quarta-feira, 20 de julho de 2016

Off the beaten path

North of Portugal: Póvoa de Varzim 

When we think about cities to visit in Portugal, many famous places start coming to our mind, be it for their historical monuments or for their worldwide known sweets. One of the big cities to be remembered is Porto. 

The city of Porto, in the North of Portugal, attracts visitors of all nationalities. Porto still has the characteristics of a country with a big history, delicious culinary, strong religious tradition, not to mention the fact that the tourist feels like worshiping the Portuguese culture. 

If you are thinking of a picturesque place, you are right, but forget that as soon as you take the subway. The subway train and station are modern, clean, passengers use an electronic pass and there are no turnstiles. Most of the subway lines aren’t underground, what makes a much more pleasant ride. 

The last station up North of Porto is in a city off the beaten path, called Póvoa de Varzim. It was the first city I visited in Portugal and, of course, it shouldn't be widely known. It is a city of fishermen, flat (without the ups and downs of downtown), with a population of around 64 thousand people. Extremely popular for the Portuguese people in the summer, it has a long beach with a large stretch of sand and cold water, but besides that it has also many tiny narrowed streets, which inspires many photographers, professionals or not. 

A peaceful city that is proud of its security any time of day or night, its easy signals to drivers to stop for pedestrians, its huge wall of Portuguese blue tiles – that tells the story of its people through paintings on the tiles –, its proximity to the big city, Portuguese or why not Spanish, its traditional catholic churches, bakeries and a historical downtown that still has the symbols that represent the fishermen of Póvoa de Varzim. 

You can literally see one church at every corner in the historical center of the cityAll of them are worth a visitIf you are religious, do your praying, if notjust admire the richness of details they have. I entered many churches in Portugal and they are never the sameBy the wayone of the churches in the historical circuit of Póvoa is a stop to the pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela. 

In the city's bakeries you will always find the traditional Portuguese sweetsAll of them with the yolk color, their primary ingredientSomy recommendation for your first tasty experience isask for Bola de Berlim (Berlin's ball), it just melts in your mouth! 

There you go! Just a one hour subway ride from downtown Porto, you are able to visit a city off the beaten path, where there is beach, historical center and a window watching boulevard. Funny fact here is that this is actually more popular than going in the store and buying something. During the day people are just busy going from one place to the other, but when night comes, say hello to the window watchers!

Póvoa de Varzim is worth the ride and worth the visitjust be sure you bring a jacket with you, 'cause boy it's cold up there! 

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