The Livraria Lello

This remarkable bookshop was introduced to me on a a Trip Advisor 5 star rated “free walking tour”of Porto. 

Now any accountant or reputable financial planner would immediately tell you there is no such thing as a free lunch let alone a free walking tour of any attraction or city. Legally I am sure one could thank the guide profusely, shake hands and walk away! Morally and ethically of course it is wrong unless of course the content was obviously substandard or worse the guide had an english accent so thick that it may as well have been given in Swahili or even, well Portuguese! Suffice it to say the woman well and truly deserved  the very positive feedback on TripAdvisor. 

So called “free guided tours” are a dime a dozen in all the major European destinations.Now that is a confused metaphor I agree but you get the gist! Hence the members of the tour pressed on average 10 euro in her rather substantial purse! 

Back to the bookshop…she prefaced the introduction by explaining that the author of “Harry Potter” lived in Porto as a young woman, marrying a Portuguese man, became the victim of severe relentless domestic violence, divorced him within two years, settled down to a single life and consuming frequent bottles of port and tarts wrote a series of books that made her fabulously wealthy and of course meant she never had to rely on a man again. She invested in her own Port winery with a boutique bakery on the side that produced the most mouth watering custard tarts. 

A more erudite financial adviser would have recommended equities over a winery but then again there are financial planners and there are financial planners. 

I was forced to confess that I have never read any of the Harry Potter offerings much less fondled their frontpieces. I was brought up on Little Golden Books – “The Color Kittens” (American spelling), “The Sailor Dog” moving sequentially through childhood via Enid Blyton, The Bobbsy Twins, Biggles and finally the Billabong series. Adolescent stirrings had me acting out that I was Nora riding my beautiful chestnut stallion across the paddocks with Jim in hot pursuit in breeches and riding boots and sweat stained grandpa shirt cracking his leather whip as we galloped towards the billabong…. 

Something does not quite add up in this pubescent fantasy. I don’t think I would have Jim in a sweaty shirt but the whip would have been VERY acceptable. 

So the bookshop is over 100 years old and according to our guide, was the inspiration for the setting of the school in the Harry Potter books. 

The wooden staircase is world famous as is the stained glass ceiling window! There is an entrance fee of 3 euro which is deducted from any book one may purchase


Finally modern Portuguese university students still traditionally wear a black cape, zorro like, that again was apparently the inspiration for the academic gown worn by Harry Potter and his school mates.