Today was overcast and possibly rainy. There was an optional tour to go from Porto to Guimoraes (pronounced Gee-mor-esch) or do a Douro River cruise to taste the wines of the area. With the potential of rain in the afternoon, we all opted to go to Guimoraes for a morning visit led by our guide, Romina.
This incredible town is filled with historical buildings and narrow streets (like most of all the Portuguese towns), and of course, a castle.
We had some spare time after visiting the castle and decided to walk up Santa Catarina Street, a walking street with beautiful sidewalks (all over Portugal) and a mall that mimics the streets of old Portugal. We didn’t spend much time there but enjoyed seeing the incredible church covered with painted tiles.
In the afternoon, we decided to return to central Porto to visit a bookstore that is quite famous. This is no average bookstore, that’s for sure. From the outside,
it is pretty unassuming. However, there was a long line to get in and an even longer line to buy the $5 EU admission tickets (for a bookstore?). We got in after about a half an hour, wondering what the fuss was about. Once inside, you know that although this bookstore has thousands of books, it is the design of the store that is intriguing. One of the young men helping funnel people in the line was dressed right out of Hogwarts and was a Harry Potter look-alike!
Once inside, you see two stories of beautiful wooden bookshelves, filled with books. It is the main stairway that everyone photographs, as well as the stained-glass skylight. There is a whole room with all the volumes of the Harry Potter series and a glass case housing signed first editions of several of the books. It is definitely a must-see…
From the bookstore, we wandered around the area, marveling at the beautiful buildings, the statues, and even the McDonald’s, which is filled with chandeliers on the first floor of one of the lovely old buildings. Of course, we had to stop in to gawk. Afterward, we decided that a cappuccino and another pastel de nata were in order. Oy vey… my waistline!
We had a late lunch at a restaurant near the stock exchange. The menu was very interesting but we decided to order the special of the day. It was a pork dish with a delicious sauce, surrounded by cabbage and carrots, sitting on a bed of potato wedges and roasted chestnuts. Wow! It was amazing. I don’t know if it is a typical dish of Porto but I hope to make it once home.
Here is a shot of the local Porto bicycle police. We could use a few of these guys!
Time to get back to the hotel and get a good night’s sleep for our next day of touring.