We make a home in the theatre

October 9, 2017 - Porto, Portugal

We went down for breakfast at 7am, the earliest we could. The dining room was already very busy as there were five coaches and another twenty-seater parked outside overnight. Breakfast food was fine if a bit hard to get at on occasion but coffee from an urn is not the best.

We had a 7.45am start with John and our new driver, Mario, who probably spoke English at least as well as John. We drove down into the old town of Porto to collect the others then a drive back through the heights of Porto, around the outskirts and back down to the Ocean Front. There were a lot of fancy houses in Art Nouveau and even Victorian and Georgian Style as well as modernist 'Grand Designs'. We came along the ocean side and along the river where there were more of the older and newer house designs as well.

Our first stop was to look at the Church of the old 'convent'. (In fact a Franciscan Friary but the word convent seems to be the Portuguese term directly transposed to the English). The Friary itself burned down and the town fathers (business leaders and mainly Port Wine merchants) built the Palacio del Bos – the Business Owners council. Pretty flash place and a shrine to Mammon.

From Porto we drove up to the Minho region where some grapes for the sparkling 'green wine' are grown. I'm sure we must have seen some as we flashed by to go on to Guimarães where we saw the Palace (John whispered to us, 'rebuilt for Parliamentary party members dinners at the taxpayers expense'), and the Castle. 'There's nothing to see inside', said John, 'and, they charge you entry', he continued. I am not sure if that entry fee was part of our tour inclusions or not. I should check.

By now it was getting toward lunchtime. Today we drove on to Braga where we had 2 hours of free time to have lunch and explore. A much better idea, and there were so many choices. We found a place to share a couple of salads and some beers, looked around the town a bit and then visited the Cathedral on our own. The Cathedral also has a collection of religious artefacts and Roman archaeological stones. That helped fill in our time and it was just as well. Although we were to meet at the Cathedral and we expected John to be showing us around, that didn't happen.

From the town we drove up to Bom Jesus do Monte (Good Jesus of the Mountain) with a famous church, a baroque stairway and gardens. The first chapel recorded here dates from 1373.

Our bus then headed back to Porto. John has organised to change our hotel to the same one as the others. He also thinks there will be a new bus tomorrow. A very Good effort from him or perhaps from Margaret's complaints to our Flight Centre representative who replied almost instantly to Margaret's email even though it would have been after hours back in Australia.

We can now make our home in the Hotel Teatro, a quirky hotel in an old theatre that has a theatrical theme. Lots of curtains, dim lighting, room numbers at floor level, and the staff dress and try to act with a little flourish. We had heard a lot about the Hotel Teatro from the others and it feels good to be joining them. It may be as compensation but we were in a suite with a balcony and a gym. It also had a free-standing bath in the room near the bed but there was plenty of room. Good Grief, it is way too luxurious for the likes of us. And we won't have time to enjoy it as we are off to Santiago de Compestela tomorrow for a long day. We did enjoy having a long soak in the bathtub though before going out to look for food.

A walk out around the streets nearby revealed many places to find dinner. We chose a little street café, the Bar Avenida, even though there were few people sitting down. We chose a Salmon pasta and a Salad Avenida (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pimento, tuna, mozzarella, and topped with a prawn) to share plus 2 beers and the usual coffee for €33. Quite cheap for a restaurant with a tank of live crabs. I take back earlier comments about restaurants with tanks of live seafood.

The restaurant had filled up while we were finishing our meal. Maybe that was because Margaret got the time from her computer that was still on Spanish time so we were an hour early for dinner. Meal hours and opening hours are much the same here as in Spain. Anyway it was a very pleasant night for a stroll and we were back in the hotel by 9pm with a chance to relax a little before bed.


Pictures

The 'Rabbit' room at the Palacio del Bos
John tells us the history of Porto as a Port
Gardens in Braga
A dragon swoops
 
 

1 Comment

Sarah:
October 16, 2017
Glad things have improved! but missing you, looking forward to having you back home

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