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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Porto Post

Port cities hold a special place in my soul. The history is long, fascinating and often hard. Porto hit it on all counts. The battles of religion, royalty, and other bad guys created a fiercely independent people who knew how to disguise whichever historical element might do them harm on a given day.
Two religious orders were forced to build side by side
to be permitted at the gates of the city
Porto history includes a period of dictatorship during which this staue of Justice was created, without blindfold or scales for example. The rigidity of the dictator rule is strikingly at odds with the splashes of joyful color elsewhere throughout the city.

Each tree in the garden
represents a different
human emotion.

In fact the diversity is woven into the very fabric of the city, with the former Crystal palace replaced by what locals refer to as the UFO, a rather unattractive sphere used for sports, but leaving behind the Garden of Emotions. 

A view over the world
from a window of the former
Crystal Palace

There are beautiful tiles everywhere, usually found where the money is. One exception here is a home where tiles were hidden during a long siege. Post-siege the owners found the tiles and applied them to the exterior walls. Of course the rightful owners claimed and tried to remove the tiles to relocate them to a more deserving manor, but gave up when they realized the tiles would not survive the removal.
Humble home, beautifully tiled.
Tiles everywhere - look up!
Tiles by Dutch artists

 We of course had many enjoyable meals, but none better than lunch cooked by "Mama" at this little abode. Entréés, mains, shared dessert, a bottle of wine, all for 10€ a person. Great food at an excellent price, and we felt like we were in someone's welcoming home.

Highlight was a walking tour Porto free walking tour with guide André da Silva. Knowledgeable, kind and helpful, we all saw some behind the scenes we would have otherwise missed. At one point we came upon The Garden of Virtues. I felt a stong presence of an older hiistorical, perhaps biblical people. In fact this was once a Jewish cemetery, then  a private garden attached to a mansion, it is now available to rich and poor.

There were a few stairs...
Having walked a million miles
we came to a gate, closed and locked.
So we climbed over it.

The Garden of Virtues

Memorable Sunday morning moment. Fifty or so brides parading sdown the street, one just a little different from the others.

Lello Bookstore
This beautiful bookstore was the inspiration fr J K Rowling's staircase in the Harry Potter series. For some reason you are not allowed to take photos, so don't tell on me.

Of course no trip to Porto would be complete without lunch at Taylors (best view in town), and a little tasting session.

The view from the terrace at Taylors

My actual tasting was much more modest than this photo suggests

Walking along the river a still typical scene of a porto boat. Tradition meets modern engineering.

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