A week in Porto

A week in Porto, October 2018

Day 1.

We took the metro from the airport (you each need a ticket, you can't put two trips on the same ticket) and walked along the busy Rue de Santa Catarina to find our modern apartment housed in an old narrow building next to a bank.

Bags dropped, we set off without much of a plan. Past a church (Santo Ildefonso) through a square with cafes (Praça da Batalha), down by the National Theatre and left at the Cathedral to find the Luis I bridge.

I was already impressed how much there was to see and for every direction we chose there looked to be two more to explore.

The bridge is a great place to get your bearings. You can see Porto riverside restaurants on one side starting very near the bridge.

Left side you'll see a mountain rail, €2.50 to get you up the hill from the base of the bridge. We were to take it a couple of times.

Over the bridge is the city of Vila Nova de Gaia.
At the top is the Jardim do Morro, "hill garden". It's a really peaceful space even with lots of people around at Sunset.

There is a cable car or you can wind down the narrow streets to the bottom of the bridge and walk along the front.

There we found (literally) boat loads of tourists, some of the port wine company bars/wine tasting tours, restaurants and a very interesting church.

We found another route back up just in time to join almost everyone for Sunset.

Opted not to have churros from Farturas.

Day 2.

Starting from Praça da Liberdade (which would translate to "Liberty Square" but it stretches up a slope to the city hall and is much longer than wide). Great reaction from tourists, smiling as they walked past me.

Igreja da Trindade is a little higher up:

The queue for the famous Livraria Lello bookshop, apparently JK Rowling used to frequent it when she lived in Porto and now it has it own ticket office in a shop higher up the road:

Walk past some VW Beatles, find the Jardim da Cordoaria "Rope makers garden" and then a longer walk to Jardins do Palácio de Cristal

Another kind of Beatles?

It was a choice then between finding the Museum of Contempory Art or winding down to river front further and walking along the river to get to the Atlantic. The later seemed easier to navigate.

Odds of a tourist taking a selfie, 1 in 3.

We took a tram back to see Praça da Liberdade in a new light and we found the tiled São Bento station.

As we sit down to eat just up from the riverside that's over 22km walked (we averaged around 16km a day) and I start to find some curious shop windows.

Day 3.

Started off looking for a tour company office in the Casa da musica area. Found a little more JKR inspiration (griffin) and more shop windows.

A coffee and cake with a view of two churches that have been built side by side with a very narrow house in between. Oh, I found David Cameron lurking in a church.

The narrow house in between the two churches:

Religion does seem to pay

The sun ages everything

Torre dos Clérigos which we didn't get up due to a usual 45 minute queue.

Visited Lello when there was a much smaller queue but its still stacked with people inside:

Liberty Square with reflection from a car roof:

Well worth a visit the catherdral, even though the main area was under repair there was lots to see.

I can't remember how we ended up down by the water, probably a walk after a meal.

Day 4.

Set off from São Bento station to Aveido, very much NOT Portugal's answer to Venice dispite the gondalas on the canal and a handful of misleading tripadvisor reviews. Wouldn't go back, we'd try a train trip to Braga instead next time.

Costa nova is a bus ride from Aveido. It is a narrow strip of land between the Ocean and a lagoon. Could have had longer here but with a bus and then a train to catch back a little walk and drink by the Ocean had to do.

Day 5.

Santo Ildefonso was right by our appartment, if it was good enough for a coach tour then we better have a peek.

We bought some very aromatic coffee here, you see very few shops like this in England. In Porto there seemed to be a small shop for everything.

Walking down to the riverfront, perhaps some more inspiration for JK?

We opted for one of the smallest port tasting places, with not much of a museum and a tiny cellar they didn't charge for the "tour" at all but you could optionally do some port tasting afterwards. We shared a 10 euro tasting set of white/rose/tawny/ruby ports.

That was supposed to be walk along on the South (Vila Nova de Gaia) side of the river till we reach the Atlantic and walk down past very quiet beaches and a couple of nice beach front cafes. This was the walk we'd have repeated if we'd had an extra day.

The Douro valley is where the port is made, we took a "relax douro" trip with cooltours. Only 6 of us in a nice minivan with a great guide/driver. A couple from Lisbon, one of which turned out to be the voice of the Portugese Postman Pat and an american couple. I'm not usually a big fan of tours but the company was great and we could go where it would be impossible in a large coach. Wine tasting with a very nice meal and a boat trip followed by some cheese and a port cocktail at a vineyard high up on the hillside.

We chose to be dropped off with the Americans by the water and with only a few minutes tried hard to get up to see the Sunset at the viewpoint. On the flat we'd have made it but with the climb we were a little late. Instead of a Sunset I found a cat, a fair trade.

Day 7.

We wondered around some of out favorite areas exploring some of the less main streets and we had a look at the Photography museum in an imposing ex prison building.

Shop fronts and side streets.

And another explore near the riverside at night.

Tramline cat seemed to like people and Bon Jovi coming from the cafe.

Equipment used, Sony 5R + 8mm fisheye lens and a Sony RX100Va.

Posted on October 17th, 2018

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