Friday, 20 January 2017

Picturesque Porto

We had quite a welcome when the ship docked in Porto - the fireboat did a display with its waterjets for a good 20 minutes using various configurations and playful tactics dousing neighbouring boats in the process.  It was a fun way to start a discovery of a colourful, diverse city, the second largest in Portugal. 

Old town Porto was laid out on a hill, a rather steep one and we were lucky it was a dry sunny day so we did not have to worry about slipping on steep, often cobblestoned streets.  The good thing was there were always landmarks in view and it was easy to see if you were going in the right direction.  We headed down the hill towards the Ribeira riverfront where all the action was, visiting the Mercado building and the stock exchange building on the way. 

The Ribeira was lively with some colourful structures and lots of action on the river.  We enjoyed a snack of salted cod cakes at one of the roadside cafes - how could one not sample this in Portugal?!  I have to confess though, we have had better homemade salted cod cakes here in Toronto.  Having been enticed down the hill by one colourful street after another, we did not realize how far we had actually gone so it was quite a climb to get back up the hill to see the Cathedral and back to our bus pickup point.  At some points along the climb, we were the only people in the rather deserted back streets but it was broad daylight and at no point did we feel unsafe.  Again the good thing was we could always see our destination and could easily find our way to the Cathedral keeping twin towers in view.  The cloister attached to the cathedral was very beautiful.

Walking back along the outside of the old town we noticed how much of a big city Porto really is with pedestrians from different ethnicities spilling off its sidewalks.  It was amazing how different it was from the old town.

First panorama of Porto including the riverfront from a terrace half way down the hill

Welcome waterworks from fireboat

Lush back garden with mural
Colourful balconies

Houses stacked on steep streets

Plaza Infante with the Mercado Ferreira Borges
Mercado Ferreira Borges, a market built in the 19th century although never really used as one - now a venue for concerts and other events.  The iron building was considered as the last tribute to the iron period in Porto. 

Central courtyard of the Palacio da Bolsa (stock exchange building), a fabulous neoclassical structure from the 19th century.  

Tram along the waterfront

The River Douro with many boat cruises and other commercial traffic

View of the Ponte Luis I from the Ribeira
It was a nice walk along the Ribeira, lined with picturesque houses

Fresh baked Portuguese tart
Cod cakes

Close up of the Pont Luis I with pedestrian, train and vehicular traffic
Here's an unusual promotion in Portugal - how to use chopsticks!

First of many stairs on the steep climb up to the Cathedral

Panoramic view of Porto from the front terrace of the Cathedral

Cathedral outside and in
Rose window and organ

 The blue-tiled cloisters

Looking up the grand avenue to City Hall

The Torre dos Clerigos - baroque granite landmark in Porto from the mid-18th century

The prison turned into Portuguese Center for Photography
Inside the former prison

Another stunning piece of architecture - the new terminal building (architect Luis Pedro Silva)

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