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THINGS THAT WAIT FOR YOU ON THE STREET OF SANTA CATARINA

Rua de Santa Catarina is the major commercial artery in the city of Porto. A hot spot where thousands of people come together daily, strolling through a “shopping center” that dispenses walls, artificial lights and corridors.

It is a practically straight world, without physical limits and with few sinuosities. But this world is not just made up of shops, cafes, businesses and other commercial establishments. The fantastic universe of Santa Catarina also hosts people and moments that have already become famous. We speak of some illustrious anonymous people who, without realizing it, are themselves an unavoidable chapter in the history of the street. In this list of “10 things”, there are things that are not things, something that only we – Porto people – know. So, tag along!

 

1. PHOTOGRAPHIC SESSION AT THE CAPELA DAS ALMAS

The Chapel of Souls deserves to be appreciated, yeah, so far nothing weird about this statement. Get your Canon ready, smartphone and Ipad, and record for later the blue and white tile show that covers the chapel’s entire facade. However, much attention is paid to pedestrians who stroll on both sides of the sidewalk on Rua Fernandes Tomás. Most likely, they are trapped in a dangerous human traffic jam. While the instamodel poses for a photo of one side of the street, on the otherside, where the Chapel is, the one where you walk, is the personal cameraman. And since the photo has to be perfect, it cannot contain traces of cars on it or the presence of anonymous passers-by, or anything that stands between human beings and the landscape. It is an endless stop-start for pedestrians who do not know whether or not to interrupt or continue the march. Anyone who has been a victim of this phenomenon knows how difficult it is to decide what kind of citizen he wants to incarnate: one who crosses himself in front of the photographer and follows his life as if it were nothing, or a more conscientious one, who presses “pause” and stays waiting for the photographer’s positive signal to see if he can get on with his life. The lucky ones are the drivers, who don’t have to deal with this dilemma. Just wait… just wait fot the day that instagrammers become traffic police and start to stop the traffic on purpose to take a “clean” picture.

 

2. WTF PROMOTERS

If you are young and you have just climbed the escalators of Metro do Bolhão, you will not be able to escape and you will be approached by the WTF (name of the phone company) Promoters. Brave professionals who sweat and honor the pink WTF shirt as if it were a Champions League final. They “attack” the youngsters the same way a center back attacks the striker. Grab and don’t let go. And as the figure of the referee does not exist, the only card that can be shown is the sim card they try to impose. The most skilled still manage to get around this vast web of avid salespeople, but not everyone has the same dexterity and luck. The less fortunate are captured, and the chances of unraveling are slim. From here, the horizon appears black. Stuck in the web, the only way to release is to buy the card. After several minutes in captivity, torture of tariffs and disclosure of personal data, a light appears at the end of the tunnel that gives hope back to the hostages. The future is not so dark anymore. Especially if the apps are free and you only have to pay the first monthly fee in 6 months. In that case, it was a pleasant torture.

 

3. PASTEL DE NATA INVASION

It is a succulent pest that can take root at will that no one cares. The first warning was given with the opening of the first space dedicated to this Lisbon delicacy. The World Needs Nata, they announced. Porto heard. And thousands of Natas devoured later, Fábrica da Nata appeared. More supply, more cream, a few naughty pounds on top. And Manteigaria (located at Rua Alexandre de Braga / Rua Formosa), which is not on the same street, but only ten meters away. If we count on the latter, three pastry companies are conspiring against diabetics and filling the pockets of personal trainers. Veni Vidi Vici, called Empress Nata. Her subjects, the Tripeiros, obeyed. Together they formed the great “Natian” empire.

 

4. CROSSWALK OF RUA FORMOSA

There are two types of people in the world: those who cross the crosswalk; and those who beg to be run over. In other words, the first group of people looks at the crosswalk not as a catwalk, not as an attempt to show their most unwary side, but with the utilitarian look of those who see a crosswalk … a crosswalk – the place designated for the respective pedestrian crossing. But there are creatures that make us believe in the myth of the founding of Rome. Legend has it that Romulus and Remus, twins who were abandoned in a basket in the waters of the River Tiber, were saved by a wolf who suckled them and watched them grow. Years later, after a series of glorious adventures, these mythological figures (sorry, Romulus and Remus) went through, one of the brothers decided to kill the other. It could be the argument of a Hollywod movie, but it is not. It is believed that this episode is at the origin of the founding of Rome. For now, no one has yet been killed on the crosswalk at Rua Formosa, which in itself is a true epic. Even so, it was not due to the lack of commitment of all the parties involved. The Rua Formosa crosswalk certainly emanates evil vibrations. It deregulates brains and obscures reasoning. That, or these mindless adventurers, were also created by a pack of wolves, such as Romulus and Remus. This is the only way to explain the thousands of kamikaze crossings that take place daily on the shortest crosswalk meters that connect Rua Formosa to Rua de Santa Catarina. I lean more towards the wolves, honestly. People who disregard red lights for pedestrians and enter the road in a nonchalant way, as if no harm came from their negligent action, it is people who grew up in the woods. They don’t know the concept of fear. It is a reckless tribe, with irrational wills and animalistic desires. But it is the reality where we live. I want to end by sending a fraternal hug to the drivers, who, in the face of such intrusion and disrespect for their habitat, live in total harmony with the usurping species.

 

5. HUMAN STATUE

The human statue of Santa Catarina do not have the same public admiration as international human statues. It’s sad. In Santa Catarina, its presence is uncertain, like the scratchcards. They come and go, and when they come they sharpen the curiosity of the youngest who look at their levitation capacity, with the same desire with which I look at Queijo da Serra at Christmas. We must support our statues more, since they apparently do not die of love for chairs, benches or other pieces of furniture designed to rest the body. This is people who take the ideal “ to stop is to die”, refute it, claim it and defeat it, people who the more they stop and stare and do nothing at all, the more they work, people who, in this way, standing very still, lend the right dose of art to a non-stop street, and this, this is priceless people. A street suspended by the heroic body of human beings in stand-by.

 

6. SEAGULLS

It is not exclusive to Rua de Santa Catarina, but the seagulls union could take into account the volume of tourists who stroll through such a renowned street, and define the territory as a Protected Area. There are more places to steal snacks from people’s hands. Other terraces can be crossed, in other latitudes of the city. We don’t want to see TripAdvisor flooded with negative criticism about the hospitality and good manners of our birds, so as not to scare away those who visit us. Get together there and please define a specific area, on the suburbs, for theft of food. It is not just Rua de Santa Catarina that gets a bad review. You too. You complain that we have nicknamed you “rats with wings”, and that people repel you, but there are no changes in your behavior. Right now we look at you as a “plague”. But if these vile attacks persist, if you do not control the obvious kleptomania that consumes you, and if you do not find another place to evacuate excrement quickly, then, my friends, the threat level will evolve from “plague” to “terrorism”.

 

7. GYPSY COMMUNITY SELLING SUNGLASSES AND WATCHES

Perhaps the greatest bulwark of the fight for a more stylish Porto. Despite displaying an enviable tan throughout the 4 seasons, they still look after the Portuenses fashion sense. Armed with a vast array of designer glasses and watches of equivalent value, they make their presence felt through friendly and aggressive selling techniques. It is a process that goes through 3 phases. First, the identification of the target. Second, put into practice your cordial chatter that conquers even the most frowning souls. Finally, the chase. For when the outcome is unfavorable for the gypsy businessman, the person challenged tends to shake his head in disapproval, thanks and continues to walk. However, on the other side is not just any salesman. A Gypsy salesman does not allow himself to be overwhelmed by denial. He goes after. Proposes different glasses. Encourages the customer to try it on. Guarantee that it is original product. “New Ray Ban, son”, they shout. And, when it finally seems that they are going to accept defeat, they are reborn from the ashes, and in a herculean final effort, they finish off with a final attempt to close the deal: “And what about this Rolex, bro? Okay. We may not even take the Ray Ban or the Rolex. But they are heroes. They don’t wear a cape, but not all superheroes wear capes. Sometimes a shirt unbuttoned to the chest is enough. They are not the heroes we deserve, but they are the heroes that Rua de Santa Catarina needs.

 

8. SOCKS LADIES

The essence of Porto personified. This could not be missing in Rua de Santa Catarina. When will a municipal law be made obliging the presence of sock sellers in all corners of the city? In the case at hand, the benign rivalry between these ladies and Café Majestic is to be commended. A healthy competition that is interesting to keep alive. Majestic is a space that appears in the Top 10 of the most beautiful cafes in the world, and the price list ends up reflecting this distinction. Tourists, above all, come with a well-studied homework, and do not miss the opportunity to contemplate its imposing marble facade and the decorative details of its interior. Outside, the Senhora das Meias, who have a powerful vocal range, burst into the minds of day-trippers who admire the Café. And, maybe, maybeee those three euros that would be spent on a cup of coffee, are applied to three pairs of socks. It’s not the right three euros – “it’s three to five euros! Three to five euros! ”. For two more euros, it pays off. In addition to being a safe investment, it seems that the resurgence of white socks with rackets is real (this was huge back in the days!). This dichotomous ping pong between the fancy Porto and the “patriotic” Porto, which puts these two titans of Rua de Santa Catarina face to face, is the real derby of the city. Forget Porto vs Boavista. This is even more beautiful, it is played with fair play and in the end there are only winners.

 

9. SANTA CATARINA STEW

We could not leave out a series of central figures that deserve more than a brief honourable mention. So, like what happens in the famous Portuguese Stew, let’s take this myriad of characters and events, put them together in the same pot and let the magic happen. First, we bake 1) the youth who walk around with pen and notebook asking questions for satisfaction and quality control surveys. When it is cooked, we remove it. 2) then, volunteers from AMI and CAIS magazine are cooked in the same water. A stew in the style of Rua de Santa Catarina does not dispense these 2 ingredients. In a separate pan, why not 3) give a little dance to the rhythm of the accordion of the blind man who animates the corner of Rua de Santa Catarina and Rua Formosa? Let it dance! Rain or shine! But if it is sunny, buy 4) a straw hat at the stall next to it to protect your head from the sun. And let the bad mood be cut and joy be served on a platter. Let it be served 5) by the tram that comes from Batalha and goes down towards Praça de D. João I, without forgetting to admire 6) the facade of the Marcolino Watchmaking. And if, after all this gastronomic fusion, 7) the Relógio das Galerias Palladium does not come to life and goes out into the street, then it is because S. João, Infante D. Henrique, Almeida Garrett and Camilo Castelo Branco don’want any seagulls to steal their meal… 

NorteSoul Mouzinho, PortoSoul Trindade and PortoSoul Formosa are less than 5 minutes from all this…


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