|Top left corner is Galicia.|
Today's post, however, is about a trip we took with our friends, David and Terri, to Porto, or "O Porto", in Portugal. Portugal is directly south from Galicia and is like a continuation in many ways. If you look on a map, you can see that one flows into the other, and, indeed, Gallego and Portuguese are "sister languages". For the most part, a speaker of one can understand a speaker of the other with very little difficulty.
But when I think of Porto, I remember tiled walls, a feature, I have to say, of any Portuguese city. (We went to a walled border town, Valenca, a few years ago, and were struck at that time, too, by the many artistically tiled walls.) Along every street, whether old or restored, buildings gleamed with colorful tiles. We stayed for two nights, and the day we arrived the weather was overcast, but that made no difference. In sun or mist or rain, Porto is a beautiful and colorful city.
|We stayed at what a brochure described as a castle, appropriately named Castelo de Santa Catarina. We've also been told it was a mansion built by someone from Argentina, who later returned to South America. It's a beautiful place, as you can see from the pictures below. There is a central crenelated tower that certainly epitomizes a castle tower,|
and also a separate chapel (which was typical of castles in olden days), but the rest of Castelo de Santa Catarina branches out in wings with tiled walls, and gardens at several levels. My husband and I both went crazy with the cameras. Below is just a sampler of what this amazing place looked like!
Neither Terri nor I could resist the opportunity in one of the gardens to sit with ancient pharaohs:
(Do you get the feeling they're ignoring us, though? That's just like those ancient pharaohs!)
The first day, despite overcast weather, we headed down to the river (the Río Douro), where the cafés and shops are. It was a nice walk from our lodgings, ever downward toward the river, and finally down a flight of stairs to the river level and the main wharf area—a convivial sight to say the least, flocking with tourists. Lots of handmade items in some shops. I picked up a few souvenirs there to bring back.
Before returning to Castelo de Santa Catarina, we had a really fabulous dinner at a restaurant close to our lodgings: It was an unbelievable meal, enhanced greatly by one of the servers who had a truly funny sense of humor. Here we are, having a grand old time at O Forno:
|Rajan, the server, Terri, and David|
|Me, Terri, David, & Rajan|
After our meal we returned to Castelo de Santa Catarina: And another artistic experience greeted my husband and myself:
|The breakfast room next morning.|
And with that, I bid you goodnight for now. Coming up: A wine shop, a river cruise, a school, and a fond farewell to what we will always remember as "The City of Tiles."
Meanwhile, is there anything else you would especially like to know about Porto? I'm so enamored of the trip I'd be more than happy to look it up.