A nine hour slumber, broken several times by torrential rain. I awoke feeling rested and nervous about surfing. Thankfully surfing was in a pool. I played water polo for half an hour and got increasingly confused at to why we were playing water polo. Surfing then came. I stood on the board a few times but the lack of wax and tides made it more tiring than it should have been.
Sauna, steam room, shower, out.
A Dutch family were in the surf school. I saw the woman naked in the changing room. Mainland Europeans are much freer than we (or this) prudish island Europeans. They said that they found surfing hard and had explored a little.
Another girl goes to to the French school. She and the teacher recommended the Museum of Contemporary Art, or Serralves Museum (which sounds nothing like it is spelled. Portuguese is a curiously ridiculous language)
The sun broke briefly this morning. I then stepped out of the door and the rain was so hard that it bounced back up to my knees. The sun came out again while we were in the swimming pool and thankfully stayed glorious when we exited.
I walked briefly along the beachfront and then through the city park, the only city park in Europe which connect directly to a beachfront (so says my surfing teacher, and who am I to fact check to verify or falsify his claims).
A walk in the park is a walk in the park. It quite a lovely park. An attractive couple passed me, as did several joggers (surely making the most of the opportunity to jog outdoors for once) and small families. It was very quiet. Maybe the torrential downpour of the morning had left the Porto-guese ill-planned for the afternoon.
My surfing instructor said that Porto generally has really good weather and this rain is an anomaly. Paul told me that Porto is renowned for rain, and a taxi driver had informed him that September is the only time to come. Taxi drivers are a fount of all knowledge, but as a cyclist I am inclined to disagree with everything they say. My vow to never use a taxi again lasted exactly two days.
Through the park and to the contemporary art museum. I was told that I needed to put my bag in the cloakroom so I decided that I didn’t like contemporary art enough to be parted with my precious satchel.
Designed by Pritzker winner Alvaro Siza Vieira, it is one of the more attractive art galleries and modernist buildings that I have been in. He isn’t really well known, or known, at all outside of Portugal (and the architecture world). It would seem that architects need to build internationally to get worldwide renown, or to build something monolithic or magnanimous in a country that attracts the worldwide gaze more than Portugal. More than Casa de Musica, this should be Porto’s modernist draw.
From a masterplanning perspective, too, the Serralves wins, though maybe this is because much of its surrounding landscape is walled off from non-ticket payers. I grew up in the countryside, I refuse to pay for nature. Casa Da Musica, on the other hand, is an oddity on one corner of a roundabout beside a series of quite attractive (if only for their blandness punctuated with the odd charming building) thoroughfares.
An English couple stopped me. “Scusa. Which way is the museum?” It was nice of them to attempt some Portuguese to this very clear tourist (the camera is a giveaway) to only go ad give up after one word. Still, it’s the attempt that counts.
A slow walk down a hill to the seafront. Behind me, an English person spoke about how Sadiq Khan didn’t have the same council state experiences as he did.
The douro again with its vistas. An ambulance parked besides a bus. This building wasn’t on the map. I assume it’s a fancy home or a fancy port cellar.
The rain came as I walked up a cobbled hill to the “crystal palace”. Sandals had been a good choice for the day thus far, and I was pleased that my sunglasses were not a useless packing choice. I looked strange in my umbrella, sunglasses, and camera zipped underneath my raincoat, but this is the year of you do you.
The rain came down in torrents again as I trudged towards Casa da Music, longing for the dry. The dry came as suddenly as the rain, and I headed to a cemetery to celebrate. Portugal does good cemeteries. Some of the most important sculptures of the city are housed within the dead centre. I used the toilet (having had to run around downtown Boston for an hour looking for a toilet, I make a point of using nigh on any free toilet that I see). At least I enjoyed it more than these guys:
Spirits raised, I walked the three miles back (as Google maps said. I took 5 as I got quite lost) bringing my walk for the day to a distance that makes me glad that I don’t track my walking.