A terrible night’s sleep. Went down for a Sheraton breakfast, which was rather brilliant – it caters for all of us. I have fruit and pancakes, others have eggs, some people (no judgement) have fruit and pancakes and bacon and cheeses and eggs and pastries and salmon and mushrooms and…
Metro into Porto (hotel is really a business hotel, so although it’s comfortable, it’s a long way from the ‘touristy’ stuff). We walked past the postbox sculpture where we posted our postcards – have a sense of doom about those cards. Saw a shop which sold tins of sardines. Just tins of sardines. The tins were brightly coloured and dated, right back to the early 1900s (I am hoping the sardines inside did not also date back that far). They were intended as gifts, due to Portugal being a centre for sardines, but at 7 euro each, they were a bit too expensive a novelty for me. Shame, Mum likes sardines and her postcard is probably lost forever.
Pizza lunch in a café that had nice pizza, but no light in the ladies loo. As in, no light – not a missing bulb, there was no fitting; which with no window either made for an interesting experience.
Went on a ‘free’ walking tour (you pay whatever you feel the tour was worth, at the end). Met Pedro, our geographer-turned-tour-guide. He was interesting, with some good sarcastic humour, though not especially friendly. Part of the tour was to a student café, which is called – in Portuguese – ‘Head lice café’. Pedro can say “head lice” in 26 different languages. Useful skill.
We also saw two churches, built almost – but not quite – touching. The Catholic church doesn’t allow churches to have adjoining walls (why?) so between the two churches was a narrow house. This is possibly the inspiration for Sirius Black’s house in the Harry Potter stories, as J. K. Rowling lived in Porto for a while. We saw the queue of people waiting to pay to go in to the bookshop which is thought to have inspired her moving staircases, and the Diagon Alley shops. J. K. Rowling has clearly been good for Porto. So too, is Ryan Air, as apparently before they began cheap flights to Porto, no one ever visited the city. This might actually be true, because many of the nice restaurants were fully booked, and it was often hard to find somewhere to eat.
There are more tourists than the city is quite ready for. The prices are also low at the moment – how long before they catch up with demand, I wonder? Visit Porto soon, before it gets expensive; but book your meals before you go!
Pedro told us that there is still some poverty in Portugal, a remainder from the days when it was a dictatorship, and people were encouraged to have big families, little education, and mainly farm for a living. He said the statue of a blindfolded Lady Justice, with her folded scales, show how the law courts functioned under the regime. Portugal had a peaceful revolution, and it’s now a democracy. It is also very hot, and a 3 hour tour was slightly too long for me.
We went to McDonald’s to recover. It used to be the Imperial Restaurant, and has chandeliers and art nouveau decorations. It also has dirty tables and disgusting toilets, so I didn’t like it.
Metro back to the hotel.
Thank you for reading.
Our next stop is Lisbon. If you sign up to follow my blog, you won’t miss it.
If you enjoyed this, you will love my new book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary.
I have always written a diary on holiday, so last Christmas, I decided to find all my old diaries and blogs, and make a book for my children. However, several other people also asked for a copy, so I have written a public version – it’s available on Amazon and has been described as “The Durrells meet Bill Bryson”!
Why not buy a copy today? I think it will make you laugh.
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