Porto, the (half) forgotten city

18 July, 2011 § Leave a comment

Portugal for me means good food, custard tarts and port wine.

But as we descended into Porto airport, we discovered the country had a very different image. Soon enough we were immersed in the two contrasting personas of this unique city.

The riverside was beautiful and full of life. This was where you would find a fairground with a carousel, market stalls and several port wine cellars that offered tours and wine tasting. We tried the white port for the first time at the Calem cellars and couldn’t resist picking up a bottle (I considered two) to take home to enjoy some more!

Travelling around the city on a tour bus, we journeyed through cathedrals and churches, beautiful beach side resorts, and other tourist hotspots. There is even a giant toy spade sculpture at the entrance of a park!

The city was full of creativity wherever we went. Paintings and decorations were all over the mosaic walls at churches, houses and even at the train station.

Then the moment we walked down a side street, a forgotten city appeared in front of our eyes – poverty and abandoned buildings everywhere. No one seemed bothered about. In fact, it had become such a common feature that it had morphed into the architectural fabrics of the city.

The forgotten city had become a characteristic of Porto.

Standing in the middle of it all, you’d feel a sense of melancholy and helplessness. But there were also glimpses of love from the forgotten city dwellers – children playing on the streets; retired residents talking to each other and going about their daily lives; there was even an older woman feeding abandoned cats, slipping trays of cat food through the wall gaps of a run-down building.

It’s little gestures like these that make a city comes alive.

For the full collection, have a look at my pinterest board here.

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