We pulled up along the edge of the river Duros late in the afternoon. I found the drive quite stressful but maybe that was because I hadn’t driven in a while but anyway we had looked up camping and found this amazing free camper car park. Well I don’t know if it was officially that but it was a car park just full of campers and it was free! WE felt alot safer parking there surrounded by our community and the view we had was second to none looking out onto the water. We wanted to make the last of the sunshine so hopped straight onto our bikes and cycled along the river towards the iconic bridge of porto. We parked up as its. A very hilly place and walked along the rivers edge to see the old town. The mismatch of buildings in pastel shades lining the streets. Bars and restaurants lined each side of us and musicians and street performers entertained on the front. So many beautiful tiles in all different patterns and hues adorned the walls it was very picturesque. We walked aimlessly and found ourselves at the castle xx it seemed to be one of the highest points overlooking the city below. It was a lovely view to see the sun set and get a feel for the place. Josh’s choice for tea was a tiny tapas bar highly rated on trip advisor. We snapped up a little table for two opposite the bar and felt like we were in the Portuguese version of Chefs Table as the food was prepared right in front of our eyes. Indulging in multiple courses each had a hero ingredient locally sourced and especially chosen to suit the menu. After this we headed back to the riverside and enjoyed an ice cold cider as darkness ascended and the street lights popped on before heading back to the van.
Day two was definitely more about seeing the sights and the all important Port tasting. First stop though was the local post office to sort our tolls. Portugal legit has the worst toll system, I mean I thought the new bridge over to Liverpool was a faf try not having any knowledge of how much it will cost and you cant pay afterwards you have to pay before in a post office – I will delve into this in another post because I genuinely could rant on and on about this! We stopped enroute at the Sao Beno train station which inside was covered in the most spectacular decorative tiles and artwork. It was so strange seeing people bustling past as if unaware of the beauty just a few meters above them, maybe they take for for granted who knows? Our next stop was the Bolhao market or well the temporary one which as the building is being renovated. As we were in Portugal it only seemed fitting to sample a Portuguese tart or ‘Pastel De Nata’ from a local bakery. When inside the market we immersed ourselves in the surroundings on the market, fresh flowers, sea food, butchers, port stalls all line the rows. We came across a shop stacked with brightly coloured tines. Talking to the vendor we found out about how Portuguese tradition is in beautifully designed packaging of tinned seafood – who knew? So anyway we thought wed treat ourselves to a few tins. A bit peckish at this point we thought wed try the best spot in town for sandwiches and lunch called xx this tiny cafe had the best meal deal including homemade soup, a main and a glass of the freshest homemade lemonade. Making the most of the free wifi we looked up the best places to sample port. Initially I had read up about the large house Kopke but upon learning it was more about just trying and less about the art itself I decided to look elsewhere. We wanted to know about how it was made and what the different types were all abut not just sample them, even if that is a very good offer. Portologia offered the perfect environment. We sampled 6 different types and had a personal session discussing the flavours and how each were brewed and even where they came from. It was just what we wanted as even though other places in town offered a caves tour we felt like we’d seen that already in Epernay. My personal favourite was the white Port a super sweet almost honey like flavour that came only above a beautiful rich tawny so smooth again like honey but with more of an oaky flavour. Following our tipsy pit stop I dragged Joshua around the old town again eager to see all the buildings architecture and take it in even twice. Before we knew it the sun had set and we were hungry again – when are we not? Earlier in the day I had come across a fabulous steak house but reading into it you definitely needed to book so on the off chance I messaged on facebook and they squeezed us in! The quality of the steaks in there was probably the best we’d ever eaten and the service was amazing. Each cut was explained an suggestions based on what our preference was.
Porto was definitely a memorable couple of days. Such a beautiful place and I would most definitely go back. If I was to I would suggest a place with a pool so you can split up the days with some relaxing as you would not want to run out of things to do! We are living on a budget but if I were to go back I would love to visit more of the Port houses as it was highlight.