I visited Portugal in the early fall of 2018 with a good friend, and for a two days in Porto we were shrouded in a hazy daze - induced by port, and the dated beauty of this city.
In comparison to Lisbon - which I visited after - Porto felt much more a classic rendition (representation?) of a historical city in Europe. A selection of shots of the city, below:
A very hilly city - views abound from nearly the top of every staircase and upwards sloping walkway.
You likely don’t need me to tell you this - but food here is good. Right down to this charcuterie plate we ordered at a classic tourist haunt by the Duoro river.
Holding off on the port - we started our time in Porto with some sangria. Come to think of it, sangria was nearly as ubiquitous as port here…
My experience and understanding of Porto is that its divided into two parts by the Duoro river cutting across the center of the city. On one side of the river are where the majority of port caves are situated - and, naturally, where we spent most of our time. Seen below from the side of the port caves is the more residential side of the city, where people typically stay, and eat. The boats were traditionally used to transport barrels of port.
To get across to where the port caves are, we crossed the Dom Luis bridge on foot. I suggest doing this at least once to see both sides of the city from the middle of the river.
Two parallel levels of the bridge connect one side of the city to another. Completed in 1886, today pedestrians can walk across the higher level.
This side of the city is a labyrinth of port cellars, or caves, as they’re known. Turn down any alley away from the water and this is likely what you’ll see. Narrow cobblestone paths lined with more port houses, caves, and apartments.
Next to the Douro River, we began our port journey at Kopke - touted as the ‘oldest port house’ in the area (since 1638!)
The port houses by the river are typically larger. Regardless, most will offer either a guided tour of their port caves, which typically resemble the below:
More ubiquitous then the cave tours are the ready flights of port to be sampled. Seen below, we ordered two different flights to sample at Kopke…and pretty much just ended up getting 10 glasses of wine/port. And chocolates to pair with each glass.
Continue, as one does, to walk along the river, and, of course, sample more port. There are a couple of larger cellars on this side of the river. Mainly, they’re all by the water - walk down the promenade and you’ll see names like Calem, Churchhill, Taylor’s, and, seen below, Sandeman.
This flight wasn’t at one of the larger houses near the bridge, but rather farther down towards the embarkation point of the cable car - oh, did I mention there was a cable car?
The cellar is known as Quinta do Noval. As is per usual in these parts - a tasting gets you a flight of their ports, crackers, chocolate - the works.
A continuation of the tastings (naturally) took place over a Fado show at Calem, one of the largest cellars on the bank of the Douro.
Back to the aforementioned cable car - it spans the port cave(rn) side of Porto. A great ride for some panoramic shots of the city - especially as the sun sets.
Day 2 in Porto began with more sightseeing - the Sao Bento railway station:
Then, the famous Livraria Lello, a heaven for book lovers, and consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful book stores in the world.
The book store’s main claim to fame, aside from its gorgeous interior, was the fact that it supposedly inspired JK Rowling’s accounts of Hogwarts.
Time for some lunch. We opted for a local specialty, tripe. And Tripeiro serves it up the Porto way - stop by for a try.
Left, codfish croquettes - Bolinhos de bacalhau - yet another Portuguese specialty. Right, Tripas à moda do Porto - tripe prepared the Porto way, with beans, chorizo sausage, scallions, and with a side of rice & cilantro (left, back).
Overall, a truly fantastic two and a half days spent in the charming, gorgeous city of Porto. I’ll end this post with a photo that to me, was representative of my time here. And although sangria is, of course, not Portuguese, sitting under the warm September sun, by the Douro River, sharing a jug of sangria with a good friend is, in many ways, very much characteristic of the vibe here.