Friday, July 24, 2009

Porto, Days 2 and 3

YAY! I gave my first tutorial to about 40 people, and so I must high-five myself. 150 minutes of continuous talking, 128 slides, and I got through it all with time to spare for several questions, and some blank stares.

Here is my good friend Dr. Fabien Gouyon. I have known him since the famous Summer of 1999 at CCRMA, Stanford. The last time I saw him was in Berlin in 2000. Since then, he has obtained his doctoral degree, has become a "Senior research scientist in the Telecommunications and Multimedia Unit of INESC Porto," and is now the general director (host) of this excellent conference! On Sunday Fabien, Carla and me will be going surfing.

This bridge, it turns out, was designed by a student of Gustav Eiffel. It is one of the six famous bridges of Porto spanning the Douro river --- which is not a lesser-known Clint Eastwood movie.

Here is the sanctuary of Igreja e Torre Dos Clérigos, or church of the clergymen. The glass box at the bottom contains "the mortal remains of the saint martyr Inocencio," put there in 1752. I have no idea who that is, but when I got a little closer I saw a skull wearing a wig!

This same church boasts the tallest tower in Porto, finished in 1763. The clock at the top is synchronized with an atomic clock in London, which I find painfully ironic.

Every walk through Porto gives us the feeling that this old, old city has seen its good times long ago. You cannot walk more than a few steps without seeing boards coving up decaying buildings.

Many people dry their clothes the old-fashioned way, which adds bright colors to the already bright buildings.

To celebrate a job well-done, we walked across the bridge into Gaia to find some authentic Iberian eats. Here is the restaurant we decided on, though no one else was inside.

Our waiter carved us up some nice jambon. That is a smoked pig leg.

Carla ordered roast kid with potatoes and mushroom. That is kid as in young goat. And that is only 1/2 serving!

I ordered the roasted wild boar, a small portion of which you see above. To my surprise, meat wasn't the only thing served with it. Do you see that oddly-shaped item at 12 o'clock? That is stuffed boar intestine. I decided I was going to try it, so I cut it in half and was greeted with an incredibly awful smell. Carla smelled it and winced, saying, "That smells like a pig pen!" She tasted just a small bit and, in between several swigs of water, claimed it tastes exactly like it smells. After my minuscule sample I concurred. It, and the six other pieces of stuffed boar intestine, were left pushed to the side --- obviously an unappreciated delicacy. When the waiter came over I decided to ask "what on Earth is in that?" He said there was bread and flour and some hot peppers, then said "I adore it! You don't?" He had a great laugh with the cook at the rear over my lack of culture.

Our waiter was very nice and took our picture at the end in front of several hanging hams.

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