O Porto, the vibrant city on the Rio Douro, has wine and sites for the tourists, deliciosa comida and cool class for the more laid-back travelers, and an ease of movement and less hustle and bustle that everyone could appreciate. Although Porto is known for its VINNO/pronounced Viño (which I’ll write about in a separate post), I got to tell you a bit more about wandering through this city.
As the first city (outside of España) I’d be exploring, I had plans to walk the city in the morning to get a feel of the place. . . and I don’t mean walk to the local café and back. I intended to walk wherever my feet would take me; so I did just that. I left the hotel sola/alone while my mom got ready and my sister slept soundly. I had a map with all the important sites but didn’t use it as my instincts were quite strong this day. One of of the first things I noticed in the city were the many beautiful tiled façades of the buildings.
Blue and white tiles, azulejos as they are known in Portugal, are the most traditional. Not only found on exteriors, I was lucky to wander into the Estação de São Bento (Porto’s local Train Station) for more impressive examples of this art form. 20th Century painter Jorge Colaço is responsible for the gorgeous hand-painted tiles here depicting important scenes in Portuguese History. Don’t forget to look up either, as the ornate ceiling highlights the two most important rivers in Portugal, Rio Minho and Rio Douro.
Estação de São Bento
After wandering around solita for over an hour, I went back for Momma, ready to happily wander with her. Most importantly, we had to eat to obtain our strength and of course drink café like all good Europeans do.
I can recommend this Adorable Restaurant: CHOCOLATARIA DAS FLORES with complete confidence. We had a decadent breakfast of Veggie quiches with salad, followed by 2 sinfully delicious desserts and café, beyond satisfied with our meal. That Dark Chocolate Cake with a white chocolate layer on top was one of the best desserts in our entire 2 week holiday: a top dessert choice for all the foodies out there for certain! They know a thing or two about sweets here, having all sorts of Chocolate goodies in their shop for takeaway purchase as well.
I’m not certain if Chocolate is a big thing in Portugal, or Porto for that matter, but we came upon few chocolate shops this day and were quite pleased. CHOCOLATARIA EQUADOR caught our attention with their darling window display. Inside, was a chocolate lover’s dream. . . bars and bars of chocolate. I was like Veruka Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “I want to lock it all up in my pocket, it’s my bar of chocolate”. . . eyes wide in a chocolate craze. Don’t worry though, I didn’t throw a tantrum and end up down the garbage shoot.
I settled for purchasing one bar: Chocolate Negro com Vinho do Porto/Dark Chocolate with Port Wine. Hello, heaven!
Mom bought a few bars and some truffles for the family back home. I must say, I have been savoring the one bar for weeks now, so rich and decadent with the perfect amount of Vinho do Porto (to help me unwind after a tough work day). Couldn’t have been happier with my purchase.
We continued to wander up and down streets, appreciating Porto’s unique style. We had heard the best views of the city were up at the Cathedral, so we hiked there next. It was closed when we arrived, so we opted for taking in the exteriors of this 12th Century Romanesque Cathedral (Sé in Português) and the views of Porto.
Sé do Porto
It was a gorgeous day, warming up by the hour in fact. By late morning I didn’t even have to wear a scarf, my neck finally meeting some sun rays. We felt quite lucky that our full day of touring Porto was one full of sunshine. Making our way back down from the Cathedral we arrived at the Ponte Luiz I (that bridge). Of course, this meant we were down by the Rio Douro once again. . . where Porto seems to really come alive. Day or night, if you’re by the river there is something to do. We enjoyed eating and drinking Vinho by the River on our first night here, not even the rain could stop us.
Down by the River
We dared to cross the bridge to Porto’s Neighboring city of VILA NOVA DE GAIA. . . where the Ports are flowin’ and the Francesinhas are mouth waterin’. I better stop now before I get all riled up about how good the food and drink are, just across the Rio. But I’ll leave you with this thought: