On our last night in Porto – or should I say morning – it was 1:38 a.m. and I was wide awake writing this post. Not by choice, believe me. Lesson learned, never – ever – book a hotel room on a bustling riverfront, on a Friday night, where there are bars and restaurants just below your hotel room window. Oy vey!
We walked into Santiago de Compostela on Saturday, May 16 and on Monday, May 18 we crawled out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to catch a train to Porto. Portugal wasn’t on our radar when we left home, but while in Santiago we realized how close we were and decided it was just too tempting, so we got ourselves on that early morning train and spent 5 days in Porto. Four of those days were spent in a lovely quiet apartment but we had to give it up the morning of our last day – hence the hotel room. The hotel is a story in itself but I’ll spare you the aggravating details.
I am half Portuguese but sadly have no connection to my heritage so it was great fun to spend time in Porto. I had no idea the Portuguese have a love of colored tiles and a connection with a rooster who crows to save the lives of innocents. Ya gotta love it!
I will confess though that my love affair with good pastry was tested in Porto, I found the Portuguese pastry too heavy. That may not be a bad thing since we’re headed to France for 10 days. Good thing I just did all of that walking!
Built on the hills along the Duoro River, Porto has a style all its own and of course it’s home to the world’s finest Port Wine cellars. What more could you ask for? More? Okay, well, there’s enough history to keep the history buffs busy, there’s cathedrals like you’ve never seen and a vibrant riverfront – just don’t book a hotel there – and the Luis I Bridge that makes one think of the Eiffel Tower.
There’s a bookstore – with a wickedly red staircase – that is beyond classic and rumor has it J.K. Rowlings gleaned a great deal of inspiration from said bookstore while sipping coffee upstairs.
There are two things that the Porto visitor must do. #1 While in Porto one must spend the better part of a day visiting and touring a few of the wine cellars and of course tasting goes without saying.
#2 The Duoro River is such an integral part of Porto, one would be remiss not to spend time on a boat, on the river. The Duoro Valley is just beautiful with terraced hillsides lush and green with grape vines. It’s a lovely and relaxing way to while away the day.
Five days, of course, is not nearly long enough to connect with one’s heritage, but our time in Porto certainly gave me more than I’ve ever had. I thoroughly enjoyed the city. The culture, the river, the love of color, the busyness of the city and the whimsy of the rooster. It’s all there.
Maybe one day we’ll return to Portugal to explore further, but for now I’m content. Porto e’ uma parte de mim!