Monday 10th October: Open Top Bus day.
There was a public holiday in the USA and Canada today and, not surprisingly, trading market action was pretty slow. It was another spectacular day here after the fog lifted though and so I thought that I should make the most of it whilst it lasts as rain was forecast for later in the week.
I opted for the Open Top Red bus tour as this particular company did a loop out to the coast which I was keen to explore given the beautiful weather. There is a bus stop right outside my apartment and so off I set at around 11.30 am. I thought I’d stay on the bus until I saw something worth getting off for, most likely one of the two main coastal stops. I was lucky to score a front row seat on the upper deck. However, I was unlucky to score a large group of older and loud Portuguese folk who came and sat right on top of me. They were so loud that I couldn’t hear the taped commentary. Not that there was much to hear though!
Anyway, it was a great vantage point for viewing the surroundings. I had a new appreciation for ‘Art Nouveau’ architecture thanks to my guide, Miguel, from yesterday’s Aveiro tour and there is plenty of this style of architecture on display throughout Porto. I had been wondering where one might find the expensive real estate area of Porto and there was a bit of this as we left the Old Town and headed west towards the coast.
The main artery out to the coast was an interesting drive as there was a weird mix of properties with the very ‘old’ often featuring right beside the very ‘new’. I found it mildly amusing that the driver did his own edit of the tour though and did not complete the full loop of two stops along the coastal section. Thus, missing the only stop I had thought I might alight, I stayed on the bus! I then decided I would do one complete tour loop, head home for lunch and do another loop in the afternoon so as to see the coast.
My second afternoon loop on the bus though was no better than the first as this driver avoided both of the coastal stops!!! I’ve noticed this about the Portuguese; near enough is usually good enough and/or anything goes. The taped commentary for the bus tour was mostly music and provided very little factual information. Taped commentary on open top bus tours in other tourist cities usually offer lots of history and information and give a brief description of what is on view at each of the major bus stops. Not this tour though; you were hard pressed to work out where you were and what stop you were at unless you closely followed the accompanying map.
It was at this point I recalled a comment from one of my other tour guides who, himself, was Portuguese. He said ‘the Portuguese are a lazy people’. However, someone in the tour grouo stepped in to comment that the Portuguese people they knew in the United States were not like that at all. The guide quickly quipped back though, ‘That’s why they’re not in Portugal’. The implication of his words being that industrious folk leave the country and the lazy, or at least less motivated, stay. I have to say, I’ve seen a bit of this during my stay in Porto.
My second, greatly truncated, tour took no time at all to complete and I still hadn’t seen the coast which was the whole reason for taking the tour. I briefly contemplated trying for a third loop but decided against it. I couldn’t take anymore of the music on another loop, even if the tour was as to eventually be cut short again!
As part of my bus ticket I was entitled to a free wine taste at one of the Wine Caves near my apartment and so I decided I would go and take up that offer. I shouldn’t have got so excited though. Check out the size of the ‘free glass of Port’. Lol!
I drifted home after that for another night in of home-cooking and just myself for company.