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Published: September 9th 2019
Long Queues At Lello
100 metres and never got shorter while we were there. We didn’t arrive at 9am and paid the price.
The best made plans never left the ground this morning. We were up earlier but it was 9.30 before we hit the pavement and decided to try to catch a met train.
These trains look more like long trams, and disappear into the earth as soon as you are over the river Douro. After that it’s 2 minutes before we are leaving Sao Bento Station to begin our walk to Lello bookshop. As we were already 45 minutes late for our intended 9am arrival at the shop, we called into O Forno, a modern cafe nearby, for a coffee. A staff member approached, placed his arm on my shoulder, and asked how we were, was the drink satisfactory, and wished us well. As we left the store, he saw us out of the cafe, hoped to see us again- obviously - and you do leave feeling better about things. This has happened a few times in Portugal; they are generally friendly, helpful people. Like the girl who explained the met system this morning, while other people were queued behind to buy tickets. I gestured for them to go ahead but no, they smile and tell you to take your time.
Try that in Melbourne, Australia.
OMG! The line to the bookstore was longer than yesterday. They have a staff member patrolling the queue to make sure people are aware you nEd a ticket; many didn’t, and the guy in front of us left his wife to buy a ticket and by the time he returned, we were near the front door. The ticket line is long and slow as well.
Once inside, you realise that it’s not going to be a perfect experience. You are shoulder to shoulder, couldn‘t really relax and look at books, so I picked a lovely small copy of For Whom The Bell Tolls, withered gilt edged pages and a page saving strap, a basic guide to the Lello, and threw myself into the current of people heading upstairs, where it was busier.
Look, it was worth the hassles, crowds and small entry fee. Very few people will experience the charm of this institution of Porto. I’ll read and keep my book, and remember how lovely this 1894 bookshop is. It lays claim to being the world’s most beautiful bookshop and no one has come forward to challenge them .
classical beauty of the Lello, we moved a short distance up the street to the opulent Church of Carmo. This really was over the top, and while I appreciate the reverent intentions of this adornment, this was too much. On a positive note, Sue noticed a set of keys on the pew behind us so I handed them in and hope somebody can trace them back. The positive note ? - the keys weren’t ours.
The standard Market visit was next, and we hoped to buy lunch and enjoy it in the nearby park. I sort of guessed our way there and as long as we went down hill , we were sure to make it. We reached an advantage point that looked down over the terracotta rooftops, domed steeples, and long Palace walls that are so common in Porto, worked out our bearings, and descended through extremely narrow lanes, paved in rough cobbles, interupted every so often by stone steps so deep that you had to turn side on to safety reach the next.
At some stage, I struck up a conversation with a young couple who had just walked the reverse Camino from Santiago to Porto.
Till bought for the original shop and still in use, 2010.
First till designed to provide a printed paper receipt .
I was interested in their observations as I’m considering making this part of a walk next year. They had started on tha Camino Norte so I figure they’re covered at least a thousand kilometres. The guy said he had walked 60 kilometres in one day to catch up with friends, as injury had held him back for 3 days. Big days are how you get injuries. They were very happy, looked calm and glowed with optimism , and that’s what the Way does for you.
The Market was a dud. It has been fitted out inside with box like structures that serve as clubs and bars. What is still recognised as one of the best examples of steel architecture in Portugal, is now unrecognisable, and is an entertainment precinct.
What we hadn’t bargained for was that this steep descent had placed us at the waterfront. The smell of the barbecue meat and fish, and the squarking of seagulls drew us down to the waters edge, where we devoured a late lunch of seafood, salad and fries, overlooking the river.
Its a different vibe down on the riverside, and market stalls- all selling the same cork products, cheap
jewellery, and souvenirs - buskers, and the constant flow of boats on the river, all contribute to a mellow carnival atmosphere that is repeated on the opposite bank. Rather than walk across the lower bridge, we opted for a river taxi loaded with a group of Americans, a few Italians, and two Australians- us. It was short and sweet.
It’s really too chilly for our boat ride today. The weather has dipped to 19° , but with forecasts of hotter tomorrow, we are checking out where to catch it tomorrow. Sue wanted to look at the market - yes, markets on both sides of the river - and I’m starting to worry about the weight of our luggage.
Against Sue’s better judgement, we rode the chairlift up to our accommodation and enjoyed the company of a young anxious Spanish woman and her very anxious mum. You board these things as they’re moving and once they leave the launching pad they mysteriously speed up. With 3 Nervous Nelly’s for company, all radiating fear, we rose higher towards the tallest pylon. I did alert everyone to a possible ka- chunk- ka- chunk as we crossed the wheels, but to my
surprise the fear gave way to pleasure, and I’m sure we’ll all do it again, happily.
Sue and I had coffee at the ‘local’ on our way home, and it was understated service, strong espressos, I ordered coffee with milk, and when I handed over 5€, the owner had to go to the secret freezer bag under the counter to get the change. 1€20 for two coffees is good value so we’ll be back.
Tomorrow is definitely boat ride day, and I’m sure we’ll spend more time, and money, down by the waterside.
I’ll be taking my scales.
Tot: 0.088s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 7; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0125s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.2mb