All Saints' Day, 1st November, Festivals

All Saints’ Day, 1st November

All Saints’ Day (Dia de Todos os Santos) is a Christian festival which is observed in Portugal, as in many other Catholic countries, as a public holiday. As the name suggests, it is a feast day for all the saints, but in particular for those who don’t have a feast day at other times of the year. On this day Catholics attend a Mass and then visit the cemetery where family members are buried to lay flowers and light candles on their graves (which will have been cleaned in preparation) to guide their way into heaven, combining All Saints’ Day with All Souls’ Day (Dia dos Fiéis Defuntos) which is on 2nd November, but is not a public holiday in Portugal. The cemeteries are a hive of social activity on this day.

While Halloween is not really celebrated in Portugal, in some rural parts of the country there is a tradition reminiscent of ‘Trick or Treat’ which happens on the morning of All Saints’ Day where groups of children go from house to house in their neighbourhood asking for Pão por Deus (Bread for God’s sake). The children sing songs or recite verses such as: ‘Bolinhos e bolinhós/Para mim e para vós/Para dar aos finados/Qu’estão mortos, enterrados.’ (‘Cakes and buns/For me and for you/To give to the departed/That are dead, buried.’) They are rewarded with a piece of sweet bread, cake, fruit, nuts, sweets or even money. One theory is that this All Saints’ Day tradition started in Lisbon after the earthquake of 1755, as it was on 1st November of that year that the Great Lisbon Earthquake destroyed the city leaving those who survived desperate for food. The earthquake hit Lisbon at 9.40 in the morning, when people were in church for the All Saints’ Day Mass, and what the earthquake didn’t destroy the subsequent fires started by the church candles did.

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Banks, post offices and other public services are closed on this day (this includes some museums) and public transport runs to a reduced timetable. However, large shopping centres and shops in tourist areas should be open as usual. Churches will be closed to tourists while Mass is taking place.

Porto, Using the Porto Metro

Using the Porto Metro

Porto metro trainThe cheapest and easiest way to get from Porto airport into the centre of Porto is by the sleek, modern Porto Metro system. The great thing about this journey is that it is overground for the majority of time, giving you a chance to see parts of Porto you would not normally see. The Metro station is located just outside the airport terminal and is served by Metro E (the purple line). The trains start and finish here, so you don’t have to worry about getting on the wrong train or being on the wrong platform. Trains run every 30 minutes and the journey into the centre of Porto takes 30 minutes.Porto airport metroTickets are bought from the automatic machines at the entrance to the station. Before buying a ticket you need to check which zone you will be travelling to; all the stations are listed on the ticket machine and next to each station is a z number (z2, z3 or z4) which shows you how many zones you have to go through to reach your destination, for example, the airport is in zone N10 and Campanhã is in zone C1 and to get from N10 to C1 the train passes through 4 zones (N10 C5, C2 and C1), so a ticket to Campanhã is a z4 ticket. Once you have found the z number, the instructions on the ticket machine screen are self-explanatory. The ticket you will buy will be the Andante Azul card, which is similar to the Viva Viagem card that is used on the Metro (and other public transport) in Lisbon, however, it is a bit more complicated than the Lisbon system. Like the Lisbon Viva Viagem card, the Andante Azul card is rechargable, so you will be charged 60 cents for the card when you buy it. What makes it more complicated than the Viva Viagem card is that you can only put journeys on the card for one zone at a time. You can only change zones when the card is empty. When you first arrive, I suggest you just buy a one-way journey on the card, which to the centre of Porto will cost around €1.95. Once you know how you intend to use it you can add more journeys to it in the correct zone. During your stay, if you wish to use the metro, public buses and local trains (but not trams) you can buy an Andante Tour card which is designed for tourists and allows you to make as many journeys as you wish during a specific period of time: Andante Tour 1 lasts 24 hours and costs €7 and Andante Tour 3 lasts 72 hours and costs €15.

You will need to buy a different card for each person in your group and each card needs to be validated by holding it against the black circle on the yellow validation machine before you go up the steps to the platform. You also have to validate it if you change lines during the journey. More information can be found on the Metro do Porto website. A further tip is to carry some coins for the ticket machines, as they often have problems accepting notes.

Andante ticket