Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursdays in Barcelos
About an hour away from Braga by bus, Barcelos hit its stride in the 15th century as an agricultural and political center. In this area, the soil is extremely fertile and the abundant produce is grown naturally, without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. My sister Nancy would be in heaven!
Every Thursday in the center of town, the enormous Feira de Barcelos market comes to life. In the same location since 1412, it's one of the oldest and largest outdoor markets in Europe. A serious shopper can buy beautiful, fresh seasonal produce and everything else from coils of rope and blindingly white brassieres (with helpful saleswomen who make sure you get the right fit), to parakeets (for pets) and bunnies (probably not for pets).
The market is busy, loud and vibrant and there are lots of interesting items for sale, but it's the people-watching that makes it so special. Customers and vendors engage in lively conversations, women gracefully carry gigantic baskets of produce on their heads, and groups of men gather to chat and wait patiently while the women take care of business. Barcelos is a great place to slip back in time.
Naturally, I must comment on lunch. I ate at a cute little restaurant called Azeitona (Olive) and I had my very first batch of Cozido à Portuguesa which means "boiled Portuguese." It tastes better than it sounds! It reminded me of Mom's boiled dinner with hunks of meat and veggies cooked together. It was filling and comforting and I must admit that I saved the pig's ear for last - it was my favorite part!!
Barcelos may not be hip and happening like Porto or Lisbon, but it's a fantastic destination for a slice of everyday life.
at 10:24 PM