After a restless night and a long morning due to our earlier train misfortunes that day, I was happy to finally arrive via our last minute rental car at the Pousada de Viana do Castelo in northern Portugal, a beautiful hotel belonging to the pousada collection of hotels installed in historical monuments and buildings, castles, convents, and monasteries similar to paradors in Spain, located on the summit of Monte de Santa Luzia with views out to the Atlantic and the Basilica of Santa Luzia.
After checking into our room and promptly face planting into the soft pillowy mattress for a long nap, we set out to explore our side of the mountain. We had a wonderful time exploring the gardens and the Basilica in the late Sunday afternoon sun. The day crowds were gone and we had the place practically to ourselves.
We finished the day off enjoying a much deserved glass of champagne with dinner while watching the sun set into a gorgeous halo of fiery orange and dusky purple. Dan just had to work on his creative sunset shots as well!
The next morning, after surprise massages (thanks hubby!) we said tchau to Viano do Castelo and drove south to Braga for a day trip to the sanctuary turned hilltop park of Bom Jesus de Monte before making our way to Porto.
We stopped mid-day for lunch at a cafe atop the summit overlooking the town of Braga and enjoyed the famous northern Portugal gastronomic delight of francesinhas. Five types of meat between two slice of bread, smothered in cheese and then covered in a thick tomato beer sauce. Served with fries. Holy heart attack!
After lunch, we continued exploring (no small feat after that coma inducing lunch), discovering that the park was quite extensive. There was a little man made lake up at the top with rowboats that you could rent for the hour to paddle around and many more fountains and shrines and viewpoints.
Bom Jesus do Monte turned out to be quite a delightful little find and the Portugal weather was wonderfully warm. Exactly what we were in search of after a London winter! Port wine was calling our names, however, so Dan and I headed back down the mountain to continue our journey south to the colorful city of Porto, the next landing spot of our Portugal adventure!