Last Days in Porto

Dick and Andrew left us on the 19th of July and we have seven more days to explore Porto on our own. One day was spent walking the Portuguese Camino which we have already written about. After they left in the morning we headed for the Pálacio de Bolsa, also called the Stock Exchange Palace. The earliest tickets we could get were for 1:30 so we walked back up the hill to see the Carmelite’s monk church and the “hidden house”.

We came across this pretty park with fun sculptures.
And these strange trees.
Carmelite Churches, Nun’s church on right, Monk’s church on left. “hidden” or narrow house in between them.
Interior of the Carmo (monks church) built in the 18th century is an amazing example of baroque architecture and like the Carmelitas Church it has rich rococo style gilded wood carvings.
“Hidden” house was built to make all contact between the nuns and the monks impossible. Possibly inhabited by the bell ringer or caretaker.
Living room of narrow house. As you can see the rooms become wider as you go deeper into the building.
The staircase is in the narrow front section of the house which is only 1.5 meters wide.
One bedroom house.
Very basic kitchen
Church Organ and vaulted ceiling
Do you know how many relics of “the True Cross” we have seen?
We climbed the tower and went up on the roof via a one person wide staircase. It was a bit scary.
And not much of a view, but if it is climbable we do it.
The Bolsa Palace located beside the St Francis Church was once part of the church Convent. A fire destroyed the building in 1842 and Queen Mary II donated the ruins to the merchants of the city who used it to build the seat of the Commercial Association now known as the Stock Exchange Palace which is a designated World Heritage site by UNESCO.
The central courtyard is covered by a large octagonal dome with glass panels.
Our guide was very funny and quite animated. She began by welcoming us to Porto where she said you either get fit or fat because of all the hills. She then patted her stomach and said I got fat!
Tiled floor of Central Courtyard
View of Infante D. Henrique Square from the Palace window.
One of the State Rooms.
These beautiful doors open up to what the guide referred to as the Wow room.
The highlight of the Palace is the Arab (wow) room decorated in the exotic Moorish Revival style. It is used as a reception hall for visiting dignitaries.
Jim has seen way too many Palaces as you can see by the look on his face.
He does enjoy eating though, so we cut the tour a bit short to make the last serving in the Palace dining room.
Port wine with dessert is mandatory.
We went to a great Banksy exhibit in the Porto Customs Center which included more than 70 original works by the British graffiti artist whose identity remains unknown.
There are a lot of rumors about Banksy’s identity and a few times there were reports that someone took his photo or the journalists uncovered who he really is… but the truth is, so far, he has managed to remain incognito.
We have stayed at Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Palestine. It is advertised as having the worst view in the world as it is situated looking out on the West Bank wall erected by Israel. This barrier is a contentious element in the Israeli Palestine conflict.
Doorman at the hotel.
We actually sat at this exact table
March 22 2018.
Jim’s most religious experience in Israel was touching this wall.
this is the picture from the exhibit
Here is a picture of the wall that we took in 2018
During a Sotheby’s auction in 2018 this Banksy painting entitled Girl with Balloon sold for $1,400,000, then the crowd was shocked when a shredder that Banksy built within the frame activated as soon as the sale was complete partly shredding the piece up to the balloon. It was then retitled Love is in the Air and in 2021 nine people battled for 10 mins before it was sold for $25,000,000.
View from the window of the building the exhibit was in.
Porto has an excellent public transport system. We took the train but opted to walk instead of taking this tram.
We walked up many stairs and steep hills for these great views
Sometimes the grade of the hill is so steep that Porto has installed escalators. See video below.
This is the delightful Crystal Palace Park which has beautiful landscaped gardens and peacocks. The funny video above this photo shows children having a picnic that the peacock tried to join in on.
We saw baby peacocks also.
Man pondering hen.
interesting birds
Love is in the air.
The park sits on a hill giving great views of the Douro River and Gaia on the other side..
Being romantics we of course had to go to The Romantic Museum which is the mansion of Charles Albert of Sardinia and where he spent the last years of his life living in exile before dying of tuberculosis in 1843. The day we went, unfortunately the rooms were closed so we only got to see this special exhibit on the first floor.
Intricate inlayed table.
After the visit to the museum we had a tasting menu lunch with wine pairing in the garden of the mansion.
Another run along the river with a good view of the Gustav Eiffel bridge.
We lost count of the hundreds of stairs we climbed in Porto
See the angle of these sidewalk tables. If you drop your bread it will roll down the hill.
The Museo Misericordia in Porto has ties to a charitable organization that cared for the infirm, sick and poor. The first room had this cone structure in front of the window giving a zoomed in view of the Porto Cathedral
Orthopedic surgical instruments
Syringes to insert and irrigate an ear to remove wax. They do not differ much from what we use to this day. We have done this procedure on ER patients many times.
Straight jackets used for the mentally disturbed. Sandy thinks she remembers them in use when she did her nursing psychiatric rotation. YIKES!
Church of the Misericordia Museum.
When in Porto of course you have to do a Port Wine tasting tour at one of the storage facilities in Gaia.
We were advised that Graham’s was one of the best.
We tasted six different ports at the end of the tour.
Also had lunch there.
Music Hall of Porto is an amazing building dedicated to all genres of music.
Inside and outside staircases of the Music Hall
While cemeteries might not make it onto most tourist’s bucket list we are always up for visiting famous ones.
The Agramonte Cemetery in Porto is well worth a visit. Originally built in 1855 to hold the victims of a cholera it has magnificent mausoleums and numerous sculptures and is the resting place of a number of eminent Portuguese figures.
The chapel has beautiful paintings by an Italian artist.
Very old burial vault
A peak inside a couple of family Mausoleums
We like this photo which shows the contrast of a modern city building overlooking an 1839 cemetery.
And now we are off to Munich

We were very happy with our time in Porto. We would not have been able to tolerate our usual three months per city as it is too small for that. The 2½ weeks we stayed seemed just perfect. We feel that we covered the highlights based on our interests. For beach enthusiasts there are some beautiful beaches about six miles away.

5 responses to “Last Days in Porto”

  1. Great blog on Porto….you covered an amazing amount of history, culture and art in a short time. Pretty Glam picture of you two on the opening page!!!

  2. What a well dressed couple at Charles Albert’s house. The food and view looks amazing.

  3. Another fascinating place to visit. I really enjoyed reading your blogs and they motivate my day to do research on places to visit around the world. We will make our way to Porto soon. Our bucket last start get longer and longer, and our time to travel gets shorter 😅thank you for sharing Jim and Sandy🙌 Stay well and happy travels 🙏

  4. Jim, your blogs are always so interesting. I saw Banksy in LA a year ago. I found his exhibit fascinating. Sort of a fist banging sermon about our cultural failures. The anonymous nature is so powerful.

    I’m off to Australia for 3 weeks to visit our closest friends and share Terry stories and some good wine. Calvin and Terry co-wrote the last book Terry published in 2014 and his wife is a professor at U of Queensland who as a n extracurricular activity has devised a high school program to teach critical thinking.

    Be safe and keep up the stair climbs😎

    1. From Donna Steen. Enjoy your 3 weeks in Australia!

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