Pretty Porto

2:29 PM Imke 0 Comments

My trip to Porto in March was quite a random pick: my boyfriend and I wanted to spend a romantic weekend away for our anniversary and didn’t have any destination in mind. As I just changed jobs, I wanted to find a flight that left late on Friday evening from CDG airport. We opened the CDG website, checking out all flights leaving on Friday evening, and stumbled upon the 9 pm flight to Porto. Tickets were cheap (thank you EasyJet!), and off we went to Porto. 

I didn’t prepare & plan this trip very well, wanting to be surprised by the country of which I’ve heard positive things only, and just wrote down a couple of restaurants recommended by friends who’d been before. We went to our hotel straight from the airport, and I couldn’t recommend this place more. We stayed at Portus Cale, and price-quality-wise this hotel was such a great find – our room was bigger than our entire flat back home, and the people were so kind and helpful, something I noticed with every single Portuguese person we crossed.

We rose early on Saturday in order to enjoy our short stay in Porto to the fullest and started our day by discovering the city center. After a good hour and a half of walking and admiring the Igreja do Carmo, we sat down on a terrace on a little square near the Igreja do Carmo church and had pastel de nata & coffee breakfast. This little custard tard is literally the best pastry I’ve ever had, being a big fan of both custard and cinnamon. And how we were astonished by the prices almost anywhere in Porto – pastels de nata were 80 cents apiece, and my coffee 90 cents. This was price-quality-wise the best breakfast I’ve ever had, and the most delicious fuel to a busy day.

On Saturday my Instahusband provided me with plenty of good shots in front of different azulejo churches and walls. These are the typical blue and white tiles you can spot all over the city, and which are one of the most emblematic representations of Porto’s history and culture. Architecture in general was something I loved a lot in Porto, with all the authentic little houses and different colours, from bright colours to pastels, surrounded by cobbled streets going up and down – not only was the city so beautiful, it also trained our leg muscles with all the little stairs and hills that seemed never-ending. 

Something else that was wonderful about our weekend in Portugal was the dreamy weather – whereas it was raining back home, we enjoyed entirely blue skies, and the early-Spring March sun. Which resulted in spending our entire Saturday outdoors, simply walking around, discovering the gorgeous architecture and amazing shops, and went to discover the enormous and impressive Dom-Luís bridge. We crossed the bridge on the upper level, came back on the lower level. The bridge is definitely worth checking out, not only because of its impressive architecture, but also because of all the little bars and restaurants on the banks of the Douro river.

After all this walking went to sit down and had sacks at Café do Cais, a food & drinks place recommended by multiple friends. Still full after all the pastels de nata, we just had codfish balls, fries, alheira croquetes and a soft drink, enjoying the sun on their beautiful terrace.

After many kilometres walked all around the city, without ever taking a tram, bus, bike or any other mode of transport than our legs, we headed back to our hotel around 6 or 7 pm to have a rest before heading out for dinner. My boyfriend and I have a tradition where in any country we visit, we go to an Italian restaurant and have pizza (always a safe bet, and it’s quite interesting to see how different countries do their pizza’s in another manner). We went to a restaurant called Il Fornaio 178, which was a modern place with a fancy design and a tree in the middle – the perfect place for anyone liking interior design and beautifully-looking food and drinks. Yet again the waiters were so kind and helpful, and the owner who spoke French as well had a nice chat with us. Definitely a place I recommend with its delicious pizzas, gorgeous interiors and lovely personnel.

On Sunday we started our day same we did on Sunday – pastels de nata and coffee, the perfect way to start your day in Portugal, followed by an early lunch in a Portuguese restaurant called Cervejaria Brasao, which serves all the classic Portuguese dishes and much more! As everything on the menu seemed so cheap, we ordered way too much, and literally rolled out of the restaurant two hours later. I now know Portuguese cuisine, except for the famous custard pastries, is not at all for me – plates are huge, served with cheese, fries, basically anything fat and/or friend. I ordered aubergine steak, to try and be healthy, and it was served with a massive plate of crisps, loads of mushroom sauce, and it wasn’t a steak, but an entire aubergine. Talk about family portions! But the quality of the food was amazing, every single bite was full of flavour and so delicious, and I now know we have to order way less and check beforehand if the food comes with any side dishes. 

I completely recommend Cervejaria Brasao, for the amazingly tasty food, very correct prices, the staff were so lovely and helpful, and the interior of the restaurant felt very authentic. Do go early, because by a little after noon the place is already full!

On our last day we enjoyed yet another sunny and beautiful day, which called for ice-cream. We discovered a lovely little place called Santini, which offered massive scoops of ice-cream and all flavours you can imagine. Of course, I had pastel de nata flavour (no surprise here), and it was the best experience to have ice-cream sitting on a bench in the sun on Liberdade Square, one of Porto’s main squares. 

We flew back home entirely satisfied by our very first trip to Portugal and are so eager to discover more of the country, especially Lisbon and the Algarve region – hoping to be able to travel there soon to have another taste of this beautiful and welcoming country!

Pretty Porto - Travel Guide

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