Today is my last full day in Porto. After the conference sessions, I walked to the Rua San Catarina, which is the main shopping strip of the city. Along the way, I stopped to take a look at the interior of the famous Lello bookstore, seen above, which is held to be the most beautiful of its kind in the world. There was a very long queue to enter the store, so I didn’t go in, as being cooped inside the store with that many people would have taken the fun out of it. Travelling in July is always problematic in that so many of the places I want to visit are simply too full. Being an introvert has its disadvantages at times.
Walking along the Rua Carmelita, I came across the famous Clérigos church and tower. The church is in the Baroque style, which is common for a number of the churches I have seen here. Baroque is not to my taste, as I find it too ornate, especially when it comes to churches; the philosophy seems to be “more is more.” I grew up surrounded by Baroque churches. The church has a lot of gold on the walls, which is typical of this type of architecture. The sanctuary and altar are marble, with lots of gold. I rarely take photographs of the interior of churches, as I find it a little disrespectful; to me, a church is a place of worship first and foremost, rather than a tourist attraction. The views from the tower are beautiful
Rua San Catarina is a pedestrian thoroughfare, lined with shops on both sides. The stores are average on the whole; nothing on the high end in this district. Nothing to tempt me, which is good, since I have only carry-on luggage.
For lunch I ordered what I was told is a traditional Portuguese sandwich: the Francesinha. When I saw a picture of the item, I didn’t know what to make of it. The restaurant had a vegetarian version with vegan sauce, so I thought: why not? The sandwich looks like a flattened hollowed out loaf filled, in my case, with broccoli, green peppers, carrots, and onions, and covered with sauce. The dish is always served with thin french fries. The sandwich is usually filled with meat, and sometimes also with eggs. It’s an odd-looking dish, but absolutely delicious.
I walked by the Mercado do Bolhão, which is a large indoor fruit and vegetable garden. Unfortunately, the market is closed for renovations.
Since my days here have been shortened because of conference attendance, I didn’t get to see as many places in Porto as I would have liked, but I got a good feel for the city, mostly from walking around. You do need a map to get around, be that physical or Google map, as there is absolutely no grid system of streets here, and streets often change their names. I am never afraid to explore any city, as long as I have a good map. Once I know which way is North, my compass App never lets me down. It’s fortunate that English is spoken by so many people here, as I find Portuguese very hard to understand. Spanish is much easier for me to follow, given my knowledge of Italian, but Portuguese pronunciation is very different.
Off to Lisbon tomorrow.