Just a few steps from Ribeira’s lively waterfront is an unassuming green square called Jardim do Infante Dom Henrique. With an even more unassuming statue.
So unassuming, in fact, that I don’t remember it at all. But Uncle Google just informed me that it’s Henry the Navigator. The one and only, who pretty much kickstarted Portugal’s maritime empire, colonial power and Age of Discovery. Very fitting place for his statue, as he’s surrounded by three buildings that, for me, ideally portray Portugal’s grandeur past.
Bolsa Palace has got to be the first. Former Stock Exchange and a representation of power for Commercial Association of Porto. Ironically, it was built in 19th century, not long before the whole country was declared bankrupt. Twice.
While that is interesting and all, it were the pictures I saw online that made me wanna visit it in the first place. And shoot some myself. Unfortunately, our guide – a guided tour is the only way to see Bolsa Palace – didn’t share my enthusiasm for running around looking for angles and staying behind the group. Not sure why;)
Few steps away from Bolsa Palace, built only around 40 years later, and yet completely different style and a representation of iron period in Europe is Mercado Ferreira Borges. Surprisingly elegant, with its original red construction and modern grey elements inside.
The last of three previously mentioned buildings is Igreja de São Francisco. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures, as photography is prohibited there. But I do have a special message to the lovely malcontents I met there: yes, I also have seen something like this before. Compañía de Jesús in Quito, to be exact. But a lavish, completely gold-covered church interior is still not something you see every day. Think how many earrings that would make.
There is another building worth wandering into – Photography Museum located in a former prison with vintage mini-cameras, thick stone walls, barred windows and dark corridors. Where around every corner it’s just as likely to see elegant conference room in lovely light colors, girl in an optimistic polka dot blouse staring at you from a picture or a mysterious boy with sad eyes.
Being so close to Atlantic ocean, it seemed a shame to miss it. To get to Foz do Douro I took the shamelessly touristy old tram from just in front of the previously mentioned lavish gold church. While pretty and old – the tram I mean – nothing beats Lviv’s falling apart vehicles moving at snail’s speed.
To even things out, after some walking around and a spectacular slip&fall on a slimy pier that left me with a bloody hole in my hand and dripping water with every step, I took a completely not touristy Flor de Gas across Douro River. It’s a small boat taxi to Albufeira that allows you to admire the estuary from a different perspective, while cooling yourself in a lovely breeze with just a hint of burning gas powering the engine.
My goal for that day was to finish it, and my whole trip to Porto, with a sunset in Miramar. Another place I found scrolling through pictures of Porto, this time on Instagram. An idyllic little town a short train ride from Porto (though from Albufeira, the way I went, it took some asking around) with a picturesque tiny chapel sitting on top of a tiny rock hill, which itself occupies a place where the cold Atlantic waters reach sun-heated sand on Miramar’s beach.
As this is the end of my trip and my choice of pictures (as I took 1,400 of them, believe me, it wasn’t an easy choice), I leave you with a quick glance at often slightly run down, but definitely not lacking in character, Porto’s streets. And a tip: if you have to walk down just one, Rua do Almada is a solid choice. A close second for me would be a seemingly deserted Rua do Bonjardim.