Going through the doors into the lobby was like entering a parallel universe - outside was a bright, noisy, busy street bathed in sunlight, whereas inside the place was cool, church-like quiet and very, very elegant. And there was me in me long shorts, trainers, white short-sleeved shirt, red face (we Irish are inclined to go red at the first hint of sun, y'know) and camera. Hmm, I thought to myself as the two men behind the desk looked up - 'I wonder if they're going to stop me'. But I acted as nonchalantly as I could (given the circumstances) and kept walking. They didn't speak and I didn't make eye contact.
As I got further into the hotel it became clear the place was not your typical hotel. It was very dark, with wood-panelled walls adorned with some lovely black-and-white photographs - portraits of famous people (and some I didn't recognise). Very nice it was - I spent a good bit of time wandering around this impromptu gallery, getting some ideas on composition for when I next take a portrait. Across the hall was a small sitting area - there were a couple of gentlemen sitting reading - they didn't look up. Further along was 'The Windsor Bar', where again there were photographs hanging - this time the unmistakable face of King Edward VIII before he became the Duke of Windsor after abdicating in favour of Wallis Simpson. I didn't spend too long looking at these photographs :) but clearly this area was marked as a tribute to The Duke. I'm guessing he frequented the hotel, perhaps more than once. I wonder if he paid his bill - I assume he did, hence the rather lavish tribute to him (a bit over the top if you ask me, but then again, no-one did).
Clearly I wasn't going to take photographs inside the hotel, so I made do with a couple of snaps on the way out. The fancy handles on the old ironwork gates at the front found their way onto some HP5+ inside the Nikon with its standard 50mm lens attached. Here's how they came out when split-grade printed on Ilford Warmtone RC paper:
|10"x8" print of the handles on the entrance to the Grand Hotel do Porto|