domingo, 4 de novembro de 2012

Vintage in Porto.

Our vintage tours aim mainly for the unveiling of the past traditional Portuguese culture, with all of its ancient peculiar locations and sites, guiding us on a time travel back to the beginning of the 20th century; gathering the necessary to understand the history behind the old and the new commerce still existing, from the small local business that were passed on from generations, as well as newly redrafted stores that still resist the strength of time and economy. These are the references that reports us today, what the city once was.

The outset of the journey is at Lello bookshop, acknowledged as one of the most stunning bookshops of the world. There you can find a close tie between the Anglo-Saxon culture and Oporto, throughout commercial influence, architecture and the neo-gothic design. Another obvious stop nearby, is Rua das Galerias de Paris, where you'll observe appealing examples of nouveau architecture, and some insights of the aged, yet lovely ways of the city.

It's an interesting thing to realize how the town business used to settle on its singular organization. Oporto was always known for being a mercantile spot, but nowadays with the ascending expansion of the contemporary architecture, we slowly watch this ancient atmosphere vanish before our eyes, disconnecting us from our ancestor's and their inheritance.


Along our route, we will also find a place of great matter, the iconic Arcádia, the oldest artisanal chocolate factory of the city, born in 1933. It gets easier to sense there the non-turistic feeling, comprehending a timeline since the birth of the company, to the metamorphosis of the present times. For a delightful taste of it, have yourself a classic língua de chocolate (chocolate cat tongue), or a chocolate bonbon filled with Port wine.

From there, we continue our stroll to face some charming bookscouts, antiquarian book stores that summed up, over years and years of searching activity and book trading, rare works and interests from long past editions. These places are disseminators of a profound literary culture, from the multilingual existing works, to the endless diversity of subjects, and knowledge. Plus, the low price sales from the se burrows of wisdom, makes this experience even more

The next stop is all about vintage. Rua do Almada was once a brisk, vivid,  active commercial street with all kinds of offers for buyers; special in many ways, it stands out also for being the first straight-lined street of the city, from tip to toe. Today it's luster fade into old tool shops, ulterior design companies - and more recently, new wave, alternative fashion stores - these shop have every eccentric piece of clothing you might look for, from the 50's up 'till now.

Some are almost for free, some very expensive. Anyways, the vintage you may often find is most probably connected to our political background, which was deeply influential. Portugal lived under a dictatorship that came to an end only in 1974 - the fashion design from Paris and Milan during the 60's and 70's reached us several years later, and hence, in these stores you can still find the typical outfits worn in the times of oppression.
After a glance of the oldies fashion, we skip to one of the oldest premises of the town, Januário House, a small business in the historical center, where you can discover everything about baking and confectioning traditional Portuguese pastry, still using baking forms from three generations ago.


 Moving forward, we cross now the heart of the city - Mercado do Bolhão - older than the elders that still remain there selling groceries, older than their grandparents and the ones before them, this building was the zenith for grocers and fresh food and provisions, Home and job for many of the locals. But with the wind of changes and industry demands, the traditional commerce areas like Bolhão were soon replaced for hypermarkets shopping centres. That is the reason why the market is empty and lifeless most of the time, although some people are still trying to recover it's former spirit. Nonetheless, An undeniable cultural and social reference.

Passing through the south exit of the market, ancient colonial stores begin to appear in our way. Until the end of the dictatorship regime, there were sold exclusive products from the Portuguese colonies all over the world. Forgotten in time and memory, almost no one notices them - but, if you watch mindfully the facades, the color set and the interior design, we understand the presence of distinct exotic styles, some remitting us to Africa.

After seeing three stores alike the description, we arrive the grandiose Majestic Café, a place where the elites of the 20's used to meet for social gatherings - discussing politics, art, literature, and sharing ideas; and this, of course, imported from the French style belle époque. Worth giving a look for the exquisite nouveau architecture.

One of the last stops is Praça da Batalha, former stage of the city's social activity a long time ago - there, we find an antique cellaret with fragrant wine and helpful info on the typical wines and dishes from the north. Descending the same path, we meet pastries and cafés were every Portuguese likes to have proper traditional cakes and sweets. Brasileira Café will also be found, another iconic café founded on the 20's social gatherings, famous for the uncountable artists and writers whom once attended it.

At last but not least, we find a quondam barber shop still in function, a curious place that indeed makes us enter some other century. We end our tour at Estação de São Bento, one of the most relevant places for the locals, past and present.


"My heart shall remain in Porto".
Humberto Delgado

Text by Henrique Guedes/ Pictures by Ricardo Castro
Nov 12

Sem comentários:

Enviar um comentário