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Portuguese People Are Friendly

Mediterranean culture leans towards social interaction in the real world. While most people look at their phone screens regularly, they love to talk. It’s easy to meet people and, with English as the second language in Portugal, easy to talk with the people you meet. In a park behind a museum, close to a college, I met some people on a path and photographed one of them before wandering into the museum.

Woman in Park

Portugal had colonies in Africa and had no issues with intermarriage. As a result, there are quite a few mixed race people everywhere you go. A young man in a newsstand spent some time chatting with me. The country is noticeably free of racism and people that we talked with were shocked at some of what is going on now in the US.

Man in Lisbon

On To Porto

Another train ride took us north up the coast to Porto, a city best known for the wine bearing its name. It’s a thriving area with an extensive light rail system (if only San Francisco had one system that covered the whole city…) It also is a city that still has the country in it, urban development hasn’t taken over everything. Just wandering from our apartment to the water (Porto is on a river), we found a path down a hill into a bucolic country scene between large commercial buildings.


There were cobblestone paths, stone walls, and centuries-old houses that lent a feeling of antiquity to the walk. Here in the states, it’s unimaginable that any neighborhood like this would be preserved when massive office buildings or apartment complexes could be built.


This wasn’t some area preserved for visitors, it was a neighborhood unto itself, with residents, laundry hanging, and probably some chickens wandering beyond the wall. Interest from residents of the houses indicated that there probably aren’t many travelers walking in the neighborhood.


All About Port

The port “houses” are on the other side of the river from Porto. Many years ago, wine in barrels came down the river from the highlands where the grapes were grown and stomped before being shipped to the city for aging and exporting. Now, trucks bring the wine here but the buildings have never changed. Set low along the river, there’s a gondola ride that gives an aerial view of the area.


Almost as if planned for photographers, there was a port house converted to a museum with photographs of the area dating back to the 19th century. The people in the photos were usually doing something or staring at the camera rather than posing, as the camera was an unfamiliar device to them. For 10 euros, you could spend all day in the museum and then walk across the street for the included glass of wine.


And Porto at night is beautiful. We walked across the bridge (which carries no traffic except light rail) to look down, stopping on the bridge to take a picture.