Saturday, September 22, 2018

May 10th: Goodbye Porto, Hello Lisbon!

Of course, our last morning in Porto and the weather was absolutely gorgeous! We figured we might as well make the most of our last few hours before leaving.

We started out with more delicious coffee and pastry things for breakfast...

...then walked down to Torre dos Clerigos, which is the really tall church tower we could see from our apartment. You could buy tickets to wander around inside and go up in the tower itself.

I liked the behind the scenes view.   :)

After wandering around inside, we climbed a bunch of steep narrow steps and eventually found ourselves... It was a pretty sweet view.   :)

You could even see out to the ocean. It looked so close, which I found funny since it did not feel close the day before when we walked all the way down there.

We spent a few more minutes enjoying the views before eventually making our way back down the stairs and out to the street.

We passed the Livraria Lello on the way back to the apartment. It's a very old, very pretty bookstore, and supposedly inspired JK Rowling's writing. It would have been neat to check it out, but there were already a ton of people waiting to get inside AND you had to buy a ticket, so we skipped it. Maybe next time.

We wandered past the Igreja do Carma again on our way back. I could probably walk past this every day and never get tired of it.

I mean, really. Gorgeous art on a random street corner! I would have no problem living in Porto.

We passed by a bit more art here and there on our way back to the apartment.

I took a couple minutes to enjoy the view one last time before we left. That tall tower on the left side of the picture is the Torre dos Clerigos, where we had been earlier in the morning.

We finished packing, said goodbye to the sweet apartment, and got an Uber to the train station. We had a little bit of time before our train left... we stopped at a nearby cafe for lunch first.

We still had a bit of free time, so we hung out on the train platform for a while before the train eventually showed up. We stowed our bags, found our seats, and a few minutes later we were on our way to Lisbon.

Bye, Porto...I'll be back someday to drink more port and ogle over more tiles!

We spent a few minutes cruising past the beach before the tracks turned inland. I spent the time watching the scenery, listening to music, and occasionally answering emails as we cruised south at 130+ mph. Vroom!

We made it to Lisbon just fine, took the metro to our hotel, and went to the front desk to check in. Lucky us, they had already filled all of the type of room that we had booked, so we got a free upgrade! We even had a balcony. 

The view from our balcony; that's a local train station right across the street, and the metro was only a couple blocks away. Handy!

The first thing we did after dropping our bags was pour a couple small glasses of port and hang out on the balcony for a bit. There were a few people playing soccer in the fields across the street, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Mark took a quick trip to a nearby whiskey shop after he finished his port, and I hung out on the balcony for a bit longer before eventually getting cleaned up for dinner.

We weren't really sure where to go for dinner, but Google Maps showed a restaurant just across the street so we decided to check it out. O Mattos wound up being a very good choice; we may have been some of the only Americans in there, but everyone was nice despite our language barrier (Portuguese is HARD, but I tried!) and the food was delicious.

We decided to get dessert, and I had picked out a pumpkin something or other. When I told the waiter what I wanted, he said, "no no no not that, you want THIS" and pointed to the chocolate cake listed on the menu. I figured what the heck and went with it.

And while it may not look like much, holy monkeys, this was quite possibly the best chocolate cake I've ever had in my life. Wow. I still fantasize about this hahaha. It was warm and gooey and just the right amount of chocolate without being too rich to enjoy. I would go back to Lisbon just to eat this cake.

After stuffing ourselves, we made our way back to the room. We wrapped up the evening by watching Eurovision, a huge Europe-wide singing competition that we had not known was going to be held in Lisbon until after we had booked our airfare and tried to find a hotel (which is why our hotel was pretty far out in the city, because almost every other place was fully booked). We had a bit more port, then went to bed. We had a lot of exploring ahead of us the next few days!

Monday, September 17, 2018

May 9th: Beaches and Tiles and Lots of Walking

We were somehow still functional human beings after all of our tastings the day before, so we got up the next morning, got ourselves together, and went back to SnopĆ£o for breakfast.

I got coffee and a couple of pastries...

...and Mark got an omelet, which came with rice AND fries. Just in case he needed to load up on carbs for our day. I helped him eat the fries.

We stopped back at the apartment, I grabbed my camera, and we set off to explore some more.

I could probably live in Porto and never get tired of the tiled buildings.

We didn't have to wander far to wind up in the Jardins do Palacio de Cristal. There was a sign telling people not to feed the birds, so of course there was someone feeding the birds. I bet that kid loved having all the giant birds swarm around so close.

The peacocks were really comfortable around people and would walk right past you without batting an eye.

We wandered through a few sections of the gardens, checking out the views along the way.

We eventually wandered out of the gardens and started working our way down toward the river. It took a little while because I kept stopping to take pictures. Oops.

Along the way, we finally saw a tram! Portugal is known for the trams (especially the ones in Lisbon), so it was neat to see one up close.

We eventually reached the Douro River and started following it to the west.

We passed a bird watching area...

...and a bunch of boats...

...and after a bit more walking, we could start to see waves crashing along the wall near the lighthouse.

We took a short walk through Jardim do Passeio Alegre...

...then walked out to Farolim das Felgueiras, the lighthouse.

The waves were really impressive; we stood there and just watched for a few minutes.

We eventually moved on and kept wandering down the beach.

A short walk away was Praia dos Ingleses, so we stopped for lunch overlooking the beach before continuing our wandering.

We didn't wander very far after lunch; Praia da Luz was just a short walk away, so we stopped for a quick drink and dessert before heading back out.

The weather was slowly starting to improve as we wandered along the beach...

...though the clouds made for some dramatic scenery.

A little while later we came to the Pergola da Foz. I had seen pictures of this online, so it was neat to see it in person. With the breeze and clouds hanging around, we pretty much had it all to ourselves.

We wandered a bit more, past a small garden area with windswept trees...

...then finally reached what I'd been holding out for: Praia do Castelo do Queijo. Basically, Cheese Castle Beach. I mean, how could we skip that?

The Castelo do Queijo had a pretty sweet view...

...and for a mere 50 Euro cents, we could go inside and wander around.

Again, we were pretty much he only ones there. I get it, it was a Wednesday, but people were missing out!

After wandering all over the Cheese Castle, we walked down to the beach and watched people surf while a couple dogs played on the sand. We hung out for a little while, then walked back up to the main road and took a taxi back to...

...the Ribeira District. It was our last afternoon in Porto, so we wanted to make the most of it!

I can't really say that hiking up a VERY steep path was high on my list of things to do, but we eventually reached the top without dying.

It was worth the hike, though, because a short walk from the top of the path was Prometeu Artesanto, one of the coolest shops I've visited in a while. They had hundreds of hand-painted tiles, and a number of artists at tables behind the counters who were painting more tiles as we wandered through. I somehow managed to not buy the entire store and settled on just a handful of tiles to bring home.

We made our way back to the Ponte Luis I bridge and walked across the top span...

...and wandered back through the neighborhoods of tiled houses and down to the river.

We eventually wound up at Mercado. There were lots of little stalls set up with food and drinks and all sorts of other tasty things. We were just in time for happy hour, so we took a break from wandering around for some cheese croquettes and port.

It was getting closer to sunset by the time we finished our snacks, so instead of going back to the apartment, we grabbed an Uber and went back to...

...Praia da Luz. Our Airbnb host had mentioned that it was a great spot to check out the sunset, so we figured it would be a nice way to end our last full day in Porto.

Really, not a bad view for a very tasty dinner.   :)

We even got to watch a cruise ship leave while we finished our drinks.

We eventually finished up and got an Uber back to our Airbnb, packed a little bit, then headed to bed. We had another travel day ahead of us the next day!