First thing I did once checked into Porto was do a bit of clothes shopping. If I’m spending a few days in civilisation, I don’t want to look and smell like a pilgrim! It was a late one Tuesday as Hailey flew out Wednesday afternoon, thus we celebrated her last night of her Camino adventure.
Wednesday morning we went on a walking tour around Porto. We visited the main points of interest and admired the architecture. Most of the buildings had been designed by José Marques da Silva in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Two prominent buildings are the theatre and the São Bento railway station. The Funny story about them is that he forgot to factor in toilets or ticket booths!
One aspect around Porto are the blue and white mosaic tiles that adorn the buildings. In fact there are 20,000 tiles that make up the interior of the train station.
The blue colouring is made from cobalt, which at the time was an expensive metal, so it was a sign of wealth; hence they are on the government and religious buildings.
The tour went past the cathedral where I had a bit of nostalgia, as two weeks ago I was there collecting my credential and setting off on the Camino Portugués.
We descended the medieval part of the city to the waterfront, calling into a bakery for chocolate cake. This was when Hailey had to leave for the airport, we hugged goodbye. It reminded me of the last day in Santiago at the end my Camino Frances; it felt like I am saying goodbye a friend I’ve known for years, not just for two weeks.
Thursday morning I visited the Bishop’s palace next to the cathedral. Porto and the region used to belong to the Catholic Church until the Portuguese civil war ousted them. So the person in power was the bishop, who thought himself as a king, thus had the palace built.
The building is dominated by the granite staircase in the centre of the building which is grandly decorated with a dome ceiling. There are many rooms for functions and greeting guests as well as a throne room!
A huge painting depicting the Napoleonic invasion of Porto and the populace fleeing the city by crossing the Rio Douro to Gaia that at the time only had one bridge consisting wooden planks on boats!
In the afternoon I went on a Port tasting tour. It is actually made on Gaia over the bridge from Porto. The tour went to three producers, starting with the bigger company Cãlem then to two micro companies.
There 4 types of Port, white, tawny, ruby and rose; my favourite was the rose. I left the tour with the buzz of 7 Ports to meet up with Alfredo for the last night of this adventure.
It was a quiet one due to going on a pub crawl the night before and the early flight in the morning.