Taking advantage of our close proximity to Portugal while living in Spain, my friend Jenn and I decided to take a weekend trip to Porto (Oporto), Portugal. While it is the second largest city in Portugal, you wouldn’t notice as it is one of the most tranquil, peaceful cities I have visited. Porto is a gorgeous city located along the Douro River, and is one of the most cities in Europe going back to Celtic and Roman times. We took a Ryanair flight from Madrid and, after making a made dash in the airport because they had changed the time of our flight but then promptly changed it back without making an announcement, we settled into our hotel which was located almost directly across from the Capela das Almas. This beautiful, small chapel has all of the intricate Portuguese tile work representative of Portuguese culture. You can see many buildings throughout the city with like this.
Walking around, we headed to the famous Majestic Cafe. If you are a Harry Potter fanatic as I am you will know the significance of this place. J.K. Rowling lived a time in Porto, teaching English, and it was here, sitting in Majestic Cafe, that she wrote much of the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Inside, it is absolutely beautiful. It can be expensive, costing 6-7 Euros for a cappuccino but so worth it!
Continuing our walk around the city the streets are filled with cute shops and beautiful, ancient churches. The people were very friendly and helpful. I bought a beautiful doll with a traditional Portuguese outfit, and we learned a little Portuguese…like obrigado or thank you…ok, so that was pretty much all we learned, lol! The streets are lined with great architecture.
We also wanted to be sure to check out the port wine, which is actually what this area of the Douro River Valley is known for. You have to cross the bridge over the Douro River and the caves are literally along the sides of the hill along the water. There are dozens there but we tried out Sandeman, Croft and Calem. My preference is the ruby and tawny ports.
One last typical thing we wanted to experience was fado music. This is best described as Portuguese soul music. To quote portugal.com, fado is “a form of Portuguese singing that is often associated with pubs , cafés and restaurants…is generally known for how expressive in nature it is, as well as being profoundly melancholic…generally in fado music, the singer will sing about the hard realities of the daily life, balancing both resignation and hopefulness that a resolution to its torments can still occur…can be described by using the Portuguese word “saudade”, which means “longing” and stands for a feeling of loss”. While sampling port we saw a sign for a performance later that night and decided to come back. We literally had to hike down this hill to get to this place, but in the end it was really worth it! Check out some fado music below.
We ended our brief weekend enjoying the sunset views around the city.
I certainly did not see all I would like to see of the charming city! I hope to make it back in the future and spend a little more time there.
Buen viajes, gnomies!
Have you been to Porto, or does it seem like a place you’d like to visit? Comment and let the gnome know.