Porto, Portugal

June 13, 2019

The English word is Oporto, but it is still pronounced Porto.  We see it written both ways. It is the country’s second largest city.  It has a population of 220,000 in the city and 1.7 million if you include the surrounding area. It is the birthplace of port wine and in fact, if the wine is from anywhere else, it can’t be called port.

First of all, here is last night’s sunset as we left Lisbon.  Beautiful days and evenings here.


This morning we sailed into Porto.


It is our third trip to this city and today we opted for a tour to Guimaraes. Our guide was Nunu, and he said it is his real name, not a nickname!


The port building where we docked is quite new and it has 1 million of these white tiles that are placed at angles.
Very interesting.


As we left the port, we saw a sculpture that Nunu says was placed to honor the 152 fishermen who died in a boating tragedy in 1947.  It depicts the women wailing as they wait for the return.


The trip to Guimaraes was a  pretty drive through the countryside.  Nunu told us a lot about the country and one thing he mentioned as a problem is the low birthrate – with not enough births to keep the population growing.  He hopes the government will make it easier to provide for families.

It is said that Guimaraes was the first capital of Portugal, but Nunu said that is not true, that it was the capital of a region of Portugal, not the whole country. But it is considered the birthplace of the country. In any case, the city has preserved many of its medieval structures and its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Some of the buildings we saw as we entered the town.


We first walked to the castle which is high above the city.


Next to the castle stands a small Romanesque chapel where the first king of Portugal was baptized.


The 15th century Palace of the Dukes of Braganza is notable for its unusual chimneys.


There are many small squares in the city center and we had the time to explore them.  Here are some of the buildings, shops and other sights.


The symbol above is on the sidewalk and it marks the Portuguese “Way of St. James” (13 days, 260 km).


Very fun shops and art.


This pastry is called Tortas de Guimaraes and it is only found here.  Only 2 families have the recipe.  It resembles a croissant, but inside there is a kind of sweetened spaghetti squash. Delicious.


The old city walls have been incorporated into the buildings.  Most of them can’t be seen, but the one below is an example of one you can see.


This is the Church of St. Mary of the Olives.  The clock is the mechanism from the bell tower.  There was a man playing the magnificent organ.



More fun art!


Lots of bars, cafes and restaurants.



There were lots of young people doing drawings of the building.  Nunu said that they are architecture students, and he feels sorry for them because there are no jobs available.


When we got back to the port, we joined Ray, Steve, Tricia, Sukey and Randall at a great restaurant (O Valentim) for lunch. They grill the fish right on the sidewalk outside the restaurant.  Good wine (vinho verde), food and company.


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