Porto, Portugal was built along the Douro River in northern Portugal. This view is of the oldest section, Riberia, which is largely dedicated to the port wine and tourist industry. The bright yellow billboard near the center of this photograph is the Sandeman trademark of one of these wines.
Each of the large port wine makers have a boat which is moored in the Douro River. It seems to simply be advertising as the few kegs on the boat could not represent any meaningful supply to the manufacturers. Had we gone on a wine tour, we may have found the answer.
Our Introduction to Porto
We had just come from Lisbon where you might see a few seagulls each day among the thousands of cliff swallows. The foggy weather in Porto must be more suited to gulls and they are everywhere. The cars are a mess as are the sidewalks. Soon there will be even more as there were seagull chicks next to us and across the street. Apparently, previous renters of our apartment fed these pigs of the sea as they were so brazen they came into our living room and do what large birds do. I have a photo of the crime scene, but that seems no way to start a travel blog… Both these seagull photos are taken from our balcony. It may be cute for the first 10 minutes, but less so after 14 days.
Local Produce Market
This lady caught my eye, not because of the many fish and octopus she was selling, but because she was so clearly enjoying her job. Laughing with the customers, not minding the tourists, chopping away at the fish and removing the fish guts. These two women clearly seemed to be enjoying their work. By the way, nowhere in Spain or Portugal do you get a salmon fillet. It is cut as a cross section so you get the backbone and maximum number of bones.
One fresh chicken please, the sleepy on one the bottom should do fine.
These were the stairs leading into the meat and produce market. Now you know the Portuguese word for ‘descend’. The man eating on the stairs seems to fit the ‘descend’ signs around him.
A Walk Around the Local Area
Throughout Spain and Portugal are wonderful pastry shops. Never able to pronounce the names, we simply called them tasty cakes and pointed. The price of a tasty cake would vary daily at the same shop and the same person, who we thought was the owner. Sometimes €.60, €.75 or €.80.
Likely a family tradition, brooms and galvanized cans were manufactured along one of the winding streets. The jobs people end up with for life always interest me. No corporate ladder to climb, nobody fighting for a promotion, just making brooms the best you can.
Saturday is a big time in any working class neighborhood. We could see the streets get notably more crowded, bars more full and of course, more people bringing down chairs, a couple of tables and grilling some sardines on the street. Good fun for the entire family… really! No smart phone distractions at this family table, just the distraction of the old grey haired guy taking their photo.
I just do not understand some people’s affection for these filthy birds. This guy said three words to me when I asked if I could take his picture, “I like pigeons.” No foolin’? He would pick them up, pet them and move them around. I think he may have one or two in his pocket but I quickly left, not wanting to know for sure.
A short walk from our rental was a fine overlook of the Douro River and the Dom Luis I Bridge. I went several times trying for the right light.
Symmetry of Stairs
After photographing for a while, it has become apparent abstracts appeal to me. The size of my ‘Abstracts Gallery’ has grown over the years. Stairs lend themselves well to this quest. Here are two views of the Hotel Pão de Açúcar. The stairs served as an art deco museum with toys and electronics from 70-90 years ago. The ceiling with the red glow was due to such electronics. I missed having my wider angle lens, but due to travel, some things must get left behind.
The nearby Lello bookstore has some stairs so popular, they charge a €3 entrance fee and still there is a line to get in. With this new found revenue stream, I’m not sure they care if they sell any books. This place could easily be a scene out of Harry Potter. It is a tiny place, with beautifully carved ceilings and this amazingly graceful Gothic staircase. The stairs really are a wonder of design and craftsmanship. Again, I missed my wide angle lens.
We climbed these stairs several times a day for two weeks. It is easy to get our many rentals mixed up, so these stairs were a real shock when were were anticipating an elevator and air conditioning. We had neither.
Portugal Beats France 1-0 in Stunning Upset
We were fortunate to be in Porto, Portugal when they won the Europe 2016 Football Championship. As you would expect, there was much hooting and horn honking throughout the night, but no overturned cars or destruction visible the following day. Good for them, as many live for this sport and it must be a great lift for them as a country.
Goodnight from Porto, Portugal, next stop the Pyrenees Mountains.