called Penha at the top of the mountain overlooking the town. We looked at our town map and headed off for the 20 minute walk to the base cable car station. When we reached it, what did we find but a mechanic who told us that the cable car would be closed until March. 'Once every ten years' he informed us. Just our luck!
We were all very disappointed to miss this so trudged back to the train station to catch the next train back. On the way we stopped for, you guessed it, a cup of coffee. At one point I went with the girls to the toilet, and no sooner was my back turned than Jess was trying to chat up one of the local studs. Well, that is to say a man who perhaps though Jess was single and available came and stood within 15 centimetres of her, blowing smoke from his cigarette all over her. Perhaps that usually works for him as a come-on, but not with Jess. One of the other café patrons helped Jess out, chasing him away before I got back to the table.
On the way back in the train I came up with a brilliant idea. If we got off the train one stop early it would be closer to the centre of town and save us walking up the hill from Sao Bento station to the Majestic Café, a Porto landmark where we had decided to have a light dinner. I tell you, I am so full of good ideas. Although the walk from Campanha Station to the centre of town took us more than half an hour (compared to a 3 minute walk from Sao Bento), we completely avoided that hill!
The Majestic opened in 1923 and was a favourite of the 'ladies' of the town. It is regally decorated and has a wide, although expensive, menu. We chose some snack items, still being a bit full from lunch. On the way home we stopped off at the 'chicken and chips' café for another 50 cent glass of vinho verde. Very nice.
Some last minute packing occupied our evening and some tummy upset kept us awake until late into the night. As I type this blog entry my daughter Jean sent me a text message to say that Heath Ledger died of a suspected drug overdose. What a waste.
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