The umbrella festival of Agueda, Portugal was a destination for me ever since I saw a photo of these umbrella lined streets three years ago on the Internet. Marketed as a music and concert destination for younger kids, the town gets crowded with tourists during the month of July.
Train Ride to Agueda
We saw no concerts, heard no music. My goal was photography. Who could possibly take a poor photograph of thousands upon thousands of umbrellas in 100 degree heat? The umbrellas also had a side benefit, much-needed shade. This was the second day of the festival and already it was evident there was another benefit, being shielded from what flying birds do. Photographs later in the month will not look as pristine.
Trying to minimize risks where possible, the train to Agueda was chosen over a car rental. We later learned we took a $10 cab ride to a train station we did not need to go to and boarded a much more expensive train than necessary. While the reserved seats and A/C were appreciated, the cheap train nearer to our rental would have done just as good for a fraction of the cost.
Traveling on the local graffiti laden train from Aveiro to Agueda, we were sitting with Portuguese locals. Going to the sites we do, we never encounter the high-powered bankers and executives that certainly must exist somewhere in Europe. We only see the simple farmers with a plot the size of a house, restaurant owners or small vendors. Despite not being able to understand the conversation, it was clear these people frequently traveled together and knew one another well. There was plenty of time on the train ride to reflect on which of us had the better lifestyle. Their simple needs seem to be met, as long as that did not include dentistry and, from previous discussions with locals, I presume they received an adequate state pension. They were certainly a happy, close group of locals.
After disembarking, signs directing us to the popular umbrella festival from the Agueda train station were expected. There were none. Heading off in a more or less random direction we entered one of the first restaurants we found. As a bonus, it had pizza a welcome change from the normal Portuguese fare. My inquiry for directions to the umbrella festival got the entire staff involved. They all looked at the photo on my phone of last year’s umbrellas and none of them could direct me to the street. They held the iPhone, looked at the photo, passed the phone around, cocked their head and in the end, the one who could best speak English said they did not know where it was. Turns out it was no more than two blocks away. Here they are decorating their restaurant for the annual festival they seemingly knew nothing about…..
Umbrella Festival, 2016
Searching for a unique view, I scouted out a young girl employee who would hopefully take pity on an old tourist and speak English, a bonus. Explaining I wanted a different view, she led me to the second floor balcony with this view from above.
Someone not attending this umbrella festival may not initially see what is so odd about this photo. While the shade from the umbrellas helped with the heat, it was still unbearable. High ninety’s and humid. That did not stop this man from wearing a long sleeved shirt and winter sweater.
For me, it is interesting to think about the town hall meeting where the colorful umbrellas were first proposed four years ago. Somehow, the persuasive salesman made a successful pitch. So what does this town of Agueda look like with no umbrellas?
Stark contrast if umbrellas vs no umbrellas. You got shade and beauty all in one. How do the umbrellas keep from, lifting off in a breeze or falling to the ground. Looks like it was a successful and interesting adventure! Falling in love with a country I have never visited!
Hi there Sandy B, If you look at the photo of the umbrellas viewed from the top, you can see support cables attached to the umbrellas. Looks like a lot of work and effort. Hope they keep it up for many more years. Thanks for looking and taking the time to comment.
These pictures just brightened a boring Wednesday at work…thanks Harold! Gorgeous! I love following your adventures.
Nice to hear from you Meg. I remember those boring Wednesdays. My worst day of the week no is Saturday. Everything is toooo crowded and the stock market is closed.
Really beautiful! Thanks for the wonderful story and pictures. Would love to see this some day.
There are many beautiful places around this world. I hope we both get to see many of them in our life time.
Great pictures and an interesting festival. We chose not to be home free but travel about half the year.
Thank you for reading my Blog Bruce. We are getting tired of the Home-Free lifestyle. It sounds good to some, but it is actually a LOT of work planning out where you will be everyday. No fun when you are sick either. We may soon change to your chosen lifestyle. But for now, the next stop is Romania for a month, where they are having a heat wave….
laughed out loud at the dentistry comment and loved the picture in the pizza place where not one person knew the scoop!
Taking care of their teeth or going to the dentist seems to be a low priority for many Europeans. Maybe it is not covered very well under their socialized medicine. It is hard to ask someone why their teeth are so bad… at least I’ve not found a way yet…
Great post as usual Harold!
Hope you enjoy the next one on crude, rude, boat cartoons of Aveiro, Portugal as well….
Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing your adventures! We travel Europe every other year and went to Lisbon Portugal last year and just loved it.
We are getting a bit worn down by the constant travel, so the travel every other years sounds like a good plan. Good luck. Where to next?
Love the post and photos, Harold! Putting it on our list of things to see and do.