The four hour bus journey from Santiago to Porto actually took rather longer, but it did include the opportunity to have my picnic lunch under a tree in a motorway service station car park. What was surprising was that the bus dropped us at a random, not-in-the-centre-of-town square rather than at a bus station, which you would rather assume the second largest city in Portugal to have.
I spent some time trying to work out where I was on the bus map at a nearby stop. Strangely, the woman at the same stop who I asked didn’t seem to have any clear idea of where she was either. Luckily, a young woman at the stop across the road spoke English and knew where she was and was able to point me to a bus route that ended close to my destination. The hostel I’m staying at is lovely, with decor that wouldn’t look out of place in World of Interiors magazine and at half the price of the dubious wifi-free hostal in Ponferrada.
The historic centre of Porto is very hilly and right on the bank of the river. The UNESCO website says it is an outstanding urban landscape with 2000 years of history. It has a Romanesque cathedral (one of the oldest buildings) churches and municipal buildings from subsequent periods, a segment of the city wall and narrow streets and stepped alleys full of old houses.
The town has a grimy down-at heel feeling to it and there are more than a few semi-derelict houses in the old town. This could well be down to a contraction in population numbers suffered by the centre a few decades ago. The city also seems to be fast approaching the Shoe Event Horizon.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t like the place, it certainly feels old and characterful, but it is generally not picturesque. There are however some nice bits of Art Nouveau detail on some buildings in the area just north of of the old town an a lot of buildings have tiled facades which in the case of churches in particular can be quite elaborate:
My Lego model is of the facade of the cathedral:
Once again I’ve had to take some liberties to fit my limited kit of parts: