During our time in Portugal, various Portuguese people have occasionally asked us where we’ve traveled inside the country, often followed by the question as to whether we’ve ever visited the north. Of course, they’re usually speaking Portuguese, so we just reply, “gracias” and move on.
We had been up to Porto, but never much further north. So in order to allow us to offer a positive answer to that question (“sim” is much easier to pronounce than “não”), we decided to drive up there and see what all the fuss was about. It’s apparent that many Portuguese are proud of the natural beauty of that region, just like I’m proud of the natural beauty who regularly walks by my side, even when she fusses after I occasionally stick a foot out to trip her.
While we were there, we stopped in Barcelos, a town of over 100,000 that is best known in Portugal as the home of the Rooster of Barcelos. If you’ve ever been to Portugal, you will surely have seen all sorts of rooster imagery for sale. It is basically the national symbol of the country. Barcelos is also known as the town with the most parishes per capita in the country. Which may explain all the cocks.
Here’s some background on them from Wikipedia: One of the many legends of the rooster involves the town’s long history along a pilgrimage route. The story involves a wealthy man throwing a grand party, which ended after the silver had gone missing.
Among the guests was a pilgrim, who was accused of theft, and pleaded innocence before a judge. Unswayed by the pilgrim’s claims, the judge sentenced the pilgrim to hang. As final protest, the pilgrim invoked divine intercession: the rooster being prepared for the judge’s dinner would crow three times as proof of his innocence. As the execution approached, the judge at his dinner table watched the roasted bird miraculously crow three times. The judge quickly released the pilgrim, who would later return to Barcelos and commission a statue commemorating the divine providence.
(I don’t think that rooster was done being cooked. No wonder he was screaming like a banshee!)
Perhaps because we were there on a Sunday, we found it to be something of a sleepy little town. We knew there were supposed to be all sorts of examples of “figurado” style of pottery, which are comical figurines of various subjects. We didn’t encounter as many as we thought we would, but you, dear reader, get to avoid all that mucking about and just see ’em all in one sitting! Aren’t you glad you read Bald Sasquatch?
As you can see, there are certainly plenty of “figurados” littered about the town. Although I will say I can’t figure out why they chose a rooster as a national symbol over the guy playing the accordion. I’d take the sound of an accordion over a crowing rooster any day. Actually, maybe not. I just clicked on an accordion song on YouTube and after three minutes my head nearly exploded, and blood is still oozing from my ears.
We were quite excited to be able to wander around town with scant crowds, especially in the age of Covid. The extra nice thing is that it’s great to be able to walk around an open square like that and not worry about a sniper taking us down from one of those windows… like it was for me in the war, or like it is now in Ukraine, or a ton of video games, or Detroit. Not that we’ve ever actually been inside a video game, mind you. Or Ukraine. Or Detroit. But we have been to Barcelos!
For some reason the Portuguese gave us a wide berth when we wandered the streets. I wonder if it had anything to do with my sniper rifle?
While there, we stumbled upon a bike race. I mean, literally. I still have some tire tracks imprinted on my back. Apparently this event was for people who were really desperate to learn how to ride a bike- as you can see by the sign: all those desporto to learn were supposed to gather there. What? Oh. Carolyn just told me desporto actually means sport. “Never mind!” he says in a singsong voice. Anyway, I wonder if the Portuguese say, “Bom Desporto!” when someone doesn’t fuss after being tripped.
There’s not just roosters around the town, there are cranes too! Whoop! Whoop! (That was me whooping, not the crane.)
So here are some examples of the typical Portuguese architecture, including some with that beautiful Portuguese tile, and others with doorways built for hobbits. Back in the last century, Portugal was ruled by a dictator, and as a result, nutrition was poor, and the Portuguese are still generally shorter than other Europeans because of it. It has taken them a long time to work their way out of that mess. Are you listening, Putin, you gigantic turd asswipe buttwad diarrhea-loving pitiful excuse of a human being who would be an insult to apes if we called you one? And that goes for anyone who likes that murdering thug. Or votes for dictators, wannabes or otherwise. Ugh! I mean, there is a reason why we call them dicktaters.
I guess my Russian readership may go down after that rant, but I don’t care, it’s hard to spend all those rubles anyway.
Okay, rant over. As you can see, it’s actually a very picturesque town. Obviously, because you’re looking at the picturesques now!
Okay, in a candid moment we can see Carolyn was perhaps a little disappointed that there weren’t more cocks for her to see. You can’t tell that about me because that’s just my normal resting face.
We also visited the city of Braga, a city of almost 200,000 inhabitants, making it the seventh largest municipality in Portugal. They are also home to the most braggarts in all the world.
As you can see in the background, we were astonished to discover the crane from Barcelos followed us all the way to Braga! Of course, with gorgeous mugs like ours what bird wouldn’t flip out over us? What? Storks you say? And hummingbirds? And eagles? And owls? And- okay, I get it. And thanks for the “All the Birds of the World” book.
Okay, I’m going to do all you Twitterers a favor and instead of making you read a bunch more stupid comments about various pictures, I’m just gonna put all the best ones in a gallery and be done with it. I will only add that if Braga was the first Portuguese town you’d ever visited, you’d marvel at the beauty and history, not knowing that almost every Portuguese town has those features. It also has a very nice area filled with shops and tourists and, sadly, a sole tower as a remnant of their castle. But we didn’t find anything excessively memorable, it’s just a pleasant Portuguese town. Maybe they should have called it Humblea.
Of course, as you can see, it is pretty. We may kid around, but we never take the beauty of Portuguese towns and cities for granted. Especially since there’s no one named Grant in all of Portugal.
Carolyn always tells me to smile for the camera, to which I often respond with a laugh, because with my beard and stoic-looking face, people can never tell if I’m smiling, grimacing, or awake. Of course, I usually don’t know either.
There’s more to come from Northern Portugal, don’t you worry about that! What? You weren’t worried? In fact you didn’t even read this? I’m talking to air? Well fine, then your father was a hamster and your mother smelt of elderberries!