Porto is a fantastic city. It is typically overcast, some people do not like it, but I love its ‘dramatic and serious’ look as Rui Veloso puts it. Imposing, melancholic, even sad… but elegant. Full of class and history. It is the ‘invicta’ city as it was never invaded nor conquered and that fills the ‘Portuenses’ (Porto people) with pride and haughtiness.
The Portuenses have a strong and defined personality, agressive at times but that is only part of the charm. Despite that, they welcome outsiders like no others and puff up when Porto is said as being more beautiful than Lisbon – the eternal rival city. According to a lot of ‘Portuenses’ ‘the best of Lisbon is the road sign that reads Porto’! This is a common saying across its people – from the simplest to the most aristrocrat. Admitedly parochial they believe that Porto is a nation! It is arguably the most haughty and prepotent on how it relates with the South. Somehow the Portuenses feel constantly threatened and ostracised by the central power of the capital city. They assert this in a scathing way as much as they assert being the city that works more at the national level as a way of showing that left alone they would still be invicted.
Rui Veloso’s song ‘Porto Sentido’ is, to me, the best description of this city. Even though I am not from Porto, I have been living here for a year now, I have to admit that the line ‘and it is always the first time everytime I come back home’ is starting to define me. If I could choose one sentence to define this city it would definitely be ‘and it is always the first time, on each return, to see you again on that haughtiness of a buzzard wounded at home’ There are some areas of the city that no matter how many times I have passed there already, it still feels like the first time.
The river springs to mind. The Douro river is like the city – strong and imposing. It’s an important symbol of the Porto trading and commerce. It was through the river that the acclaimed Port wine arrived. The river has a strong and eternal presence… it’s like it knows of its own importance to the city. More than a collection of beautiful places, because every city has that, Porto is a city that stands out due to the striking personality of its people. It must be the only city in the world that in a 10-word sentence, 9 are swear and people do not take it the wrong way. On the contrary, they find it amusing and end up having a drink together.
Place to stay: Intercontinental (located in the city centre) or The Yeatman Hotel (located on the other side of the river, ideal for a more relaxing stay).
Author: Delfina Moreira
Pictures: Luis Chuva
Recommendations: Agata Lemos