Nearly three hours north of Lisboa is the lovely oceanside city of Porto, and quite possibly my favourite part of the trip. I say this even though we arrived in the pouring rain, got very lost as a result of the incredible amount of one-way streets, and spent more than two hours just trying to return the rental car. I think it’s because Porto just bursts with character and boasts a certain kind of charm I didn’t find in Lisboa. Its personality is lively and artistic, open and welcoming, active yet not rushed and hectic. The boardwalk along both sides of the Douro river were teaming with markets just waiting to visited – scarves blowing in the wind, little Rooster knick knacks, wind chimes, multi-coloured clothing and jewelry. Absolutely beautiful. There were certainly some lovely finds there, including my new scarf!
Porto is divided by the river Douro, with both sides easily accessible by car, tram, or on foot via one of the intricately built bridges. The Dom Luís I Bridge, the most centrally located bridge, was designed by a partner of Gustave Eiffel, Téophile Seyrig, who won the competition for the bridge project, owing to its similar architecture to le Tour Eiffel. We decided to walk across both the upper and lower levels, as we could have different views of the city and it was just fun to spend so much time on what used to be the world’s longest arch bridge.
As in most large cities, a whole variety of foods could be found in Porto; however my friends and I stuck to our diet of seafood and porto wines, obviously, of which there was an abundance. The best part was stopping for a glass of porto and some finger foods at one of the many bars along the river. Not only did we have a gorgeous view, we also enjoyed people-watching, live music and other forms of street art, and the occasional parties on the passing ferries. As our last night of the trip was spent in Porto, we spent a few hours in a bar just near to our apartment, Baixaria, which happened to have a live band that night – how fortunate! The night scene in Porto was lively, exciting, and appeared to last all night long, as people were still heading home the following morning while we left to catch our bus.
The general atmosphere in Porto seemed to be more relaxed and less hectic than Lisboa. In fact, in many aspects, I felt safer in Porto as well, perhaps because it wasn’t as touristy, but I could be biased. I do believe I could have spent many days here and been perfectly content. Since its local airport has direct flights to/from Luxembourg, I plan on doing just that in the future. Next time, I would also try to find access to either a swimming pool or a beach as well since my poor swimsuit was crying out from my suitcase. And for a final note to myself: I will definitely need to remember good walking shoes next time, since the roads are very old cobblestone, and I wasn’t quite prepared for the abundance of hills. And I simply must stay over a weekend, since those Saturday morning markets were calling my name as I was leaving on the bus.
All in all, Portugal was an exciting country, I loved the vibrant culture, the friendly people, the delicious food, the land, history – everything! It’s an easy flight from Luxembourg (I took EasyJet), and an affordable holiday for those on tight budgets, with meals averaging 6-12€, transport about Luxembourg-price of 2€/trip, many free attractions, etc.
Thanks for hanging in there with my three-parter. Check out one and two for the rest 🙂 Maybe at some point I’ll even write up a post specifically about the food, since it was the best part. And to wrap this up, I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts about Portugal – where did you go, what did you see? what did you like the most/least? would you do it again? any tips or tricks I missed/forgot?
your favourite ginger xx