Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 63-66: Porto: Part 1

Another almost week of not posting! I had very good intentions to keep up my good track record, then I realized how much work I had to do before the past weekend and failed miserably. Here's Part 1 of what I did in Porto Portugal!

So, before going to Porto, I'd never really heard of it. I had tried port once, liked it even though it was odd, and knew that I would like to go to Portugal. I have an aunt by marriage who is originally from Portugal, or her parents were. Their family, including 2 of my cousins, have gone back in the past couple of years so I knew I wanted to check it out eventually. When the girls asked if I was up for Portugal, of course I agreed. Sunny weather and warm temperatures after being in the minuses for so long? Bring it on!

We headed out for another early flight from Stansted, this time catching the train. I will not be missing those morning flights or that airport. Since I can't sleep in when I'm traveling, I was up almost an hour early yet again. No troubles getting to the airport, but I almost got checked when going through security. The guy was nice enough to let me find the possible offending objects and not unpack the entirety of my bag. The flight was a little over 2 hours, about the same as Madrid. As soon as we got off the plane, we knew it was going to be a good weekend. We arrived there about 12 and could feel the warmth of the sun and the heat in the air. It smelled like summer. After clearing passport control and such, we took a bus to the city centre to go and find the hostel. It was kind of surreal going from fog and damp weather to sun and palm trees. Reminded me a lot of Florida.

We arrived early to the hostel and they actually knew us by name. The Gallery Hostel is definitely one to stay in if you get the chance to go to Porto! It's relatively new but so beautiful, more like a hotel in reality. Had lunch just up the street from the hostel at an adorable little tea room before checking in and going out to explore. We shopped a little and had supper next to the River Duoro in a cute little restaurant, with giant portions and a kind of crappy waiter. We headed from there just up the street to a port wine tasting room, where we tried three kinds of port and I realized I don't really like it all that much. It wasn't bad for sipping, but we tried to drink most of what we were given to try. The vintage and tawny was a tie for me. The guy at the tasting bar was very helpful, gave us lots of information about the differences in port and which pairs well with what types of food. We all left with a little buzz on and walked up the many hills of the Duoro valley. Least favourite part was those hills haha. Saw a concert at the local university as we walked back, very random but kind of cool, and it was off to bed shortly after to prepare for the next day.

orange tree in the tea garden
more space than we've ever had in a room!

 L: the hotel entryway / R: walking down to the main square

main square
pretty flowersss
random water feature in the square
first sight of the Duoro


Click through for Saturday's adventure!

Saturday morning wasn't too early, but up early enough for breakfast. Again another change in how the Portuguese eat breakfast, good all the same. I really loved the rolls and having little pieces of cake, but no tea for me sadly. We got up and on the go to find the port cellars across the river and head out to find a beach.

It was warm again but due to my aversion to the sun I toughed it out in leggings/tunic and a cardigan. It's not like I was sweating, except for when we stood in the sun, but I didn't want to have to deal with a burn. We found our first little market on the same side where we had supper the night before. The other girls bought a few souvenirs, I just took in the scenery. We walked across the bridge and found a picture spot for views of the river. Got a little sidetracked and went the wrong way to get to the cellars but we did find them eventually. Had planned on doing a tour that day but because of timing and the way the tours were booked, we decided to book for the next day instead of waiting around for a couple of hours. It was off in search of a beach.

We found the tram pretty easily and took a slow ride to the beach. Didn't make it all the way as the tram only went so far and it was a very long beach. I still think we walked a little too far in that sun and heat. The coast was beautiful and it was nice to be near the ocean. We all had lunch and I found a table in the restaurant to stay away from the sun, it was nice just being outside in the breeze. Got the bus around 3 and headed back to the main area to do some shopping. I didn't end up buying much, just because I didn't really find many things I needed. Tried to make sure I wasn't going to overspend on anything. Headed back to the hotel and had a traditional meal of tapas, with Portuguese foods. It was quite tasty. We had plans to go out drinking and explore the night life, but S and I both fell asleep after supper and our naps continued for many hours. I was fine with it, one of the better sleeps I've had and sincerely needed. The pictures are all in order, except for the bridge ones below, so no captions here!

And that was the first two days of Porto! There are some photos floating around of the supper that night too, but I haven't stolen them yet. More pictures from Portugal and the next two days when I update again, hopefully tomorrow!

Til next time! 

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