It’s been four years since I was last in Porto so I did fewer of the obviously touristy things but instead enjoyed wandering about and seeing some art museums and taking a couple of easy day trips from here (Aveiro and Guimarães – see separate posts).
Last time I stayed a couple of kilometres out at a lovely palace hotel along the river: this time I stayed in the centre of the town in a great apartment (strongly recommend Leftheshomes if you are thinking of coming).
The city retains its charm and is very colourful.
The bridge below connects the old town to the port wine cellar area. Didn’t visit any this year but if you haven’t been port wine tasting while sitting outside and surveying the old town on the other side of the river is a must.
Like Lisbon there are plenty of old style trams and fabulous tiles everywhere you look. Coffee shops abound tempting me to enjoy far too many pasteis de nata and pretty green squares.
The building below is officially one of the worlds most beautiful book shops Livraria Lello. Thankfully I visited last time I was here. Why so popular that you have to pay Euros 5 to get in? It is supposedly the bookshop that JK Rowling used as a model for parts of Hogwarts – they urban myths abound as she lived here for a couple of years before she became famous. Still even from the outside it is gorgeous.
This the beautiful Sao Bento station interior with spectacular tiles – this is a place I never get bored of visiting.
The week I arrived happened to be student graduation week when the city goes a little crazy with celebrations and lots of different outfits warm on one day when thousands of students walk down the hill on their knees in the costume of their college. On the Sunday which was calmer I snapped the more formal – with parents – grad day. The colours and badges they wear relate to the nature of the course they have taken. The urban myth is that JK Rowling took these as inspiration for the clothing worn by Harry Potter and others in the four houses of Hogwarts. Could be …..
As usual I took an evening food walking tour which involved a lot of wine and a speciality chicken sausage. Not my favourite but interesting to me because it is based on the sausage the “converso” Jews used to make and hang outside their doors during the inquisition to prove they had truly converted to Catholicism- apparently back then no-one has the imagination to believe that a sausage could be anything other than pork!
Loved the coffee grinders in the old style grocery store we visited. Locals come just to grind their coffee in these machines.
In the 1930s Guyana cafe the artwork was cool and there was a local poet doing his thing as apparently he does every day. Loved that.
I also visited Serralves – a museum/garden that I’d never heard of before. I especially loved the art nouveau house and garden.
The interior was mostly empty except each room had one feature left from photographs from its heyday. I really liked that idea and it gave the opportunity to appreciate the architecture.
The gardens (and it was raining by then) are lovely in their own right but also had an excellent exhibition of giant sized sculptures by Joanna Vasconcelos whose world enjoyed – especially the giant stilettos made out of saucepans and lids!
Inside the museum these sculptures made me smile. Two made from irons, an adult roundabout (that you can ride on) made from old office chairs and a telephone switchboard.