Porto, Portugal

Ladies wait for a taxi in front of a wall of Portugese azulejos.

View over Porto from the cathedral
Impressions of Porto:
Tall buildings with high windows look out to the sea, past the Douro River and out to the Atlantic, like the homes of Amsterdam - and there's a grayness in the alleys akin to London - yet the architecture resembles most closely that of her neighbor Spain - though Porto is grittier.  The grittiness was seeping around even the center of the UNESCO touristy area of sights and pretties and tour buses...I accidentally came across a seedy area by taking a shortcut, one turn into a narrow side street and there was a man sprawled out on the pavement in his own urine, and a corner with a line of desperate faces along the wall...waiting in line for...what? smack? any drug? some sort of illicit substance - from the faces of the people in line, I guessed heroin.  Other guys were lookouts and were clearly looking down the alleys for possible police I guess, like some kind of European adaptation of a scene from The Wire.  And then past the sketchy drug dealings and swoop, go up 48 stairs into another level of this city on a steep hill rising up from the river and you're once again at a nice clean wide boulevard - with new high-end hostels and restaurants pushing out ancient brothels.  It's forever been a port town and so it feels that it has the roughness of hosting sailors for centuries.  Plus, well...it's pretty and small enough to easily walk around.
Under the bridge...

Some sort of pop-up community event near the hostel

FC Porto scores.

PK goal
Before the match, I tried asking a stranger in my broken Portugese whether or not beer was available for purchase inside the stadium.  At first, when I walked up to him and said something along the lines of "Excuse me, can I ask you a question?" he didn't even look at me and kept walking like he was highly suspicious that I was a ruffian trying to abscond with his money.  It was startling how rude he was.  But as soon as he heard my reasonable question, "Do you know if they sell beer inside the stadium?" he became instantly friendly and explained that they didn't sell beer in the stadium and pointed out across the street where we could throw some back before entering.  It was just surprising how defensive he was to a stranger coming up to him...I think indicative of the higher number of folks hustling on the streets compared to other western European cities.

Fans celebrate.

One of the most beautiful bookstores in the world with an amazing interior, Livraria Lello and Irmao supposedly inspired Harry Potter author JK Rowling who once lived and taught in Porto.

The interior of the Church of São Francisco is lined with over 600 pounds of gold.  I've seen a lot of European churches and the lavish opulence and style of this one is way unique and worth the admission fee.  A guide told me that when invading forces came to Porto centuries ago, (Napoleon's or Spanish - can't remember), the priests painted over the gold so the invaders wouldn't realize its value and they left it be where it still is today.

In the crypt...

View from across the river

I never developed a taste for Port wine; I still think it's awful.  But the white wine and vinho verde is sooo good (and cheap).
Here's a lunch bill split with a friend showing off my cup of wine (vinho copo) for only .75 cents.

More azulejos in the train station

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