Back in July of last year (which was 2017 in case you’re reading this in 2098 after unearthing my old laptop from the strata of dirt beneath what used to be our house), Carolyn and I made the three hour drive up to Porto, where we we ended up just being drunk on port for four days and so don’t remember anything. Ok, I’m lying. We were only drunk for three days. The other day we were recovering from the first three so we could drive home.
Anyway, I made the trip again with two friends I originally met at Burning Man, Cale and John Lee. They drink a lot less port than Carolyn, so I barely got really, really drunk. Which was good because it was only a one-day trip and neither of them know how to drive on the opposite side of the road. Which is good because they don’t do that here, unless you’re on a motorcycle, or they’re passing you while continuously honking because you were only doing 100 miles an hour on the freeway.
After a nice sandwich lunch (it’s hard to find a bad meal in Portugal… unless I’m making dinner), our first stop was to a famous bookstore, called “Livraria Lello,” which means, “Yellow Bookstore.” Except not in Portuguese. That’s only in little kid language. Not sure what lello means otherwise. Maybe the founder’s kid named it when he was three after mistakenly thinking he was being asked what color his pee was when he was really being asked “What color it should it be?”
The signature decor was a massive staircase that went up all the way to the next floor, which, surprisingly, had more books.
It looked more like a library than a bookstore, except a library that prices all their books, isn’t quiet, has a massive staircase, doesn’t loan out books, doesn’t offer library cards, plus has an entrance fee. Although you get your fee back as a discount if you buy a book.
A lot of the books were actually in English (not that I can read that anymore), although of course the Portuguese language dominated most of the offerings. Nothing in French I could see, probably because they’re so rude. Nothing in Swahili either, because that’s only spoken in shithole countries by people living in huts.
I almost bought this book because it’s pretty funny, at least the parts I read after tearing open the protective plastic covering and setting off a bunch of alarms. But I didn’t buy it because I didn’t want to carry it around all day, plus I didn’t want to get mistaken for a doctor. Actually, Cale is a doctor, which made me feel better about his driving on the wrong side of the road. Anyway, I was intrigued with it because it highlights all the silly things people believe. And if you think whatever you believe is now so sophisticated and modern, trust me, in another 50 years they’ll print another edition. In that one they’ll highlight that some people actually ignored 98% of the world’s climatologists and thought the world’s climate is impossible to be affected by human beings. That, in addition to daily enemas, are the cornerstones of silly beliefs. Which is funny because with beliefs like that, who needs enemas?
It also had a stained glass skylight, which is perfect for a SWAT team to come crashing through if they used it in the movies, or someone steals a book.
They also had a very realistic display of a bunch of Portuguese kids. You can tell they’re Portuguese because they speak Portuguese (or would if they weren’t wax or whatever they were). Plus there are no blondes to be found. Plus we’re in like, uh, Portugal.
Trivia alert: Did you know that blond is for boys and blonde is for girls? And Blondie is only for comic strips.
This lady is in the back room working on her diary. So we took pictures in order to report her screwing off to management. Actually, she’s restoring a 100+ year-old book. It takes her about a month to restore the entire thing. She goes through each page, cleaning and fixing, etc. After they restore it, they throw it in a bonfire in order to reenact Tru- er, Hitler’s edicts.
Trivia alert 2: Did you know Portugal was neutral during World War II? It ended up being a strategic departure point to escape Europe. This is a big plot point in Casablanca.
Trivia alert 3: Did you know “Play it again Sam” is never spoken in that movie? All he says is, “Play it Sam.” Which is odd, because the piano player’s name was Horace.
The corner of this building is decorated by a rabbit made from trash found behind barber shops. You know, because that’s where all the hares are. Interestingly, the car is not a VW rabbit. You’d think it would be a VW rabbit-only parking zone.
We took a tram ride on, of all things, a tram. We were treated to a great view of the city, but mostly we just took it so we wouldn’t have to walk back up the 542 steps it took to get down to the river. Like Lisboa, Porto is as hilly as Kim Kardashian.
Because of all the hills, great views abound. Just not of Kim. Which is good, because I don’t particularly enjoy looking at her.
But I still had to take pictures of my companions to keep them happy.
Like so many places in Europe, a castle is a part of the skyline. Unfortunately, the knights are all dead, so it looks like it’s for sale (aluga-se means “say aluga” in Portuguese, which is their way of honking an old car horn because car horns are illegal in Portugal). Okay, I’m lying, it’s not their way of honking an old car horn. Their way of honking an old car horn is getting into an old car and being annoyed that you’re driving in front of them. And they’re not illegal. I’m reminded of that every time I drive.
Aluga-se actually means “for rent.” And the sign isn’t even for the castle. It’s for apartment below. Just cut a hole in the ceiling and you have a 24/7 view of a castle wall!
The trip showed me that while Carolyn and I are very excited to see lots of Europe, just because we visited someplace once doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go back. While I saw parts of Porto I remembered, I saw different parts of the city that I hadn’t seen before. Of course, it’s hard to see much through the bottom of a shot glass.
It’s a very pretty city, very clean, and definitely caters far more to English speakers than in Lisboa. Even the stop signs say “stop.” While that is also true for the rest of Portugal, the signs say it with a better accent there.
I’m pretty sure the sign on the right was erected by someone who just read this blog.
Anyway, the city’s climate is a little cooler than Lisbon’s, which is the main reason we didn’t settle there. That and we didn’t visit it until after we bought our house. When I saw it in a map I just thought it was showing where a very large wine store was.
So I’ll take her back sometime, and we’ll ride the tram and walk the boardwalk and probably see Douro Valley again, where the port originates. Maybe the lady will be done restoring the book by then, and I’ll get her started on my dog-eared copy of “Quackery.”