The Stars Align – To Porto We Go!
Without giving it much thought, we headed across the Galician peninsula, enjoying a sunny day. We had expected it to take much longer but even with a detour for some amazing octopus for lunch, we suddenly found ourselves within a few kilometers from the Portugal border. Before the trip we had really wanted to spend some time in northern Portugal, but thought it would be too rushed….but here we were and the pull was just too great. A quick stop along the Rias Baixas allowed time to stretch our legs, enjoy the view of the river-meets-ocean and quickly look for a hotel in Porto that had parking for the rental car. Refreshed and newly excited at the prospect of spending some time in Porto, we speed across the border and on down to city, arriving just as the sun was setting.
We were immediately impressed by this historic city, found where the Douro River meets the Atlantic. With only 36 hours to explore this city where you could easily spend a week, we set out by foot to see what we could see and find what we could find!
What we found was a very pleasant city in which to wander. The streets in the old town weave every which way and the walk is not for the faint of heart as it has SanFran-style hills in every direction. The town is known for its azulejo (tile) facades on the old buildings, and while some buildings were in more of a state of disrepair than others, collectively they gave such an elegant and delicate look to the city.
Eventually, any walk through Porto will spit you out along the river. We crossed the river to the other side, having been told the view was magnificent from over there (it was) and that there were several port wine tastings and bodegas to visit on that side (there were.) While neither of us care much for port wine, we decided to take an express tour of one of the oldest bodegas in Portugal – Sandeman’s. It was a quick and simple 45 minute tour and we learned a thing or two and tasted a few ports (still not a fan!).
What goes up, must come down! It was a long walk back up the various hills to the business district where our hotel was located but lots to see, taste and smell along the way!
This is a city with many that provide a great view. This is from the top of the bell tower.
While 36 hours doesn’t allow for much time to develop an opinion, our inkling is that this is a city worth coming back to. The only thing we didn’t love was the food, but that was 100% because we made some poor choices. That said, even poor choices were great in Spain so we were left a little disappointed by that aspect…but we’ll get it right next time!