September 27 2015
Initially, I had planned a trip to Porto to visit a friend for 3 days, and ended up staying for more than a week. Porto had more to offer than I expected.
The city has an amazing vibe, not too touristy, and not too dull—though some parts, like Gaia, across the river are eerily abandoned. During the days, my friend took me to the best local places to enjoy fresh fish, to the modern art museum Serralves, to the beach (west coast = best coast), to scenic vista points (there are plenty, since the city is built upon hills), to the architecture department of the university, to Casa da Musica, and out in the old city. Every day we hung out at Passeio das Virtudes just to look out onto the river Douro, and west to the sea.
Most buildings are abandoned in the old town and not taken care of, since people have been leaving the city for better infrastructure in the suburbs (at least that’s what I’ve been told). Nevertheless, the streets are vibrant, but it took me a few days days to notice that. Many of the newer architectural interventions look starkly out of place—the OMA-designed Casa da Musica looks like a meteorite fallen from the sky.
Despite all that’s new, for the most part, Porto looks just like it does in old photographs and paintings. It is filled with a bucolic old magic that made me wish for a home there, at least just for a while.
Angela Blumen is a designer based in Stockholm.