Tuesday, April 6, 2021

SPRING HAS SPRUNG IN BRAGA

What a difference two weeks make! Spring has arrived in Braga, although the weather isn’t particularly consistent: One day it is hot; the next, cool and breezy; the next, hot; the next overcast with threatening clouds and finally rain; then hot again. And so on. Yesterday was hot. But everywhere greenery and flowers are unfolding: The Jardim de Santa Barbara has relinquished its tulips and is bursting with an explosion of color from a variety of blooms. The trees lining both sides of Avenida da Liberdade have ruffled out in leaves in their promenade down to the river and the mountain beyond.

Standing at the edge of the gardened area of Avenida da 
Liberdade, looking toward the mountain. See the far salmon colored building on the right? The lower one, not the high one. Well, at that corner, you turn left to go to our flat. You go one street, turn right, and then a zig-zag of cobbled streets and walks will bring you to our little street.  


Below is a cute little separate house right on a street around the corner from our flat. It just captivates me everytime I walk past it.
     

The Santa Barbara Gardens in all their splendor, and the dragon sculpture in the plaza across from them:





And everywhere around the historic center, redbud is in bloom:



 


What else have we been doing? Well, we bought a set of shelves for the balcony to start an herb garden in pots. So far, we have rosemary, cilantro, thyme, sage, basil, and mint, and they look very happy. We still want to find oregano and, if possible, dill and tarragon.



We’ve been walking every day, exploring different neighborhoods and new routes to fill in our mental map of the area and have discovered 4 different routes to our favorite bakery. Most days we walk at least 3 miles.
 



On Palm Sunday, during our walk-about, we floated along Rua do Souto, listening to chanting that had been piped over loudspeakers above shop doorways. There is something so peaceful and soothing about chants. It gave a lovely feel to the day, and we finished the afternoon with a new bag of hot, salted chestnuts, eating about half of them while we sat on a stone wall next to the sculpture of three mountains in Avenida Central across from the Centesima Pagina bookstore. A few doors away from the bookstore is the Casa do Professor, which is a home for anyone who has been a teacher in Portugal and is also a restaurant/cafeteria open to the public. A few doors in the opposite direction is the Hotel Bracara Augusta with the Centurium Restaurante (where Carla and Owen have a mysterious dinner with an old college chum in my new book.)
This is the sculpture. It represents three mountains around Braga, although I don't yet know their names. It's smack in the middle of the little park area flanked on each side by Avenida Central, and it's across from our favorite bookstore: Centésima Página. In addition to being a super bookstore, Centésima Página has a little lunchbar and outdoor seating in back. 

One day we went to the Rio Este at the end of Avenida da Liberdade and took a river walk upstream. Another day we followed the river downstream. In both cases, benches and trees and grass create a continuous meandering parkland.
The "upstream" side of the bridge.

And yesterday was the big day for Portugal: cafés opened to outside customers, no more than four to a table, and on the esplanades only; no one inside. All last week in Braga you could see the proprietors and servers washing doors and windows, polishing up the tables and chairs, and you could feel the excitement in the air, because this is a culture that likes its cup of coffee or glass of wine at plaza tables, socializing with friends and watching the world go by. We were excited, too, and started lining up meetings with friends we’ve only been able to visit online since arrival. Across the street from our flat, we’ve watched the Pastelaria get ready, and the tables and chairs put outside. But it was when we walked to the historic center to meet a friend that we were just amazed: In pre-Covid days, the streets were thronged with tourists who filled up the plaza tables. Yesterday they were thronged with locals who have been waiting for the day! We felt like half of Braga must have turned out for the opportunity to share a cup of corree, a glass of beer or wine, with friends at last. I just hope there will be no ill effects that send us all into lock down again.






And that wraps up our news for the day. I hope wherever you are, you are weathering confinement well. What special things do you do to pass the time? Are you writing more? Do you take walks? Keep houseplants? Read more?

16 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad spring has arrived. We're having an early spring here in Michigan, which is super nice. Hope your herb garden does well. My daughter got me one for Christmas that you start from seeds. I'll probably try it soon.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Boa Tarde, or "Good Afternoon" Natalie. I'm glad you came by. We both love herbs and we miss our garden on G Street. Well, we miss our back yard on G Street, which was part garden, part lawn.. So this set of shelves is our compensation. I notice outside our window a little circle of grass around a small tree. I'm thinking of digging up the grass and planting flowers if the city will let me. Stay tuned.

Elephant's Child said...

It seems that spring is fickle the world over and flirts with us before settling in.
I am glad she has arrived for you.
Here we are moving into autumn and I am watching as the trees start to blaze. And loving it.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Spring has truly arrived in Braga. It's amazing all the beautiful colors and flowers that intersperse with the statues. What a beautiful time to walk.

I love all your herbs. I have a few of the same, but I start mine from seed. I look forward to seeing how well they do over time. So glad you shared your walks with us, since it gives me a sense of where you live.

Rosi said...

It looks like you've chosen a beautiful place to live. We are having perfect weather this week, but next week it will start to heat up. I hope you have nicer summers there than Sacramento. Thanks for the tour.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Good morning, E.C. Well, you've mentioned my "other" favorite time of year. I love spring and the way things pop out in color. But then, I love fall with the turning leaves and the rich golds and reds and russets. Nature is always so beautiful during changes of season.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Bom dia, Elizabeth (& Bleubeard), hats off to you if you can start your herbs with seeds. We've never quite had the knack - or maybe the patience. But we do love the herbs once they are in full swing. I especially love to run my hands over rosemary and enjoy what that does to the surrounding air.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, thanks for stopping by. Glad you liked the tour. Actually, the weather and seasons are very similar here to Sacramento. Winters are a little cooler, but not a lot. And, sadly, July and August are the hot months here, too. (Just going to have to learn to travel light when we walk during summer.)

Vicki Lane said...

How beautiful! You are living an enchanted life, it seems. I love that little house.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Vicki, I love that little house, too. I really like our flat, and it meets our needs perfectly, but every time I see that house, I think, "I could live there!" It seems just adorable to me.

Sandra Cox said...

What a beautiful place. So glad you are enjoying your new home.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Good to see you again, Sandra, and thanks for the good wishes.

Mirka Breen said...

Spring has been gentle here, as it is always spring where I live. I love travelling with you in gentle lands, because travel is not on our agenda yet.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Mirka. The time will come. For years and years we didn't do any travel. We moved, but that is not the same! Travel came late for us. Maybe that's why we are enjoying it so much.

Sandra Cox said...

It looks like you are living in a place where they're wonderful areas to meander through and great places to eat. I'm sure you are enjoying it thoroughly. So happy for you.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks for stopping by again, Sandra. Yes. Great places to eat. Braga is going to be my downfall. Next year there may be more of me than this year! :-)