With the first breaths of Porto air, I was relived – this was definitely Portugal. I immediately felt the atmosphere that I remember so well from Lisbon, Cascais and Madeira! Porto welcomed us with the light of the warm morning sun and blue, cloudless skies.
Oh, my wonderful Portugal, you never disappoint: wonderful architecture, delicious food, nice people and this tingling, unique, inexplicable atmosphere!
After a long wait at the ticket machine, we quickly got rid of our bags and started to explore the city. But not before making our first (surprising) discovery: our hotel room (Linha 22) turned out to be a shower-bed combination. Super fun, but recommended for very close friends or couples only 😉
After a short (and slightly disappointing stop at the Bolhão Market) we (read: my husband’s stomach and sugar-low related mood swings) decided to properly start our Porto adventure – with some local cuisine 😉 Following Foursquare’s local wisdom, we found a place we loved at first sight. It was … It was like time had brought me back to my teen years: the smell of home cooking, smiling people and simple yet so delicious food – Casa Guedes is known for its pork buns and open from 9 – 22 every day – Seated at the bar, we ordered a set of cheeses and hams on a plate and a portion of delicious looking pork roast, expecting on culinary delights … After the first bites we knew we had found a hidden gem!
Hop on hop off bus tour
After satisfying our culinary appetites (and seeing my husband crack a smile again), we set out towards the city centre, where we decided to use the option of a hop on / hop off bus tour (we opted for the yellow bus). The tour was very interesting and covered the most important monuments, as well as the promenades along the river and the coast. Along the way, absorbed everything we could and I took a few dozens of photos 🙂 I just love those beautiful buildings decorated with typical Portuguese tiles – I simply cannot get enough of them!
Porto after dark
After completing two bus tours, we went for a walk the charming streets of Porto to see some parts inaccessible by the big busses. It was dusk and the city slowly fell into twilight, lightening up the lamps, giving this cute city a very romantic look – especially along the river. I could have walked for hours, but we were hungry and very eager for continue our pursuit of hidden Portuguese delicacies.
Francesinha and pig ears
Strolling along the streets of Porto we found a local bakery / restaurant and I decided, without thinking for a long time, to walk in. We ordered a Francesinha and a tuna salad. (Francesinha is a huge, traditional, meat-filled sandwich topped up with with ham, steak and sausage, dripping with cheese, covered in a sauce made from beer, port wine and hot peppers.) It does not sound too appealing (and the looks don’t make up for it either), especially for someone like me who does not like meat, but trust me, it is really tasty and you have to try it! Best to share it though 😉
After satisfying our first hunger, we started to make our way to another venue to continue our feast. Our choice fell on a gastro pub, Taxca, that turned out to be a pre-party tapas bar decorated with dried hams dangling from the ceiling. The big food display offering octopus salad, cheese and dried ham immediately caught our attention of course. And again it was delicious! The mushrooms, in the display next to the Octopus, turned our to be local speciality on the tapas menu – pig ears with onion and coriander. They proved rather popular during out stay at Taxca, but we chose not to take this culinary challenge 😉
Walk along the river Duoro
The next morning, we went straight to Casa Guedes for breakfast 😉
The team, slightly surprised, by honestly happy to see us, greeted us with big smiles and hellos – I love moments like these! This time we followed the owners’ advice and ordered a crisp bun with the pork roast and a large piece of Portuguese cheese slowly melting in the bun – and again heaven in my mouth! It was so good that we had to immediately had to repeat the procedure and enjoyed a second time how the soft, warm cheese hugged the perfectly roasted pork. (Needless to say that we took two rolls to have on the plane 😉 ) But we still had a few hours to our flight, so we went to the river and enjoyed the beautiful weather, dreaming about how great it would be to live here. Who knows? Maybe someday…
Lunch in the restaurant Bacalhau
I could walk endlessly along the charming streets and promenades in Porto. The sight of colourful, sunlit buildings is really amazing! Lunchtime approached and the two buns we had shared for breakfast wouldn’t last forever, so we opted to try one of the restaurants located on the river banks. Bacalhau, got its name from dried Cod, which is typical for the area. It came highly recommended with hugely positive reviews from various forums on the internet.
As starters we ordered what we like most: a platter of cheese and charcuterie. A garlic-bread-cod soup and cod bedded on potatoes and eggs formed our main courses. We thoroughly enjoyed the delicious food, the, at 10€ / litre, fairly priced white house wine, the great weather and the magnificent view of the river. It was just wonderful! Unfortunately, we slowly had to end our short, but extremely pleasant adventure with Porto.
At the airport we found consolation in the fact, that we’ll have an evening with Portuguese delights once back in London – tuna, cheese and of course the buns from our friends at Casa Guedes.