On Porto's gradual easing of lockdown...

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"Tourists may be here today and gone tomorrow but, in a way that I'd never appreciated before today, they're an intrinsic part of this city", states Oliver Balch, a British author and freelance writer living in Porto.

Oliver Balch, a British author and freelance writer who specializes in business and international affairs, has written an interesting article for The Guardian these days. It provides an inside look at The Invicta, from someone who knows the city well.

Let's enjoy this ride with Balch to Porto, which combines homesick - saudade (this beautiful Portuguese word) - and merriment.

"With Portugal easing out of confinamento, the second city's residents are enjoying cafes once again, but miss the tourists more than they were expecting", states Balch.

This comes as no surprise as people in Porto have always been keen to welcoming foreigners, from centuries back, with the hustle and bustle so common to a port city, to present time, with a multitude of nationalities visiting Serralves, climbing the Clérigos Tower or strolling the Ribeira, scenting and sensing the authenticity of true welcoming people.

In a world stormed by Covid-19, it is imperative that we commence driving into the future, and the future is already happening in Porto, step by step, steadily and firmly as people in Porto just know how to champion a "desconfinamento".

Porto, never one to follow but rather to lead, is in fact championing the vision of what comes next. And what comes next is the clarity that Porto is a cosmopolitan city, an open city.

And believe Oliver Balch, the sparkle in "Sonia's eyes" is replicated in everyone's eyes "giving away smiles", which are hidden behind masks "that all cafe and restaurant staff are now obliged to wear".

The candidness and the positive attitude of the people from Porto are the game changers of this "world under the pandemic" new game with no predefined settings the world is playing altogether.

As for Oliver, and also for everyone, or most people anyway, "the relative quiet is disconcerting. People are still wary. There's a nervous guardedness about the city, like we're enduring a collective first day back at school"; but, like on a first day at school, after a while, everyone is enjoying the moment, trying to grasp everything, between joy and rigour, social distancing rules and lonely tables, between disconcert and, much more than optimism, hope.

Residents are working on the "chance to seize the city", which was never really closed, but rather in an in-between moment, like in those moments when we realise we do like the noise, as loud as it sometimes may sound.

Like Oliver, our masks must be strapped back these days in Porto, but "smiles are kept inside".

Read the full article here.