Portugal - Porto: Surprising, atmospheric, little bit weird, charming
The drive from Fátima up north to Porto was another easy affair on the highway. But we were a little bit shocked as the toll prices for the highway a quite high. At least we go a first impression of the really beautiful landscape of Portugal. By arriving in Porto it was pure chaos. Roadsides are not made for our logic and finally we ended up using our mobile phone to navigate towards our hotel. We had booked a supercheap guesthouse on the way to the airport as we had to be at the airport the next morning at 5.30 am. Well, we had booked kind of a shithole. Well, the room was ok and the lady who takes care of the place was super friendly and tried to keep everything clean. But, well, not really the kind of place you want to spent a minute longer than absolutely necessary. At least, it was cheap. So we just dropped our bags there and drove to the city center
We parked the car in a shopping area near Trindade Station and walekd towards the old town over the Praca General Humberto Delgado. Quite an impressive square with wonderful old buildings that still show the former splendid days of the city. So far we have experienced Portugal as superclean and on the move forwards. Porto now gave us a different view. It was charming from the first minute. The old houses, buildings and narrow streets are amazing to wander around. But it has kind of a morbide character and every minute of the day it reminded us of the chilean town of Valparaiso. We really liked it but underneath the surface there was a rough energy in the city that was not so appealing. Especially the old town Ribeira is slowly decaying when you walk away from the main tourist roads. And there is much more dirt around. Alcoholism and other drugs seems to be a problem here. Well, no wonder with the amount of delicious wine they produce here. We are not drinking any alcohol any more - but we used to enjoy some nice wines from this region in the past. Well, at least on some viewpoint we saw lots of broken bottles and different used injections. Overall, people seemed to be less open and less friendly here. But well, this was just an impression.
Still the city has its beauty and was absolutely totally different to what we had expected. And somehow we liked it. We took in the atmosphere of Ribeira, walked along the riverfront of the Duoro river. walked up to the Sé, the main cathedral, and finally over the high Ponte de Dom Luis I which offers spectacular views over the city. Oh yes, it is a charming place. For a view over Porto, check out our short clip . Near Praca Almeida Garrett we enjoyed some coffee and just let the daily life pass by. Oh, how much do we love to do this ;-)!
Finally we had found some vegetarian restaurants in our "Happy cow" App. Unfortunately, it was a monday and after checking out 3 options we gave up: all were closed on modays. So we finally ended up eating an average veg pizza on Praca Dona Filipa de Lencastre.
Next morning we got up at 5 am, returned our car at the airport and had a very early flight back to Geneva. This was our first trip to Portugal. And we have to admit, we really enjoyed the country and especially the friendly people. I am sure, we will come back to explore more of the coastal region and some of the many Natural Parcs here. But we will surely try to stay in appartments as the food options for vegetarians are l imited (although in the supermarkets the choice is fantastic). Muito obrigada Portugal for the nice time we had!