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Viana do Castelo, Life on a Ship, National Geographic View

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

Viana do Castelo was established as a Roman outpost called Diana, at the place where the River Lima meets the Atlantic. It is an elegant, feminine city, rather like New Orleans was before the floods: shops selling tourist crap, glorious old buildings with wrought iron balconies, the river, flowers, churches, and (what New Orleans never had) a bustle of development. Old warehouses are being rebuilt into lofty condos, the statue of “Viana” herself is hidden behind construction cranes, businessmen somewhat less spiffy than those in Porto walk with a spring in their steps. They are swimming in technological transfer, here. A beggar near the train station was mewling his poor-me melody when suddenly an unmistakable ring came from his pocket. He interrupted his cry, pulled out his flip-phone, and in a completely different voice, cheery and upbeat, “Hola!” I´m going to blog a bit more about this city, but I´ve had my epiphany for the moment, and apart from the conversation with the taxi driver who brought me down the hill from St. Luzia, I´ve had no intense encounters, so if you´re having a busy day, you can stop here and check back in another day, perchance for more depth. I´m staying in a hostel on a ship docked on the Lima, and so far the highlight for me was the Atlantic beach at sunset yesterday. [read on]