My first two full days.

Porto, Portugal

Monday 3rd October: My first full day:

I managed to sleep through until 4 am which was an achievement and even scored a bit more sleep after making some calls to the folk at home. My morning walk didn’t get underway until about 8.30 am but the streets were still pretty deserted even at that hour on a Monday and there weren’t too many folk out exercising.

The El Corte Ingles banner wasn’t flying today so I decided to walk the 30 min journey up the hill to do my shopping. The store layout was similar to those we encountered earlier this year in Spain but, sadly, without the ready-made meals section. I caught a taxi back home and then spent the next few hours trading before heading out at 5pm for another walk. The apartment owners had planned to drop off a washing machine ‘in the afternoon’ but that ended up being nearer to 7pm. Dinner was simple fare home cooked fare and I managed to stay awake until 9pm.

Tuesday 4th October:

I had a decent night of sleep although it was punctuated by revelers at around 2 am making me wonder what Friday and Saturday might bring 😦

My plan for the day was to see how the morning trading session went and, if this went well, then to head out for an afternoon walking tour. I decided to walk up to the main tourist office as part of my morning walk to source information about the various walking tour options. I had yesterday visited the tourist office across from my apartment but the guy on duty there could not have been less helpful. The girl in this office was much more help though and advised me about the meeting spot for morning and afternoon walking tours. I also sourced where the local McDonalds was as these establishments are often to be found in hot spots and, sure enough, I found one in the thick of the action in a Plaza where the City Hall and Intercontinental Hotel were located. I ventured into the Maccas to see what fare was on offer and noted they carry the traditional Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts) which you wont find at Maccas at home.

My trading went well for the morning and so off I set for my 4.30 pm walking tour. I had an afternoon snack at one of the cafes I had spied on my morning walk before meeting up with my small group. There was just the tour leader, Maria, and a young couple from Holland, Jill and Dim. Jill is studying in Porto for 5 months and Dim was visiting her for the week. We spent the next three hours touring the area outside of the Old Town and I now know where the good shopping districts are as well the areas best known for good dining and clubbing as well as for sourcing art work and hardware! We also visited the historic Bolhao Markets and an historic book store with a claim to fame as where J K Rowling frequented before her time in Edinburgh. The theory is that this is where she formulated her ideas for the Harry Potter series and sourced imagery for the books, namely the academic dress of staff at Porto Universities. One of the most interesting features for me though was the revelation that a Church I viewed and snapped earlier in the morning that I now know is actually two Churches joined together by a very narrow building, about one arm span wide, where a family of 9 had once lived. The first Church, on the left, was an 18th Century female only Carmelite Church built in neo-classical style. The Church on the right was a gender neutral Church built in the 19th Century in Baroque style.

My head was spinning with facts and information by the end of the tour and it was a late finish for me at 8 pm so I caught a taxi home to prepare a late night supper before putting this post together.

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