Porto for ten days

Friday, August 14, 2015
We slept in today and still felt quite lazy.

It was just on on those days where lazing around seemed much better than getting up and exploring. I know that might seem a bit weird but we have been holidaying for a long time. Some days a new place seems a bit much and you just want to be some place familiar. Usually after you go explore you feel better about the place, but initially it seems under whelming or over whelming depending where you are.

Lunch time is about when we left to explore. It is much cooler here than Paris, so hard to decide if a jacket or sweater was in order. Off we went straight up a long flight of of stone steps, up into the main part of the city of Porto, Portugal. The stairs sat in between tall, old buildings, like apartments. Once to the top area you could over look the Douro river and all the buildings on the hills on both sides of the river.

By the way, Porto is the second largest city in Portugal with a population of about 250,000 with a metropolitan area of just over a million. The old buildings often have narrow, wrought iron railings on the second floor and up balconies. Some are rusty with age or lack of maintenance. Many buildings are also tiled on the outside, sometimes blue and white tiles. The roofs we could see were often covered in red tile. Sometimes stone walls fenced in the stairways up the hill. It seemed that every available space had a building wedged into it so some buildings were very tall and extremely narrow. Not all the old buildings have been maintained. Some are just facades and stone shells waiting to be renovated. In some areas they are not able to be torn down are they are part of the World Heritage area.

It was easy to find a restaurant as there were plenty of them plus they were very economically priced. We found one that looked well attended and rather newish. We both had Francesinha. This is one of the only places in the World that serves this sandwich. It is thick toast with meats (or in my case fake meat and vegetables) in- between the bread. Cheese is melted on top, then a tomato soupy kind of sauce is also served on top. Francesinha is served in a big but shallow soup bowl. Sometimes they serve fries on top of all this goodness. I have read that you eat this sandwich with beer not with wine but we had our's with cafe Americana and water.

We found places today by accident, no real planning. We had planned to check out some other hotels because our present place is noisy. That idea went out the window because we were so busy exploring and enjoying our explorations. A few observations....The sidewalks are not cement they are made up of about two inch by two inch squares of rock, either white or black. Sometimes this coloured rock is used side by side to make designs. We are at latitude 41 and there are palm trees and some of the other more tropical plants. The people seem friendly, the language is a bit similar to Spanish but definitely different. The fellow we are renting from said most people here will understand Spanish or English.

Once we started exploring we realized that this was a great place. There were things that really reminded us of Mexico, which we absolutely love. We noticed that Porto is a gem hidden behind older architecture which is funky or junky depending on your interpretation. We did not get to any of the actual real touristy places yet because when we were close my foot let me know that we have walked too much - about ten kilometers. After a little rest my foot feels better and I am ready to go for tomorrow.

Saturday, August 15, 2015
We have discovered that the place we are staying at here in Porto, Portugal is too noisy and sleeping is difficult.

Ken has booked us another place after graciously letting our host know that we need to leave early (he already let us know it was noisy). Great guy that our host was, we did not have to pay a fee for leaving early.

We decided that since my foot is feeling a little better and because it is Saturday we should go and look for a flea market that Ken has found on-line. It is near one of Porto's scenic bridges. After walking along the river for a time we came upon an artisan market. Most vendors were under marque tents with their wares. This was an area were many tourists had congregated because of the sidewalk cafes, the river and it's scenic beauty and, of course, because of the vendors. To get to the flea market we went in among some authentic, but older homes. They are all attached to each other with no yard in between as the roads meanders up the hills. There are steps that enhance our walk, well I say enhance but maybe they made it harder. The uphill incline was not particularly good for my foot. Cats were greeting us on the path and up above the path. The flea market was never located but we found other points of interest.

At the top of the hill we came to a cathedral. Se'do Porto was the 12th century Romanesque style building with a wedding happening. You could see nicely from this vantage point over much of the downtown and surrounding hills.

If you go up you must go down. Not too far down the hill we came to the downtown area of Porto and the wonderfully styled train station. Many of the walls and ceilings were covered in painted tiles (blue and white). We will return to this grand, old building.

I needed to not only sit but I needed to eat lunch. Mengos restaurant was our choice as it looked busy and had people sitting outside. I had a dish made out of dried cod and egg, not my favourite, but ok. It is a classic dish in these parts. While we dined a busker sung and played the guitar, that being another attraction of the restaurant. He sang classic rock tunes in English. I think it was tricky for him to get his mouth around some of the English words compared to Portuguese.

We did even more walking around after our late lunch. We saw my old building and funky streets. Porto seems like a good place to have landed for a short time. All the walking seems to have made my foot worse.

Once back at the apartment we decided to have beverages out on our very narrow balcony. Our building is quite ancient and is just on the edge of being within a UNESCO World Heritage site. As people walked or drove by the building they seemed to look at us. Often people would wave or at least smile. I guess we were obviously not from there and we were smiling, enjoying our time in Porto.

Sunday, August 16, 2015
We had a late start today.

It was very noisy in our apartment last night (street noise) so did not get to sleep until late, then did not get up until late. I took a few pictures of our immediate area, like the huge tree just at the top of the outside steps leading to the sidewalk. I did some laundry and hung it out on our deck so our deck was easy to identify.

We walked along the river Douro, mostly along the Ribeira Nova da Alfandega, occasionally sauntering down closer to the river. Porto has little, narrow streets like back alleys. The building and streets were build long before cars. These little, narrow streets are not always straight but curve. It was inside one of these alley ways that the restaurant we were told about by Miguel was located. This well appointed restaurant was called Postigo Do Carvao. When we went by there was a line-up of people waiting to get in. Ken was not hungry so we decided to walk all the way to a bridge Ponte Luis I. We came across the same little artisan market we saw yesterday. With ladies selling scarves, tea towels, jewellery, hats, etc. This time we were not so distracted by the market and looked more closely at some of the buildings lining the river and above it. We saw a little white church, cafes with umbrellas at the tables, stone walls with rounded archways, etc. We got a good view of the Ponte Luis I bridge which was built in 1886 of iron girders. We decided to walk to the bridge cross it and walk along the river on the other side of the bridge.

The bridge has two layers to it. We walked across the bottom access but there is a much higher access from the hills above. The walkways on both sides were somewhat crowded, plus the roadway had slow moving traffic. When we were near the end of the bridge a few boys were jumping off the bridge into the water for Euros. They made a big deal out of it then casually jumped. It appeared to be cold water. They were quite the tourist attraction and enjoying their short lived fame. The tour boats and restaurants near the river were easy to photograph from our perch on the bridge.

Once off the bridge we came to another artisan market by the river which runs parallel to Av. Diogo Leite. Portugal has a thriving cork industry. The artists make cork purses, hats, jewellery, etc.out of the cork. That was what was being sold by a few venders. There were quite a few venders selling hand made jewellery, etc. We talked to one vender from Mali, Africa. He talked to us and thought of Canada as being at the end of the Earth. He also knew it was a melting pot of different peoples and, of course, that it was cold.

We walked back on the other side of Av. Diogo Leite and went into Port wine distillers. They offered tours and sample that you purchase. Maybe we will decide to do that one day before we leave Porto. Back across the bridge we went. Wow, was it crowded by now. Keep in mind that yesterday was one of big Portugal holiday days. All the way back to the wonderful, reasonably priced restaurant. This time you could get in, only problem it was closing and not accepting more guests. Oh well, another day.

We made ourselves a wonderful, simple meal that was so delicious. Ken asked why would we want to go our when we can eat so well here at our apartment.

Monday, August 17, 2015
This was a day we moved, again.

Our apartment is just too noisy. We could have lived with the other objections, but the noise was too distracting and interferring with our sleep. We only stayed at Alfandegadouro Tourist Apartments for four nights, but had to move on. Ken found us a different place up the hill in a more suburban part of the city. I sat at the bus shelter with the suitcases, while Ken bid our host, Miguel, good-bye. Miguel knew our place was noisy and decided he would give us a free night if we returned next year, nice gesture. We will likely not return. I was sitting dreading the thought of dragging our suitcases on the bus then onto the Metro and onto our new apartment. Ken has to help me as I can not lift my own suitcases up or down stairs. I need help pulling them up onto buses or off. I also need assistance with the entering and exiting of metros. At any rate I was not looking forward to the move. Ken was great with helping but it makes me feel kind of helpless, do not like that feeling.

Once we found our new home for the next week the building was locked. Good safety feature. We knew the manager would meet us and we found out she was already in the building. She was a personable young woman who could speak at least three languages that we knew about and was definitely proficient at English. When she found out I had a sore foot she was willing to drive me to the hospital right there and then. She told us that in Portugal everyone has the right to health care, I understood it was free also. I opted for no hospital because some days it feels good, other days it feels bad, today is a bad day. Must have walked too much on Sunday or Saturday.

Our new place is a full, but smallish apartment. There is a sunroom/porch/balcony type room for drying clothes, a small kitchen, bathroom with a front loading washing machine, a dining/living-room, a bedroom and there is a lot of shelf space. It is a very quiet place, only the occasional barking dog. The place is clean but it is older, not renovated or fixed up. It is within walking distance of the Metro.

Today, however, I do not want to go anywhere. I want to lay on the couch and read, hopefully nap. I am tired. This holiday making is a lot or work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Yesterday we needed to do some planning.

The Canadian dollar is at a low right now and will likely go lower. The result of this is we have to lower our expectations for places that we stay or eat. We found out we have to have our van in Canada moved to different storage by the first of October. We are enjoying our holiday but are not as inspired as we thought we would be by our experience here. We are somewhat tired from traveling, Ken tired of booking places constantly and both of us tired of changing places weekly. Some of the places we would like to go are still too hot right now and too over run with tourists. We brainstormed options and actually come up with quite a few. More on that another time.

We needed to get out of the apartment for awhile and the weather is exceptional right now - not too hot or humid, with blue skies. We can walk down town from the apartment and it is walking down a gentle slope.

On our walk we found a couple of interesting places. Some of the buildings or homes here covered in tile.They are a bit like in Pueblo, MX but different, too. The tiles are often solid coloured like an olive green, golden yellow or maybe a burgundy colour. Some churches like Santo Ildefonso, from the early 18th century, do have blue and white tiles covering the outside.The tiles have been hand painted into scenes of religious scenarios. We saw a Smart car parked differently from how it would have been in Canada. Obviously cars are parked parallel to the curb. Not this Smart car, it was parked perpendicular to the curb. We found a thrift store with great furniture, lousy clothes. We came across the best kitchen shop ever. For one thing it took up two floors. Wow, do they ever have great stainless steel pots, made right here in Portugal. The art shop we found was also very well stocked with good name brand supplies. They had the Dewent Inktense pencils that I wanted to buy. The Canadian dollar being so low did not encourage me to want to make a purchase. We walked by the Majestic Cafe were supposedly J.R. Rowling wrote some of her famous novels.

On our way back, after taking the Metro up the hill, we went into a drug store. My foot is bothering me and we talked to a druggist. He put a tensor bandage on my foot and gave me some advise for the future. This guy was about twenty-five but was a real professional enjoying his new occupation. He figured I should walk on a sandy beach and also go to a clinic for Reflexology on my feet.

We looked at going out for supper but felt we could have a better, more relaxing meal at our apartment. We did, nothing too fancy but all the same delicious.

Ken drank this wine in high school.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
We slept in again.

We are both really tired lately. Once we were up and going we both felt better. We walked to a place where we were told there was a clinic where I could get a reflexologist to work on my foot. It was tricky to actually find the office. The practitioner seemed competent so I made an appointment. Oh and she and her associate could speak a bit of English.

We took a metro to nearly all the way out to the beach. The pharmacist from yesterday told us to find the beach at the end of the long green space park on Google Maps. It was in the area of Matosinhos. He advised me to walk on the sand in my bare feet, this could help. I was up for trying just about anything.

The beach was what could be thought of as crowded. I have seen crowded beaches before but not for such an expanse, both the length of the beach and the width of the beach. Everyone was up having fun or lazing in the warm rays of the sun.They had a few different things from beaches I have seen. There were several taps or showers for when you wanted to wash off. Then there were wooden board walks of great length from the showers to the the malecons (yes, several at different layers). There were dozens of little tents set up in an orderly fashion and used as little, individual change houses. We could see the huge cruise ship leaving dock for points unknown.

We are not big beach people. We like it but dislike all the sand, if that makes sense. At first my foot hurt so bad I could hardly walk in the sand. It was scary for me because I have never experienced such a thing. The foot soon started working, sort of. Once we got out to the Ocean, which we had no intention of going into, my foot got the sand treatment and the cold Ocean water treatment. The experience did my foot good but I am looking forward to my foot massage, well at least I am looking forward to something positive being done for my foot.

We wondered around some restaurants, decided to eat at home and took the Metro back to our apartment.

Thursday, August 20, 2015
It is an odd feeling going to get bodywork done in a strange country.

I had the same massage therapist for about fourteen years and she was excellent, best I had encountered - Tammy. Then the same chiropractor for only a few years but he was excellent as well. In his practice he did a type of chiropractic therapy that did not involve jerky movements, but stretching first - Chad and/ Sara. Then my acupuncturist was also first rate - Brenda. To now have to go to someone new in a strange country where they likely do not have a full command of English and me with no Portugese, well it was unsettling. It was a necessary step as I have to move on from this sore foot, etc. I like to be as proactive as possible with my health - food choices, exercise both cardio and stretching and with bodywork, with all aspects basically.

Ken was a dear and walked me to the clinic. He found a great little coffee shop with wifi in the lower plaza of the clinic, so all was not lost. I figured I could find my way there with Google Maps but thought I might be a bit woozy for the walk home in unfamiliar territory.

It did not take me long to feel comfortable with these two ladies. They were pleasant, calm and working on making me feel at ease. The one with long hair spoke the most English but the lady with glasses likely understood more than I would have understood of Portuguese. I was expecting a foot massage and since my foot already hurt this was off putting so I told the one lady to do whatever she thought would help my foot the most. Once I was up on the table she decided to use TENS therapy on acupressure points. I have had TENS but only from a physiotherapist. While I was getting hooked up the other lady starts massaging my shoulders and neck, just what I needed. Well, I was totally relaxed, almost asleep. I did get a foot massage plus shoulders, neck, arms, hands and legs. Wow, I stepped onto the floor and my foot felt so much better. Was not sure how it would all turn out but I booked another appointment for Saturday, so I had a very positive experience. Price wise, I thought with two people working on me it would be like 80, but I was wrong. It was 50. Not sure it that is good or bad but cheaper than I thought.

Good thing Ken walked me back home because that after massage feeling of dopiness set in. I spent most of the day on the couch reading blogs, etc. Oh, and had several naps. Just what the doctor ordered.

Friday, August 21, 2015
We spent most of the day here at the apartment.

We are trying to figure out which apartment we should rent for a longer stay in the Canary Islands. It is hard to decide because it can go either way, funky or junky.

Taking the Porto Metro into town we ended up very close to our destination. We did not take the bus down the hill to the river but we found a windy, pedestrian walkway that even had a cloth shop on it. Great little place with scissors, thread, cloth...my kind of place. Down to the artesian market by the river. Being hungry we went to Postigo Do Carvao (restaurant) that we tried to get into on Sunday. This time we got in, just in time.

Postigo Do Carvao has well priced food that is Portuguese and close to gourmet. All we had was baked salmon, boiled potatoes with cabbage. It was all done to perfection and super delicious. It came with bread, olives and some kind of cooked, prepared meat. We also had wine. There is no glass of wine, just half or whole litres. The prices are so cheap, 7,50 for a litre of good house wine. It was one of the best meals out we have had in a long time.

One the way back home we found a crowded antique shop. Unusual items from Portugal. We also found a little grocery store with a huge room full of wine, etc. It seemed to be where the locals shopped because they were running up tabs for groceries.

Saturday, August 22, 2015
Got up early because today.

I have to go back to the bodyworkers or actually a better name would be holistic health practicioners. Even though I had been there before I still was reluctant. Is it going to hurt, are they really going to help my foot, is my back still going to hurt, etc was the myriad of questions I was trying to force out of my head. I really wanted some relief from my sore foot and back. I figured the negative thoughts would certainly not help. This time when I arrived they were in the office ready to go. I am embarrassed to say that I do not know these lady's names. They asked if I wanted the same treatment as last time and I guess I did because whatever they did had made a big improvement.

First the lady the the longest hair wanted to massage my back where it hurt, so off to a good start. At the same time the other lady worked on my foot. I do believe she was doing Moxibustion treatment on me because it was really hot and smelled a bit smoky. Once the low back massage was completed (and she did a great jot, too) I flipped over onto my back. Then more massage on my shoulders, arms, hands. Meanwhile my feet were massaged and I was readied for TENS therapy on my acupuncture points. I was in a bit of a daze from all the treatment but I opened my eyes and I am pretty sure I was having Reiki therapy done on me too. I was so relaxed and felt so good. This healing team worked so hard to give me the relief I so badly needed.

In the end I was ready to step down on the floor to leave. I could not believe how good my foot and ankle felt. It was so much better than I imagined it would be. I thought it might be this good in a few weeks if I was lucky. The ladies gave my some powder to mix-up and put the paste on sore spots in the future. I was glad to take it as they said it was their gift to me - nice! I took pictures of them because I want to remember the ladies that gave us back our holiday. Now, maybe you will hear very little about the foot saga in the future.

Should you ever be in Porto, Portugal the name of their business is Academia De Acupunctura E Estetica Do Marques.

By the way, the ladies said I had inflamed tendons. Now I must find out about an anti- inflammatory diet. I am quite sure I should not be eating wheat or drinking wine. But what should I be taking that would assist my health? I will look into that.

Sunday, August 23, 2015
Out on an excursion to the big mall was our excitement for the day.

The mall was Dolce Vita Porto shopping centre which host more than 121 shops over five floors or 38,427 square metres. It is tied in with a cinema complex, a residential complex and a hotel, plus covered parking. In 2007 this mall complex was awarded - Best Shopping Centre in the World by ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centres) according to the Mall's website.This was no ordinary mall as you can tell. It has a huge fountain in the middle of the walking area on the main floor. On a timed basis it blasts up water, up passed many floors, almost to the roof. We could see the water when we were on the top floor which hosts the food court. We saw name brand stores that you see elsewhere like, Zara, etc. There were lots of families wondering around on this drizzly, Sunday afternoon.

We got hungry from our adventure to the mall and thought we would check our Portuguese mall food. Some of the usual suspects like Burger King and KFC. People were actually lined up to get Burger King food. There was a sit down Italian food place and mostly fast food that is not so common, in Canada anyway. We went to Wok to Walk a chain of Noodle Box type fast food we have seen elsewhere like Merida, Mexico. Basically we hung out in the mall for awhile then decided to go home.

Well, we realized it was raining and windy outside. Ugh! We waited around some more hoping the weather would change. Yeah, it changed alright, it got worse. We just braved the elements and were off to our walk of several blocks to the Metro. We had a wet ride home on this sometimes above ground train and realized that it was getting worse. On our walk from the metro to home we got really soaked. It was great to shed our soaked clothing and jump in a hot shower. By the time our evening walk came around it was just cloudy, no rain.

Hope tomorrow is nice as it is our last full day to get out and about in Porto.

Small apartment, but very quiet.

Yes, cod is dried and everywhere.

Yay! Canada!

Postigo Do Carvao has well priced food that is Portuguese and close to gourmet.

Monday, August 24, 2015
We took the Metro into Gaia today, better than walking that far.

We saw a little up the hill from where we got off on Avenida da Republica, an interesting, obviously old building. Luckily it was a public building housing an art gallery for young artists. It was Casa Barbot, now Gaia's Casa da Cultura, built in 1904.

Cas Barbot is a mix of styles but mainly art nova (art nuevo) with some neoclassical, some Oriental, etc. It would be a home that the French of the late 19th century would like - Second French Empire of Napoleon III. The outside gardens were being groomed when we entered the grounds by the gardener. There are unusual natural rock looking formations on one side of the yard. Upon closer inspection you see that the formations are man-made of cement. There is a huge greenhouse that is eerily empty and a handsome gazebo. The outside of the once private residence shows off its second story baloneys and wonderful doorways. The inside is amazing.The second floor is centred around the staircase and a cupula. Both of which are not plain or ordinary. The stairway has a velvet handrail. All doorways are rounded at the top or have transom windows up above them. There is plaster work on the ceilings as well as paintings. There is pasta tile on the floors in some rooms and wooden floors in other rooms. Everywhere you looked there was charm and character, even in the few pieces of antique furniture that were in the building. The pictures will tell you more than my description. I could not stop taking pictures and I am sure the people working in the gallery could tell I was a real fan of their work space. It was so grand.

We wondered the streets after that going down the hill toward the river and the main malecon. We were on back streets with private residences. Several times we came to areas that over looked roof tops and on across the river. The view was more then amazing. Many others were walking similar routes as we were and also taking pictures of the old red tiled buildings.

We happened upon an art gallery space that had its doors open and looked inviting so in we went. I believe it was called 3 + Arte Cooperativa Artistica e Cultural, CRL. We talked to one of the owners and she said they did not have lots of money to spend when making this huge space into a gallery. They used very creative ideas to enhance and decorate the space. The biggest example of this is the travel trailer with what appears to be tiles on the outside - it is an office space plunked down in the middle of the gallery. They used pallets as stairs and old wooden wine boxes as cupboards. All these imaginative ideas work and add to the arty ambience of the space.

This area was full of unique ideas. What about taking a tour around town in a big, old Volvo loaded up with vintage luggage and sports equipment? Tennis anyone? That is what you could do today over by the malecon.

Many of the old single mast sailing ships were near the shore today. Likely on the weekends they are in demand as tour boads. Our trip to Gaia was such a visual treat. We wanted to go on and do more touring of the art district in Porto but we were just too tired. Going home for rest seemed a better option.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It is a bit sad leaving Porto and our little flat.

I seem to often think that when we leave a place. We are both excited about moving on to the Canary Islands. Dragging our suitcases behind us we leave our little neighborhood, via the Metro, for the airport. It only costs us about 2.40 for the both of us and the way out of town to catch our plane.

This time the airport is busy compared to when we arrived about ten days ago from France. Ken was anxious to check-in with the airline and, hopefully, rid ourselves of our bigger suitcases. We got close to the Ryanair section and saw huge line-up - ugh! Then Ken noticed that the line-up specifically for Tenerife was nonexsistant. He was ecstatic. It was such a bonus, especially after seeing the crowd of people going somewhere else with Ryanair. At first, we did not know what to think of the whole Ryanair experience. There we saw people stuck in the flight tunnel going out to the airplane for a long time, we had waited. Then all of us were taken by bus to another plane. The plane trays for eating off of it had not been cleaned. It all seemed a bit primitive or skimpy. Not something you want in an airline you would be about to fly in. Our pilot looked very young and inexperienced.

During our flight we could see the sandy coast line of Portugal - gorgeous. Then suddenly we could see nothing, the coast of Africa would have been a real treat. Then we were up above the cloud. Once we started descending my ears put me into agony. Not even gum helped. They ended up ok but that is scary. We could see the volcano from above and the whole of Tenerife and it appears to be much bigger than Gabriola where our house is.

Everyone clapped when we landed just like they do when you land in Mexico. Overall we had a great flight, our fears or doubts about Ryanair were unsubstantiated and we had a good experience at a low fare rate.

Now to a rent car, which also was offered to us at an extremely great rate for the week. After a few tries we found our white Fiat 500 in spot 9 not lot 9. That took awhile to sort out. Ken has not drove in months and this was a standard not an automatic. That was a bit of a concern, to me. Now we needed to find the town of Cho. By the way, we landed at the airport at the south end of the island and Cho is not far from the airport. It was easy to find our hostel. We figured we get into our accommodation later on in the evening and so why put out the big bucks. Our hostess was wonderful with some English language skills. Now we are dealing with Spanish not Portuguese so it should be easier for us. Our room was just a regular bedroom, a bit hot, but the bathroom was downstairs. It was a clean, well thought out room. Great place to stay for the night.

Porto, Portugal from the air.

Ten days in Porto is not enough.

Lisbon will have to wait.

Tenerife Airport

GoldCar rentals, Fiat 500 manual w. air

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