All posts by Ricardo Brochado

Porto’s Harry Potter Urban M ...

J.K. Rowling lived in Porto for only two years, but it was enough to create a lot of urban myths that entwine Harry Potter and the City. 

In 1991 Harry Potter’s “mother” arrived Porto to teach english and it was here that she, in her words, «… wrote what has become my favourite chapter in the Philosopher’s Stone, “The Mirror of Erised”…». I’m convinced that Porto had a great influence in her life, but are the urban myths just that or they have some true in it?

1. Lello bookshop as a inspiration to Flourish and Blotts and the Grand Hogwarts Stairway

There’s a popular theory that Lello bookshop in Porto was the inspiration for Flourish and Blotts. If you see it in the movies or in the video games, you will think this is not true, except, only for the books on the shelves and even that…

Also, the amazing red stairs as an inspiration for the grand staircase in Hogwarts. If you look at the pictures you will see no relation, because in Hogwarts the flight of stairs is straight, while Lello’s are circle shaped…

I’m not saying that J. K. Rowling wouldn’t be inspired to create something after seeing the bookshop that was considered the third most beautiful bookshop in the world by The Guardian and Lonely Planet, and one of the coolest by Time Magazine and CNN.

Lello's Bookshop Staiway which might be the inspiration to Hogwarts Grand Stair

Lello’s Bookshop Stairs which might be the inspiration to Hogwarts grand staircase

2. Writing on Majestic Café or Lello Bookstore

People say that J. K. Rowling wrote the first draft of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on a napkin in Café Majestic. We are talking about a belle époque café that has, waiters with bow ties, and linen napkins, so this doesn’t make sense. Rowling lived on a very tight budget, while in town, and, back in 1991, life was difficult for her as it was for locals. Believe me when I say that the Majestic was already one of the most expensive places in town to have a coffee as it is today. If, nowadays, you pay four times more for it than in a regular café, back then it was more or less the same.

Also for Lello bookstore, there was a time when they would serve tea and coffee, but that was in the early 2000’s and only for a year or two. Also the tables were very low which would make writing very uncomfortable.

I write all the time in cafés and I wouldn’t choose the Majestic to do it. I would believe easily that she would write in Âncora D’Ouro (aka Piolho), and it was very usual to find people writing over there. Also, close to the school where she worked, there were some nice cafés with free napkins.

The beautiful Majestic Café

The beautiful Majestic Café

3. Porto’s student’s uniform

If you roam through the streets of Porto, you will probably scrub your eyes, thinking that you landed in Diagon Alley as a group of cloaked shadows pass by. Don’t be fooled, they are college students and they are wearing a uniform that is similar to the ones that you can find in the Harry Potter series.

When I was studying I used it and we were called “bats”; nowadays people call them Harry Potters.

Porto’s college uniform is related to Praxe Académica, a tradition century’s old in Coimbra and introduced in Porto on the 20th Century. It’s composed of a ceremony suit and a cloak that protects the students from cold and rain.

From September to the end of May is very common to see students dressed like this on the streets, although not everyone uses it. It’s a choice to be part of this tradition.

Also, Porto students use crests sewed on their cloaks and each course uses a different color to better differentiate from each other. A little bit like what you see in the movies with the Houses colors, although you won’t find this reference in the books. However, Rowling was also helping with the screenplay…

I find it very natural that Rowling was inspired by these suits to create Hogwarts uniforms, so for this I would say yes.

University students from Arts college.

University students from Arts college.

4. Is Fonte dos Leões and inspiration to House Gryffindor?

There’s a new urban myth in town stating that Fonte dos Leões, the Lion’s Fountain is the inspiration for House Gryffindor. I overheard it a couple of days from a guide on the street and I thought about it.

Everyone believes that the creatures depicted are lions and some local authors, on the web, say that they are gryphins. So, looking closely they are not gryphins because they lack the eagle’s head and talons. It’s a lion with a small mane and wings of some bird, so basically, it’s a winged lion like Venice’s symbol that you can find everywhere in that City.

I’m sure that J.K. Rowling studied her mythology and wouldn’t make a rookie’s mistake like that.

By the way, there’s a gryphin everywhere in Harry Potter’s movies, at the entrance of Dumbledore’s office…

Lions Fountain in Porto

Lions Fountain in Porto

5. Is Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar the inspiration for Salazar Slytherin?

Although a lot of people believe that J. K. Rowling stated that Salazar Slytherin’s name was inspired by Portugal’s dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, it was Professor Christopher Rollason that mentioned this on his article “An English teacher in Porto: In search of Joanne Rowling”.

Below I transcribe part so you can judge by yourself:

“…evident reference to António de Oliveira Salazar, the fascist dictator who ruled Portugal (officially as Prime Minister) from 1932 to 1968, and one of whose most notorious policies was deliberately to maintain his country’s illiteracy rate at a level quite anomalously high for Europe. Joanne’s years in Portugal, then, furnished her with a suggestive and suitable name to bestow on an avatar of evil – for which circumstantial connection, of course, the amiable and hospitable Portuguese people should not in any way be blamed, while we may also recall that the Harry Potter books, with their well-attested track-record of enticing children back from the flickering screen to the pleasures of the written word, have had an effect quite contrary to the anti-literacy strategies of the Salazars of this world.”

Salazar ruled as Counsel’s President from 1933 to 1968 and not from 1932 as stated by Rollason.

It is possible that the inspiration is correct but, unless J. K. states it, it’s no more than a supposition.

Portugal's dictator António de Oliveira Salazar

Portugal’s dictator António de Oliveira Salazar

6. Harry Potter Broomstick’s inspiration is from Escovaria de Belomonte?

As from 2016, the first time we heard about it was in February,  Harry Potter’s Broomsticks like the Nimbus  2000 and all the other ones were described after J. K. Rowling passed by Escovaria de Belomonte. Like all the other myths mentioned above, it lacks official confirmation and it looks like its everything is possible when it comes to Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling presence in Porto. 
However, the brooms and the shop have something that oddly fits the movies and books.

Do you know of more urban myths relating Harry Potter and Porto? Share your thoughts and doubts.

Starbucks in Porto, threat or oppo ...

2015: Starbucks is going to open in Porto and its creating quite a buzz. Is it a threat to coffee business in Porto or simply a way of stating that Porto’s coffee is one of the best in the world?!

Porto is one of the hotspots in European tourism and every day is raising up the notch so it’s understandable that big chains like Starbucks want to be present.

Locals are not very happy with the perspective that a brand that desecrates coffee is invading an authentic and unspoiled City. However we have to think as a big opportunity to show that Portuguese coffee is excellent and that Starbucks is a trend that can easily be overshadowed by the excellence of a good Portuguese blend.

Art Deco vitral celebrating coffee at Mcdonalds Imperial Café in Porto.

Art Deco vitral celebrating coffee at Mcdonald’s Imperial Café in Porto.

Not being a coffee producer, Portugal benefits of the influence of its former colonies to get the best coffee beans to create amazing blends. From Africa, Asia and Brazil we have supplies that help local brands to create a good blend at a fair price, ranging from 0.50€ to 1.50€, and truth must be said, you get amazing coffee for the lower price.

In Porto and in Portugal if you ask for a Café, you will get a perfect espresso. The term also relates to a meeting, with friends or just for business. Also, if you go on the street, you will find a lot of Cafés, our bars, where you can get everything, including coffee.

Tile mural by at Café Sical in Porto

Tile mural celebrating coffee by Júlio Resende at Café Sical in Porto

About Starbucks, I always recall my first, and only, experience as my worst breakfast ever. Naming that watery barley in a big plastic cup coffee, is like saying that horse piss is Super Bock (the northern beer produced in Porto).

True coffee lovers will, for sure, prefer Portuguese coffee rather than Starbucks Coffee Cleasing Water.

More than a threat I see this as a big opportunity.

Is gentrification in Porto, Real?

Gentrification is a threat to Porto’s identity and now is the time to prevent it. Porto has an authenticity that can’t be lost and locals are the prime actors to avoid it.

The word of 2015’s silly season in Porto is gentrification, but are we using it properly?

Gentrification is defined as the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighbourhoods by upper or middle income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low income families and small businesses.

What we are seeing is Porto is a little bit different, and we already have good and bad examples. Read Boston’s example here.

Porto’s City Center is suffering a big pressure from the increasing of tourism related businesses. Every week there’s new tourist apartments, restaurants, bars, hotels and tour operators opening their doors to the growing numbers of people eager to know a little bit more about Porto, Portugal’s second City, and, nowadays, one of the trendiest spots in Europe.

Gentrification sticker in one of the walls in Candelabro Bar.

Gentrification sticker in one of the walls in Candelabro Bar one of the trendiest in town.

To comply with the need of accommodation, food and cultural activities, Porto needs these businesses, but, also, the authentic and eye-catching traditional places. What makes us special is the endless number of amazing Tasca’s – not the updated version #faketasca – the cosy family run restaurant – not the upscale-fusion-all-white-IKEA version; Bolhão Market with a clean face and its traditional sellers and not an upscale gourmet version; the nice buildings with tiles and traditional colors; authentic hospitable people communicating in a mix of different languages, including gestures; Great food with great ingredients that can be found easily and not gourmet/fusion food.

Of course Porto will survive with a healthy mix of everything mentioned above, but we don’t want it to be transformed into another Paris, Rome, or Barcelona. Porto is Porto and we can’t go against it.

Street artists like Hazul, use abandoned building's door frames as a canvas to murals

Street artists like Hazul, use abandoned building’s door frames as a canvas to murals

Some small businesses are already taking the next step and renovating. Also, some are closing forever, but basically because the owners were offered a large sum of money to close their doors. I know of three cases and the owners are older and at retiring age. They had a golden opportunity to get a lot of money to spend their golden years in peace.

A different example is a restaurant that was decrepit and the owners too old – in their 70’s. The grandchildren took over, renewed the space and now run a very successful restaurant, updated but with the same values. If you go there the grandmother still helps shinning the cutlery…

In my opinion, buildings have to be renewed and we can’t comply with the real estate lobbying. Prices have to be fair so that the landlords won’t be tempted to expel the real people that live at the city centre. Of course, one might say that this speech is very poetic and people need money, but if there’s some kind of rent control, local businesses won’t be overshadowed by big hotels, big restaurant chains, and local businesses will renew with their own effort and time. Time and patience…

Naturalization of Portuguese Sepha ...

Portuguese Constitution’s law decree 43/2013 of July 3, acknowledges the naturalization of the descendants from Portuguese Sephardic Jews, trying to clean the slate, five centuries after D. Manuel’s infamous decree that gave two options to the Jewish community, forced conversion or expulsion from Portugal.

Porto suffered a lot with the forced conversion of the Jews, but no more than the Jewish community itself. A very important part of Porto’s society, suffered a great loss and between the ones that died and the ones that “converted”, they left an open scar on the Porto’s social tissue.

Although Porto protected the converted with legal tricks, overruling the Portuguese Inquisition directives, it was impossible for them to live on the open. There’s one story that says that in Rua de S. Miguel, during the evening there was a lot of noise and the Inquisition attributed it to Jewish rites. To protect the Jews, the City stated that the noise was because of illegal gambling, but they surely know that a secret synagogue existed on that street. Transferring the case from spiritual and religious ruling to the Civil, blocked the Inquisition to go further and left them with their hands tied.

This and some other episodes, made the Inquisition complain several times to the King, saying that “…In Porto they don’t let us do our job…” and they moved to Coimbra.

This kind of approach protected the Jews until Capitão Barros Basto, on the 20th Century, started the Rescue of the Jews, but that is a complete different story.

Since March 2015, more than 900 Portuguese Sephardic descendants applied for the Portuguese nationality, from 21 different countries, including on the top 3, Turkey, United States and Israel. The international community as an estimated population of 1.5 Million elements around the world.

If you have Portuguese Sephardic ancestors you have to prove that you are traditionally part of a Portuguese Sephardic community, through Portuguese family names, family language – like Portuguese or Ladino – or direct or collateral ascendency.

First you’ll have to have a background check provided by Lisbon and Porto’s  Israeli communities before you go to the local authorities to apply. The background check costs 500€.

You’ll need:

Passport copy;

Birth certificate or similar that mentions birthdate, place of birth and the names of the applier parents.

Residency proof;

Payment of 500€ to open the process;

All the necessary proof that is needed for a fast and diligent evaluation;

All the documents in Portuguese, French and English will be accepted.

Means of proof:

1. Circumstantial evidence can be provided through any kind of proof that relates the appliccant with a foreign Jewish Sephardic community.

2. Documented evidence – can be provided through: family records, genealogy, community files relating to births, marriages and deaths, cemeteries and lists of graves, records of Brit Milah or Bar Mitzvah, government release such arrivals from Portugal, lists of ships and passengers arriving from Portugal.

3. Witnesse’s Evidence – the testimony of witnesses who can testify to the oral tradition of a family. Testimonial evidence should be submitted in writing in the form of written statements signed by the witnesses and certified by a notary. The testimonies, translated into Portuguese, should be sent to the Jewish Community, Witnesses must be credible and compelling their testimony.

4. Expert’s Evidence – The opinion of a specialist in Portuguese Jewish diaspora. The expert evidence must be submitted in writing. Experts reports in the Portuguese Diaspora must be made in writing and signed by its expert, authenticated by a notary and accompanied by a biographical note.

Attention: candidates can be held criminally responsible in case of false testimony of presentation and / or presentation of false or falsified documents.

After you are vouched by the Israeli community you can apply to citizenship and we, hopefully, will give you a warm wellcome as felow Portuguese.





Portuguese cheese in a delicatessen shop near Bolhão Market

Why Porto is the next food Mecca – ...

In 1415 Porto gave all the City’s meat to “sponsor” the Portuguese Discoveries – a bad excuse to get the spices and all the fabulous ingredients from Africa, India and Brasil – and with cows stomachs and beans created a fabulous stew called Tripas à Moda do Porto. Porto is clearly inventive when it comes to food and one thing is clear, with less we make more!

It’s fairly common that when you are travelling in Spain you will be presented, somewhere in your journey, with Tapas. We can say the same for Italy, with their version called cicchetti, which are more or less the same but with a different name. Portugal has its own version called Petiscos. Basically the three names sum up the same thing with some variations, finger food that can be cold or warm, meat or fish, vegetables, deep fried, stewed or even raw with a dressing or small portions of bigger meals served in mini plates usually with a toothpick as forks.


Porto as a port city, always had a number of influences that created a wide variety of petiscos, that can be found, traditionally in Tascas, small bars, run by a family and where you eat, most of the times, at the aluminium coated counter.
Together with a small glass of wine you will enjoy the atmosphere together with locals, usually old guys talking about football and the latest gruesome daily news.
These kind of bar, can be found on every corner and street, and they get their supplies from the neighbouring grocery shops or the special shops located around Mercado do Bolhão called Mercearia Fina – the local delicatessen shops that sell the best products from all over Portugal.

A lcal Delicatessen shop - Mercearia Fina

Here you can find a wide range of smoked goods like sausages, ham, pork’s ears and feet; cheese, olives and olive oil, canned goods such as tuna, octopus, mackerel and of course sardines. Also wines from every region, including Port and dried fruits like raisins, plums, pear, and nuts – almonds, wallnuts etc. The fruits are very important as ingredients for one of the Christmas desserts – Bolo Rei.
Bread is also a big part of Portuguese food and in Porto you can find all the kinds from the different regions with a special preference on Trás-os-Montes region, like Vinhais, Mirandela, Padronelo, and of course we couldn’t forget the neighbour village of Avintes with its heavy and somehow sweet and moist Broa de Avintes – composed of half rye and half corn – a popular choice amongst restaurants.


With all this said, we are sure that we have the perfect ingredients, the perfect people, the perfect weather and the tradition to create good food. But, really, we don’t need to prove it, we just need people to taste it and be surprised with the quality, the variety and the HUGE portions that are served in every place in town.


Our house is your house, come in, the door is open.

Popular choices for petiscos include:
Rojões – sautée pork and then stewed slowly with cumin.
Moelas – chicken gizzards stewed in a tomato sauce (not chewy at all!);
Punheta de bacalhau – desalted cod with raw onions, chickpeas and olive oil;
Petingas – small sardines deep fried – don’t worry about the fishbones, so small that you won’t choke.
Pimentos do Padrón – we borrowed this from Galicia and now are already nationalized;
Peixinhos da horta – battered green beans deep fried – delicious;
Tábua de Queijos – an assortment of national cheese;
Tábua de enchidos – An assortment of smoked ham and sausages;
Chouriço assado – A smoked sausage usually flambée with local grappa.

Manjerico Seller in Fron of S. Bento train station

São João in Porto – Quick Gu ...

There’re a lot of celebrations in Porto but there’s none that can be compared to São João. With an extensive program, starts in May and ends up on June 24th.

São João (St. John the Baptist) is celebrated  on the evening of June 23rd and is a organized chaos of friendship, alcohol, and grilled sardines. This day celebrates the longest day of the year, summer’s solstice, that in fact is on June 21st, and basically it’s a pagan festivity that the church tried to overrule, but with small or no success at all.

Festas Populares (popular festivities) defines the celebration, in June, of three catholic saints. Lisbon has Santo António (Saint Anthony), Afurada, a fisherman’s village close to Porto, celebrates São Pedro (Saint Peter), and Porto and Braga have São João as Patron saint.

Seller during São João Selling the basil flower pots

Sellers like this can be found everywhere in Porto

In Porto, the celebrations start at around 5 pm and last until the next morning, with no fixed schedule. Everything is allowed and it’s very common that people take their barbecue gear to the streets, together with tables and chairs, and eat right there, amongst friends and strangers.

The menu is composed of charcoal grilled sardines on top of a slice of corn bread, called broa; Caldo Verde, a soup with potato, Portuguese kale, olive oil, water and a slice of Chouriço; Febras, slices of pork tenderloin charcoal grilled; grilled red and green pepper, and plenty of wine and beer.

While you’re having dinner you’ll start noticing that some strange gadgets are used to spice up the party: plastic hammers with a whistle, to hit people on their heads; garlic flowers to rub people’s noses; and manjericos, a kind of wild basil in a vase with some dirty rhymes written on it.

Flower pots with wild basil

The famous Manjericos with the dirty rhymes.

Besides that, during the days that precede the party, you have cascata de São João, a kind of nativity scene, where baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph are replaced by São João and a lot of small clay figurines that together will represent various city’s activities.

The best thing of this celebrations is that you don’t know anyone but you will know everybody. If you’re invited to eat, to dance or drink, do it, you’ll make some new friends.

Every neighborhood holds a party with an improvised stage where bands will perform all the cheesy songs that nobody likes but, strangely enough, everybody know the lyrics. Dancing and eating in a big profane party!

São João Garlic flowers

Garlic flowers – use it to rub people’s noses.

Just eat your way through São João’s evening and remember to follow the party from the city center towards the river promenade until you reach the sea. Don’t be surprised if there’s a lot of people doing strange stuff there – after all, there’s a lot of newborn babies in March.

NOS Primavera Sound Porto – ...

After going shopping on our first post and having a crazy makeover on the second, we have some more tips for you to enjoy a perfect NOS Primavera Sound experience in Porto.

So, after all the experiences you went through on the wonderful city of Porto, there’s only one thing left that you need. I’m sure you probably have a cool smarthphone or even and iPhone, and that you use Instagram a lot. #NOSPrimaveraSound is the official hashtag and Parque da Cidade has a lot of places to take good photos.

By the way, have you checked our Instagram account?

Alguns dos efeitos disponíveis

The social media revolves around Instagram, but do you know that its inspiration was lomography? The movement started in 1991 in Vienna and it’s now an art form. There’re hundreds of different cameras with a lot of cool effects and, in Porto, if you need a Lomo, you just need to go to Embaixada Lomográfica and get one suited for you. While you are in the neighbourhood you can get a beer at the bar located on the first floor and play foosball, portuguese style.


But if you brought your vintage camera and need supplies, different lens, develop your pictures, repair your camera, or even buy a new (old) one, the place is Máquinas de Outros Tempos. The guys there are very nice and super helpful, and they offer cameras ranging €5 to €2.000. Rolleiflex, Nikon, Pratika, Leica, Yashica, Polaroid, are some of the brands you can find at this place.

Vintage cameras

They also have Mikona (which happens to be a really bad word in Portuguese).

NOS Primavera Sound Porto – ...

So you’re coming to Porto to a music festival. NOS Primavera Sound will be featuring Pixies, The National and some other cool bands in an amazing setting, from the 5th to the 7th of June. You may need some help −we’ll give you a few tips!

You arrive to your hotel brought by one of many low cost companies flying to Porto, Ryanair and Easyjet amongst the biggest, and after freshen up you may decide to explore the city.

You could opt for a tour with me, but I must tell you I’m not that cool, at least Primavera style wise.

So you’re out and about when you realize that you have left behind your retro sunglasses. Well, as a matter of fact, I happen to know two or three places where you can find a wide selection of them.

In CCB (Centro Comercial Bombarda), a very cool arts and crafts, vintage, memorabilia, urban gardens, alternative bookstore space, you can find either second-hand vintage shades or brand new old style ones. Feel free to explore this alternative shopping mall, you won’t regret it.

You’re now at the centre of the art gallery district, where you can find all kinds of art galleries (yeah, that was an easy one), alternative shops, and some cool graffitis here and there.

Already equipped with your sunglasses you start considering how to go to Parque da Cidade, where Primavera is held. You know already that it’s the biggest urban park in Portugal and one of the Europe’s biggests. It has a direct connection with the beach, and it has good public trasnportation serving it, but you decide you need a bycicle to come and go as you will.

Nas calmas

Luckily, close to the CCB you will find Artes em Partes, a community store where amongst other things you can find vintage bikes. You can either rent one, €10 a day (you will need to provide an ID card) or, if you prefer, buy one for around €150. Sérgio is the guy to talk to and Nas Calmas is his project.

Cycling on your new bike, the spring sun is hitting your head, and you feel that you need a hat. Head straight to Rua do Loureiro, close to Estação de S. Bento, and visit one of the oldest and traditional hat tailor in the City, Chapelaria Ideal. Founded in 1890, it’s been run for the same family for 43 years now. The hats are manufactured either in Portugal or Italy, have an outstanding quality and you can get one from €12, choosing from different hat shapes, colours and patterns.

Chapelaria Ideal

Now that you look too cool for school, you stop at the bakery Pastelaria Serrana, a few doors down the street, for a Bola de Berlim cake and catch up your breath.

To be continued. Stay tuned!

Porto’s Tascas home of Petis ...

Sharing food is the best ice breaker in the world, and if you enter a Tasca in Porto, you’ll find out that one’s language is not a barrier to communicate. These establishments are the perfect place to understand traditional fast-food gastronomy and Porto’s local culture.

The chances of having tasteless food in a Tasca are close to zero. The ingredients are always fresh and cooked to order − seasoning, recipes and cooking secrets are the result of decades of experience and feedback from regular customers.

A cozinheira do Alfredo PortistaAlfredo Portista – Beautiful cook cooks great food

Tascas clients are very heterogeneous: the regulars, who go there for a snack or lunch, to meet their friends, or chit chat about soccer; the so-called gourmands, seeking the perfect snack, and nowadays the more adventurous tourists, who I like to call travellers because they are seeking authenticity.

Os santos abençoam a Tasca.Saints bless the food

How To Spot A Tasca :
1. A small space with many things hanging on the wall ;
2. A man behind the counter and a lady in the kitchen (responsible for the delicacies ) ;
3. A stainless steel counter (easy to clean) , and a glass storefront where you can catch a glimpse of food available ;
4 . Men leaning over the counter.

Adega FlorestaAdega Floresta: FC Porto, food and wine

What to eat :
Iscas de Bacalhau;
Combinado de Porco;
Punheta de Bacalhau;

One of the highlights of a Tasca is that food is cheap, between € 0.75 and € 2.5, and most of them go well with wine, either on a small glass or a ceramic bowl.