Porto: Uncork a bottle!

I remember landing at the Porto airport on a sunny day in November and I couldn’t have been happier to be there. Portugal is a gorgeous country and I felt I hadn’t seen enough of it the first time around – round two was in order. I took a cheap flight from Budapest to Porto with Ryanair. Discount airlines are a great way to save money when traveling on a budget, but get ready for very early departures from the airport. Porto has a metro connection to their airport from the city – part of the infrastructure that was built for the Eurocup 2004 championships. The airport is modern as well as the metro lines and service is reliable and affordable.

My host lived on Rua de Cedofeita, which is a partly pedestrian zone street with lots of art shops and small clothing stores. The road is made of cobblestones with patios from local cafes lining the street. In November it is still relatively mild in Portugal by Canadian standards, so walking up the hills to my host’s home was quite the workout. Rua de Cedofeita is relatively quiet at all times of the day – definitely a nice place to sit at a cafe and relax.

I spent a total of 3 days in Porto and most of it in the old city. The first time I was in Porto was on my way from Santarem to catch a flight from the Porto airport. At that time I hadn’t noticed how ancient the city really is. When I walked through it in more detail the second time around, the age of the city was very apparent. All the buildings are crumbling before your eyes – obviously at a very slow rate – due in part to the age of the structures but also the governments lack of funding to restore them. In my opinion it is saddening that the government doesn’t invest more into its architecture and preserving the beauty the structures built so long ago.

Porto or Oporto is the second largest city in Portugal has been named the Best Destination 2014 in Europe. Back in 1387, John I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster joined the military forces of Portugal and England in the world’s oldest recorded military alliance. Today this city is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and produces some of the world’s finest port wines and cork products. (2)

P1020385The area by the Duoro River is gorgeous with its colourful buildings, patios, and port wineries. Here you can find vendors selling handmade souvenirs, patios of restaurants and cafes, and boat rides on the river. I found spending time by the river a relaxing way to get away from the bustle of the city streets up on the hill. The Port wineries that make Port wine famous are located along the river and have tours and tastings available to the public throughout the year. Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to take one of the tours, but there is always next time! (1) Another famous “delicacy” in Porto is the francesinha which is a sandwich made with usually with pork, melted cheese, and covered with a beer and tomato sauce. You can get this almost anywhere in Portugal but it is the best in Porto. If you are looking for a great place to have some coffee or a drink, Luis (another Couchsurfer) invited me out to a place called Breyner85 (see the link below). The interior was fantastic; it had a very french/burlesque feel to it with comfy chairs and large wooden tables. A great place!

Photo credit to "porto and the north - the essence of portugal"

Photo credit to “porto and the north – the essence of portugal”

View of the port wineries from the north side of the Duoro River

View of the port wineries from the north side of the Duoro River

Porto is an enchanting place and would be a great place to visit in the summer. There are many regions around the city that are worthwhile seeing and they are on my bucket list for next time.

Links

1. http://visitportoandnorth.travel
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porto#Early_history
3. http://www.breyner85.com
4. http://www.gooporto.com/porto-port-wine/

© Tijana Djokic and Eyes.Wide.Open., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, links, and photos may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Tijana Djokic and Eyes.Wide.Open with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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