More than a month has passed since my magical trip to Portugal, but I still haven’t shared a glimpse of my favourite city: Porto.
We headed straight north from the southern coast of Portugal, cruising up the well-maintained, fast moving (toll) highways in our beaut of a van. We rolled into Porto and found a spot “down by the river” by sunset, and wandered into a waterfront restaurant for our first glass of Porto red. Porto is a city of layers – built in the Duoro valley, the spine of the city is the end of the Duoro river and the city rises from this watery centre, creeping up the steep hills on either side.
On the north shore, there is a bustling and cool shopping district and rich historic center which is a designated UNESCO world heritage site. The south side of the river is home to caves that house the best and oldest port wine.
We sipped espresso and fresh orange juice and custard tarts in a cave, ate a ridiculously rich lunch, including the famous Porto Francesinha – a sandwich filled with meat and covered in melted cheese and a hot tomato and beer sauce.
We went on a mandatory Port wine tour (I am pretty sure they don’t let you leave Porto if you don’t sample the port). As port wine is so overpoweringly popular, I had not realized the wealth of delicious table wines that these wineries also produce in addition to the fortified, sweet port. Needless to say, we had some exceptional glasses.
Wandering by day and night:
During the day, we stopped into several shops. We wandered into the night and watched Porto transform into a sparkling gem.