Weekend spent in Porto, Portugal fills me with both good and bad memories. Great, as I totally felt in love with Porto from the first sight. Bad, because unfortunately both me and Wojtek got sick before leaving to Porto which made enjoying this beautiful place much harder.
In love with Porto
Do you know this feeling when you arrive to the place you’ve never been to and immediately fall in love with it? Well, this is exactly how I felt when, after a short flight from Berlin Schonefeld, I made the first step on the Portuguese land.
From the Francisco Sa Carneiro airport we took a subway and it took us about 1 hour to get to Vila Gaia de Nova. Since our trip started on Friday after work we reached destination place quite late and headed to the hotel directly. We stayed at Holiday Inn at Vila Nova de Gaia. Holiday Inn is one of the tallest buildings in the city (hard to miss it from plane) and we were very lucky to het a room on the top floor with a great view of the Douro River:
Due to the cold, runny noses and total lack of power we decided not to push ourselves too hard when it comes to exploring a city and even took into consideration spending whole weekend at the hotel simply enjoying two days off and Portuguese wine. However the view we saw from our window after getting up Saturday morning was so impressive that despite the bad conditions, we decided to give it a try and make small sightseeing.
Old Town, Porto
First thing we noticed after leaving hotel: it’s warm here!! 15 degrees and the lovely sun in the middle of January when you just came from cold, grey Berlin – this is definitely something to appreciate! After few tram stops from Vila Nova de Gaia we reached Jardim do Moro, beautifuly situated park and a viewpoint for Douro river, bridge Ponte Dom Luis I and the Ribeira – old town with it’s charming tenements located along the river.
Ponte Dom Luis I is a double-decked metal bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel’s student and built in 1886. Lower deck is for car traffic and upper is for public transport and pedestrains. It spans Douro River between the Porto old town and Vila Nova de Gaia and gives a special character to the Porto’s most visited point.
Jardim do Moro is a perfect place if you want to rest and catch some sunrays. I can totally imagine myself spending whole Sunday lying on the blanket with a good book and cup full of warm coffee!
To get to the Ribeira, you have to cross the bridge and than take either stairs down or a cable car. We decided to walk down and than take a cable car back.
The old town with it’s tenement houses has it’s own specific charm. Walking along the riverside or sitting on the bench with face turned to the sun and listening to the street musician is really, really relaxing.
Taylor’s Port Winery in Porto
Next spot on out travel map was one of the best known wineries in Porto, Taylor’s Port cellars. It’s located in Vila Nova de Gaia, opposite site of river than Old Town.
In Taylor’s Port for 12 euro you can walk along the cellars full of huge wooden barrels of wine (impressive!), listen to the audio-guides telling the story of Port wine, watch videos and photos and experience wine tasting. At the end of wine tour guests are presented with two of Taylor’s iconic Port wines invented by Taylor’s in the 1930’s and 1970’s respectively. Both tasted excellent!
Capela das Almas and azulejos, Porto
On the next day we had a long recovery sleep and had very limited time for futher exploring. From the wide range of interesting places to see we chosen Capela das Almas – church from 18th century, all covered with azulejos.
Azulejos are ceramic, usually square shaped pieces decorating various Portuguese buildings. Capela das Almas itself is covered with exactly 15947 azulejos tiles which is very impressive. You can see more of them in beautiful Sao Bento Train Station.
A bit more of walking here and around, admiring antique trams and the city views and this is it – time to go to the airport again.
Last look on the river and there we go! Bye, bye Porto I hope to see you soon!