I can`t really explain why it took me so long to go to Portugal. As a Brazilian living in Spain, this should be the perfect country: As close as it gets and they speak my native language. Also I pass through Lisbon`s airport at least twice a year on my way to visit my family back home. But for some reason I never had the time to spend more than a couple of hours in this beautiful country… Until I decided to accept my Portuguese friend Tiago invitation to spend a long weekend in Porto, Portugal, the land of Sardines and the most charming riverside city!
We spent a few days in a country house before going to the city, so in the end I had a little more than 2 days to explore the city. But Im glad to say that since Porto is not really a big city, so in two days you can have a pretty good idea of the city and it`s charms…
I am not going to give you an organised route of what to see in Porto for two reasons:
1) I didn`t follow one, I hardly ever do when traveling – I prefer to discover the city as I go, to get lost in it, with a couple of reference points just not to waste time;
2) I did this trip before having the blog so I didn`t write down the places that I saw (shame on me, I know… This won`t happen again!). Tripadvisor will give you a good list of places to see and can be used as a base guide, but I chose to focus on wandering around the coloured streets of the old town and watching the sunset by the river with a glass of Porto wine in hand, and the result was a great one as you will see in the pictures here!
As an architect (yes, besides being a photographer, I`m originally an architect) Porto is an impressive city. With some amazingly preserved exemples of baroque and Portuguese colonial buildings, like the churches with the typical white and blue tiles, my eyes – and my camera – where having a great time. This kind of architecture one can only find in Portugal and some former colonies like Brasil (Minas Gerais and Parati would be a great example of that in my home country).
On my first day exploring Porto I didn`t have a great weather, it was cloudy so I choose to explore the city centre, do some shopping and visit the famous Lello Bookstore (that appears on one of the Harry Potter movies) and the Center of Portuguese Photography (a former jail that is now the headquarters of a kind of Disneyland for photographers – their camera`s collection is to die for!).
Luckily the bad weather gave in in the late afternoon and I had a glimpse of blue skies and a beautiful sunset. Photography tip: Cloudy days usually turn into beautiful sunsets, the clouds adding some texture to the colourful sky…
The river Douro separates Porto from Gaia. On the other side of the river you find the wine cellars… Where you can not only taste the famous Porto wine, but learn about it`s history and how it is made. It is really easy to get there: All you need to do is cross the Luis I bridge.
At night my friends took me for drinks in this really traditional and yet kind of alternative place called Adega Leonor. I was surprised to find out that Porto is one of the main Erasmus city and thus, full of students. That means… Some crazy parties! And really cheap drinks (like a beer for 0,50 eur!). After the first place we went to another one called Armazem do Chá (translation: the Tea Warehouse.) I did find some hot drinks there, but not exactly tea…
Sadly the place is closed now. The place is now called Adega Sports Bar and it`s from the same owner as Adega Leonor.
Next day, hangover free (I was careful the night before) I woke up to a beautiful day. Time to grab the camera and go photograph some more. The old town with it`s beautiful little buildings and a lot of colours was my destiny. To make the day even brighter, wondering around the streets I found this view:
One of the most famous icons of Porto is the Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos Tower), a baroque monument that is part of the Clérigos church. Built in 1763 it is 75 meters high and was once considered the tallest building of the city. You can go up there, but Ill warn you: It takes almost 250 steps to get up there… (No. I didn`t go up, laziness got to me).
I finished my tour with a different view of the city: From a boat. There are a lot of companies that will take you on tours through the river, and the view is beautiful… I highly recommend doing this, my tour was a short one but the opportunity to see the city from another point of view is unique.
This was my last day, sadly I had to leave the next morning, but I couldn`t miss the chance to have a great local dinner and try the famous Portuguese grilled sardines with some Vinho Verde (green wine, a local wine, fresh and delicious). I plan on going to Lisbon this summer so stay tuned, more Portuguese adventures coming soon on Guiri Insider!