Saturday, September 8, 2018

May 8th: Port, Port, and More Port

We slept a LOT our first night in Porto (10+ hours), but eventually dragged ourselves out of bed and went wandering to find some breakfast.

We wound up a couple blocks away at Snopão, where we managed to get a coffee and a pastel de nata each for just over 3 Euro total. Not a bad start to the day!

We wandered back to our apartment through the nearby art district. The galleries hadn't opened yet for the day, but the street art itself was pretty good on its own.

I spent a bit more time drooling over all of the beautiful tiled buildings on the way back, too. We made a quick stop at the apartment to check the map and grab a couple things, then started wandering out to the east.

We didn't have a definite plan in mind; we mostly figured we'd wander through the areas that had the most attractions and see where we wound up. One of the first stops was Igreja Da Trindade (Holy Trinity Church). I didn't get any pictures while we were inside since they were in the middle of a service, but it was pretty cool (as was the courtyard out front).

On the other side of the courtyard is Monumento a Garrett, with City Hall in the background. There's a big open area that stretches a couple blocks in front of City Hall, so we followed that down and eventually wound up at...

... the São Bento train station. This is where we had arrived the day before, so it was nice to have a few minutes to look at the tiles without having to keep track of our luggage! (And as you can see, we definitely weren't the only ones sightseeing here; there were a couple tour groups in this room when we arrived.)

We spent a few minutes enjoying the art, then...

...popped back outside to escape the crowd.

Even the view from outside the train station was pretty neat. I could have spent hours looking at all of the tiled buildings.

Just a block or so away from São Bento was the Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso, a Catholic church. I had seen pictures of this online, so it was pretty neat to be able to get to see it up close.

We wandered around the church for a few minutes before starting to make our way out toward the Douro River.

We didn't get very far before making a pit stop, though. I'm a sucker for pastries.

We walked a little further down the street and ate our pasteis de nata on a low wall near the Muralha Fernandina. The walls were built in the 1300s and used to surround a good bit of the area; at one point (in the 1300s), somewhere around 10,000 people lived within the walls!

After we finished our snacks, we went wandering in search of good views. We didn't have to go far; this was the view from a nearby parking lot.

It was still pretty foggy, but there was a great view of the Ponte Luis I bridge.

We could see people walking along the bridge, so we decided to go check it out. This was the view from the nearby Se do Porto, a cathedral that sits right near the river. This was the view looking back toward the city.

The Pillory of Porto, the Se do Porto in the background. Apparently they used to hang criminals from hooks on this thing!

We made a brief detour on the way to the bridge so that I could try one of these weird eggy cream things (the shell is described as basically being communion wafers, which seemed about right)...

...then we made our way to the upper span of the Ponte Luis I bridge. The view was fantastic, and you could freely walk across it (providing you got out of the way of the small trains that went by every few minutes).

The fog was just starting to break as we started across the bridge, which made the view even better.

On the other side of the river, we could see the port houses lining the riverfront.

The bridge also had a great view of the Ribeira District; there were lots of shops and bars and restaurants down near the water.

Just over the bridge is the Miradouro da Serra do Pilar, a scenic point up near a convent. The views up there were just as good as the views from the bridge itself.

We took in the view for a few more minutes, then started walking down toward the river through some of the local neighborhoods. We thought we knew where we were going, but somehow got a bit turned around even with Google maps.

It wasn't all bad, though, because we eventually wound up here! We had been kind of hungry anyway, and when we passed The Blini, Mark suggested we take a break from wandering and at least get something to eat that wasn't a pastel de nata. It wound up being a great random find; both the food and the views were excellent.

After lunch, we eventually figured out how to get through the neighborhoods and down to the river (and passed this guy working on a roof along the way).

Finally...success! We took a few minutes to wander around and enjoy the view.

Since there were a number of port houses in the area, it seemed like a waste to not visit at least one of them. We started at Kopke, where we each did a tasting (which in Porto, apparently means drink a full glass of whatever you want to 'taste'. I won't argue). I tried a white port, which was really tasty, and we even got fancy chocolates. (We actually wound up bringing home a bottle of the one I tried, we liked it so much!)

After our tasting at Kopke, we went next door to Calem, where we were able to get tickets for a tour. We had a bit of time to kill before the tour started, though, so we figured we might as well taste some more port while we were waiting (this time, a tawny port, which was also very tasty).

The tour was pretty neat, though I didn't take many pictures because it was pretty dark in the rooms we passed through. The tour also ended with a tasting of several of their ports, which were also delicious. (Common theme.)

Their tasting room was pretty neat, too; they had barrels and bottles lined up all over the place.

We were feeling quite good after our numerous tastings, so we hung out by the water and soaked in the view a bit more before making our way back over the bridge.

We walked along the water in the Ribeira District for a bit. The weather was absolutely gorgeous...

...and here and there, musicians were playing to small crowds.

We eventually wound up at Vinhas D'Alho for dinner. The food was really good... were the views.

After dinner, we started wandering back toward the apartment, with plans to take a detour to a nearby bar. We kept passing people wearing weird outfits along the way, and eventually started running into bigger crowds playing loud music and yelling. We had no idea what we were wandering into...

...and eventually popped up in the middle of a giant parade with floats and lots of people wearing capes. A bit of research later, we realized we had just passed through the middle of a Queima das Fitas parade. It's kind of like a big end of the year party for college students, and they wear different outfits for whatever year they're in (which explains why we had seen dozens of people wearing capes wandering through the city). It was pretty neat to see!

We eventually made our way to Bar Braixa for a quick drink, then went back to the apartment. We wrapped up the day with a small glass of port on the rooftop terrace (where we enjoyed the view of the fog that had rolled in off the ocean), then went back downstairs and made our way to bed. It had been a fun first day in Porto, and we had more fun plans for the next day!

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