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Articles Tagged ‘Porto’

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Fingering the Lace-Bones, Roads Not Taken, a Scrape with the Law

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

Before I left, I knew that there would be surprises, and that some would be unwelcome. Every journey has those. The trick is using those skillfully. Today I ran afoul of the Metro police and was threatened with a 77 Euro fine for my ignorance. Roads not taken: two places I wanted to visit were Obidos, the beautiful walled city that appears in every travel brochure on Portugal; and Tomar, where the Luso-Hebraic Museum is, a tribute to Jewish history in Portugal. I thought I could make them day-trips from Leiria, but it turned out that Leiria is in a different “district” and although each place was an hour or less from Leiria by car, it was impossible to get to them and get back in one day because of the bus schedules. On the other hand, Leiria was the home of the first Jewish printing press in Portugal, where books were printed in Hebrew. I know that from a book, not from finding any vestige of it in Leiria. Instead I found what I found, let go of the desire to see Obidos and Tomar, and had the adventures I could not have had if things had gone according to plan. Since meeting Paula Luttringer yesterday I have been letting myself enjoy taking pictures of walls–the textures, colors, interruptions, shadows, and shapes that appear on walls. In addition, I have finally been to the Atlantic, and I think it´s the first time I´ve ever been to an unpolluted stretch of the Atlantic. It smells just like a plate of fresh oysters. It´s clear, clean, icy cold, and it smells so wonderful I was tempted to drink from it. [read on]


Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

Rode a bus three hours north, through vineyards and pine forests to Porto. (Yes, Pam, I have a camera. I´m not taking hundreds of pictures, but I am taking a few.) I spent the day staggering around in Porto, which is vertical, so I´m either going up or down with every step. People walk faster here than in Lisbon or anywhere else I´ve been in this country. I had a bowl of the famous “Caldo Verde,” a creamy soup made with some kind of greens that are piquant, not bitter like most of our greens. It´s like eating mouthfuls of springtime. A street musician was playing wonderful music on his accordion. Businessmen in Porto wear their suit jackets over their shoulders without putting their arms in the sleeves (how do they hold them on?) and carry thin briefcases under one of their arms. Their shoes are highly polished and slightly pointy. Women come in every imaginable variety: rich and fashionable, poor and begging, tattooed, pierced, in black mourning, in short shorts and bra-tops, in khaki shorts and polo shirts, all jumbled together. My tiny fourth-floor walkup room in a Pensao (toilet in the hall, shower down on the third floor) has a single bed, a window onto a maze of tiled roofs, and a slanted floor, so when I am in there (so far only for about half an hour), I don´t know if I´m dizzy or if it´s the floor, or both. I´m dazzled, dazed, a bit sore of foot, surrounded by gorgeous tile decoration in the most unlikely places, laundry billowing above cobbled streets, the bustle and hurry of a CITY, and best of all I met a woman whose work may change my life. Seth said I would be blown away by Porto, and I am. [read on]