Porto, Porto, Porto, sigh

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(Lots of coffee)

As I was saying yesterday, we went to Porto on Tuesday to get Denis’ computer fixed. When booking into this campsite in Vila Chã I had seen instructions (kindly translated into three different languages) explaining how to buy tickets for the metro to Porto. Up until that moment I didn’t know about a metro or that it was nearby. If you are a regular reader you might remember our attempt (failed attempt) to visit Porto in order to buy a wi-fi sim for Portugal last January. We were challenged by the roads, the sat nav and the lack of data sims (!) and so in spite of the valiant efforts and friendliness of the people we bumped into (not literally) we saw nothing of Porto except the hospital (the outside of the hospital where we got a taxi) and didn’t get wifi until we arrived in Lisbon. Anyways that was last year.

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(The instructions for taking the metro from Vila Chã)

So there I was on Sunday morning sitting in reception thinking if only we were staying more than one night…. and – huge gratitude to a broken computer – we were! So, Tuesday morning I took a photo of the instructions and asked reception to call a taxi and off we set. The instructions are long and detailed but eventually we worked them out and got valid tickets. The train arrived, very modern and clean… and very popular so we had to stand for the half hour journey. But nothing could dampen my spirits, my friend Linda had told me about her trip to Porto, the Port vine growing area and the Douro River boat trip so I couldn’t wait.

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(Higgledy Piggledy houses)

First stop, the computer repair shop. We had worked out it was near the metro stop, Casa da Música and there it was but we were five minutes early so we went back to the station and had a very nice coffee and (to celebrate finding the repair shop) a pastry (the pastries in Portugal are many, varied and very good and as far as I can ascertain not one of them is low carbohydrate but I will continue to check for you…)

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(Spring in Porto)

Then we went back to the shop and met a lovely lady called Monica (who spoke perfect English), by the time we left, Monica had taken the computer and promised to love it until it was returned to Denis and she also pointed out some interesting places on our tourist map. I wrote last year about how friendly and helpful the Portuguese people are but it bears repeating… Every single person we meet is happy to help, to speak English, to direct, to suggest, to chat. They seem to like Ireland and feel a certain affinity to the Irish. They too are interested in the stranger, the music and the gentle art of enjoying a pint. They just seem to like people and they are curious about the story.

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(Not all the trams say Jameson Irish Whiskey, but the one I was on did!)

Leaving the computer in capable hands we got back on the train, 90 minutes hadn’t passed so our tickets were still valid (by the way the cost of the 30 minute return metro trip and use of the ticket for 90 minutes? €2.75! You have to love Portugal) and we set off for the center of Porto. We got off at the Trindade station and easily found the tourist office where we met another really friendly Portuguese lady. We set off again with instructions on how to get to… the most beautiful bookshop in the world, a Meo (mobile phone – the wi-fi again) shop and the old tram tour.

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(Livraria Lello… possibly inspired JK Rowling?)

The most beautiful bookshop in the world is called Livraria Lello (Lello’s book shop) The photos I took don’t do it justice, so you’ll just have to trust me it is adorable. There’s a story that JK Rowling was inspired by this shop and the black capes of the students at the nearby University (she taught English here) when she wrote Harry Potter. I’d believe it. If you like Harry Potter you would love this shop. No one is buying books, they are taking pictures. Of the bookshelves, the staircase, the roof light window, the facade. So it’s probably just as well that they charge a €4 entry (that can be exchanged for part payment of any book.)

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(I liked the tram… it was Fear-less!)

We have to go back to Porto to collect the computer from Monica next Friday and that’s just as well because a day wasn’t long enough for this city. We had great food and coffee and I went on the old tram but we haven’t seen any port cellars or gone on the boat trip.

Step 5. Take more tram rides, Mairead.