We have now been to the Açores twice and to Lisbon once in 2014 for Jim’s 65th birthday but we have never been to Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. Portugal is intriguing to us as we don’t know enough about it. It is relatively inexpensive and the language is quite difficult to understand as spoken but easy to read if you know Spanish. We are not in love with their food as there are so many fried foods, red meat, pork and seafood. Most of the foods are overcooked, dry and come with bones, skin, tails and eyes. Their cuisine is also not spicy or aromatic which disappoints us. We are here to appreciate some of the best and most inexpensive wines in the world and to get to know a new culture for us.
Jim had booked us initially on a flight from Punta Delgado to Lisbon and then on to Porto. Soon after booking the layover time in Lisbon was changed from an hour to four hours. The day before leaving Punta Delgado Jim found a direct flight to Porto which saved us $600 and a lot of time.
This is the closest we could get to Welcome to Porto. Bock is the local beer.
This is the building our Air BNB is in. The location is very central for exploring the city and we are one block from the Main Street of Santa Catarina which has many shops and restaurants. Our unit is the top small balcony.
Dining room on the left and living room on the right.
We have three bedrooms and two full baths.
Jim enjoying his first glass of Port compliments of our host Jose.
Santa Catarina street which is a pedestrian only shopping street. Right around the corner from our flat.
This church was very close by. Almost every church in Porto is covered in these blue tiles that are made in Portugal. The lapis lazuli came from China originally. Not to be confused with Delft blue from Holland.
The architecture is very interesting and the fronts of the buildings have to keep the original facade including original names for preservation purposes.
We found the best place to run was along the Douro Riverside. Pictured here is Sandy heading towards the the Maria Pia which is a railway bridge built in 1877 attributed to Gustave Eiffel. It is no longer in use.
View of Porto across the river from Gaia where all the Port wine storage facilities are located.
Rabelo boats are the Portuguese cargo boats traditionally used to transport Port wine from the vineyards to Gaia. Nowadays they are used as tour boats for cruises.
Angel Trumpet flower.
Another view of Porto from Gaia taken on a scenic vista high above the city.
The bridge in the background is the Dom Luis l Bridge. This double decker bridge spans the river between Porto and Gaia. At the time of its construction between 1881-1886 it was the longest of its type in the world and was designed by Theophile Seyrig, a student of Gustave Eiffel.
Remnants of the Porto city wall
This is one of the new Camino signs directing Pilgrims to the Cathedral.
These are the famous and delicious Portuguese pastries called pastel de nata. A puff pastry filled with egg custard and served with a dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon. DELICIOUS.
Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelites are two churches divided by a narrow 3 foot wide house to separate the monks and nuns. Both churches are extravagant sites to behold. We booked a three hour walking tour of Porto and this was the first stop.
This is the narrow house probably the bell ringer or caretaker lived here.
This is the inside of the nuns church. Extremely baroque. The intricate wood carvings are covered in several hundred kilos of gold leaf.
This is the famous Lello book store where they filmed scenes for Harry Potter. People line up to go inside and see the grand red staircase that was in the Hogwarts school of wizardry. Sorry there is no photo of it as we are not fans of Harry Potter or long lines.
Tower of Clerics church which we climbed (only 240 stairs) for a nice 360 degree view of the city. The bells rang during our climb and it was ear piercing and frightening as we did not expect it.
Our tour guide leading us into the Jewish quarter.
Historic Jewish quarter. By order of King John l of Portugal in 1386 all Jews living in Porto were concentrated in a designated area close to the city walls at Olival Hill, it was an authentic ghetto, functioning for 111 years.
The streets are so narrow that neighbors can converse with one another out their windows.
Porto’s Sao Bento train station considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe because of the tiles which depict historical life scenes.
Our second run in Porto was up the hill away from the river. We popped into the Church of the Immaculate Conception during our run. We never pass any open church without going in.
Quite modern and plain compared to some.
And here is Sandy running to another church. There are 30 main churches in Porto.
Church of Our Lady of Lapa.
This church contains the heart of King Pedro lV, given to the city of Porto by the king himself in order to thank its citizens for all the sacrifices and extreme courage they showed in supporting him during the civil war against his brother.
The graveyard of the church is the oldest romantic Portuguese cemetery in the country. It was built to meet the demands that emerged during the cholera epidemics.
We love looking at the beautiful mausoleums
We have a fascination with graveyards and this one did not disappoint.
The exterior view of the church
Porto City Hall a neoclassical 1900 building
We stopped here at the end of our run to pick up some Port wine, dates, prunes, nuts and cheeses. There are so many of these great little bodegas all over the city.
That was our first three days in Porto getting to know the city before our stalkers arrive. That will be in the next blog, hopefully out in a day or two as it is too hot to go out in London right now.