Yesterday marked the last day of summer holidays for the Portoians – back to school, back to uni and back to work. So when we woke this morning and pulled back the curtains, we were met with a ghost town.
There are still tourists however… and we are two of them.
Today we had nothing planned, so decided to just wander to a few spots that we’d read about, hoping that they would be a little less crowded with the end of the holidays.
We wandered up the shopping street… this lovely bike was outside a craft shop… bless.
We made our way up to the Majestic Cafe – this spot has been here since 1925. It’s had its ups and downs, if you’re interested you can read about this history here. We thought it would be a lovely spot for a mid morning coffee, but so did about 6,000 other people….
It’s also said that this is the cafe JK Rowling used to come and scribble notes on napkins when an idea came to her.
The Majestic is on one of the main shopping streets in Porto… there were none that interested us much, except this one….
There is a lot of construction and renovation going on in the historic part of the Porto, so there are cranes and derelict buildings, fenced off streets and a lot of noise….
… but if it means getting back to it’s former glory – then do what you have to Porto…
This is not something you see every day in a cafe….
Our meandering around the streets took us to our next stop – the Livraria Lello – the Lello Bookshop. It is one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal and frequently voted as one of the most beautiful in the world. It is also said that JK Rowling used to visit here when she lived in Porto and was perhaps the inspiration for her writing.
These are not my photos below – they’re from the wikipedia website for Lello… there was no way for me to take such photos….
As this is as close to the inside as we got… that line when all the way down the street!
Around the area you can also see where JK might have got some of her ideas… This fountain of winged lions, Fonte dos Leões (Fountain of the Lions) or griffins sits across the road from the Lello bookshop and outside the university protecting the students – just like in Harry Potter – Griffyndor.
There’s another Portuguese link with HP and JK – in a small university town south of Porto called Coimbra there is a tradition where students where black robes just like wizards and another big one – the house of Slytherin in HP is the one that houses the evil doers belong to, so it’s not surprising that she named it after one of Portugal’s most notorious
rulers dictators, António de Oliveira Salazar (Salazar Slytherin)
For more interesting HP/Porto facts/coincidences – click here
After all this walking and looking, a sit down was needed. Dois pingo e dois cerveja por favor – otherwise known as a coffee and beer chaser.
The public transport is fab in Porto – there are the big double decker tourist buses, trams, tuk-tuks, the metro system, a funicular and a cable car – they’ve got it all!
So while we were sitting – this happened and I’m not sure how to feel about it. The ‘person’ on the left is a dummy attached to his shoes. From behind it looks like a real person and they look like they’re dancing really well together, then her head flicks around….
There is one thing I’d like to know about this building below…. what happens in the little window in just under the roof?
On our way back down the hill to our hotel we came across this sardine shop…
I loved the packaging and they offered tastings – it was set up like an old fashioned lolly shop. They had a tin for each year from 1916 – 2019 with fun facts of celebrities born in your year.
I share my year, 1971 with Tupac Shakur and Lance Armstrong – so that’s good to know…. and Me Jerry – 1947 shares her year with David Bowie, Johan Cruyff (a Dutch soccer player) and Elton John.
There were all different flavours and types of fish and you could even buy the ultimate – gold bullion sardines! You’d have to really love sardines.
Then right next door was this place that sold cod fish balls…
Which they served on these lovely little plates with a glass of white port… ingenious! I’ll be taking that to my next stand up party.
Here’s the last reference to HP – the myth is that this tower was the inspiration for the tower in which (spoiler alert) Prof Dumbledore meets his end – who knows if that’s true or not – probably only Ms Rowling.
We head off tomorrow, so today was our last day in Porto – don’t worry, a fridge magnet has been purchased.
Our favourite Porto things:
Me Jenny: “I do like the old buildings, as you know, the history and whatnot; I enjoyed watching the boats on the river, the tour to the Douro Valley and we’ve acquired a little taste for port that we didn’t know we had.”
Me: I loved the Douro Valley – the scenery was stunning; I loved our hotel on the river, watching the boats go past – I didn’t love the jet skis though; the old buildings, the cobblestones, the history and the port – so pretty much everything! Oh and our tour guides – they were fabulous.
I would say ‘Adios Porto’, but we’ve been told that it is too final, so for now we will say ‘Até logo’.