Porto

A short trip away, to finally soak some sun. We played our numbers on the second biggest city of Portugal, Porto! Located in the north, along the Atlantic Ocean. And we got away with it! We must admit: it was just luck, but we didn’t complain about the + 20°C in mid-March!

We arrived at the airport without cabin bags, always interesting if you’re short on time and want to make the most out of your trip. Landing around 2.30 PM, checked-in and on the go from the hotel at 4 PM. With the metro it’s a piece of cake to get in the city center from the airport. And it’s cheap! We payed € 4,5 each – return, including a small fee for the card. Be aware though: you have to buy one card per person.

The famous Casa da Musica, designed by Rem Koolhaas, is just minutes away from our hotel. We are too late for a guided tour, but the outside is very photogenic, as are the skaters around. The Cemiterio de Agramonte is also very close. We find cemetries very interesting, especially the ones in the southern countries of the EU. The death are treated as if they were still alive, within their own ‘city’. It truly is amazing to see pieces of art, like many of the graves are.

We are starting to get hungry (Portugal is one hour ahead of our time), and try our luck at the Mercado Bom Sucesso. This is a reconstructed food market, with a small division of fresh food. The market is not that big, but there are many (cheap) choices. After our early (for Portuguese people) dinner, we head to the Jardins do Palacio de Cristal.

The garden housed a real crystal palace once, but that’s a long time ago! The palace is replaced by the ugliest of ugly buildings, but the park itself is nice and offers a great view over de city center, the river and the sunset. Exactly why we came down here. It’s amazing! After a quick stop at the supermarket, we head back to our hotel and prepare for the next day. This was already a nice first impression of Porto!

Day 2 starts early (again: for Portuguese people, it’s 8 when we’re out, and we are literally alone in the streets – for our bodies it is 9 o’clock). On our way to the first stop, we pass an old – over 1000 years old is old! – Roman church. The contrast with the church next to it couldn’t be bigger … That first stop is the street art area around Rua de Miguel Bombarda. There are some nice pieces, but we are a bit disappointed there aren’t more … We even see an old men painting the few ones away … That’s off course the faith of street art, but it’s a pity.

We discover more street art later in the day, around the area of the railway station. It always pays to go into lesser walked streets! On our way to the most famous market of Porto, we bump into the Igreja del Carmo. A must visit church, not for the interior (although it is special too, with the gold leaved wooden architecture) but for the outside: one façade is decorated with ‘azulejo’s’ – the colored tiles for which Portugal is famous. We were told by our hotel host, the Mercado do Bolhao will close soon for reconstruction works.

Once arrived, we can totally understand why it has to be renovated! It’s not really what we expect from a market, but in long ago days, it must have been a beautiful place. Today it’s a bit (ahum) outdated. The next ‘azulejo’s’ must-see place is the train station of Sao Bento. We saw the entrance hall once in a tv-show, but if you’re in front of the walls, it is just impressive! The tiles tell different stories, important to the Portuguese history, or express some every day scenes from decades ago. From the railway station, it is just a short walk to the cathedral and the episcopal palace.

And from there, you have a beautiful view over the city at your feet. Since the weather is so good, we decide to walk all the way to the oldest cemetery of Porto – the Cemiterio do Prado do Repouso. I read something about a special grave and a hooker, but in the end, we cannot find it. It is a nice ‘city in the city’ and the birds peep like their lives are depending on it (pun intended 😉 ). We take a look at the Bridge of Maria Pia – the real Eiffel bridge, and have some trouble to find our way down to the river, but we conquer the Port bush and can walk all the way back towards the bridge constructed by Eiffel’s pupil: the Ponte Luis I. Where the cemetery and Maria Pia bridge were very quite, we find ourselves back in the touristic hustle and bustle.

But the bridge is impressive nonetheless! We cross it on the lower deck, climb through a little part of Gaia towards Jardim do Morro (the park is closed for construction works) and then climb even higher to the monastery. This is an amazing lookout! After a well deserved rest, we cross the bridge again via the higher deck (and we watch out for crossing trams), and go to the final destination of the day: the Torre de Clerigos. At 4 euro per person we climb the many steps to a lookout platform, and we see the city once again at our feet.

#porto #360view #travel #wanderlust #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

We are tired as … but this day was a very nice one, we walked about 20 km according to our build-in step counter…

Day 3 will be a lot easier than yesterday! We go to the beach! The weather is beautiful, and we walk down to the Ribeira precinct, along the waterfront. At this time, the tourists are still sleeping, so we can have a look at this place without the mass. The coloured houses are nice, but our goal today is the ocean. We take tram 1 (yes, sometimes we do use transport that appears to be solely constructed for tourists) and after about half an hour we arrive at Foz.
We find a bakery and with our lunch we start our walk along the river towards the ocean.

The waves beat against the jetty. Where the river is so easy, the power of the ocean shows off! The beach is not the most beautiful one of Portugal, but we enjoy it! We end our day – and walk – at Matosinhos. We find our dinner at a nice place, a bit away from the crowdy beach (we had a look at the street with all the fish restaurants, but eating between the exhaust fumes of queueing cars and trucks is not our notion of a lovely meal). Today we walked once again about 10km. We find the metro back towards our hotel, lay our feet to rest and pack our bags.

A nice weekend, a lovely city!

#porto #360view #wanderlust #travel #portigal #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

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