Without wishing to sound too highbrow, I generally try to avoid McDonalds. The last time I ventured into one sober was probably during my previous travels. However when urgent electrical extraction to charge my camera battery is required, the Maccies on Porto’s main square seemed the best bet. I discovered that it’s an absolute beauty with all sorts of Art Deco features intact from whatever the building was converted from. Quite a few people seemed to be going in just to take photos of the decor.
The afternoon was occupied with another stadium tour, the Estadio Dragao, home of FC Porto. Tour guide, Vitor (not Victor), is clearly a big football fan and was enthusiastic throughout. He explained everything bilingually, first in Portuguese and then in English. Perhaps he took the translation too literally by constantly referring to the Dragon Stadium in English! The Dragao is one of the better modern stadia. It’s perhaps a little generic inside but it is saved from being completely boring by its high roof that allows for great city views from inside the stadium behind the goals (if that makes any sense). If the worst of the new stadiums are referred to as MFI stadia, this one is perhaps IKEA. After the stadium tour it was onto the FC Porto museum. I’ve always has an admiration for a relatively small city achieving so much on the football pitch, twice being European champions. The museum was interesting, to say the least! The main room was round and dark, with trophies on display in the middle and television screens around the perimeter. It sort of resembled the war room in Dr Strangelove! In another section there were life-size sculptures of Porto’s greatest ever players including a particularly creepy model of Hulk. Just before the exit there was an exhibit celebrating when Porto beat Benfica in injury time during the last game of the season, to win the Portuguese league a couple of years ago. A security guard was stationed next to this and even if he is a Porto fan he must have grown to hate listening to the same two-minute commentary loop over and over again.
With a country whose most famous exports include Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe, ie. arseholes, it has been a pleasant surprise to find that they are not indicative of the Portuguese population as a whole. The staff in the hostel have been really friendly and on two occasions when I’ve needed to look at a map on the street, people have been keen to offer directions.
This evening was the opening night of the Primavera Sound Festival. The main version in Barcelona has turned into one of the best European music events and a second event has been added in Porto. Although the lineup is a bit watered down from the Barcelona edition, it’s still very good. There was no chance of ending up in the wrong location for this festival as the whole tram emptied at the correct station. Primavera Sound is located in a large park next to the beach. Yes, Porto has beach, something I only discovered when I saw it this evening. Granted with its views of the docks, it’s hardly going to rival the Maldives, but it has sand and a promenade. Upon exchanging my ticket for a wristband I had a bit of an argument with the bloke who was insisting on giving me a weekend wristband instead of a day version, misreading the English ticket. The festival layout was great. There’s loads of room with the stages being at the bottom of a natural amphitheatre so that everyone gets a good view. It’s a big enough setup to have a nice lineup, but not too big so that there are too many dickheads there. In line with the rest of Porto, alcohol prices were reasonable. €3.50 for either half a litre of lager, Somersby Cider (which for some reason seems to be all the rage round here) or (draft) sangria. Music-wise, Deerhunter were good. The main lure was Sigur Ros, one of my favourites. One of the lads of the Estadio Dragao tour said they were only playing new stuff but this wasn’t true and they were great. I’d have quite liked to have stayed to see Animal Collective but my alarm was set for 5.30am tomorrow, or later on today as it had technically become.