Porto in Portugal
Porto in Portugal
Check out my video from Porto on YouTube.
Obrigado Porto e Gaia for all these beautiful moments I got. I was found myself at Porto in Portugal at 16th to 20th of November 2021. I have to say that I loved every moment at Porto. Wandering around the city was so educational for me. Just to observe all these wonderful buildings with the fine architecture from 1800s. Especially, I loved the blue painted tiles at the external walls of the houses. Moreover, I can assure you that you will be amazed by all these gilded churches inside.
And…of course there is wine. Fine aged-vintage or not. Ruby or white. There is so much sweet fine wine at the wineries in Gaia to taste. I am sure I tried them all. Har…har… But, let’s start our wandering to the city.
Porto Accommodation ¼
Since Porto in Portugal has so many uphill and downhill roads, we chose to stay centrally enough. Hence, we chose the hotel da Bolsa. Hotel is located near da Bolsa palace and at the starting point of the mercantile pedestrian street of rua das Flores. Our room and the bathroom were clean, as they were cleaning and changing towels every day. Also, there was a flat screen TV. A tv which you will never open, since the city is sooo beautiful and has sooo many to do.
Moreover, the personnel were discreet and very welcoming. At the breakfast hall they putted nata (local custard dessert) every day and all the other components (cheese, ham, eggs, croissant etc) were truly fresh. But, you have to squeeze your oranges by yourself, if you want fresh orange juice. That is to say, that we ate over there 2 out of 4 days, since breakfast had no variety.
It has a big hairdryer in the bathroom with temperature and speed settings. Not the small ones.
No fridge inside the room. No soundproof rooms.
Overall, it was a nice experience, since indeed it was close to the city center and we could have it as a base.
Porto bars & coffee places 2/4
At the Ribeira of Porto in Portugal there are many bars and coffee places where you can have also breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can taste francesinha toast or bakalhau-cod fish. In other words, they have everything.
I loooved the Andreia Calixto’s tapas bar. They served us white sangria with tuna pate and salted olive oil with bread and olives. We enjoyed every bite of the pate with the view of the Douro River.
On the other hand, you can walk to the Ponte D. Luis I bridge and cross over to the other side of the city, at Gaia. Over there, there are many small bars at the coastal road. Most of them can offer you different choices of port wine from the Douro valley vineyards.
Bar Soares & café Soraya at the coastal avenue de Ramos Pinto at Gaia are two of them.
And the Beira Douro bar from 1963 has many choices of sangria with a twist. Blue, red or yellow. With red fruits, passion fruit, cinnamon, tropical and many more tastes.
Now’ do you want something sweet? Of course, you will try nata, which is a custard dessert. You’re gonna love it.
In the same vein, Cremosi at Porto in Portugal has many desserts. I loved the mango tart and cheesecake chocolate with framboise. And it’s open until late.
Moreover, boutique do gelado has so unique flavors of ice-cream. From a brazilian acai berries and passion fruits to mango and dark chocolate.
Porto Eateries ¾
At the alleys of the old city, you can find many hidden gems to eat in. To clarify, there are so many small cozy places to enjoy a port wine accompanied with a charcuterie board.
Bilha Nova is among them. It stole my heart, because of the friendliness and effectiveness of the staff. They gave us their knowledge for the wines to help us choose the best one for our meal selections. The scenery is completed by a winter addition of big butternut squash pumpkins and the fine taste of delicious olives and cheeses-ham plates. It was a succulent feast.
However, our Portuguese food exploring didn’t end there. We tried also Clube 21-Passos Manuel. In an enjoyable warm environment with beautiful decorations we had a nice meal. The atmosphere was cheerful and all the waiters were so helpful. Most importantly, the meat was well served and deliciously cooked. Our waiter cut it appropriately for us to enjoyed it even more.
On the other hand, if you want something quick, you can have a sweet nata while you are walking. We wanted something savory, so we picked a sandwich. An extremely tasty sandwich though. Where?, you will ask. We chose a small wooden traditional breakfast-brunch-small bites place to taste. A Sandeira do Porto. If you are passing by, maybe you will miss it. It is so small. But, if it is a rush hour, you will find it, since outside there is a line waiting. Unfortunately, they only accept cash in here too. Seems to me that in Porto do not care about covid-19 restrictions (do not transfer money from hand to hand). Anyway…
We arrived really late at night-early morning. There were only two places opened in the city, where you can eat until 02:00am. The turkish Estambul doner kebap and the adjacent McDonald’s.
Check out my video from Porto on YouTube channel.
Porto Activities 4/4
At Porto in Portugal you have to go mind-determined that you will walk a lot. Therefore, I do not know how the residents manage with their daily routine. Since, hills are inside their everyday life, they must be very fit. Anyway, your feet are the appropriate way to see the city in general and the architecture in particular.
Da Bolsa palace
The Palacio da Bolsa is a fine sample of this wonderful architecture. It’s currently using as a stock-market, but it maintains the magnificent glory of the past. The ballroom was particularly impressive with the 20kilos gold leaves and light blue prints on the walls. Certainly, you can hire this space for your private event, with a ↑ price.
Do not forget to enjoy the main staircase with the painting of ladies Culture, Agriculture, Industry and Motherland. Those 4 represent the axioms on which the Portuguese system was built.
Of course, you have to follow one of the performed tours, as there’s not allowed to wander around the building alone. But, they give you so much info at the tours, so it is totally worth it. You can learn about the 1,5 tones of chandeliers and the courtroom of the dictator Salazar. They will show you the furniture from the strong French oak that it is still alive today and the fine marquetry that every floor has. Most importantly, you can see the Gustave Eiffel’s desk where he designed the Maria Pia bridge of Porto in Portugal.
There is so much plaster inside this building. However, you cannot recognize it, cause it is hidden to resemble like marble or wood.
At Porto in Portugal, there are so many magnificent churches to see. Consequently, in my opinion, it is an appropriate city for religious tourism. The Igreja de São Francisco, the Igreja de Santa Clara, the church at Torre dos Clérigos and the cathedral Sé do Porto were magnificent and causes you a true awe. Similarly, they have this architecture stunningly decorated with imposingly carved gilded wood. Especially, the San Francisco church has about 300kilos of gold leaves upon the wood carvings. I enjoyed my time over there very much, even though I am not familiar with the architecture. But, they all had remarkable wood carvings.
Likewise, do not forget to visit the catacombs under the church of San Francisco (from 1410). Υour soul will flutter in the ossuary as you wonder what these bones did in earthly life. -Mine did.- Who they were and why they died? – I was wondering.- Did they perform the purpose for which they came to earth? Did they die with posthumous fame and glory or not?
On the opposite side of this beautiful tour inside these churches, I have to mention my surprise about the entrance tickets. I consider my self as a faithful Christian Orthodox, so I can not put a price to faith and religion.
In Greece, we consider the churches as the asylum of the soul. Hence, no one forces you to pay to go inside either to pray or just to look into it.
For 14 euros you can take a boat to go for a sightseeing tour at the Douro river. Be careful, since during winter the tour will last 50minutes, but you will not have a tour guide on the boat. On the other hand, during summer the tour will last 30 minutes. It comes with commentary to give you sufficient details of each point of interest. There are 6 bridges connecting Porto and Villa Nova de Gaia/Gaia and the boat will show you all of them.
Of course this trip would not be complete if I did not go to a winery. So, I went. In 2 wineries. Ferreira and Graham’s. You can learn many useful information to these tours about the fermentation and the sugar incorporation to the must. Most of all, you can learn about the pickup process of the grapes.
At the Ferreira we saw old calculators and Donna Antonia’s replica dress. In addition to that we saw the old fountain which used to freshen the horses in the middle of the square.
On the other hand, we enjoyed even more our tour to Graham’s, since we learned about the aged process in casks and bottles. Additionally, we heard about the blend process of port wine since always there are many varieties together. At the end, we had our wine tasting with the view of the Douro river.
Actually, you could lose yourself among all these vats and casks around you. One of them can have 70 thousand liters of wine. So, we learned about the concrete containers, the dated vintage ruby port wine and how the oinologists arrange bottling each one of them. A really hard work, since there more than 100 different varieties of grapes in Douro valley.
Above all, at the end of each tour, you will taste few wines. Hick…hick…hiiiccckkk!
I advise you to avoid the funicular-cable car at Gaia. The 3minutes walk from the Serra do Pilar to the coastal road is too quick to enjoy the view. Certainly, the 6 euros fee do not justify such a short walk.
Choose one of the monuments like Clerigos Tower, Serra do Pilar, Ponte D. Luis I bridge or Cathedral’s Tower to enjoy a 360o view of the city.
Most of the small-local stores at the main pedestrian street, called rua das Flores, are asking for cash. For sandwich or souvenirs, you have to pay by cash. The same rule applies to the archaeological museum.
But be careful with these ATM machines outside the stores, as the commission the bank receives in every money-withdraw is quiet large.
To sum up, the city combines the fine architecture of wood carving with the wine tasting. You’re gonna love it.
Travel tip: useful telephones for Porto
- National museum’s tel: (Soares dos Reis) +351 22 339 3770
- General Hospital tel: (Geral de Santo António) +351 22 207 7500
- Police’s tel: 112 (the European number)
- Porto’s airport tel: +351 291 520 700
- Taxi’s tel: +351 22 099 7336
SoS: If you do not want to walk, you can hire a tuk-tuk car to lead you to the monuments up in the hill.