Port and patterns

in a great demonstration of dithering and procrastination, today I’m sharing photos from a trip to Portugal. But not our most recent trip there, from just the other month, but from our trip there in 2017. Partly because I’m struggling to believe it has been two years since we visited the Douro Valley, but also because it delays editing the photos from our recent trip!

So today we’re off to Quinta da Bomfim on the outskirts of Pinhao in the Douro Valley. We took a taxi there as the day before we’d done a bit of a recce and only made it part-way up the drive before realising we might have bitten off more than we could chew, especially in the temperatures which were freakishly high for October.

A view over the vineyards at Quinta da Bomfim in the Douro valley

But when we got there on our second attempt, it was well worth the views.

A pretty place to sit and enjoy the harvest of their labours

The views over the vineyards, of the terrace and the products, if you know what I mean.

port tasting

And with views like this it was hard to motivate ourselves for the long walk back.

a good way to enjoy the day

But eventually we did, and of course not before a visit to the Ladies, which, as I’ve said before, wasn’t quite what I expected for such a traditional surrounding.

diamonds, circles and red shoes of course

For a pattern lover, it was a blast though.

Tiled walls, tiled floors and panelled doors

It was the sort of place where you weren’t quite sure where the floor ended and where the wall started, though of course you’d quickly discover that if you walked a bit too far.

The way out

You can see how pleased I am with this loo discovery, or actually it could be down to the port sampling.

splashbacks, sinks, doors and me

And now this post is out of the way, who knows maybe I’ll even get around to editing some of those more recent photos…

Admiring the beauty of São Bento station in Porto

Arriving back at São Bento station after a week in Pinhão, neither of us were quite prepared for the grandeur of the station. You might be wondering why as we'd left Porto by train the previous weekend, but as our apartment in Bomfim was closest to the next station along the line, we'd headed there instead. That station was nowhere near as spectacular, but it was less distance for MOH to drag our luggage, see I really am good to him!

São Bento station is central to the old part of the town and was built on the site of a Benedictine Convent which had fallen into a state of disrepair. The first train arrived here in 1896 but the station wasn't inaugurated until 1915.  There are approximately 20,000 tiles in the mural which dates from 1905-1916 and each of the central panels represent work scenes of vineyards, harvesting, the wine shipment down the Douro and work in the watermill.  

And when I was looking at the beauty in front of me, I knew nothing of that. 

Take a look, they really are amazing.

a highly decorative sao bento station in porto
Breathtaking decor at the station to the douro valley
Douro on the ceiling at sao bento

I wonder if in years to come our tube and rail stations will have people like me taking pictures of them, and being in awe of their beauty?  Who knows, stranger things have happened!


Looking up in Porto at facades and roofs

Ah, just look at those blue skies - I was editing my photos and could almost feel the heat from our trip in October, either that or I had the central heating up a notch or two higher than normal. We've had blue skies here, but they've been distinctly lacking in heat haven't they?

I've already shared some of my tile pictures from Porto, and they are the most obvious part of its charm but as we wandered I was looking up and started to notice some strange going ons on the roofs of Porto. Like many cities many properties are unable to expand outwards, in London there's a trend to dig down, but it seems in Porto for many years the attraction has been to extend up. 

But not just extending, we also spotted plenty of roof lanterns, there's three in the photo below - and yes, you can only just see the top of the third, it was on a relatively busy junction and I didn't get too many chances to get the best shot and live to tell the tale.

Spotting glass roof domes as we wandered around Porto

I couldn't help but wonder what they were like on the inside. It wasn't long before we walked past our first facade, and in our short time there it turned out we would walk past many.  I had to do a double take to see where the rest of the building was, but the giveaway was the very top floor and being able to see the sky through the openings. 

building facades In Porto

Even with the graffiti many of the facades are still beautiful, and by retaining the frontage it's most likely what's led to the higgledy-piggledy-ness nature, which is spectacularly charming. I'm sure the recent years and hardship haven't helped many in Porto and of course for some the buildings will also fall into disrepair. 

There was evidence though of building projects which is always a good sign, we know that from redevelopment in London too. The hardship isn't restricted to any one area, although clearly some have been more affected and less affected than others. 

multi-storied buildings in porto with some interesting roof additions

There's a mix of materials used too, just look at the yellow, red and black building below. I think its unusual to have the darker colour at the top, but - and I know it's a smaller footprint - but it doesn't dominate does it? 

narrow streets and extending upwards

Even on the more touristy waterfront there's also upward extensions - my favourite part of the photo below is the pink drainpipe on the black roof extension - quirky isn't it?

Pastel building facades on the river douro front

Also on the waterfront, snuggled alongside the bridge over to Gaia was this small three storey property - obviously the colour caught my eye, but look at the tiles on the property next door.  In Porto, any colour, any tile pattern really does go!

A small and pretty yellow house on the waterfront

I lost count of the number of these shed-like extensions, many clad with corrugated steel, some weathering beautifully.

Extending upwards in Porto

I'm a big fan of looking up - and in Porto it really did pay it was much more rewarding than I ever expected it would, and we noticed parts of the city that I suspect passes many people by.