None of us knew what to expect in Porto, and what we found was a very charming yet slightly run-down old city on a beautiful river.
We arrived at our hotel which was great, very central and spacious (Hotel B&B Porto). Like in Lisbon, we were directly across the road from a beautiful church- this time a distinctly Portugese church, with beautiful blue tiles.
Once we’d checked in, we went for a bit of wander and found an absolute ghost town awaiting us! We were in the middle of the city and there was just no one around. We realised the next day that it must have been because it was a Sunday and most things were closed, but it was pretty strange at the time.
There was a beautiful big square just a few blocks from our hotel, very wide and spacious with some beautiful statues. We found lunch at a touristy but still very nice restaurant. We wandered to the river where there are lots of shops, market stalls and restaurants.
Along the way we passed a group of kids having fun with a hose and some water balloons. Very sweet, until one of them threw some at us and got me smack on the bottom!! I had a very wet backside, but it was actually a really hot day, so it was dry about twenty minutes later!
There are some incredible bridges connecting the two sides that you can walk across. One on of them (which we found out later was designed by the architect of the Eiffel tower), there was a group of kids hanging on for dear life. Every now and then one of them would jump off into the water for a swim!
We read about a music festival going on at a park just near our hotel, so we made our way there. We got a bit lost and ended up having to walk up a very steep hill, but it was worth it for the views back over the river, and one of the most beautiful pieces of street art I’ve ever come across.
The music festival had a little arts and crafts market as well, and there was a real mix of locals. There was a table of old men playing cards, young people mingling, and kids running around. It was a very laid back event, and we stayed for about an hour, before heading home for a siesta
That night we went to eLeBe, just a few doors down from our hotel. We’d read good reviews about it, so were hopeful.
Dan had a strange entrée that was so sweet it should have been a dessert, a puff pastry number with raisins, honey, nuts and a few other things. It was a nice but strange entrée. I had prawns and mushrooms sautéed and served in a puff pastry basket. The mushrooms were nice, but the prawns tasted old and food-poisoney. I had a couple and then steered clear of them.
Mains were quite nice but nothing to write home about. It was a bit of a disappointment, but still a nice night.
The next day we went for a big walk all around town, we only had two nights in Porto so wanted to make the most of it.
We found the tourist train (now firmly one of my absolute favourite forms of transport!) and jumped on.
It tootled around town before heading over the bridge and stopping at a beautiful old Port house. We were shown a video about the history of the Port House, which had extremely dramatic music, to the point that we had the giggles for most of it. We were then taken on a tour, before a tasting of two Ports. We all discovered that we liked tawny port, and were amazed to find out that Port can be white.
Then it was back on the tourist train to see a few more sights.
Itwas a lovely way to pass some time and see the city, although the focus was certainly more on the trip to the Port house.
We had some lunch along the river looking back at Porto (Porto is on one side and the Port Houses are on the other).
Then we made our way to Ferreira, another Port house that had been recommended to us by the lady at the information desk.
We had another tour, which was really interesting, and then we tasted five ports, including one that had been aged for 20 years. They were delicious, but very sleep inducing and we were all exhausted by the end!
The owner of Ferreira who transformed it into one of the most important port houses was Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, a female who ran the company in the 1800’s. What a lady!
The two port houses we saw were both very majestic and old world, with beautiful old wood barrels everywhere. They were beautiful places, and it was really interesting learning a bit more about the process of making port.
After our tasting session, I had to have a lie down for an hour!! Dan and Suzi had some sibling time at a café while I recuperated. Then we went out for dinner and after trying a few places that were all closed, we ended up at A Minhota, a tapas style bar. We had great food there, really fresh and delicious.
Porto is a beautiful city, with a beautiful river, amazing albeit rundown architecture, lovely old Port houses and much more.
The next morning we were off pretty early, and drove to Valladolid in Spain for a one night stopover before getting to San Sebastian.