15 – 19 February
While getting lost in the fifth season of the year (Carnival) I decide to go on a little city break after all these shenanigans. I am heading to Porto, Portugal, where I have never been so far, to explore this city that so many poeple told me about and to visit a very valuable friend who decided to spend about six weeks there. Mild temperatures, blue skies and sunshine are waiting for me.
On my day of arrival we stroll around Porto’s city center and head down to the river to blend in with tourists and locals sitting on the promenade enjoying a coffee, the sun and the view. It is a lovely atmosphere – lively and tranquil at the same time. We cross Porto’s famous bridge Ponte Luis 1 and are amazed by some stunning views of the city at dusk from up there. Porto and its inhabitants seem to be simple but very friendly. My impression is that they are happy and don’t require much to enjoy life. The climate, the cuteness of this city and the access to water in form of a river as well as the Atlantic ocean certainly contribute their part.
After crossing the bridge again the next day, I learn a little more about and get to try Porto’s signature product: Port wine, which is a sweet red wine. The Southern river bank is all about Port wine and the view over the river and some old wooden boats carrying barrels of Port wine and the city center in the background is even more impressive from here. The architecture is noticeable as many houses are covered with tiles. Some of them are really colorful and give the city a very special charme. While walking around, the sun generously warms my back and puts smiles on people’s faces.
Around noon, I meet my friend for a fishy and delicious lunch on a local market before we catch a bus to the beach. What follows can easily be called a hike, since we start walking back to town, first a few kilometers down the beach and then a long way up the river until we reach the center again. We only stop at one of the beachbars to grab a coffee and to witness a gorgeous sunset. What a beautiful day.
When I wake up in the morning I can hear a familiar yet very unpleasent sound: rain. We quickly make our way to Cafe Majestic, a beautiful art nouveau cafe – supposedly the most beautiful one in the entire country. Since we are surrounded by water (river, ocean and even rain) we almost don’t have any other choice but to have seafood for lunch again. This time we treat us to a more upscale restaurant at the river and it really is worth every Cent. Actually, everything is very affordable in this part of Europe, no matter if food, drinks, clothes or accommodation. Our next stop is a bar with pool table and since it keeps on raining we finally head over to a loungy tea house/Buddha bar after hitting a couple of balls. By the time we get there our shoes as well as clothes are completely soaked so we decide to get changed before ending the day with strolling around a neighbourhood packed with nice bars.
Fortunately, all clouds and rain are gone the next morning so we can go and explore a little park located on top of a hill close to the center. We take it easy and allow ourselves to sit down to take in the sun, the view and the springy atmosphere. In the afternoon, followed by another chill out session – this time on a roof terrace – we decide to check out the Southern beaches as well. It is very windy and even though it is sunny we shortly have to seek shelter in a tiny beachbar where we snack a little and enjoy an afternoon nap while waiting for the sun to set. It is my last night in Porto and we still have one box to tick – eating tapas. Aparently, we are not the only ones who think it is a great way to spend a night in Porto as the tapas bar is completely packed. And as it turns out, the food is yummy, the drinks are tangy, the vibe is cozy and the company is lovely. The perfect finale and summary of my trip to Porto.