16 October 2012

Porto: First Day / Douro River Cruise / Saturday Night

After an almost two-week absence.. I’m back! Life has been so busy lately – in a good way, and I can’t help but prefer to actually LIVE my life rather than record it. So as usual, the only time I can squeeze in an update is here now at three in the morning.. ;)Last week, two girlfriends and I (plus a guy friend) went to Porto! Believe it or not, it was my first time in Portugal. And I loved it.They say Porto is the gateway to the north of Portugal. The historic centre of Porto was declared UNESCO World Heritage in 1996!

It was my second time flying Ryanair – return flights from London Stansted cost me about £130, with the point of booking being 4 weeks in advance. I have to admit the experience wasn’t too bad at all, save for my constant fidgeting in the rather uncomfortable seat.. but that may be because I’m not a person who can sit still for long anyway.

The train into the city from the airport cost just €1.80 per person – though this was the fare applicable if you used their equivalent of the Oyster. A lady at the airport was kind enough to give us her spare empty ‘Oyster’ cards so we needn’t have to buy our own. I thought it best not to question why she was carrying around so many spare cards.

We stayed at an amazing little apartment overlooking the Douro river, via Airbnb (more about that in the next post). We had to get off at São Bento station, which was less than a 10 minute walk to the apartment.

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This was literally behind our building!

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I upgraded to the iPhone 5 last month – the pic above was taken using the new panorama mode! It looks much better when not confined to the small width of my blog though..

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Dress – Topshop
Sandals – Saltwater
Sunnies – Marc by Marc Jacobs 
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First thing on our itinerary – the Douro river cruise! But not before lunch. So after getting tickets, we walked across the Dom Luis Bridge/Ponte Luís to the other side of the river to eat something first.

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Reena, Alberto, and Izan.

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I often take pictures of the sun. Because I love it so much.

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Ponte Luís connects the city of Porto (left side of this pic) to Vila Nova de Gaia. There’s an upper deck, which is occupied by the Metro and the lower deck is for traffic, I think. There are also funicular trains to take you up to the upper deck on either side of the river.

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The Ribeira (strip of restaurants/bars by the river)

The following pics from the Vila Nova de Gaia side:

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I loved the sight of this colourful man sitting there enjoying the beautiful view.

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A group of schoolgirls playing various instruments and singing!

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The Francesinha (in Portuguese it’s sort of like Frenchie/Little Frenchie) – a typical Porto dish which is this CRAZY toasted sandwich filled with ham, sausage, a piece of STEAK, and covered in hot melty cheese and dribbled with a tomato and beer sauce.

It was awesome. A combination of being late to catch our river cruise and STARVATION led us to devour our francesinhas in record time.

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Sorry Izan, can’t see your face there..

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The cruise we took was a simple ‘6 bridges’ tour.. basically to see the six bridges that unite Porto and Gaia.

The difference between the bridges on the Douro river and the bridges I’ve seen in other European cities is that the ones on the Douro are all really HIGH up!! Like tall, proud bridges.

The bridges we saw: Dom Luis Bridge, Infante Bridge, Dom Maria Pia Bridge, S. João Bridge, Freixo Bridge, and Arrábida Bridge.

Admittedly, it was rather a boring cruise.

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I hung my legs out the side and enjoyed the breeeeeze!

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Once the cruise was over, we stopped by our ‘local’ cafe/pastry shop to get some snacks before going back up to our apartment to get changed for a fun night out. And how colourful and retro does the cafe look? I loved it.

Dinner + Saturday Night

The following pics were taken with my iPhone.. I don’t carry my ‘real camera’ out at night!

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Dinner was at Adega São Nicolau, a restaurant half-hidden down a narrow lane near the river serving traditional seafood.

It was a warm night and we even got serenaded by quite an androgynous-looking violinist 🙂

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Izan and I shared a large pan of salt cod. I’m not a fish person but this was delish! There was so much to eat, too.

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The city’s focal point is the Porto Baixa, otherwise known as ‘downtown’ and is centred around the Avenida dos Aliados (Avenue of the Allies). I remember there being three main streets lined with lots of bars and.. erm, our landmark for the area was a MARC JACOBS store at one of the street corners. Haha!

Saturday night partying in Porto is CRAZY!! The whole place was SWARMING with people, inside and outside everywhere.. there was so much energy! Happy, positive energy!

We had such a fantastic time dancing and drinking €1/€2 sangrias, going from bar to club to bar to club. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say this, but heck it.. we even managed to find something that.. smells great and matches my hair (can you decipher? haha).

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That seems to be all the pics from the night.. too busy having fun to bother about pics.

‘Til next post!

Have you been to Porto before? What was your favourite thing about it?

xx

10 Comments

S |

I love Porto! I love how there are so many bridges. Did you visit the bookstore Livraria Lello? It’s gorgeous!

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