Thursday, September 16, 2010

Surprise, it's Porto

It's been a busy time over here in Portugal. Peter surprised me with a trip to Porto, we stayed in a manor house castle which was at the top of the hill. We dumped our bags and went to explore this ancient and beautiful city, with small streets full of houses to the river front and the tourist restaurants and cafes with the bright coloured umbrellas and the ancient churches and buildings with litter the whole city.

First stop, as always with us is the local market. Here this subterranean space was full of vegetables, fish, meat, olives, bread, garlic and plastic flowers! Yep, plastic ... maybe for all the saint shrines?

Once the market was well and truly photographed we went on to explore the inner streets, it is totally stunning with the tram running up the cobbled streets. We had the trusty Rough Guide with us to help us, but as normal, hardly ever looked at it (only when we wanted a place for dinner really). Instead we climbed up to the look out point on the top of Porto. From here you can see for miles across the city, river and beyond.

From the top of the world you can walk across the famous bridge which gives you amazing views across the river. The Metro runs right along side, it would never happen in London, where you can play chicken with the Metro!

One thing we didn't do this time was walk over the bridge to the other side of the river where the Port houses offer tastings and tours. Far too many things to do in Porto, which did include sitting at a bar drinking beers and me getting too drunk too quickly. Never good I tell it ended up in a dash around town looking for somewhere for me to eat my dinner to dry up some of the beer!

Day two, rested (of a sort, just a mild headache) we toured on foot again and saw the smallest house in Porto. Built between two churches as the law stipulates that two churches cannot share a wall (this is the house in the photo below with the railings in front of it). We went into one of the churches, well you've seen one you've seen them all eh! This one had something I'd never seen before - a saint, a story and a collection box. So, you get to choose which saint to donate your euros to.

Of course any tour of any city would not be without a coffee stop (and a cake) every so often. Although Cafe Majestic is very famous, we were seated inside the fab building, with lovely linen and bustling waiters, but alas it was far to posh for us, so we headed to cafe up the road.

We both totally loved Porto, it is a great mix of old and new, city and river, cafes and bars. Next time we go I promise not to get too drunk too quickly and we can stay out past 10.30pm!

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