Sunday, May 1, 2011

serralves: a long walk to see a garden

following my loosely adhered to itinerary, i decided that one of the first places i had to visit was serralves. why wouldn’t i give it priority, in my visit to the international students office, this place comes with its own custom-made brochure. this place is supposed to be an awesome statement to both art and landscape, boasting famous sculptures, a museum of contemporary art, a villa exemplary of art deco, a park with magnificent gardens, a creative and innovative shop, and to top it all off, a restaurant to feed its visitors (by now weary from all the visiting accomplished).

judging by my map, serralves should be a short (or maybe a little more than short) walk from the casa da musica metro stop. so i disembark at said metro stop and start my “little” walk. after about 10 minutes and having passed a few streets, i stop to recheck my map, wondering about how close i’ve gotten to my destination. i check and recheck, since i’ve had to have gone further than this map is indicating, but as i approach the next intersection, nope. i’ve walked not even a third of the distance to serralves… this is when the fingers of the reality of my undertaking started to sink its sharp fingers into my skull. perception one – it’s about 27 degrees today (about 81 fahrenheit). perception 2 – i have managed to leave my water bottle at home, completely neglecting the fact that my body is over 70% water, water that needs to be replaced when walking several kilometers in 27 degree weather. perception  3 – i probably still have over half an hour’s walking to do, just to arrive at the place. inevitably i end up stopping about ¾ - 4/5 of the way to the foundation. i go to one of the numerous café’s, which are ubiquitous in this city, for some water… and a beer to reward myself for having walked all this way because it was good exercise, and one good deed deserves another.

when i finally get to serralves, i’m tired and thirsty, but i’m also determined to have a great experience, and my curiosity must be satiated. first up the museum. impression? unimpressed. the museum of serralves hosts temporary exhibits, and for this season the exhibit is dedicated to contemporary dance, featuring trisha brown and her contributions to dance. there are several rooms all with virtual canvases portraying vids of dancers, practicing or doing routines. it probably would be better, if i get a guided tour, but all the guides i see are speaking portuguese, and my body itself is a little to fatigued to allow my to devote much attention to trying to translate a foreign language that i barely know.  i check out the library, since i was there, and walk down to the restaurant, but as i have already spent a couple of euros on this trip, i decide not to dole out any more than necessary.

now, the most significant part of this journey is the walk through the ground. if i were into using text phrases, i would insert one here, but as i am not, i have one word: outstanding. as i am a person who feels himself intimately connected with nature every time i walk through the wood, my little (or not so little) walk through the grounds of serralves were awe inspiring. the rose gardens are simply amazing; the pond, beautiful and placid; the aromatic garden, simply inviting; and the green house is home to one of the most, if not the most, enticing flower of all, that being the orchid (and yes, i do know that there are dozens of different types of orchid). [this is just an aside, but since i am a carolinian, i must insert. one of the most rare orchids (if not THE most rare) grows in the great smokies of north carolina, the ghost orchid which blooms mysteriously in accordance with the full moon, and they all bloom simultaneously…] the villa is closed during this excursion, for renovations, but i plan on visiting again, so that i may actually get a glimpse on the inside. the sculptures are cool too, but by the time i get down to the farm where i spot a couple of cows, a bull, and a ewe feeding her lambs, i am near to dead tired, and i still have to make my way back up to the entrance…

needless to say, i indubitably hop on the first bus that comes by, without even so much as an inkling of desire to even attempt walking back to casa da musica. if you do decide to come to porto, then you absolutely MUST visit serralves. if you’re into culture, then voilà, there’s a museum and there are sculptures to be seen. even if you’re not, you can’t pass up the opportunity to take a stroll through the grounds, and more precisely to see the gardens therein.


forest walkway

rose gardens



art house


hedge cave

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