Joie de Vivre

Portugal: Livraria Lello

Livraria Lello stained glass ceiling

A big highlight in Porto was visiting the world’s second oldest bookstore, Livraria Lello. We read somewhere that J. K. Rowling taught English in Portugal, and based the bookstore in Harry Potter (Flourish and Blotts) on this place. In fact, a lot of Porto reminded me of what I think Diagon Alley would be like.

Livraria Lello stairs

To visit the store, you have to buy a $5 ticket and get in line at the appointed time. If you buy a book before you get there, you jump to the head of the line and get in a little early. In our case, the book was Romeo and Juliet. Once inside, you can exchange your book for one of a handful of titles from the Livrarie Lello press. I chose Frankenstein, which turned out to be good thing to read while traveling.

Livraria Lello is more of a museum gift shop than a viable bookstore. They had all the Harry Potter books, and hand selected titles from selected authors, which accompany space with their own titles, like Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, Selected tales from Edgar Allen Poe, and Alice in Wonderland. 1000 people a day visit this place, and it felt quite cramped while we were there. Yet, it’s a wonderful building, and totally worth seeing.

upstairs at Livraria Lello

Because we had bought copies of Romeo and Juliet, and managed to get in a little early, we were able to get photos on the famed red steps. Minutes after we took these photos, you couldn’t walk from one of of the store to the other for all the people in there. I made a video of myself trying to do just that (a Walk Good installment coming soon).

I think this would be an idlic place for a wedding.