Sailing Long Distances

Porto – Bridges, wine, a bookstore, and night shots

November 2019
A ferry boat took us on the other side of the river Douro where we got on board of an old tram. The STCP, Porto’s public transport company, operates a large bus network that also connects the suburbs. Besides, there are three classic tram lines in service. The cars are even more ‘rustic’ than the old ones of Lisbon and date back to the 1940s. Especially the trip along the Douro with the tram line 1 is recommendable for Porto visitors. The speed of the cars is low on level roads. However, in the time of the conversion of large parts of the network from tram to bus around 1980, it became apparent that the old trams were superior to the new buses on steep inclines. 
The tram driver was busy while rolling along the narrow railway line downtown. He sped up, retarded and rang the bell. Once he stopped, got out, redirected a railway switch, got in and moved ahead. The old tram rattled and squealed. The seats looked like leather-bound. On the ceiling hang two glowers, modified with modern LED’s light bulbs. Must have been a great time when His Serene Highness Arturo sat in the car and talked to Senhor Arnie, the head of a winery, about a donation.
Porto is also known as a ‘baroque city’ because of its numerous baroque churches. We strolled around from the banks of the Douro on the slope, narrow, winding streets with dense housing that forms the terraced structure of the old town of Ribeira. The old town is very busy during the daytime, masses of tourists from all over the world meander through the streets. 
I did my best not to attend a group of tourists trotting like chickens behind mother duck, a guide, and maintained some distance to the people in front of me. For a moment I was able to cultivate my prudence for outsmarting when another group somewhere behind my back ambushed me. So it happened a few times. Curious who caught me now, I looked around and found myself in an army of Asians armed with selfie sticks, smartphones, and worshiping their narcissism. They were busy taking photos of each other and were gone soon. A little lighthearted for a moment, I stood amidst a group of Europeans following a tall rooster, sorry, a male guide, to Porto Cathedral. He spoke English, I couldn’t resist the temptation, just right for my ears, and promptly they thought they were misheard. The guide in his early thirties made a gesture with the right hand to the cathedral and said ‘Another church. It is complete nonsense to put so much money into old buildings, one should rather spend it on our children. Well, what do we see here?’ This is exactly the employee you like to recommend to competitors …Read More