BRAGA, . . . and a walkabout with Maggie


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Europe » Portugal » Northern » Braga
September 20th 2008
Published: September 20th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

BragaBragaBraga

Plaza fountain
Well, we got to the villa on Saturday, the 13th, and except for one night out for dinner at Ribeiro de Pena, we’ve all pretty much just sort of relaxed and “vegged” out. Today was our first tourist outing and in two cars we all took off for Bragga slightly to the North-west of the villa.

Heather, Kane, Lynn and another traveller were in one car, (GPS equipped) while Beth, Al, Larry, and Cindy travelled in the second car. In a strange place where you don’t know where you are, and are not familiar with how to get where you’re going, a portable GPS can be a wondrous thing. Before leaving the villa it had been decided that we would all meet at a tourist information centre that, according to maps we had, seemed to be pretty much in the centre of town.

Once we made our way off the rural country roads the freeway system had us in Bragga in less than an hour. Driving down the freeway the GPS reminded us in a polite British voice, “in one kilometre keep left”, so we wouldn’t exit at the wrong place and eventually in discussing the usefulness of a
Braga ChurchBraga ChurchBraga Church

Intricately detailed buildings
portable GPS someone thought the British voice should have a name. Naming one of these modern technical devices is not as simple as it used to be. “FRED” is now a very old name for Electronic Devices and there are so many “FRED’s” that a portable GPS, one of the newer gadgets, deserves a different unique name. After several kilometres, many names, and polite reminders “in one kilometre keep left” the GPS was christened “Maggie”.

Maggie is a multi-talented device and will guide you safely and directly in any one of three modes of travelling. Whether driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, or just walking Maggie will find the best route for you. She’ll even take you to points of interest, shopping centres, or given any specific address she’ll say, “Now arriving at destination on right, (or left)” and there you are. It wasn’t long before Maggie had us in downtown Bragga and after once around the block we were lucky enough to find a parking spot not far from where we were to rendezvous with the other tourists. The plan was that we would all just go our own way and sort of wander about to take in
Braga City HallBraga City HallBraga City Hall

A beautiful garden
the sights. Not knowing where we might end up in relation to where the car was at the end of the day Maggie was put into walking mode and she located in her memory where the car was. So being good tourists and leaving the car parked on the street everything, including Maggie, was locked up out of sight in the trunk.

Bragga is a wonderful old city of about 160,000 people, magnificent old buildings, cathedrals, squares, plazas, boulevards, and lots of pedestrian friendly areas. Our rendezvous point, the tourist centre, was located on one side of a large plaza with an animated fountain in the centre, shops on all sides, and sidewalk / patio dining on one side of the plaza. Broad pedestrian-only boulevards lead away from this plaza in three directions. We all enjoyed a light open-air lunch as we watched people and discussed our individual plans. As it turned out the five girls went together, (probably shopping), while Larry and Al paired up to explore together, and as is my usual preference was left to wander alone.

We had all gotten maps indicating the sights of Bragga from the “Tourism” and after orienting myself somewhat
Tiled BuildingsTiled BuildingsTiled Buildings

Another of the many amazing tiled exteriors
I took off down one of the side streets. The old architecture, colourful tiled building exteriors, and people were all absorbing and I eventually found myself, (or was I lost?) in an area that didn’t seem quite as old and far less touristy. Since this is how I usually tour about it didn’t take too long after looking at the people and my surroundings to come to a conclusion that I seemed to be in a university district. Sure enough three or four blocks further along I found the “Catholic University” sign. See, I wasn’t lost at all. That’s one of the advantages of touring and exploring alone is you don’t have to reassure someone else about where you are and that you are not lost. How can you be “lost” if you don’t know where “found” is ? Many buidings and photographs later I found myself back in more familiar area with the plaza I started from in sight.

No need to go back the plaza just yet with another three hours until the rendezvous time so I just headed down another of the pedestrian boulevards. Many more fascinating old buildings, interesting shops, and what was that blaze
Another Braga ChurchAnother Braga ChurchAnother Braga Church

The architectural detail and mosaic tiles are aweson
of color on the corner down the little side street I was crossing? Wandering alone you can go anywhere, so the thing to do was to go and find out what the color was.

I had found what turned out to be the ‘backyard’ of one of the local government administration offices. A large square of flowers, color, and stone. Really quite easy on the eyes and a magnificent display in the centre of town. Wandering along I came across more squares, fountains, beautifully tiles buildings and cathedrals. No structure worthy of being called a cathedral can be without bells and I kept hearing one in particular about every fifteen minutes. I didn’t have any GPS systems but I could hear and can sometimes be carelessly adventurous so I began to follow the bells. It’s as good a system as any when you are just wandering about exploring.

It’s sometimes strange how sound travels. It’s also sometimes strange how disoriented one can become and I soon found myself looking at the time and thinking I should be making a more concentrated effort to find out where I was. No help from the surroundings and people where I was
FountainsFountainsFountains

There are many fountains in the pedestrian friendly centre of Braga
this time like earlier in the university district but I was soon walking along with a degree of confidence. My confidence was somewhat bolstered when I saw a truck driving by with the name of the restaurant we had gotten lunch from drove by. I assumed he was probably headed back to the restaurant and therefore I too, was on the right path. But we all know about making assumptions. Maybe he actually was driving away from the restaurant to an off-site catering location.

Those of you who know me better probably have also recognized an element of stubborn perseverance sometimes so I just continued on until finally around one corner and about twenty minutes from rendezvous time, there was the plaza I had started from. I don’t know where I was, I don’t know if I saw all the sights on the Tourism map, but I probably saw many, and I did see lots of fascinating people, shops, buildings, monuments, and gardens.

We were soon all gathered together and after sharing some of our discoveries we were all off to a little restaurant Larry had discovered. After arriving at the restaurant, four of us really weren’t hungry
Flowers Flowers Flowers

Flowers everywhere, - these are in the plaza where I started exploring from
so we divided forces again and while half the group dined, the other half of us began to make our way back to our car to return to the villa.

When we got back to the car, which was ticketless, because we had found one of the few free parking areas, we began to get our stuff out of the trunk for the drive home. This is when Maggie fell, hitting firmly on the cobblestones. Hope she doesn’t break easily like Humpty Dumpty !

Into the car, power up Maggie, give her a few moments for communicate with a couple satellites and she seems to be OK because she is telling us “proceed and turn left in 100 metres”. We do as we’re told and as soon as we turn Maggie is “recalulating’ and in a couple seconds she is giving directions again. We begin to follow the new directions which sometimes don’t seem quite just right, and Maggie is more and more into “recalulating’ no matter how well we try to follow.

Finally we are out of the centre of town, seemingly en route to the freeway which can be seen in the distance when Maggie
Braga BoulevardsBraga BoulevardsBraga Boulevards

The pedestrian walkway I followed from the square en route to being "misplaced"
starts with more directions apparently taking us away from the freeway we can see. It’s a nice road we’re on, beautiful houses and scenery, and Maggie being the wonder she is probably knows more than one way to skin a cat, or get to a freeway. So we follow. And get gas along the way.

Following Maggie’s directions through the hillsides above Bragga, or the Bragga area, we are seeing terraced hillsides with ripening vines, more beautiful homes and the beginnings of another beautiful sunset. Maggie keeps continuing to recalculate sending us down roads that are becoming narrower, more rural, and cobbled. Finally she wants us to go down a roadway about seven feet wide, about a 35 - 40 degree grade, with high walls on each side, and appearing to narrow. Whoa, we’re not going down there.! It looks like a funnel to herd livestock through. We admit that maybe Maggie has been injured from her fall from the trunk and maybe has a concussion.

It’s been nearly an hour now and we are still not near a freeway and almost at the point where we could be lost in the hills. The roads have become more and more like trails but eventually we find our way back to Bragga. We try Maggie again but when she wants to send us the wrong way down a one way street we know something is wrong. In time we find signs giving direction to the A11, the freeway we are looking for. Everything is fine until once again, these narrowing roads do not seem to lead to the freeway.

No longer is our drive from Bragga an interesting diversion and as frustration begins to set in the light bulb comes on and our navigator has a flash of inspiration. A quick check-up on Maggie and we discover she is set in Pedestrian mode for walking. No wonder she wouldn’t let us near a freeway! Freeways are not safe places for walking. One way streets mean nothing when walking. Re-set to Driving Mode and Maggie is cured.

We’ve learned that Maggie would certainly guide us on an interesting, pretty, and safe walking route and as we drive to the villa we are laughing just about all the way as we recollect the sights and trails Maggie wanted us to walk about.

But there are more adventures to come as we all begin to formulate plans for the weekend
Well, we got to the villa on Saturday, the 13th, and except for one night out for dinner at Ribeiro de Pena, we’ve all pretty much just sort of relaxed and “vegged” out. Today was our first tourist outing and in two cars we all took off for Bragga slightly to the North-west of the villa.

Heather, Kane, Lynn and another traveller were in one car, (GPS equipped) while Beth, Al, Larry, and Cindy travelled in the second car. In a strange place where you don’t know where you are, and are not familiar with how to get where you’re going, a portable GPS can be a wondrous thing. Before leaving the villa it had been decided that we would all meet at a tourist information centre that, according to maps we had, seemed to be pretty much in the centre of town.

Once we made our way off the rural country roads the freeway system had us in Bragga in less than an hour. Driving down the freeway the GPS reminded us in a polite British voice, “in one kilometre keep left”, so we wouldn’t exit at the wrong place and eventually in discussing the usefulness of a portable GPS someone thought the British voice should have a name. Naming one of these modern technical devices is not as simple as it used to be. “FRED” is now a very old name for Electronic Devices and there are so many “FRED’s” that a portable GPS, one of the newer gadgets, deserves a different unique name. After several kilometres, many names, and polite reminders “in one kilometre keep left” the GPS was christened “Maggie”.

Maggie is a multi-talented device and will guide you safely and directly in any one of three modes of travelling. Whether driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, or just walking Maggie will find the best route for you. She’ll even take you to points of interest, shopping centres, or given any specific address she’ll say, “Now arriving at destination on right, (or left)” and there you are. It wasn’t long before Maggie had us in downtown Bragga and after once around the block we were lucky enough to find a parking spot not far from where we were to rendezvous with the other tourists. The plan was that we would all just go our own way and sort of wander about to take in the sights. Not knowing where we might end up in relation to where the car was at the end of the day Maggie was put into walking mode and she located in her memory where the car was. So being good tourists and leaving the car parked on the street everything, including Maggie, was locked up out of sight in the trunk.

Bragga is a wonderful old city of about 160,000 people, magnificent old buildings, cathedrals, squares, plazas, boulevards, and lots of pedestrian friendly areas. Our rendezvous point, the tourist centre, was located on one side of a large plaza with an animated fountain in the centre, shops on all sides, and sidewalk / patio dining on one side of the plaza. Broad pedestrian-only boulevards lead away from this plaza in three directions. We all enjoyed a light open-air lunch as we watched people and discussed our individual plans. As it turned out the five girls went together, (probably shopping), while Larry and Al paired up to explore together, and as is my usual preference was left to wander alone.

We had all gotten maps indicating the sights of Bragga from the “Tourism” and after orienting myself somewhat I took off down one of the side streets. The old architecture, colourful tiled building exteriors, and people were all absorbing and I eventually found myself, (or was I lost?) in an area that didn’t seem quite as old and far less touristy. Since this is how I usually tour about it didn’t take too long after looking at the people and my surroundings to come to a conclusion that I seemed to be in a university district. Sure enough three or four blocks further along I found the “Catholic University” sign. See, I wasn’t lost at all. That’s one of the advantages of touring and exploring alone is you don’t have to reassure someone else about where you are and that you are not lost. How can you be “lost” if you don’t know where “found” is ? Many buidings and photographs later I found myself back in more familiar area with the plaza I started from in sight.

No need to go back the plaza just yet with another three hours until the rendezvous time so I just headed down another of the pedestrian boulevards. Many more fascinating old buildings, interesting shops, and what was that blaze of color on the corner down the little side street I was crossing? Wandering alone you can go anywhere, so the thing to do was to go and find out what the color was.

I had found what turned out to be the ‘backyard’ of one of the local government administration offices. A large square of flowers, color, and stone. Really quite easy on the eyes and a magnificent display in the centre of town. Wandering along I came across more squares, fountains, beautifully tiles buildings and cathedrals. No structure worthy of being called a cathedral can be without bells and I kept hearing one in particular about every fifteen minutes. I didn’t have any GPS systems but I could hear and can sometimes be carelessly adventurous so I began to follow the bells. It’s as good a system as any when you are just wandering about exploring.

It’s sometimes strange how sound travels. It’s also sometimes strange how disoriented one can become and I soon found myself looking at the time and thinking I should be making a more concentrated effort to find out where I was. No help from the surroundings and people where I was this time like earlier in the university district but I was soon walking along with a degree of confidence. My confidence was somewhat bolstered when I saw a truck driving by with the name of the restaurant we had gotten lunch from drove by. I assumed he was probably headed back to the restaurant and therefore I too, was on the right path. But we all know about making assumptions. Maybe he actually was driving away from the restaurant to an off-site catering location.

Those of you who know me better probably have also recognized an element of stubborn perseverance sometimes so I just continued on until finally around one corner and about twenty minutes from rendezvous time, there was the plaza I had started from. I don’t know where I was, I don’t know if I saw all the sights on the Tourism map, but I probably saw many, and I did see lots of fascinating people, shops, buildings, monuments, and gardens.

We were soon all gathered together and after sharing some of our discoveries we were all off to a little restaurant Larry had discovered. After arriving at the restaurant, four of us really weren’t hungry so we divided forces again and while half the group dined, the other half of us began to make our way back to our car to return to the villa.

When we got back to the car, which was ticketless, because we had found one of the few free parking areas, we began to get our stuff out of the trunk for the drive home. This is when Maggie fell, hitting firmly on the cobblestones. Hope she doesn’t break easily like Humpty Dumpty !

Into the car, power up Maggie, give her a few moments for communicate with a couple satellites and she seems to be OK because she is telling us “proceed and turn left in 100 metres”. We do as we’re told and as soon as we turn Maggie is “recalulating’ and in a couple seconds she is giving directions again. We begin to follow the new directions which sometimes don’t seem quite just right, and Maggie is more and more into “recalulating’ no matter how well we try to follow.

Finally we are out of the centre of town, seemingly en route to the freeway which can be seen in the distance when Maggie starts with more directions apparently taking us away from the freeway we can see. It’s a nice road we’re on, beautiful houses and scenery, and Maggie being the wonder she is probably knows more than one way to skin a cat, or get to a freeway. So we follow. And get gas along the way.

Following Maggie’s directions through the hillsides above Bragga, or the Bragga area, we are seeing terraced hillsides with ripening vines, more beautiful homes and the beginnings of another beautiful sunset. Maggie keeps continuing to recalculate sending us down roads that are becoming narrower, more rural, and cobbled. Finally she wants us to go down a roadway about seven feet wide, about a 35 - 40 degree grade, with high walls on each side, and appearing to narrow. Whoa, we’re not going down there.! It looks like a funnel to herd livestock through. We admit that maybe Maggie has been injured from her fall from the trunk and maybe has a concussion.

It’s been nearly an hour now and we are still not near a freeway and almost at the point where we could be lost in the hills. The roads have become more and more like trails but eventually we find our way back to Bragga. We try Maggie again but when she wants to send us the wrong way down a one way street we know something is wrong. In time we find signs giving direction to the A11, the freeway we are looking for. Everything is fine until once again, these narrowing roads do not seem to lead to the freeway.

No longer is our drive from Bragga an interesting diversion and as frustration begins to set in the light bulb comes on and our navigator has a flash of inspiration. A quick check-up on Maggie and we discover she is set in Pedestrian mode for walking. No wonder she wouldn’t let us near a freeway! Freeways are not safe places for walking. One way streets mean nothing when walking. Re-set to Driving Mode and Maggie is cured.

We’ve learned that Maggie would certainly guide us on an interesting, pretty, and safe walking route and as we drive to the villa we are laughing just about all the way as we recollect the sights and trails Maggie wanted us to walk about.

But there are more adventures to come as we all begin to formulate plans for the weekend.


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21st September 2008

Maggie
Ours is called LOLA, after her regular bill of fare (LOngitude, LAtitude), but MAGGIE works too (Miracle Aid for Geographic Guidance in Europe?). As regards Pedestrian Mode - been there, done that :-). Another one to check is "Shortest Route vs Fastest Route", and keep an eye on "Avoidances" (Toll roads, etc). Voice of experience... Sounds like you're having fun, and we're enjoying the trip vicariously. Keep 'em coming! /Hans
23rd September 2008

Maggie
just to let you know, I named mine Delores

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