Scotland, Europe, the world
Any port in a storm: check out the terracotta lodges
'p, don’t 9 ug
Porto’s got port. It’s also got history, port, architecture, port, art, port, culture and, oh yes, port. You don’t have to get drunk to have a good time, but it helps.
Words: Miles Fielder
f you were to al’l‘l} the ‘w hen in Rome rule‘ to l’orto. )ou would be required to drink port wine. The locals sa} a line
quality port shouldn't be rushed. rather sipped slow I} after
a meal. Furthermore. port's such a pleasurable tipple.
apparentl} you want to go on sipping all night (w ith hangm er
arris'ing the following da). around 2pm. presumany ). There's a funny thing about all this: although l’ono is best known for its port production. \er) little port is made in Porto it is. in fact. tnade in Vila .\'o\‘a dc (iaia. a separate cit) on the opposite bank of the Rix er l)ouro (though it looks more
like a suburb). The other thing (this not so funny) is: most of
the (laia port wine lodges are foreign-owned. man} by British companies. And while were with the facts. if ya: join the names of the two cities l’onogaia )ou get the origin of the name of the country the} ’re pan of. ’l'hat's ltislt)t'_\' for you.
History's everywhere in Porto. from the do/ens of
terracotta tiled port lodges (if Sandeman‘s caped. be-hatted and tippling silhouette trademark looks familiar. that‘s because Orson Welles did a stint of ad\ertising when he was hard tip back in the 70s) through magnilicent buildings such as the mural-festooned listacao de Sao Bento (train station to _\ou and tne) and Baroque 'l'orre dos ('lerigos (a church with \'et‘tigo-indticing tower) to the medieval streets and seed) ttllc‘)'\\‘1t}‘s (in look onl_\) which wind leCpl} downwards to the riser area known as (‘ais da Ribeira. which is lined with bars. restaurants and clubs. It is here I hear the whispers: ‘llashish'." l'nfortunatel}. the dealer doesn't have enough teeth left in his head to convince me I won‘t be tipped off or actuall) be buying his own hardened nose snot.
liven through a port-induced have (be careful touching the sticky stuff at l lam. as I did) l’orto is an intriguing place. as you w'eas'e down those seedy alleywa} s. squinting at the old ladies rinsing the street's business from their tiny. near-sham} town homes. or play with the peacocks and cockerels that hang ottt in the sculpted gardens around the Palacio de ('ristel tall the crystal was removed during the war w it‘s now an unremarkable exhibition space). Whether attempting to cross
the \er} high. \er} narrow. \ irtualls handrail-free l’onte l.uis l tan iron bridge designed b} .\lr liiffcl) in high winds tit swzns a lot) or using to gain access to the sc. an austere fortress contrasting the cit} 's wealth of glorious architecture. the word 'picaresque comes to mind in er and o\ er.
.\'ot that gaw king at buildings and glugging wine is all there's to do in Porto: the place has got culture. (lo highbrow at liundacao de Serrahes. the cit) ‘s contctnpot'at‘} art galler} (I see a big lirancis Bacon retrospectise) which. with its sharpl} angular galler} and c\tcnsi\c. manicured gardens. suffers from the same problem as man} new galler} spaces: the building’s far more interesting than what's in it. Or _\ou could go low brow and pa} a \ isit to 'l'eatro 5a da Bandeira. a once grand. now dilapidated theatre ser\ing as a porn cinema-cum-ga} pickup joint in the llllL‘l'lltNHlN ltt zlllll. l’tH‘lt) was declared liuropean (it) of ('ulture. and work a new subwa) s} stem. the re—installing of trams that followed that award is still in progress.
:\nd l’orto is festi\al cra/_\. l was there attending the \er_\ friendl} l’antasporto International l‘iln) l5csti\al in l'cbruar}. You might coincide a trip with one of the other man} festi\als run around the calendar. (‘heck out sat) .loao (23 24 June). which celebrates the patron saint of lt)\cl\ with music tmakc a point of hearing fado: like flamenco btit more darkl} passionate). a marathon and general t'iolt‘} down at the Ribeira. l‘inall). when )ou're done messing )Utll'scll up. soak up the boo/e with local specialit} francesinha t'little l-‘rench thing' ). a hot meat sandwich smothered in cheese and hot sauce. llmmm.
.-\s the rttle goes: when in Porto . . .
Miles Fielder flew to London courtesy of easyJet.com. Book now at www.easyJet.com. For details of flights to Portugal try www.tap- airportugal.co.uk/
The dealer doesn’t have enough teeth left to convince me I won’t be ripped off
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