We visited the local museum in Viana do Castelo, Sharon wrote some postcards, we took the short drive to Ponte de Lima and walked over the Medieval bridge with hundreds of school children on excursion,, visited another church,,, posted the postcard, and had a lovely dinner sampling some more local “green” wine. .
The streets and cafes were quiet in Porto this morning. We sat for breakfast in a deserted cafe that yesterday was buzzing and the waiter explained the country was on strike and with no transport, no people. Luckily we had a car and drove around Viana do Castelo, just to the north of Porto, visiting the beaches and the basilica on the hill above the town. A forest of eucalypts surrounded the Sacre Coeur inspired church.
We came across a public demonstration by the strikers against Government austerity. The organisers had set up a podium in the town plaza in front of the fountain where seagulls were having a drink.
They spoke to over a hundred supporters who held placards and waved red flags. We sat in the shade of cafe umbrellas and drank a beer and took bets on which of the seven organisers on stage would faint first in the heat as a man, he sounded like a politician, spoke for a long time in a loud voice. Only the true believers gave him their full attention and waved their flags and cried in unison as he rallied them. Many older listeners headed for the shade of the buildings and began to talk among themselves. No-one fainted and the speech ended with some stirring music and the crowd burst into song and some pumped their fists into the air.
The rally ended with the playing of the National Anthem and most sang along quite loudly and with gusto. Under the cafe umbrellas, a lady with a heavily lined face and thick red hair gave her seated companions a disapproving look and they stood with her until the music finished.
The keys on the iphone were making too much noise for the man in the green trousers to hear the anthem or for that matter any of the speeches and even after the crowd had headed home with their placards and flags over their shoulders, he still stared into his toy.
Afterwards, we shelled roasted peanuts and drank a beer celebrating the freedom of workers to strike in Portugal, a country that had a Fascist dictatorship until not all that long ago. Don’t teachers in Queensland have to ask the Government if they can strike for better conditions?
We sat in the hotel room and watched the SOO on the internet, and then hit the streets feeling pleased with our efforts on the field.
However, the call of “Queenslander” was needed quite a few times through the rest of the day as we walked first down then up the streets of Porto.
This is an intriguing city. I’ve read a little about Cuba and seen photos of how run down it is, and although there are no vintage American cars doing the rounds of Porto, the buildings here in the old town are in a sad state. But, there is work going on everywhere. Buildings are being renovated, streets are being repaved and when completed they well look grand again, albeit nestled next to some dilapidated four storey house.
People are great and I get many laughs at my attempts at the language. I was patted on the shoulder like an old mate at breakfast in a cafe when I gave the waiter my best, “Obrigado.”
We walked into a second hand shop that was absolutely chockers full of interesting things. I spied a piece of sheet music of the Tango printed in Porto in 1927. It had a fine illustration of a scantily clad woman on the front and I asked the 70 year old proprietor if it was her on the cover. Although the didn’t speak a word of Australian, her cheeky grin told me she understood.
“Four euros,” she told me and I didn’t even bother to haggle.
I would have spent a lot longer in the shop but when I knocked a blue plate onto the floor and smashing it into a 1000 piece jigsaw, I knew it was probably time to slink out. I held out a handful of coins for the Tango sheet and she took the four euros and one more for the plate. That was a fair deal. I didn’t even bother to haggle.
When we reached the top of the last climb, we rested in a park with a fine avenue of plane trees for some time.
The stall across the road sold some type of food which I’m not sure what it tasted like or did to you once inside but the name says a lot.
A photographic exhibition was in the old jail nearby. I saw a sign that said, “No photographs allowed.” This was a PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION!
Like all good exhibitions there is a theme so I submit my new theme for you, “Washing Day in Porto”. Enjoy.