Porto: Day One

I took the express intercity train to Porto and changed to the interurban line which ended in one stop and walked down a steep hill to my Airbnb a block south of the Douro. The host had sent me the codes to enter. I was delighted with the ultra-modern and well appointed flat on the 4th floor. It’s the nicest Airbnb I’ve ever rented. It’s in the rear of a 19th century building and absolutely quiet. After settling in, I took a pic of the washer controls and googled them. This is my usual routine in Europe since the machines have an array of somewhat inscrutable directions. I accidentally poured the detergent into the fabric softener slot, so I had to wait and then rewash the clothes with the proper detergent program. The machine also doubles as a dryer, but I wasn’t about to tackle that task. Air dry is the best option.

While load two was in progress, I decided to circumnavigate the historic core, which involved some formidable stair climbing on the most arduous route, which of course I happened upon. At the base of the ascent, I bumped into a young Portuguese couple and we discussed my itinerary. They were eager to add their suggestions. While I was talking about Braga with Tamara, her boyfriend rolled a joint. He offered me a hit but I demurred…?

After cresting the heights, I headed toward a big shady park. I noticed a monumental building on my right fronted with an enormous statue of a Greek goddess. Aha, I thought, another Salazar building! It was the House of Justice, with columns and statues and crests written in Latin.

I should mention that drivers in Portugal scrupulously stop at pedestrian crosswalks, unlike Nashville where they try to mow you down. While stepping into the crosswalk, a motorcyclist ripped through. I involuntarily barked “mother….er” to the horror of a few Boomer couples behind me. I laughed and continued on my way. Bad Charlie!

From there I headed downhill to my place to finish the laundry and check emails.

Porto’s streets are absolutely thronged with tourists. It must be the great post-Covid getaway, but it seemed more crowded than Lisbon since it’s a much more compact city. Mainly French, American and English tourists. I’m not a fan of mass crowding in narrow streets, so my enthusiasm for Porto waned a bit, echoing the sentiments of the English couple I’d met in Coimbra. Perhaps three nights here before heading down the Douro for a few days is overdoing it.

I was craving greens, so I walked up the hill to a well-reviewed and excellent vegetarian restaurant, Da Terra Baixa. After dinner, I walked along the waterfront and snapped a pic of the magnificent bridges spanning the Douro while dodging tourists. The riverside bars and cafes were absolutely mobbed at 10:00 pm. I couldn’t wait to get back to my quiet Airbnb.

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