I’m not really a city person but there are a few cities I really like and, during a recent visit, Porto has turned out to be one of them. So why Porto? Here are the highlights that I think make it so special.
I think it all started when I arrived at Porto Airport. While I was waiting for my luggage, someone handed me a map of the city, which included a map of the metro – very handy! Then when I got to the metro, there were staff on hand to assist with the ticket machine, which made it so much quicker and easier. What great service! On departure, when I got through airport security, I was able to enjoy the relaxing live (yes, LIVE) jazz music that was playing.
When | got to the boarding gates, I was able to charge my mobile phone, use one of the computers that have free internet access and watch daytime TV (OK, maybe daytime TV isn’t a plus point). Enough about the airport, I hear you say. So what about the city itself?
The Streets of Porto
The main streets of Porto were bustling but not overcrowded. They were litter-free and, to me at least, it seemed to be quite relaxed.
Discovering some of the narrow, winding roads made it feel more like a town than a city. It’s hard to believe that it’s the second largest in Portugal.
I got such a homely feel while I was in Porto. This is probably because the locals were friendly and they sit outside their houses chatting.
There are so many interesting buildings to admire. I particularly liked the tiles on the outside of many of the buildings. This 18th Century chapel may be an extreme example but, it’s so unusual, I had to include it. I was told the tiles were used for a number of reasons: they were a cheaper option to painting the outside, for decoration and to tell stories.
The train station is definitely worth a visit when you go to Porto. As you can see, tiles were used to decorate it.
This is a view over the city towards the river. The bridge you can see is the Dom Luis Bridge, which was opened in 1886.
The Duoro River
The Duoro River divides Porto and Gaia.
There was a hive of activity down by the river bank: lots of boats, people, market stalls and children enjoying the end of the summer.
You can cross the river for a spot of Port wine tasting at one of the many producers. There’s no better place for that. I didn’t need to do that because the hostel I was staying at, The Gallery Hostel, had a Port Wine Tasting Evening. It was a fab evening. I never really liked Port Wine until then. I learned so much about Port Wine and the different varieties that I feel a bit of connoisseur now!
I was surprised to see these three girls in front of me wearing black capes on a hot day. Apparently, it indicates they are university students.
Apparently, the trees in this park were diseased so they were combined with the roots of healthy trees… and the result? Interesting tree trunks, of course!
My time in Porto was short but I instantly liked it because of the people, the ambience, the architecture and the Port Wine. If you’re interested in going and would like more information, check out Visit Portugal.
**I would like to thank Hugo Meira for pointing out some errors in the original post that I have now corrected.
Thinking of visiting? You can…
* Learn Portuguese on your iPod
Here’s where it is located in Portugal…