Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

The Ups and Downs of Porto

On Wednesday, we dropped Roy and Diane off at the Airport so that they could pick up their car and continue their journey thru Portugal.  Since we were halfway to Porto we decided to continue on and spend the day there.

There is one turn that we have missed every time and this time I thought that I knew what we had done wrong,  but alas we missed it again….just in a different manner.  Consequently, we got to come into the Old Town of Porto from a different direction!!   We made it to our parking garage, found an easy spot to park in and headed aboveground.

The first part of the morning was spent shopping for some gifts for us and for others.  We had scoped these out in previous visits and knew exactly what we were going to buy so the actual shopping didn’t take too long.  Since we were close to the car, we threw our packages in the trunk and headed out again for some sight seeing.

Michael had wanted to cross the Ponte Luis bridge from the top as Roy, Diane and I had last week so we started making our way up the countless stairs to the top.  I wanted to climb these stairs because they were the inspiration for my quilt “Escala Azul”…..

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As we climbed further up, we entered areas where people were living and doing life among the steps…..


Michael stopped to walk down one small lane thinking that we might want to walk that way to reach the bridge.  A lady emerged from her house and (in sign language) asked if we were heading for the bridge.   When we said yes, she indicated that we still needed to climb further and told us to walk with her.

She was carrying two bags, one containing a heavy looking blanket.   Michael offered to carry it for her and she shyly handed it over….


We climbed together for a few minutes and then she stopped and pointed to a side street  that we would NEVER have seen.  Within 20 steps we were on the bridge!!! 

We asked her name and she told us it was Fatima.  When I asked if I could take a photo of her, she shrugged and reluctantly agreed…..


We thanked her profusely and made our way across the “Eiffel” bridge, stopping to take another “blue screen” photo……


As we arrived on the other side of the river, in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia.  We wanted to get down to river level so needed to head downward quickly.  We could see the street that we needed but had no idea how to get there.   As we walked in the general direction, Michael saw a set of stairs so we took those and ended up exactly where we wanted to be!!

We were heading for S. Goncalo, the restaurant that we had visited the previous week but ended up arriving there too early to eat.   So, to kill a little time, we walked on down the street, heading for the boat building area that we had seen previously.  We were excited to see that they were working on the boat and were pleased when one of the workers told us that we could come closer and watch the work.

The scaffolding holding the boat in place looked insignificant compared to the size of the boat……


We debated about which end was the prow but solved the problem when we saw the propeller under one end!!   We could see that the bottom boards had been attached to the boat, where the upper ones were still hanging free…..


We could also see that some of the screws had been epoxied in place and some had already been sanded down….


She will beautiful when finished!!!

We had now killed enough time so we returned to the restaurant and ordered a 1/2 Dose Steak platter which arrived with plenty of fries and a fried egg on top…..


After enjoying our meal, we crossed the Ponte Luis again, this time on the lower level, looking up at the intricate metal work…..IMG_5508

This time we were headed for the “art district” of Porto and once again knew that we had to go UP and preferably without having to wind around and around on the city streets.   The map showed yet another set of stairs, so once we found them we headed up, up, up…….


There was a historical marker that told us that the stairs were built in the 14th Century and were part of a belt of walls that encircled the old town of Porto. 

We continued climbing up and trying to veer to the left as we went.  We walked thru many streets clogged with locals rather than tourists and stopped to photograph various street art along the way.   I really liked these three….


We entered a small park and I excitedly exclaimed that I know where we are…..I was lost here a couple of weeks ago!!!!

We finally found the Rua de Miguel Bombarda, the street listed as having art galleries.  We walked for a while but didn’t see anything and then realized that it was time for the “after lunch” break and many of them were closed.   We kept walking and looking in windows to see if it was some place that we wanted to return to. 

We came to this window and looked in, seeing some paintings that we liked and didn’t see a sign saying that it was closed, so we tried to open the door.   IMG_5569

It was locked and we started to walk away, but a sweet gentleman standing on the sidewalk showed us that we needed to ring the bell to be allowed to enter.  A young woman (named Paula but pronounced “pow-lah”) came to the door and invited us in.  We looked at the paintings in the front room but could see artists working in the back rooms. 

Paula told us that this shop was part gallery and part conservation service.  She proceeded to give us a tour of the work that was being done…..IMG_5558

…..and other pieces that had already been restored…..


In many cases, she was able to show us what the original colors had been and show us what had been painted over thru the years.


She told us that they did all sorts of work, from ceramics, wood, paintings and even metalwork…..


She spoke very passionately about her work and it was evident that she felt a connection to the pieces that she helped to restore…..


I had noticed the handles on this apparent chest of drawers…..


….but she surprised us by showing that it was actually a metal safe and that only one of the knobs turned to open it…..IMG_5565

As we were leaving, she showed us her portfolio filled with “before” and “after” photos of the work that she had done.   She was obviously quite accomplished at her art!!!

We reluctantly said bye to her and started our jaunt DOWNhill to our parking garage again. 

The last photo of the day was of this brightly colored housing area…..


This is so typical of the architecture that makes Porto such a treasure to visit!!

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