Porto, Portugal: Set to amazing busker music!

During my retirement here in Portugal, I have been able to see and do so many amazing things in the past year and a half. I have found the options available to me here to be endless and that’s a very good thing.

Some of you that know me well will know that I am a drummer who was an Enterprise Software Salesman to pay the bills in my “working” life. In 7th grade, I asked my parents if I could take piano lessons and of course they said yes. We had a piano I could use to practice as my sister was taking lessons too. After one week of classes, I decided to quit as it was not for me. Then, I decided I wanted to play the guitar so I asked if I could take guitar lessons. My parents bought me a used guitar and I started taking lessons. I decided two weeks later that it was not for me. Then, I decided I wanted to learn to play the drums. Well, my parents, being snake bitten twice in my quest for musical exploration, were not going to buy me a full set of drums but thankfully, they did buy me a single snare drum. That was all I needed.

My math scores were the worst and I mean really bad at that time. Nothing but D’s and F’s. But, once I started taking drum lessons and reading music, something clicked in my brain. My math scores started shooting through the roof! Nothing but A’s and B’s! True story!

I continued taking drum lessons and in 8th grade I joined the band at BCC, Byzantine Catholic Central grade school. I loved it and exceled. At that time in my life, I started listening to bands like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Ramones, The Cars and Cheap Trick to name just VERY few. I would always first hear the drums, then the music of the song, and then the words. I would listen to a song that I really liked, like AC/DC’s “You shook me all night long”, and play an imaginary full set of drums with my drum sticks on the couch pads, or pots and pans, or whatever I could find or assemble. I got really good with that pattern and with some really great songs. In the meantime, my math scores kept taking off and tangentially, so did things like chemistry, physics and biology.

At this point in my life, I realized I had a love and a passion for both drums and school as I was very good at both. Studying at school became effortless and uncomplicated. I was honing both of those skills and passions at the same time. I truly believe that if I had joined a band in my high school years, I would have abandoned my studies and drumming would have been the full-time path that I would have taken.

My parents owned an appliance store called House of TV and Appliances at that time. I helped my dad deliver refrigerators, TV’s, washers & dryers to probably every house in Youngstown, OH. I watched and listened and learned from his banter with every customer delivery and loved it! I know that is exactly how and when I learned my “sales” skills! Then, when I was in 11th grade, my father offered me the choice of taking over the management of the store upon my graduation. It was such a compliment that they had that much confidence in me at that young age to make me that offer. However, I knew I wanted something more and something different to challenge me. You see, when my dad took me to Pittsburgh for the first time to see the Browns play the Steelers when I was much younger (we are Browns fans), we drove through the Allegheny Tunnel. As a young boy, upon exiting that tunnel, the vision that hits you all of a sudden – Boom! Immediately, you see the “big city” sky line, with a dense myriad of 80-120 story buildings nestled next to each other on the curb of the three rivers! It was at that distinct moment that I knew I needed to be in a city like this. A place like this is where I knew I wanted to be.

Bruna Costa

So, why am I telling you all about this? When I make these videos, I cannot use copy right music. So, every time I visit a new city, I check for buskers, or street musicians, that I can set as background music for my videos. And, those who follow me know that I have found some great buskers! Well, I found one in Porto and I could not believe how great she was! Bruna Costa is her name and she is going places. She is about to record and release her first album and I’m glad I got to know her before she gets too famous! She was happy to let me film her playing music on the street and then invited me to a show she was playing the next night in a local Porto bar. I filmed the entire concert and you’ll be hearing her in some of my future videos! Maybe I should have been a busker…

On to Porto
This is a city that I have been trying to get to for a year now. The town that gave the country (and port wine) its very name, Porto is Portugal’s second-largest metropolis after Lisbon. Sometimes called Oporto, it’s an age-old city that has one foot firmly in the industrial present. The old town, centered at Ribeira, was built on the hills overlooking the Douro River, and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 14th-century São Francisco church is a main attraction, as are the local port wine cellars, mostly located across the river at Vila Nova de Gaia.

The avenue Avenida dos Aliados is the centre and heart of Porto city. At the top of this avenue you can find the beautiful building housing Porto’s city hall. Going downwards to Ribeira, make a little detour to São Bento train station and enjoy the beautiful glazed tiles. I stayed at a hotel a block away from Rua de Santa Catarina. This is definitely the most commercial street in Porto and one of the most crowded places in the city – most part of the street is solely for pedestrians.

Other points of interest in this street that you won’t want to miss are the amazing chapel Capela das Almas, where you can admire the exterior glazed-tile panels (over 15 000 glazed tiles), and the beautiful Via Catarina shopping center with emphasis on the dining area, on the top floor, that depicts the typical quarters of Porto.

Porto’s Cathedral (Sé do Porto) The construction of the Cathedral began early in the 12th century but ended only during the 13th century. The Cathedral was fortified to secure the city against the invaders. The windows are narrow and little light passes through; the main chapel was completely reconstructed in the 18th century.

However, the one place I kept finding myself coming back to multiple times a day was Ribeira.

Of the things to do in Porto you definitely should not miss a visit to Ribeira. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, Ribeira, Douro’s riverfront, is the most emblematic quarter and part of the historic center of Porto.

Have a stroll through the narrow streets to discover the real appeal of this place. In Ribeira’s riverfront you may gaze at Luis I bridge, designed by the engineer Théophile Seyrug, Gustave Eiffel’s disciple.

I hope you enjoy the video and I hope you enjoy Bruna! I will be going back to Porto and I might even move there… Ciao!

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