Monday, October 7, 2013

She's climbing the Staircase to Heaven

I got on the metro at San Bento Station I had read how beautiful it was inside with the various wall designs so I looked around while I was waiting for the metro it was.
I was headed to Braga, I was not sure where to catch the bus to Bom Jesus Sanctuary  (Santuario do Bom Jesus do Monte. I saw a sign saying information and followed it but there was nothing so I got in line at a window selling train tickets and found out the bus left from outside and I ran out and the bus was just pulling away I waved him down and he stopped and waited for me. It was about 25 minute ride and I got to see some of Braga on the way and it was quite uphill (like most of Portugal appears to be) and finally arrived at a parking lot. There were other people arriving and they headed for the Funicular but I wanted to walk up because I read you can experience everything and then tale the funicular down. I started climbing the steps, and it did not even look like the photographs I had seen. I  have to admit the first half of the walk was not that interesting, there were various little caves to look into and the scenes were mainly leading up to the Crucifixion and hard to see cos of the darkness of the caves.

"Building of this staircase was begun in 1722 under the archbishop of Braga. The stairway pays homage to the five senses and the three virtues (Faith, Hope and Chastity) by snaking through a series of themed statues and fountains. Each landing has a fountain. At the base of the stairs is a section of patterned pavement with benches featuring a good view of the Braga plain on a clear day."

I started the climb taking my time and resting I finally got to the point that I had seen in photographs Bom Jesus is famous for the ornamental Stairway that zig zags across the hill towards the church it is Baroque and it was beautiful to see in person.  It started to become very warm out and I saw more and more people who had opted to take the funicular up and then walk down the main staircase. There were many statues and then water fountains at various landings.  I finally made it to the top and spotted a outdoor café they also had an ice cream place since I was so hot I decided ice cream was what I needed (hey any excuse will do) I tried my first “feast” ice cream bar  “these ice creams are to die for they taste so yummy  I could eat it all day, there is a solid block of chocolate in the middle covered by chocolate that have nuts.” Is a review I found and that pretty much sums it up, I pretty much had one every day the rest of my trip, usually in place of lunch. 

Cricket enjoyed the feast too

I walked around admiring the gardens looked in the church and the gift store I bought a postcard and stamp there was a bit of confusion getting the stamp making sure I was getting International stamp and not Europe but finally settled that, and sat down and wrote and mailed it.  It was starting to get pretty hot and I decided it was time to head down on the funicular.

The sight fountain

Sacred Stairs Bom Jesus Sanctuary

granite and plaster stairway

"an old, water counterbalancing funicular that will take you nearly 300 meters up the 400 meter hill to the pilgrimage site of Bom Jesus. Built in 1882, it moves by loading water into the car at the top of the hill, which weighs it down so it sinks to the bottom, at the same time drawing the lighter, drained car up the hill, where the process starts all over again."


I had to wait a bit for the bus but there was a place to sit out of the direct sun which at this point was really starting to get to me. Once I was back in town I was hungry and I started to look for a place to eat, I was not in an area that had much of a choice of food, so I settled on a hamburger with fried egg on top and rice and fries (I later learned this was called a Portuguese hamburger the fries were so yummy I was wondering what the coating was. I walked around  bit more but appears I was quite a ways from other attractions so I decided it was time to get out of the sun and catch the metro back to Porto.

Once back in Porto I walked around some more I went to the Cathedral it was a bit of a walk to it and it was uphill as most places are in Porto. I had a really great view up there and it was the sun was starting to set it was a totally awesome view.