Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sorry to have taken such a long break away from writing.  The thing is, since I arrived in Porto on Sunday with mom, it's been nonstop.  So nonstop that mom decided to cut her 3 day excursion early and leave on the first bus Tuesday morning.  Props to mom for pushing through 2 days straight in serious tourist form! (I have a picture of her passed out on the sofa but I don't think she'd appreciate me posting that ;)    So as a result I decided to extend our Porto stay another night so my friend Leigh (who will be staying the week with me) and I could take full advantage.  As you can imagine, that was also nonstop. So I begin to write to you now as I  try to remember all that has happened beginning 4 days ago.

Sunday, October  4, 2015 - PORTO, Portugal

Mom and I arrived on a rainy Sunday morning and settled into our cosy studio apartment.  One of the reasons I picked this place was based on it's great location.  Located in the historical zone of Porto, it's just steps from all of the landmarks we'd be visiting.  And the view from the window and terrace was unbeatable!  I'd highly recommend it if you're ever in Porto. 

(Porto, Portugal - Urban Apartment, Casa da Portela)  I used booking.com.

The view from our apartment - Casa da Portela - on one of the more sunnier days.

Once settled in, mom and I walk uphill (lots of cardio walks here!) to the city Cathedral and Pillory built in the 13th and 14th centuries. Even on a dreary day the architecture is outstanding and the view down to the Douro river from the pillory square is beautiful. 

We happened to arrive in the middle of Sunday mass so knowing mom would like it we decided to stay and take part.  Although I've been a  non practicing Catholic for many years now, even I could appreciate the coming together moments of mass.  Still to this day one of my favorite moments is at the end when the priest gives his final remarks and says "peace be with you", and the crowd repeats "and also with you" and you kiss or shake hands with everyone around you.  That day we sat next to Portuguese natives and foreign tourists, and everyone reached out to extend a hand to their neighbor and wish them well. It was a very beautiful and humanistic moment.

The historical monuments are  in very muted, earthy stone colors here in the northern part of Portugal, so when you turn the corner and see colorful postcard moments  like these, it makes you smile!

A late lunch at the restaurant in the A.S. 1829 Hotel.  The beautifully restored building is quintessential Portuguese with the intricate ironwork and the blue and white tile façade.  The meal, which consisted of 3 traditional  small plate dishes to share paired with an delicious glass of Douro red wine for each of us was outstanding! Life is good!

Tile shops abound throughout the city selling a variety of the traditional blue and white designs as well as the Moorish influenced tiles found more in the southern part of Portugal.  

A sunset view from the apartment casting a beautiful architectural shadow over the entire cityscape.

The dazzling lights illuminating the historical  buildings makes the city look magical at night!

Saõ Bento Train Station

Avenida dos Alliados esplanade

Boa noite Porto, até amanha!

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