6.9.19 – A free Sunday in Braga ??

I’ve gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, keep me here.

Barbara Johnson

This is a quote that has always resonated with me- and my first week in Portugal I spent looking for the old me; someone who was able to seize any and every moment I found myself in. I had a few goals for myself while in Portugal: Do not feel guilty for being without my son; my Romeo.A goal to remain grateful, and lastly to be outgoing and unafraid of the unfamiliar environment.

6.9.19 was a Sunday, and the Professor left the choice to Us, whether or not we wanted to do another walking tour, or if we wanted the day to ourselves- of course we chose ourselves.

The morning of the 9th, we ALL slept in. The 5 hour time difference was really taking a toll on us. So at a round 2 o’clock in the afternoon we went out for breakfast ;our first meal of the day.

We went to a café, in Braga Centro named O Melhor café é o d A Brasíleira which translates to The best coffee is the Brazilian. I ordered what sounded like something that could fill my stomach.

After enjoying our food and then coffee (which is a custom here) we went on an impromptu walking tour of our own. I set out to get some photos of the atmosphere on my film camera.

These pictures were just steps away from where we sat to have lunch.

Everywhere you turn there is a beautiful church, statue, or fountain. I was able to find artistic beauty everywhere I turned.

The cobble stone ground and all of the decorations added an artistic and cultural touch to the area. I loved that- it made the atmosphere happy, and welcoming. I noticed A lot of public art while in Braga; but it wasn’t just pretty and a nice touch. All of the art and sculpture that I came across had some tie to the area, culture and traditions of Portuguese history.

On our walk back the hotel we encountered a band in the square- of young men playing beautiful music. Unlike what I am used to, they did not appear to be homeless or upon hard times; using their talents to make a little coin on the sidewalk.

They appeared to be young men just playing because they can, and because Braga Centro could also serve as huge and beautiful stage for them to showcase their talents for free. We Americans seemed to be the only ones in awe- taking out our cameras to capture something that the Portuguese in Braga have the privilege to enjoy daily.

Upon arrival to the hotel- we decided to lounge by the roof top pool, before setting out for a group dinner with Professor Cadero.

Around 8pm – we went to dinner as a group and ate like royals. We chose our meals, drinks and deserts. Below I’ve added pictures of our delicious food.

After dinner we went back to hotel to rest before the start of our activities with the University de Minho on Monday.

Touring the Minho Region

During the beginning of the trip we have stayed mostly in Braga, which is located in the Minho region of Portugal. Today with the help of a tour guide from Guides in Portugal we saw three cities also in this region, Viana, Pointe de Lima and Barcelinhos. Each of the cities was full of life from the medieval architecture to the many weddings we walked by. Due to the strong Catholic history each city had a beautiful church.

In Viana, we visited Santa Casa da Misericordia de Viana do Castelo which was completed in 1722, just six years after the start of construction. Inside of the church, many styles come together, including baroque, rococo and renaissance. Around the church are detailed wood carving covered in gold leaf, decorative tiles, painting and sculptures. One the tiles the seven works of mercy are displayed. Representations of the Passion of Christ are prevalent in the church. Viana also had another church on the top of a hill. The view from the top was stunning, but due to a wedding we could not enter the church.

After Viana, we went Pointe de Lima where we started with a lunch at Restaurante Acude. Out the restaurant water is a beautiful view of the Vez river As a starter we were served bread, cheese and pork ears. For a main course there was a choice between fish and pork, both of which were delicious. Extremely full from lunch we made our way to the historic downtown. In this downtown, remained a Roman bridge and parts of the ancient city wall. Though not as elaborate as the church in Viana, there was the Camara Municipal de Ponte de Lima, a small chapel from at least the 18th century.


Lastly, on the way back to Braga we stoped in Barchelinhos. There was another church, the Templo do Senhor Bom Jesus da Cruz. What stood out to me at first about this church was the circular shape. Inside the church to the right is an elaborate wood carvings covered in gold leaf, around the lady of sorrow. Around the pews  were blue and white flowers from a wedding earlier that day.

In the Minho region many of the cities may seem similar at first but each have their own unique history.

First Official Day in Braga

We began our day by going on a food tour around Braga. Our tour guide brought us to the most common places for the Portuguese and served the most common dishes. To start we were brought to a place where cheese can be bought. We were given three different kinds of cheese to try. The Melgaso choose is the small white one made by goat milk. The long yellow-ish cheese with a black strip on the top is made of raw milk and its process is nine months of aging. The other cheese was sheep cheese and it is brought from the highest mountain in Portugal. Next to the cheeses there was bread with olive oil on it. That olive oil is found far from the coast and from the back side if a mountain.

Later that day we were taken to a café called Sem Limite and they served us Bifanas, which were bread stuffed with pieces of pork in them. Then they Brought us chicken gizards, which were considered chicken stomach. To me the taste was pleasing but the aftertaste wasn’t as much. After that, we went to a cafe called Lusi Tana and there they served us any coffee we wanted to order for dessert along with some biscuit-like sticks and a sweet bread with white powdered sugar on top. Then we were sent off to enjoy the day on our own.

Day of Arrival from Boston

After arriving to the airport we were picked up by a bus that took us from Porto to Braga. Along the way I was captured by its beautiful far sights and the signs on the road are also different.

We were then invited to go meet the staff that would be working with us at the University of Minho. So we did, and something that caught my attention was the kind of food that the university students get for lunch.

The hotel we’re staying at is called Mercure Hotel in Braga.

Some of us later that night went to a theater down the street from the hotel to see a show called Velvet Carpet. At least I didn’t know what to expect. It was a very interesting show. It had many parts to it with a lot of meaning to everything.

Second day in Guimaraes

Hello everyone! It’s me again! I am so happy here to talk about our journey today. As I said yesterday, we went to the university of MUnio where in Guimaraes. I felt like it took a lot faster than last time. When we got off from the bus, we were taken to a building inside. (Which I had no idea where it was.) and a nice guy who is called Eduardo Fernandes came out say hello to us. After all the introductions, we know that the building we visit today is art architecture. As we walked in, I saw so many interesting things that the students have been working on. 

Here are some photos.

water bottles

As you can see, we went to some place like a gallery. There were so many paintings and self-portraits sitting on the ground. I feel like they are so talented. But what really caught my attention were the plastic bottles on the floor. I was so confused why they were there, until he told us the reason. These students want to figure out how many plastic bottles we are going to use in one week. Therefore, they decided to put them on the floor. Personally, this is a perfect idea for reducing the use of plastic. Plus, this saving awareness should be advertised.

This is a picture of their library. It’s very beautiful and pleasant. I will say it’s an amazing place to study. The cylindrical thing you see is the stair to second floor. I bet that the students here are very happy to study with this kind of environment. 

Guimarães Castle
Perfect lunch in the University

After this lunch, we did a lovely walking tour with Pro. Geroges around this city. (As I have mentioned yesterday.) I have to say that I will never regret participating in this particular trip. Because not only we have seen so many ancient architectures, but also he explained all the histories very detailed. For example, we can see there is some letters on the ancient wall. It’s saying that “Portugal was born in here.” I think that this a very memorable and valuable wall. Furthermore, it is also the only wall left in the lower town of Guimaraes. 

Group picture

At the end, I want to say thanks to Pro. Geroges and the University do Minho.

Muito obrigado! ?

First Day in Guimaraes

Ola Pessoal! (Hello Everyone!) I am very excited, because we started a new journey today. We went to Guimaraes Campus of University of UMinho and it took us about 40 minutes from Braga. When we were trying to take the bus in the morning, everyone was kind of nervous that we could miss the school bus. Since this is our first time taking this special “bus”. And it runs once per hour. Luckily, we got on the bus on time and we made it to the campus!

Here! You can see how beautiful the city center is. It is a really historical downtown with a small population. Unfortunately, we are not here today to visit this city. We are here today to appreciate the works of the art design students. They have showed us so many incredibly art work by video. I did not expect that it could go that well. Moreover, they also expire me in some field and all those art works reflect their creativity. I have to say that they they really taught me the imagination of human is infinite.

Here are the works of those amazing students

European Tactile Map

Personally, Hexplay is one of my favorite designs today. I mean they are all very innovative and imaginative. But I like the idea of we need to play the game with eye mask. Because they have different textures, so we need to distinguish them by tactile. In other way, it increases the interest greatly. The reason why all these games are related to tactile or sound is because this art design is actually cooperated with blinds. Therefore, all these works are designed for him. It might be difficult to get the trick at the beginning, but once you get the rule of how to play it, you will get into it!

Beside the art works, we also went to browsed their studios and labs. They were very neat and clean, and the equipments look very professional. All students are very committed of what they are doing.

Last but not least, we got our free afternoon today! Before we went back to Braga, we had a cup of nice coffee. And it is always strongly recommended to have a coffee outside if you are in Europe. Because they really have the best coffee here. Plus, they are very very cheap! (about 1.5 euros.)

We will come here and explore this city more tomorrow. So I will see what I can find next day. I am already looking forward to It.

A Day in Santiago de Compostela

Today we got the chance to step out of Portugal and see Spain. Once in Spain, we started with a very traditional meal at Restaurante San Clemente which included starters such as, empanadas, calamari, and prosciutto. There were two choices for main dishes, either pork or fish. I chose fish, something out of my comfort zone and loved it!

After the meal, we began a tour of the city center, focusing on the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostella. The Cathedral is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful displays of architecture I have ever seen. It is hard to believe that some parts were built centuries ago. Our tour was given by a local guide was named Diego. This Cathedral is the final point of an over 100-kilometer pilgrimage many people complete each year over many centuries. There are several trails from various countries that lead to the cathedral, for example from Portugal, France, Italy and other parts of Spain. 

Along the path, pilgrims will follow the “conchas” or shells to the cathedral. Some shells will look different, but either an arrow or the lines of the shell will point to the cathedral.

Places that have the shell outside welcome people on the pilgrimage to stay overnight, clean up and eat. At these spots, the pilgrims will get stamps to prove that they have walked the required 100-kilometers. On the tour, we met two Portuguese women that had spent the past four days walking to the Cathedral. Below is one of their cards with each of their stamps.

The reason that people come from all over to this cathedral is that it is believed that the bones of Saint James are under the Cathedral. Saint James was a Fisherman that then became a disciple of Jesus, he preached the word of Jesus in Spain. There was a prophecy that Spain would become Catholic due to the actions of Saint James. Unfortunately, he was beheaded, after his death his bones were brought to a crypt under the cathedral, fulfilling the prophecy. 

Shells such as the ones all around the cathedral are also seen in Braga. Traveling to the cathedral and learning the history surrounding it was very powerful for me. Being Catholic made the experience even more special for me. Seeing the influence the Catholic Church has had on every country is breathtaking. I am excited to experience other cities, such as Porto and Guimaraes, in the next nine days. 


Follow along as UMass Lowell Art & Design, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, Art History, Theater, Psychology and French students along with Professor Jennifer Cadero-Gillette travel to Braga and Porto, Portugal. There they’ll explore historic & contemporary visual arts, architecture and theater. Visit an archaeological site, cook authentic cuisine travel to local UNESCO World Heritage sites. Experience workshops and lectures with local new media artists, faculty and students from UMass Lowell partner university, the University of Minho, Braga.

Panoramic view from Vila Nova de Gaia towards the old harbour and the central district of Oporto. Courtesy: Janek Pfeifer

You can also read blogs from previous trips to Portugal listed below or from other destinations across the globe UMass Lowell students travel to.