– An overview of a day spent in Porto (summer 2015) –
8AM: Yawn. It’s the first official day of our trip, and we’re slowly waking up in our cozy studio in Foz do Douro, which is a bit outside of the center of Porto. Since I can’t function without breakfast, we head to the small, local mercado just around the corner for some coffee, eggs and fruit. The morning fog has yet to clear up, but it’s promising to be a beautiful day. When we’re all dressed and ready to go, we take our tiny Fiat Panda and drive to Porto “city”.
10.45AM: Thank god for our small car, because parking spots aren’t exactly easy to be found. After quite a bit of driving around, we do manage to find a fairly good spot. Taking the bike from Foz do Douro to the city would have probably caused the same amount of sweat, but driving alongside the water might have been more relaxing.
11AM: Time to explore some sights! Porto is like a smaller version of Lisbon, so I love it straight away. We head over to the beautiful Sao Bento railway station and admire the blue tiles on the out- and inside. I know I’ll be seeing lots of architectural beauty and Portugal’s typical tiles on our upcoming trip, and am already pleased about that. We also hop in for a quick visit in the church next door, of which I already forgot the name and how it looks like. When you’re in Asia, they call this temple fatigue – the same can count for churches.
12AM: We do some walking around in the shopping streets nearby, which are all pretty cozy and not too crowded. Just take some time roaming around and you’ll spot plenty of cute stores and fun places to eat without a doubt. Since it’s time to start thinking about lunch (you should know by now my life mainly revolves around food), we head over to the area near the Cais da Ribeira.
1PM: The restaurants by the water are a little bit too touristy for our taste, so we decide to look for something local in the maze of streets we walked down to reach the water. We end up in a small spot that doesn’t even look like a restaurant, where a grandma and her mother seem to run the place and don’t understand a single word of English. In any case, after some hand gesturing and the three words of Portuguese my boyfriend speaks, we end up with an abundance of food on our table.
2PM: Our bellies are filled to the max and the sun is shining bright by now, so we walk a little walk further to digest all that food. We cross the famous bridge (Ponte de D. Louis) to the other side, where there’s a market along the water. We quickly figure out that if you want to take a wine slash port tour or tasting, this is where you need to be.
2.45PM: Lunch hasn’t even digested yet and we’re already downing five different ports 45 minutes later – guess this is what living the yolo life is all about. But who’s complaining with a view like this?
4.30PM: Okay, now we might need to walk off a little afternoon buzz. When crossing the bridge, you can choose two ways – the one on the bottom and the one on the top. I’m super convinced we can walk all the way up – but my boyfriend claims that’s the alcohol speaking and says it’s better to take the elevator up. In retrospect, I might have to agree with that decision. When we reach the top, we’re greeted by this magnificent view.
5.30PM: Many, many pictures later we walk back to the area around the shopping streets (near the train station) to go and take a peek inside Livraria Lello. Earlier that day there was a huge line just to go in, and I wasn’t quite feeling that. Things have calmed down by now and we can just go in. This bookstore is one of the oldest in Portugal and is rated one of the top in the world, thanks to its beautiful Art Nouveau decor. It also used to be frequented by J.K. Rowling and supposedly served as an inspiration for the Harry Potter books. Do go in here when you’re in Porto, even though you probably will not get a picture on the stairs alone, it’s something special to see.
7PM: After exploring some more sights and neigborhoods, our feet decide it’s time to head back to Foz for some refreshment and dinner afterwards.
10.30PM: Spoiler alert: we never made it to dinner. After our host (who was very friendly, spiritual and had traveled all around the world) invited us in for tea, we got out so late that all the restaurants were closed. Luckily, we already had quite a lot of food and still had some tapas in our studio. The night might have ended slightly dramatic with me spilling a glass of red wine all over the yellow wall and our bed – but luckily the friendly host forgave me and never made a problem out of it.
Want to read more? Check out our two week itinerary in Portugal.