After a very uneventful (thank God after the flights into Spain and Bucharest) and short (50 min) flight, we arrived unscathed in Porto, Portugal. We jumped on the metro and within 20 minutes, we were within two blocks of our apartment.
We have been looking forward to this apartment in Porto since we booked it nearly two months ago. Free espresso machine, large bed, and big beautiful windows that open on a narrow quiet beautiful street. This Airbnb was designed like a hotel. There was even a cleaning service that came every morning and, most importantly, restocked the espresso. Talk about spoiled.
So the downside… the company that rents the unit owns the whole building, which is full of identical units. The old building was cosmetically redone to suit their needs. Unfortunately, it’s still structurally from the 1800s. We could hear everything, up to and including a toilet flushing five floors up and the water rushing through the pipes downward through the middle of the apartment; kind of like a water park, but instead of people sliding down, it’s, well, you know… You can hear footfalls on the rickety (albeit brand new and beautiful) wooden floorboards throughout the entire building. (Even ninja-footed Harris couldn’t sneak to the bathroom in the middle of the night without sounding like he was tap dancing – Red)
So how do you sleep when you feel like you’re underneath the stage of a poorly choreographed, senior center, tap dancing production of Cats staring only white people with no rhythm? Wine… lots and lots of wine. (Or you don’t sleep… – Red)
It was seriously an amazing place, with exceptional service, and the BIGGEST BED! Europeans love their tiny twin beds so when you have the opportunity to stay someplace with a giant bed and lots of pillows, you jump on it. But when it’s impossible to sleep because of noise, no amount of pillows can compensate. – Red
Porto is one of the coolest cities I’ve ever seen. Full of narrow streets all flowing downhill to the river. The architecture is breathtaking; the facades of the narrow buildings are covered with mosaic tiles of bright colors and patterns, randomly next to each other like a giant box of crayons. (Seriously gorgeous! And so clean. – Red) There are giant cathedrals with tall towers and small churches covered ornately with incredible tile work. Places like this really give a sense of wonder and make you really feel like your somewhere special; it’s like being in a different world.
The riverfront in Porto is full of these colorful buildings, lined with cafes and vendors. We had dinner near the water on our first night and watched the sunset over the city with a bottle of local wine.
There is a giant bridge, with two levels (a few hundred feet of space separating them) called the Dom Luis Bridge. The bottom level is a good distance above the water, but the top level is like walking across the sky. There’s a railing on the side of the top level that’s just over waste high, giving that immediate feeling of vertigo. I really wanted a parachute while walking across that bridge.
However, the view from both levels, and of course the top level is absolutely incredible. The entire city of Porto and the river is visible, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. When the sun hits the Porto just right, the colors of the buildings explode.
We had lunch (a couple of times) at a restaurant called Brasão. I tried the local specialty “francesinha” (don’t ask me how to say it, they just laughed and brought it). It’s a full steak, a couple of sausages, and ham in between two slices of toasted bread, topped with cheese and gravy and baked in the oven, and then topped with a fried egg. (So pretty much a heart attack on a plate with a side of fries. – Red) I think I lost 6 years of my life eating two of them in 4 days, but it was worth it. (Thankfully, Porto is made up of pretty much all hills that feel like we’re walking up the driveway at the Grove, so we definitely earned all our heavy meals. – Red)
To Wrap It Up
We had an awesome time in Porto; getting lost in the narrow streets, wandering mile after mile, up and down a city full of hills and impressive vantage points, eating great food with great beer and wine. This is definitely a place that everyone should see.