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From Lisbon to Braga or Lifting the Curse of Brussels Airlines

    We started the new day with a hearty breakfast at the hotel and a duty call about luggage. Alas! So far there is no news. But, despite this, we get out of the hotel and try to continue our journey.
  We leave Foz do Arelho and aim the GPS at Alcobaca.
  Now about the roads.


    If you look at the road map of Portugal, you will notice a rather high density of roads. No, of course, it is far from the web of roads in Western Europe, but, in any case, Portugal is very attractive for car tourism.
  The main roads that cut the country up and down, high-speed and mostly toll, have an index starting with the letter A: A1, A2, A3, etc. The exception is the A22 expressway running along the south coast in the Algarve province, which is free.
Along with express roads, there are many ordinary roads, which for the most part duplicate the first ones. By the way, we paid attention to such a remarkable fact: if there are no parallel ordinary roads on any section of a toll highway, then on this section such a road becomes free. Thus, there is always a choice: if time is important and there is money, we choose the expressway; if we want to see the surrounding beauty or if we don’t have money, we move along ordinary roads. However, the quality of all roads is quite high, in any case, we have not seen broken roads.
  The cost of travel on toll roads in absolute terms does not exceed 1 € per 10 km. However, you need to be careful at the payment points. Once, we foolishly had to pay 20 € for each car for a few kilometers. There are two typical mistakes that drivers make when driving on toll roads. By the way, this happens not only in Portugal.
  The first error is the absence of a payment coupon. When entering a toll section of the road, you either need to pay a fixed amount, or, most often, take a payment coupon, which records the place and time of entry to the toll section. Usually you need to press a green or red button, a ticket crawls out of the device that you need to take with you, the barrier automatically opens and you can go further. The error is provoked by the fact that the barrier is sometimes already open and an inattentive or inexperienced driver passes without taking a ticket. And at the next nearest payment point, such an amateur freebie driver (free or involuntary) is charged the maximum amount or even a decent fine.
  The second mistake is to try to pay in cash where payment is made by subscription cards or automatically if you have the appropriate device in your car. Such payment points are marked with the letter V on a green background (Via Verde). At the entrance to the payment points, you should pay attention to the signs and markings. Then you can choose the appropriate payment method in advance. But if nevertheless you are in the wrong place, in no case do not try, using the reverse gear, to change lanes to another passage. Such a maneuver is regarded as creating an emergency and is punishable by a fine of at least 100 €.
  The speed limit on the roads (50 km/h in built-up areas, 90 km/h on a normal road, 120 km/h on an express road) is generally respected. Of course, there are local scorchers who drive 150 and above, but they are at home and probably know and can do things that we are not given.
  What surprised us, at least on toll roads, is the very low number of cars on the roads. Moreover, the traffic on the roads decreased more and more, the farther north from Lisbon we drove. There were sections where we rode alone for a long time. And this is during the day and it doesn’t matter if it’s a weekday or a weekend. We made the assumption that the people do not live well and cannot afford to ride on toll roads, if you can ride for free. We were pushed to this by the fact that if we saw passing or oncoming cars, then these were prestigious Mercedes and all sorts of BMWs.
  Road markings and signs are clear and easy to read, and with a GPS navigator, they create very comfortable conditions for auto travel.
  But back to our ..., i.e. travel.
  So, we are on the way to the first point of today's program - Alcobaza. But we were not destined to go there. It can be seen that the curse of Brussels Airlines is still in effect, and we unanimously skip the necessary exit from the toll road, but they did not want to do a 20-km loop with a return. We decided to move on - to the easily pronounced Batalha.
  Batalha, along with Alcobaza, Fatima and Tomar, are must-sees. Here are monasteries built in the Middle Ages, which today are a place of pilgrimage.
  People come to Batalho to see the monastery of Santa Maria de Vitoria (Convento Santa Maria da Vitoria), which was built during the reign of the Portuguese king João I in honor of the victory of the Portuguese over the Spaniards in 1385 (Batalha translated from Portuguese means battle, battle).
  Here I will not dwell on a detailed description of this masterpiece of Manueline - a truly Portuguese variety of late ("flaming") Gothic. It's worth seeing with your own eyes.

  We are leaving Batalha and, satisfied that we have finally started the program, we intend to visit Fatima. It's not far - only 20 km. But before leaving Batalha, we received an encouraging message about our luggage. He should be delivered to Porto today.
   This news makes us change our route. We are heading straight for Porto, bypassing Fatima and Coimbra (Coimbra). Already on the way to Porto, they call us again about the luggage and offer to pick it up from Porto airport ourselves. Having once again changed the target address in the navigator, and driven by the desire to finally break and end the curse of Brussels Airlines, we are rapidly moving north. In this mess, we lost sight of each other, but met safely a couple of hours later at the Porto airport.  We started looking for the Lost & Found bureau, which turned out to be in a closed area. I had a long and tedious conversation with the security service, and only the male half of the crew was allowed into the vault.  , bags.  Quite quickly we find four of the five pieces of our luggage. While the search for the fifth suitcase is underway, we examine these four. They are in a rather shabby condition, and the outer pocket of one suitcase has been torn off, as they say, with meat. We pay attention to this and we issue a certificate of damage. But the fifth suitcase was never found. They promised to find him and deliver him to the hotel.  In not the best mood, we leave the airport and go to Porto to the Tryp Porto Expo hotel - the first of the three hotels of the SolMelia chain ordered.

   Another little adventure happened on the way to the hotel. And it all happened because of a seemingly insignificant nuance in the address of the hotel. It is not located in Porto itself, but in one of its suburbs - Matosinhos. When typing the address in the navigator, it was necessary to indicate not Porto (Oporto), but Matosinhos. And De Veloso Salgado Street, as it turned out, is also in Porto itself, where a wonderful, but stupid, navigator sent part of our crew.  We arrived at the hotel. We liked the hotel: its convenient location, free parking, cozy and spacious rooms, and finally, the interior.  We soon found a large shopping center in the vicinity of the hotel. Here we at least to some extent compensated for the things from the fifth suitcase. We finally bought two Portuguese SIM-cards for 10 Euros each, thus solving the problem of communication between the crews on the road. Well, in the end, we had dinner in one of the many restaurants.  Returning to the hotel, we received one of the most pleasant surprises: we were brought the fifth suitcase!  So, damn Brussels Airlines was finally canceled and life returned to normal. The next day turned out to be quite eventful. We not only completed the program, but even exceeded it.  After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we moved further north and after an hour we parked our cars in a free parking lot in Braga. The parking lot turned out to be far from the historical center and I had to stomp along the unremarkable streets for quite some time. This somewhat spoiled the impression of an undoubtedly interesting city. In addition, we ignored the main religious shrine of Portugal - the church of Bon Jesus do Monte.  But the next town - Guimaraes - we really liked. Once Guimaranesh was the capital of Portugal and is considered the cradle of the nation, and the characteristic silhouette of its castle flaunts on the coat of arms of Portugal. We enjoyed walking along the well-preserved streets of the medieval quarter, and then, remembering our youth, recklessly climbed the walls and towers of the thousand-year-old castle.

   In the middle of the day we returned to Porto, which we haven't really seen yet. Therefore, we decided to use the Yellow Bus tourist route. Such bus routes have become popular in many European cities. A double-decker bus (the top floor is usually open) runs on one of several fixed routes. A ticket worth 13 E is valid for two days (we received the sixth ticket as a gift), you can leave and enter an unlimited number of times. Each seat is equipped with headphones with a choice of languages (there is Russian, but very clumsy).
  In general, we got an idea about the city. Particularly memorable are the Luis 1 bridge, the construction of which is associated with the name of the same Eiffel, and the Vila Nova de Gaia embankment. We even went on a second circuit to get out and walk along a very characteristic promenade, where the famous port wine stores are concentrated. This time we didn’t get to try port wine, but we had a very good dinner in one of the many restaurants, ending this very successful day.

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