We're Off to Santiago, Spain
This morning in Porto did not go quite the way we had planned it, but in the end, it was a really great day. Rain was falling gently when we left the hotel for the bus station. Prepared for a four hour trip to Santiago in northern Spain, we were informed the 12:00 bus was full and we would have to wait until 5:00. Feeling disappointed we had two choices: we could stay with our luggage for five hours at the bus station or trust the man at the ticket counter to watch our bags as he said he would. We decided on the latter and hopped a cab to the Palacio da Bolsa, a site we had wanted to see.
According to Rick Steves, the Palacio da Bolsa is a monument to civic and commercial pride in Porto. Touring this building was so popular that we had to take the Portuguese language tour just to get inside because the English tours were all filled. We visited eight rooms including an elegant court room made of heavy wood and the grand hall which had an intricate mosaic tile floor. Walking down one hallway, I noticed a couple giggling while appearing to take photos. I caught a glimpse of their phone and noticed that of all things, Pokemon had made an appearance inside the palace. They continued the game for the rest of the tour.
The tour was only 30 minutes long and I knew we had reached the grand finale when the doors opened to the last room and the people in front of me gasped in unison and gave a collective "ooh!" Known as the Arabian Room, it was decorated floor to ceiling In a Moorish style with wood, plaster, and gold in a lavish intricate design. It was beautiful.
Just around the corner is the Sao Francisco Church. Outside it looks rather plain but inside it is decorated with wooden and gold carvings, all of them very dark now from aging over time. Members of the church who were once buried under the floor are now buried in a series of catacombs under the church.
Our bus to Santiago in Spain was a large modern tourist bus. The countryside of northern Portugal is beautiful with mountains and tiny villages of white houses. We are now in Santiago, Spain. The time is one hour ahead of Portugal, but even though it's past midnight, the town is hopping. As for us, after a long day it's time to turn in so we'll be ready to explore tomorrow.