We went to Porto for a couple of days and had a fantastic time.
We decided to stay in the suburbs of Porto at a place called Venda Nova where there was a free car park, which had everything we needed for our camper van services – fresh water and a grey and black water dump area. The coordinates are 41.175400,-8.541520.
Venda Nova was also right next to the Metro. This was the overground part of the underground railway. It was just €1.60 per person per trip into the city and the same price to return. It was about 12 stops to the tourist part of the city and took about 30 minutes.
When you came out of the station at the top of the stairs the first thing you saw of interest was this nice church with blue and white tiles on it. This seems quite common in the city, with lots of other churches and buildings having the same decoration.
We then went to find the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world.
It really was in a very beautiful building with fabulous chandeliers, mirrors and coloured glass.
We had a cappuccino each to go. The place was full of Brits who had come for the football game this weekend. We lost to the Dutch and played the Swiss for the 3rd / 4th playoff. We came 3rd having won the penalty shootout. No one seemed excited!
We then climbed up a steep hill to the Clericos Tower. This was an unusual oval church that was recently restored. You could pay to see the church and tower or pay for each separately. We paid to go up the tower to see the city views but it turned out to be not that great. Because the place was so busy with visitors we had to wait 30 minutes to get up there.
The best two bits were being able to look down on the church from the inside and also, therefore, having a much better view of the ceiling etc.
And as we climbed the tower right next to it was a shopping centre with an underground car park but with a park on top.
How cool a design is that. You have a park but you also have some shops underneath and you have parking underneath that. More cities should introduce this awesome concept.
It was then time for us to go on a fabulous ride.
We took the circular tram ride on line 22 tram up to the cathedral. It was fun to go up and down hills.
When we changed routes the driver got up and took her chair to the other end of the tram where there was another driving area for her. However, that then left us all facing backwards.
But no problem man! The seat backs flip the other way so we can all get up, flip them back and face forward again. Clearly, Nige wasn’t happy being disturbed. The whole thing was great fun and cost €3.50 each for the circuit.
For all Harry Potter fans if you are in Porto then you must visit the famous book store.
It is surely the most beautiful bookstore in the world. And it’s called Livraria Lello.
It was breathtakingly beautiful but was just jam-packed with people. We did wonder if there were more people in there than books! It really was not worth €5 each to get in to see it. Maybe if the numbers were limited it would be, but it was just too packed to be able to enjoy it.
There were however a few places for a perfect shot, where you picked up the beauty of the place without 101 people in the picture.
The next site to see was the train station which like some of the churches and buildings was decorated with blue and white tiles.
During the peiod of construction of the station, Portugal changed from a monarchy to a republic. This was celebrated by adding a row of coloured tiles above.
We then walked over the top level of the Dom Luis I Bridge where we got great views over both sides of Porto and along the Douro river valley, however, the bridge was the most picturesque of all.
We then went down and along the Ribeiro district. Here there are amazing old houses facing the river, rich merchants supervising ships and supplies coming in and making deals with retailers etc. It is obvious the city must have been very wealthy and booming, the quality of the housing is excellent which is why it is all preserved and remains today.
We then walked up past the birthplace of Henry the navigator and then past the old refurbished metal market place, which now houses the Hard Club, which hosts rock gigs. It was then a long walk back up through the shipping street, via the Praca de Liberdade and back to the underground station and home.
We enjoyed Porto so much we went back the next day but this time we spent most of our day exploring the other side of the Dom Luis I Bridge.
However, before that, we went to the Majestic Cafe as today there was no queue whereas yesterday there was a long queue just to get in.
There’s a reason there are big queues to get in, it’s the most beautiful cafe in Porto.
Actually, it’s on the Top 10 of the most beautiful cafes in the world. It dates back to 1921 under the name of Elite.
Here we had our most expensive coffees so far on our trip. They were €6.00 each. But it felt worth it to sit in such rich splendour and dream of bygone days. The full breakfast inc champagne was €30 each. A bit too rich for us, but the place was packed with people eating it so clearly there’s plenty of money about.
We then walked across the Dom Luis I Bridge, on the lower level, to the other side of the river.
We walked along the dock area where there were plenty of photo opportunities.
Deby even got to try out her panoramic option on her camera again, so that we can all see a huge part of the other side of the river and the bridge.
On this side of the river, there were many port wineries and warehouses but we didn’t go on a port tour because we had only just recently gone on the sherry tour in Jerez and Deby getting drunk once this year was enough.
Down one side street we found some famous Porto street art.
The Half Rabbit was made by Bordallo II. It was created using materials that he had found and trash that he had gathered from around the city. Half of the piece is left unpainted and shows the elements’ original colours.
It was then time to take the cable car back up to the top level of the bridge.
It was a very short ride for a cable car and really expensive at €6.00 each ONE way!
Once we up there though it gave us another opportunity to take some more photos of that iconic bridge.
We had a great lunch in the Ribeira district, back in under one of the arches to a small square, where they served much bigger portions at much better prices.
And then it was a last walk up through the old town and back on the underground.
When we were looking up things to do in Porto nothing really stood out as amazing but when you get there this city really does have an amazing character. If you get a chance to visit, do it! You won’t be disappointed.