I’m going to keep this short because I’m very behind on the blog and also have lots of work things going on, and we’re trying to get out a lot to enjoy Porto. But so far, so good here! Here are some things we’re enjoying already about Porto.
Soon after arriving, we decided to buy month-long transit passes. We figured that would encourage us to get out in the city as much as possible. The public transit here is good though a little confusing because it operates on a zone system. Our first attempt faced a crowd of people waiting, so we got up early on our third morning here (which happened to be our 20th wedding anniversary!) and tried to be the first in line. Instead we were numbers 15 and 16, but we didn’t have to wait too long to be helped. And we lucked into a super-efficient, English speaking clerk. We chose three zones for our pass to cover and she gave us dire warnings about not riding outside our zones without purchasing a ticket (the fine is 125 euros).
We’ve used our bus passes a lot. In fact, Chad uses his almost every day to reach the park where he likes to run. Which is another thing we’re enjoying.
Since I don’t have any photos of us on the bus or metro, I’m going to post some of my favorite bridge and river photos here (transit-related for sure). Porto has beautiful bridges and the winding Duoro River on which it sits is so scenic.
We’d worried a little about the lack of parks in our area in Porto (between the 24 August and Bolhao metro stations). But we’ve been able to get to plenty of wonderful parks with our bus passes. We’ve had walks and picnics, including a nice anniversary picnic later the day we picked up the bus passes in the park that became Chad’s running grounds.
The best is the large Parque da Cidade do Porto (city park), which is near the Atlantic coast. We checked it out with a long walk last weekend and are planning a picnic there this Saturday before wandering over to the beach.
Our other favorite is the Jardim do Morro, which is in Vila Nova de Gaia across the Duoro River from Porto. It is a favorite with everyone and each evening there is a crowd there to hang out, watch the river, and enjoy the festive atmosphere. We had our own evening picnic there, which was lovely.
Food and Wine
We haven’t enjoyed Portuguese food quite as much as Spanish food, but have had a couple of memorable meals. For our anniversary we went to a Michelin star restaurant called Gruta and had a wonderful meal of carrot soup, lobster bisque, amazing focaccia and spreads, seafood rice and Moqueca, a Brazilian fish stew. When we went to the coast, we enjoyed a seafood meal in the fishing town (and seaside tourist haven) of Matosinhos at a very traditional Portuguese restaurant called Petisqueira Godinho.
A big highlight so far, though, was our port tasting at Vasquez d Carvahlo. We chose two different flights and enjoyed a very informative tasting in a lovely courtyard led by a man with a true passion for port. The other customers there were very international – a Swedish couple, a British woman, and a pair of newlyweds from France and Colorado. We tried three whites, two rubies, and four tawnies because the kind sommelier let us taste the super-pricey 40-year-old tawny he was pouring for the newlyweds (he said it was because he was in a good mood, but I think he liked all of Chad’s questions). It was a great experience but you have to be careful – port is stronger than wine! Slightly buzzed, we followed the tasting up with our picnic at Jardim do Morro.
In addition to the beauty of the city of Porto, the weather here is its main attraction. When we first arrived it was a bit warm, but since the first two days we’ve had daily highs in the low 70s and overnight lows in the low 60s with some cloudy days but no rain. We get this perfect weather every day, which makes it seem like Porto is the best place to be for August in Europe (if not the world).
Our Airbnb is reasonably comfortable with large windows to bring the nice air in. We were warm the first couple of nights but have settled in nicely. It is smaller, older, and maybe slightly run down, but overall we’re very comfortable here and like the location a lot.
Porto has already proven to be a great home for this part of Leg 10. We’re looking forward to the next two and a half weeks here. Here are a few more assorted photos of what we’ve seen in Porto.