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”…..

P9082488 (2)

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!!

Two days of driving fun….or not

On Monday morning we reluctantly had to leave Santiago de Compostela although we had a laugh seeing the sign leading down to the parking garage…..


….”acceso peons” ….who are you calling a peon!!!

While trying to get out of the city we ran into a bit of bother with Gwyneth.  We are thinking that she may not be as well organized for Spain as she is for Portugal.  Once she told us to “turn right here” but it was a walkway and not a road. 

Finally, we started following street signs and heading in the direction that we THOUGHT we should go and eventually she caught up with us.   The bottom line is that after driving for 20+ minutes, we  looked up and saw the cultural center that we had basically walked to the day before!!  

Michael stayed calm and collected thru all of the vagaries of trying to leave town…..


….but the scene in the backseat was a bit different…..IMG_5309

We finally made our way out of the city and headed for the city of A Coruña.  We chose this city because one of Michael’s colleagues was from there and had greatly extolled its virtues, including an ancient Roman lighthouse!! 

While driving on the highway we had a couple of “incidents”…..

Firstly we came to a toll road where you had to take a ticket as you passed.   The car in front of us missed the ticket so they stopped the car, a lady in the back passenger seat hopped out and pulles the ticket and then scurried back to the car. 

Secondly, one of the toll booths was marked as “direcciones”, where you could ask for directions along your route?    He asked where we were going and Michael thought he was asking where we had come from.. The gentleman looked quite perplexed until Michael explained that we were heading TO Coruna but a relieved look appeared on his face when he realized that he didn’t have to turn us completely around!!!

The city of A Coruña was very sweet and we followed along a fun beach road to reach the lighthouse…IMG_5314

The lighthouse is also known as the Tower of Hercules, was built 1900 years ago and is the oldest Roman lighthouse still in use.


We waited for a while to be able to climb to the top, but the wait became longer and longer so we finally decided to just walk around the property and capture some of the sights……


I loved this guy……


….especially the dog sleeping at his feet…..


The sights heading toward the harbor were enthralling…..


…..and I loved this huge compass built into the rock…..


There were tile designs in between each compass point with this one being my favorite…..IMG_5360

And, I am always a sucker for patches of white and yellow flowers (my bridal bouquet was made of daisies)…..IMG_5369

We returned to the car and drove all the way around the harbor, ending up on the point opposite to the Tower.

While driving, we passed this fountain and I snapped a photo out of the car window.   It is not a great picture, but it was a very cool fountain with two surfers riding the wave…..


At the end of the point, we came to this huge obelisk……IMG_5398

It had pictures on the sides but they were very indistinct.

We walked along the rocks for a bit, exclaiming how blue the water seemed…..IMG_5405

We reluctantly returned to the car and headed back south and into Portugal.  For the most part, this trip was uneventful although we did have a few issues getting out of the city and onto the highway.

After we arrived home, I felt the need for a good walk so headed down the beach, walking about 1-1/2 miles.  This was the furthest  that I had been and was surprised to look up and see that there was a fort (which is now a restaurant)……


A little further took me to a beautiful little church that we returned to on Tuesday to take photos of……


The inside was rustic and sweet….


…..with a gorgeous painted ceiling that was easy to miss unless you were looking for it…..


Outside there was a sensational cross and mast……


On Tuesday I had two driving adventures….

Firstly, while driving home from taking Michael to work I had to stop at a crosswalk.  This is not unusual, but the fact that it was a dog waiting for the traffic to stop was not the norm.   Myself and another car waited as he calmly crossed!

Also, as I was driving out to pick Michael up, I came across a tractor pulling a trailer and trying to back the trailer into a very narrow gate opening.  He made several attempts but his front wheels kept hitting the stone wall surrounding the road, keeping him from being able to turn properly.   I watched as he made a few more passes and was amazed that he was able to move the trailer into the gate.  DSC07746At this point he needed to pull out again and straighten things up but there were several cars waiting so he just stopped and motioned for me to go ahead.  But, to my eye there really wasn’t enough room for my car to go thru!!!  So, with Diane watching the right mirror and me staring at the left one, I VERY slowly made my way thru the opening.   As I cleared the tractor I looked up and saw a truck driver sitting in  a vehicle on the other side patiently motioning that I had plenty of room.   Maybe it was plenty to him but surely not to me!!!!

After we picked Michael up, I wanted to take all of them to the haunting cemetery that I had found on our first day at CIBIO.  We enjoyed walking thru it again and came away with a few stunning photos…..


Our big meal for Tuesday was a restaurant that we had visited early into our stay.   The Chef was once again at the grill……


….using nothing but sea salt to turn these dishes into scrumptious delicacies…..


The restaurant was very busy when we arrived and we were impressed at the lengths that the owner went to in order for us to have a nice table!!!

Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, Diane and I decided to visit the #1 sight in Vila do Conde (at least per Trip Advisor)……the Style Outlet!!!!  The mall was a modern, well designed area with a lot of top name stores, however prices seemed to be similar to the US so we didn’t purchase much. 

We did enjoy a walk thru the shoe store and marveled at these very popular shoes….DSC07752

The clunky sole and heel is extremely popular here, even in boots or dress shoes.   It will be interesting to see if this is the newest trend in Europe and whether it will be what we are wearing in a year or two!!!

Our favorite store was called BriCor.  It was a HUGE store with clothing on one side and a mixture on the other side rivaling Home Depot, Walmart and Pet Smart all in one place!!!


It was a fun outing to end off our day together!!!

Right Place…..Right Time!!!!

Let me start this post with an explanation of why we are in the city of Santiago de Compostela…..  

Several years ago a friend suggested that we watch a movie called “The Way” which is about a man who follows the pilgrimage route (Camino) thru France and Spain to visit the Church of St. James, called the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where tradition says that the remains of St. James are buried.  

At the end of the movie, he reaches the cathedral and observes the tradition of the Botafumeiro, which is a famous thurible found in the church.  The thurible is 4 feet high and  filled with charcoal and incense.   It is then hoisted into the air and swings back and forth, filing the church with wonderful aroma.

After we had decided to visit the city, I was disappointed to find that the Botafumeiro is only used on certain holy days, but I was still excited to see it.   It was hanging magnificently in the sanctuary…..


I was enamored with the pipe organ and have never seen one decorated in quite this way…..IMG_5137

The main part of the cathedral is ornate….


….but what I truly enjoyed were some of the smaller chapels that lined the outer edges of the building.   One was particularly pleasant with earth tone colors and interesting stone murals on the walls…..


I loved the perspective view that it portrayed!!

Of course, the magnificent tiled floors added to my enjoyment as well…..


Michael and I walked around the church while Roy and Diane attended a Mass in a small chapel.  Afterwards, we left the church but were told that we couldn’t re-enter thru the main door because the 10:00 am Mass was about to start.  Not to be deterred, Michael continued walking around the sides of the church until he found a door that we were welcomed to enter.   We immediately saw a line forming and joined in.  It was worth the wait as it wound around behind the main altar and the view from there was enchanting…..IMG_5160

….although these giant cherubs were a bit scary…..


We followed the line into another small chamber where the reported remains of St. James were interred…..


While we were standing in line, we could hear the Mass being held in the main chapel.  At one point, they started speaking English and we heard the Priest say that today was a special day, that it was the Birthday of the Church.  When we heard this, Diane wondered aloud if that meant that they would perform the Botafumeiro.

Sure enough as we re-entered the main chapel, we saw several red robbed men standing near the pulley hoist……


YES…..we were going to get to see it really happen!!!   I found a spot near the back of the church and stood mesmerized…. with camera in hand of course!!   Here is the video……

Botofumerio Ceremony

I stopped filming so that I could just stand and enjoy the spectacle!!!!  It was a truly moving experience and I am so thankful to have been able to experience it!!

We moved outside and enjoyed the architecture of the church……IMG_5152


The courtyard was filled with Pilgrims, many wearing the Shell, symbol of the Camilo trail…….


We continued on into a Camino museum where we enjoyed learning about the history of pilgrimages around the world.  Mostly, I just enjoyed looking at the various statues and paintings……



These are all supposed to be renditions of what St. James looked like.

This next piece was interesting as it was carved/embossed from metal but had an opening for a painting where the face would be……


We split up from the Carrolls and returned to the street where we were both drawn to a busker playing a haunting, but strange looking, instrument.   We asked about it and he told us that it was called a “Hang” (which is German for hand), and was created in 2000.


We decided to return for more Tapas, but this time we were going to order for ourselves!!!  We knew some of what we ordered but guessed on the rest.    The first thing out was bread and peppers……


… far, so good.   Then the next course arrived…..


Now, this wasn’t exactly what we thought we had ordered but it was wonderful.   It was an omelet with onions and cheese and went perfectly with the Padron peppers!!! 

Next was the same steak dish from yesterday.  We thought that we had ordered yet another course but nothing else showed up and, honestly, we were glad because we were already full!!!!  We did order desert….DSC07701

…..a soft cheese served with a thick jam slice…..delish!!!!

We sat closer to the serving area and realized that the kitchen was actually upstairs and all of the food was sent down in a dumbwaiter…..


This is our waiter from the first meal.   He was so sweet and even stopped us in the street to talk later in the day!!!

Now we needed a walk to work off some of the food so decided to take a long walk.   We were headed to the Cultural Center that we could see in the distance.   In reading about this building, I had seen that it had been started but money had run out so many of the buildings were not completed.  However, there were a few exhibits there including one that looked like a fiber exhibit, so we made it our destination.

After walking down one road (and I do mean DOWN), all the time discussing the ramifications of this descent, we ran into a few street vendors and had to stop and look.   This gentleman was selling herbs and teas that were touted to cure everything…..


….from acne to cholesterol!!!

We looked down a side street and found the entrance to a small, local Medieval Festival…..


….forget the Cultural center…..we are going in!!!

There was food…….




….and more food……


There were roving minstrels…..


……hand cranked kiddie rides…..


….kids playing all sorts of games (without an electronic device in sight)……


…..and crowds of happy people……


….with a wonderful church in the background!!!

We walked back UP the street……IMG_5272

….enjoying the fact that we had found something that was designed for the locals and not just for the tourists.

By now, we had walked off our lunch so sought out something cold and sweet….maybe a gelato bar???

My “note to self” was….”next time order Pequeña (small) rather than Medio (medium)!!”…..IMG_5287

We met up with Roy and Diane again and made one last quick trip to the Cathedral…..


Reluctantly we left, knowing that our time in this beautiful city was coming to an end……


A New Country for my list…..


On Saturday, the four of us (Roy, Diane, Michael and myself) loaded up in our car and headed to Spain, specifically to the city of Santiago De Compostela. 

The actual travel was easy, but paying the tolls was interesting.   First of all, .it was VERY expensive.  There was one area where we paid over 5 Euros for the toll and then had to pay 6 Euros about 15 miles down the road!!  When we were in Portugal it was easy because we had a toll collector in our car but it got harder as we moved into Spain. 

The first booth was only 3.4 Euros, so we were able to come up with that from our change but we knew we were in trouble with future ones!  Fortunately, the next ones had some attended booths so we were able to get change easily.  We finally realized that the attended booths had a sign with a little man on it.

The weather was gloomy and rainy for most of the trip, but it was still a fun journey.  This bridge was probably more spectacular because of the gloom….


Our travel was easy until we got the hotel itself.   It was not over-savagely marked and we missed it the FIRST and the SECOND time that we drove around the round-about.  Michael then took a guess and moved along one street and sure enough we were able to see the name of the hotel, but there was no place to park to unload.  So, we continued further down the street, trying to find a place to make a U-Turn.  There was nothing available so he turned right onto a street….possibly a One-Way street but we were never sure!!!  We headed back the correct direction and fortunately, during all of the driving, I had seen the entrance to an underground parking garage.  We passed the hotel again, entered the parking garage and emerged at street level and about 50 yards from our hotel…..we MEANT to do it that way!!!!

We checked into the lovely Hotel Compostela and the hotel clerk reluctantly told us that it would be 10 minutes before our room was ready.  We said that we didn’t mind waiting but she said that we needed to hurry to get to see the Farmer’s Market so we should leave our bags and they would be taken up to our rooms. 

We walked about 3 blocks and entered the Mercado de Abastos.  As markets go, it was fairly typical, with fruits and vegetables along one aisle…..


… in another enclosed area……


…..and meats and cheeses in another one……


We found the oxtail particularly appetizing……


And, what can I say about the tail on this particular cut of meat (maybe goat or lamb)……


Everywhere you looked there was Bacalhau which is Salted Cod…..


The bread aisle was enticing, especially the glorious aroma…..


This sandwich was a monster……


…and if I ate everything that I wanted here, I am afraid that I would look like this……


But the thing that I liked the best about the market were the looks on the faces of the people (mostly women) who worked there…..



We returned to the hotel, checked the view out of our bedroom window……


….and headed back downstairs to check out the town.  The stairs in the hotel were made of luxurious wood and we felt an extreme urge to climb them rather than take the lift…..


Notice the “Log Cabin” design on each landing!!!

Our helpful hotel clerk had suggested a particular Tapas restaurant and since Spain is the home of the Tapas Cuisine, we had to check it out.   The old town of Santiago is a maze of narrow roads bordered by shops, restaurants and other businesses designed for the tourists…..DSC07652

After wandering down a few streets, we found the restaurant and had our first look inside….. DSC07653

There were many people sitting at a bar at the front, selecting various items from trays lined along the bar.   A bit further back there were tables and after a 20 minute wait, we were seated.

Our Waiter was from the Philippines and spoke wonderful English.  The first task was selecting drinks for the meal, and Michael and Diane selected a bottle of wine while Roy and I went for the local beer….. 


After a “cheers”…….DSC07657

….we were ready to select our food.   When the waiter arrived, he could see that we were struggling to select items from the Spanish menu and suggested that he bring us a sampler.  We happily agreed and were treated to an amazing array of food, starting with cheese (the Blue Cheese on bread was to die for)…..


…..thin sliced meats……


….and grilled Padron peppers with lots of sea salt……


Next came the fish courses (yes there were TWO).  The first was a spicy Scallop and two shrimp…..


For the record, I loved the shrimp but wasn’t as impressed with the Scallop.  I truly like the flavor but not the texture!!

Then came Fried Calamari that was absolutely delicious…..


At this point we were all stuffed, but there was still the meat course to go!!   We were each served a small piece of steak, smothered in cheese, onions and mushrooms and topped with a quail’s egg……


To finish up the meal, the other three had a glass of Port and I asked for “something chocolate”……


Here is our photo from the start of the meal……


…..and here is the after……


Michael and I loved the hustle and bustle of the place.  Our waiter was in constant motion, bringing plate after plate of tasty food to the tables.

As we waddled down the street, we passed this amazing, and very beautiful,  Street Artist…..


I walked over to give her a coin and she looked up and slowly motioned for me to come closer.   As I approached she handed me a small token that she was holding in her hands.


We wandered around the Old Town area some more, enjoying the architecture, the people and the shops.  We giggled at this one selling “American Food”……IMG_5113

I would have thought that this store was here to cater to the Americans, but I really didn’t see (or hear) many of them so I am a bit perplexed at how it can survive!!  Maybe American Food is considered a delicacy???/

Roy and Diane returned to the hotel for a while and Michael and I headed out down one of the surrounding streets to just get some exercise.  We came to this statue……


….which was interesting, but we had more fun making friends with the residents around the statue…..



After stopping for a cup of coffee/tea, we met up with the Carrolls again and started strolling some more.   Diane heard loud music from a nearby park and suggested that we check it out.   What we found was a carnival, filled with happy, over-sugared children and their stony-faced parents.

At the center of the carnival was the largest Ferris Wheel that I have ever been close to……DSC07677

We left the liveliness of the carnival to revel in the solitude and quiet of a walk around the park…..


This was a delightful path that wound all the way around the carnival. 

We stopped to photograph a few Eucalyptus trees that were larger than any we have ever seen……


Roy and Diane planned to walk further, but Michael and I were ready to head back to the hotel, but first we had to stop for another Santiago specialty…..Chocolate and Churros…..


The chocolate was the consistency of a thin pudding and the Churros were magnificent when they were dipped in the warm liquid…..

……a great nightcap!!!!

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride….aka, A Car Trip to Porto

On Thursday morning, Michael once again had to teach.   He hasn’t had much time to relax on this trip but hopefully he will get some time on the upcoming weekend!!

Roy, Diane and I dropped him off at work and headed down the highway into Porto.  As soon as we left CIBIO, the GPS (we call her Gwyneth) started sending us down smaller and smaller roads!!  We finally arrived at the Motorway and got about 20 miles along when we hit a major traffic jam that lasted for MANY kilometers.    Traffic was bumper to bumper and it was NO fun driving the stick shift!!!

We made it into Porto and, except for one turn, were able to follow Gwyneth’s instructions, however at some point I managed to mute her verbal instructions.  Between that and the fact that there was construction on one side of me and two buses on the other side, I managed to miss the entrance into the parking garage…YIKES!!!    Not knowing what else to do, I followed the road around, coming to the tunnel that lead across the bridge.  I knew that I didn’t want to go that way, so turned right down the road just in front of the River, which unfortunately led onto the tiny 10 kph road that we had driven on earlier in the week!!  I turned left at the top of the street and fortunately was able to find a place to pull over to have a quick word with Gwyneth!!

After a 3-point U-Turn in heavy traffic, I  made it back to the parking garage.  Now came the problem of actually parking!!!  The parking area is narrow and has cars on both sides so there is not much room to swing out to enter the space.  This is also a problem because our little Fiat has a HORRIBLE turning radius….we could do better in Michael’s Pickup!!   Because of the narrowness, most cars are not parked properly in the spaces meaning that there is even less space to park than usual.  I made a few passes at one spot and decided that there was NO way that I could get into it.  

Fortunately, I noticed a larger car moving out of a spot further down so I hurried there and was able to park….finally!!!    At this point, we were about 3 levels underground!!!  However, I have learned my lesson and next time will keep driving until I reach an easy parking spot or reach the end of the tunnel.

We found our way to the surface and started heading for our first destination…..Igregia de San Francisco de Oporto.


It is apparently a great example of Gothic Architecture and was started in the 13th century but not finished until 1410.

There were no photos allowed in the church so these photos are stolen from the Internet……

The interior is all carved from wood and gilded with Gold (they estimate that it took 650 pounds of Gold).  The only word that I could find to describe it was gaudy……


This photo makes it look bright and airy but, when we were there, it was dark and gloomy.   It didn’t help that most of the sculptures and paintings  were of people being tortured or beheaded.   

There was an intricately carved Tree of Jesse that was interesting……images

After we walked out of the church, Diane mentioned that we now needed to find a McDonald’s because we really needed a “Happy Place”!!!!

While on the Church property we visited the Catacombs, seeing crypts dating back to the early 1800’s.  IMG_4928

In addition to the crypts along the side walls, there were additional ones in the floor. IMG_4925  It was a bit freaky as the wood would creak when you walked across it!!!

The room was adorned with some unconventional skull sculptures…..


….but also with some superb iron work….


This was my last, and favorite view, of this strange church……IMG_4944

We now followed a walkway that led us back to the Riberia area of the city.  We looked in one or two shops and then found this man in his woodworking shop…..IMG_4945

After I took this photo, another man in the shop motioned that we should come into the shop and look in the back room.  We were surprised to see rows and rows of model ships, IMG_4946all beautiful and faithfully re-created…..


It was an astonishing display and I still don’t know if he sells these or if this is just his hobby.   I did have one scare…..there was a man working there who was dusting some of the ships.  He was trying to lift one ship off of the floor but didn’t realize that the mast was stuck under one of the glass shelves.  Every time he would lift it up, the glass shelf would flex, scaring me that the whole thing was going to come down!!   Fortunately, he realized what he was doing and stopped before there was a disaster!!

To me, his work bench was a thing of  beauty…..


We decided to stop and have a quick lunch, ending up at one of the restaurants with tables extending out almost into the street…..


As we had walked up, we had passed a series of sanitation workers busily draining the sewage pipes.  We were sitting right next to a manhole cover and I kept hearing a sucking sound behind me.   All I could think of was the scene from “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” where Indiana is in Venice and comes up out of the sewer, right into a street cafe…..he looks around at the horrified diners and says “ Ahhhhh. Venice”!!   I was waiting for “Ahhhh….Porto”!!!

After a simple lunch of cheese and bacon sandwiches, we were recovered from our car ride and dark church and ready to start exploring!!

One of the things that I wanted to do was to walk across the St. Luis bridge on the TOP of the bridge rather than the lower ridge so we started looking for the way to get up there.   It appeared that we had two options….climb hundreds of steps or ride the funicular.  Guess which we chose!!!!

The ride only took about 3 minutes and the views as we rose were terrific…..


As we walked toward the bridge, we noticed many houses that had pristine lower floors, but the upper ones were in pretty bad shape.  Looking down from the bridge we saw areas that had been grown over with ivies….


…..and other areas that were being used and lived in…..


The views of Porto were glorious and truly showed the various elevations of the city……IMG_4993

As soon as we crossed the river, we turned into the Monastery of Serra Do Pilar.  It is a pretty building…..


….visible from most places along the river. 

Unfortunately you could not enter the Church unless you were on a tour, so instead we enjoyed the views from the courtyard…..


One fun European tradition is where romantic couples attach a padlock to a bridge or other fence, thus “securing” their love.   They are called “locks of love” and were prevalent at this  gorgeous tableau…..


We made the return trip across the bridge and started winding our way down and to the left to reach the river again.     We ended up on some small streets that were definitely for the locals and not the tourists!!IMG_5032

It was fun seeing older women sitting on each side of the street, talking quietly to one another as they snapped peas or did other household tasks.  It really was a fun area……


We were able to find the stairs down into the car park but I wasn’t sure exactly which level we were on.   I stopped one level early and walked along the parking area so that I could find our car.   It was difficult since MANY of the cars were black and small!!!   I kept hitting the door lock as I walked and finally saw the car that was responding to my urgings!!!

The most interesting part of the drive back was trying to get out of the parking garage.   The parking areas were located on the outer rim of a spiral going deep underground.   The way out was to drive in a tight circle up thru the middle of the parking areas.   I was starting to wonder if I would EVER re-surface!!! 

Once on top, it took Gwyneth a few minutes to find her bearings so I drove “by the seat of my pants” until she caught up with me…..fortunately in the right direction!!!

The return trip to Vila do Conde was MUCH easier, except for one harried entrance ramp onto the Motorway!   

All in all, it was a fun day, but I will never look at a roller coaster in the same light again!!!!