Sights of Portugal: the old buildings of Porto

“It’s a strange feeling. The feeling that I’m stuck, simply because I haven’t been travelling. My mum doesn’t understand, but even yesterday, over dinner, I told my husband how anxious I am to get out of here. When I’m this long in the same place, it’s almost like I can’t even have opinions anymore”

These were the words the one of the nicest hotel hosts I have met. I was in Porto for a short stay, on my way back home from Gerês, precisely trying to get rid of the same feeling, but still carrying it around with me. It is as people say – you can’t run away from your problems. And I cannot run away from myself.

Portugal is probably one of the only countries where the North is much nicer than the South. People are more open, more extrovert. They speak louder. They’ve got an accent that isn’t rigid and hard as my own is.

The they before, I had arrived around lunchtime. The hotel was much nicer than I had expected. So clean, so nicely decorated. The host was talking about Porto in such a proud way. She immediately said I was there for such a short stay. “It’s a small city, but I always tell people to give it at least 2 days”, she said, in her open manner. I explained how it wasn’t really my first time in the city. I had been many others before. She still draw up the best and most efficient itinerary for me.

All I wanted was to get some nice pictures of the city. I remembered the times I had been there, but was never alone with my camera, free to take my time as I pleased, free to take photographs without worrying with anyone’s boredom. Plus, I don’t want to hear “why are you taking photographs to this, just old houses…”

But I like old houses, buildings, decrepit. That’s what I liked most about Bucharest by the way. Porto is such a beautiful, old city. What could be ugly, is beautiful here. And I’m not even talking about the churches completely covered in blue painted tiles. What really fascinates me about Porto is its ugliness in contrast with its once beautiful buildings.

The ugly are ugly of old age. Instead of ugly, I would call it charming. As they say about Port wine, the older, the better. I can even find beautiful the vandalised buildings, as if decay and abandonment had a calling in this city.

And its contrast with the old art deco architecture, how badly it degraded as well, takes me back to the golden ages I did not live on. I’m a sucker for getting nostalgic for a past I did not live.

Are you also attracted to old things as I am? Can you find the beauty in the decrepit?

Love, Nic

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