Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Note: Last night's post was not published because of publication problems I seem to he having again tonight. Anyway, I re-wrote it this morning and my recollected version was posted at (Spanish) midday today. Please scroll down if you missed it last night or this morning.

Down to Portugal today, to stay in the charming town of Ponte de Lima, en route to Oporto. Things went well until we got close to the town and joined a long queue of traffic moving slower-than-snail-like through road works on the modern bridge over the river Lima. Past these, we were then detoured twice before we could make it to the picturesque centre of the town and the hotel Imperial on the riverside. This is where we'd planned to stay but we found it closed, allegedly for works that didn't appear to be taking place.

But not all was lost; there was a You-are-Here map near the hotel, supplied by a kind municipality for lost souls such as we. But it didn't show hotels. So we headed for the Turismo. Which wasn't where it'd been when I'd last used it a few years back. We walked past the new one twice before we found someone to point out where it was. Their map of the town didn't show hotels either but the young lady was kind enough to add three by hand.

So, off we went in the general direction of the Mercería, or what the young lady had called 'the mansion'. We knew what street it overlooked and found that easily. What we couldn't find was the hotel, despite walking round the relevant block twice. Nor could we find the café we'd been told occupied its ground floor. Again we asked and were directed to a closed door that bore no indication whatsoever that it was the entrance to the Mercería hotel. As we entered, another young woman met us and explained that the café we could now see was closed up as it was a half-day holiday. She herself was waiting to go off; so it was lucky we'd arrived when we had.

Things quickly got better as she showed us to a splendid room, with a view down to the river. And wi-fi. And a coffee machine which - from the size of the cups and the cartridges - looks like it might make the strongest brew in the world. The TV, though, was a disappointment; I tried the first 16 channels, only to find these were the same four channels four times.

A late afternoon walk took us over the medieval bridge. This being Portugal and not Spain, conversations between fellow-strollers were at a level which allowed us to enjoy the (classical) music being played through speakers at regular intervals along the bridge. In fact, the absence of noise is one of the main cultural differences between these two neighbours. Here, you never even hear a dog bark. And you can sit under the evening sun in the main square and hear the twittering of the roosting birds. I wouldn't be surprised if making a noise is a sin here, to be cited and cleansed at Confession.

Anyway, here's a few fotos:-

The view from our room. No, it's not raining: it's shot through the window pane. The statue is a Cardinal. The town has several other fine statues, none of which is religious. Down the street from the Cardinal is a life-size bull, complete - as they say - in every anatomical detail.

The only indication that this might be the entrance to a hotel.

The sign in situ.


Ferrolano said...

Colin, and they say that “Spain is different!” – perhaps it is Portugal…….?? Either way, enjoy your trip.

CafeMark said...

They found it! http://www.typicallyspanish.com/news/publish/article_35198.shtml
Codice Calixtino

Lucy Watson said...

Colin can you comea little further south and see us in Cascais? L x

Colin said...

@Mark. Yes, saw that. Will mention it tomorrow.

@ Lucy. A td far for now. But am still planning on being their in Oct. x

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